Fresh Voices: 50 writers you should read now—The Guardian
SEALED is the perfect modern horror novel.–Helen Marshall
I am a writer and academic. My fiction tends to explore unsettling landscapes, strange compulsions, dangerous bodies and contamination. My academic research currently focuses on the literary history of swooning, though I have broad interests in contemporary fiction, literary theory, ecology and northern writing/publishing.
I was born in Bradford and grew up in Dewsbury. I read English at the University of Cambridge and spent several years working in publishing before completing a PhD in Creative and Critical Writing at the University of Sussex. My AHRC-sponsored research project was a creative and critical exploration of passing out. I have since lectured in Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Sussex and York St John University, where I was Subject Director for Creative Writing and worked with colleagues within the York Centre of Writing. I am now Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Durham University. I live in York with my partner and daughter.
Sabhbh Curran: Sabhbh.Curran@curtisbrown.co.uk
London SW1Y 4SP
Shortlisted for the Guardian “Not the Booker” Award 2018
We came out here to begin again. We came out here for the clear air and a fresh start. No one said to us: beware of fresh starts. No one said to us: God knows what will begin.
Timely and suspenseful, Sealed is a gripping modern fable on motherhood, a terrifying portrait of ordinary people under threat from their own bodies and from the world around them. With elements of speculative fiction and the macabre, this is also an unforgettable story about a mother’s fight to survive.
Heavily pregnant Alice and her partner Pete are done with the city. Above all, Alice is haunted by the rumours of the skin sealing epidemic starting to infect the urban population. Surely their new remote mountain house will offer safety, a place to forget the nightmares and start their little family. But the mountains and their people hold a different kind of danger.With their relationship under intolerable pressure, violence erupts and Alice is faced with the unthinkable as she fights to protect her unborn child.
‘[A]n accomplished, slow-burning meditation on motherhood, pregnancy and love … The tense, gut-wrenching climax is a masterclass in sustained descriptive imagery: though it’s not for the faint-hearted, and expectant mothers might choose to steer clear, Sealed is a marvellous first novel.‘–The Guardian
‘Sealed is a harrowing, engaging, moving and deeply thoughtful text about motherhood, anxiety, conservation and romantic relationships: in short, it’s an absolute belter and exactly the kind of unique fiction that indie presses should be proud to publish. ’— Open Pen
‘[A] brilliant dystopian distillation of just about all the ecological fears a young parent can suffer from.’–The White Review, Books of the Year 2017
‘There is an unbearable truth about the modern world to be found in this book… What a delicate, provoking balance of apocalyptic vision and personal journey Sealed is. I loved it.’ –Aliya Whiteley, The Arrival of Missives
Published by Dead Ink Press (UK), October 2017; Titan Press (US), July 2019 (Buy Sealed here)
Shortlisted for the MMU Novella Award 2014
Winner of the Saboteur Award for Best Novella 2016
Selected for New Writing North: Read Regional 2017
Some call it the fainting game, others Indian Headrush – but it’s all the rage amongst the girls of Class 2B. “It make you go all rushy. You feel like you’re falling into a dream.”
This is the story of Esther, who lives in the Pennines with her father. Esther is obsessed with experimenting with different ways to pass out: from snorting Daz powder at school to attempted autoasphyxiation in a serviced apartment in North London. But what happens when you take something too far? And what has Esther’s mother, a beautiful dancer wasting away in her bedroom, to do with it all?
Naomi Booth’s lyrical and witty novella, The Lost Art of Sinking, could be the next big thing… Beautifully written with bursts of crisp poetic monologue and deadpan humour, the novella shows unusual talent. Naomi Booth is a name to watch.
— Prospect Magazine
Published by Penned in the Margins, 2015 (order The Lost Art of Sinking here)
“Cluster”, long-listed for the Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award 2018; the Galley Beggars Short Story Prize 2018; anthologised in Best British Short Stories 2019 (Salt).
“Optography”, “Compression” and “Tall Tales” anthologised in the Quick Fiction app (Myriad Editions, Brighton: 2011-2015)
So we went up to Shell’s and the dogs were going mad. She walks them infrequently, at the dead of night; if anyone saw us, she says, the police might confiscate them. Trixie, an American Pit Bull, pinned me to the sofa and breathed meaty halitosis in my face; I could feel it condense in a dog-spittle film over my Christmas-Day make-up. “She probably won’t hurt you,” Shell said.
Northern Short Story Festival reading (Sunday June 3, 2019)
Liverpool Light Night, Creative Rituals, public talk with Luke Bird and Dead Ink Books (Friday May 17, 2019)
Big City Read, Deadly Fictions workshop, November 8th, 2018
Northern Fiction Alliance Roadshow, Tottenham Court Road Waterstone’s, October 1, 2018
Abi Curtis in conversation with Naomi Booth, Kensington Waterstone’s, May 3, 2018
Launch event for the York Literary Festival and the York Centre for Writing, York St John University, March 15, 2018
Fictions of Every Kind, Leeds, April 2018
Launch event: Sealed and Water and Glass, November 30th, Waterstones, York
The Dystopian Novel: Plenary presentation of Sealed, York Centre for Writing at NAWE 2017, Saturday November 11th (York)
New Writing North Read Regional events – April to June 2017
My academic research primarily focuses on the literary history of swooning; on contemporary fiction and critical theory; and on literature and the environment.
Swoon: The Poetics of Passing Out (Manchester University Press, forthcoming 2020)
“Dark Ecology and Queer Amphibious Vampires.” UnderCurrents: Journal of Critical Environmental Studies. Special issue, “From Queer/Nature to Queer Ecologies: Celebrating twenty years of scholarship and creativity” 19 (2015) 51-59
“The Felicity of Falling: Fifty Shades of Grey and the Feminine Art of Sinking.” Women: A Cultural Review 26(1-2) (2015) 22-39
“Restricted View: The Problem of Perspective in the Novels of Ian McEwan.” Textual Practice 29(5) (2015) 845-868
“Bathetic Masochism and the Shrinking Woman.” New Formations 83 (2014) 47-64
“Feeling Too Much: The Swoon and the (In)Sensible Woman.” Women’s Writing 21(4) (2014) 575-591
“Good Vibrations: Shaken Subjects and the Disintegrative Romance Heroine.” Women and Erotic Fiction: Critical Essays on Genres. Ed. Kristen Phillips (McFarland, 2015)
“Weird landscapes: A quintet” for DeadInkBooks.com, 3rd August 2017
“Swoon! The cultural history of an ecstatic phenomenon” in Prospect Magazine, 25th June 2015
“The top 10 literary swoons” in The Guardian, 19th June 2015
Interview with Ian Macmillan, The Verb, BBC Radio 3, 6th June 2015
“Giddy heights of research translate into fiction”: Interview with Times Higher Education, 4th June 2015