Graduate Spotlight: author Ceda Parkinson

28 May 2024

A woman smiling into the camera with her head tilted sideways
Ceda Parkinson
Type: Text
Category: Our graduates

Since completing her master's in Professional Writing at Falmouth in 2023, Ceda Parkinson’s writing career has blossomed. Having also studied BA English & Creative Writing at Falmouth – graduating in 2021 – Ceda has nestled herself in Cornwall’s creative writing community, while simultaneously spreading her wings across Europe. We chatted to her about her published work, her time as Writer in Residence at The Writers’ Block in Redruth, and her transformative writing residency in Switzerland.  

When did you first become interested in writing? 

My interest in writing began when I was around six or seven years old. Growing up, my family moved around a lot—from the Emirates and Cameroon to the Netherlands and the UK. I encountered books in various languages; from illustrated encyclopaedias of African birds and Cicely Mary Barker's Flower Fairies to the stories of Scheherazade and Enid Blyton's The Faraway Tree. I loved folding pieces of A4 paper into little pamphlets and writing my own stories in them. Often these stories were a blend of all those different books we’d picked up on our travels.  

I think what brought me to writing was how much fun it was; it has always been a form of play for me, a way to explore creativity without constraints. Even when I later received formal guidance on writing, that playful aspect has always remained important. Without it, I find it difficult to remain engaged and excited about the work. 

Having been published in various places, do you have a piece of published work you’re particularly proud of? 

During the first lockdown in 2020, I wrote a short story called The Lunatical, which was published by the Dark Mountain Project the following year. It's a surreal story about what might happen if the moon started moving closer to earth. It explores themes that I’ve since dived into more deeply, like eco-poetics, nature and myth. It was also the first time I'd ever had something published in print and being published by the Dark Mountain Project – a publisher I've admired for a long time – felt really significant. 

What made you decide to do Falmouth's master’s in Professional Writing

The master’s program at Falmouth provided the structure and support I needed to prepare my work for publication and to connect with other writers and professionals in the industry. I love Falmouth and have always resonated with its creative spirit. I’d already completed a BA in English & Creative Writing at Falmouth, so I knew the quality of the course would be high. During the master’s, I was able to go a bit deeper with my ideas and explore the sort of forms they could take. The small, vibrant community around the Falmouth campus on Woodlane made it an ideal environment for developing my creative work. 

Creative work is most interesting to me when it taps into this feeling of ‘something else’, whatever that may be.

What was the most valuable thing you learned while on the course? 

The most valuable lesson I learned was to always go beyond the first idea: thinking outside the box and pushing for the second, less obvious idea often leads to more interesting and unique work. The course also taught me practical skills like how to approach an agent and prepare a manuscript, which is crucial for turning creative ideas into publishable work. 

What do you hope people engaging with your work will take away with them? 

I have a playlist on Spotify I often listen to when I'm writing, and it’s called ‘the something else playlist’. Creative work is most interesting to me when it taps into this feeling of ‘something else’, whatever that may be. I think it’s probably my way of saying enchantment, wonder, a heightening of some kind; it’s a feeling I'm always looking for when I'm reading and it’s always what I'm trying to create when I'm writing. I think if someone took away a feeling of ‘something else’ after engaging with my work, I would be very happy.  

You were recently Writer in Residence at the Writers’ Block in Cornwall. What did you enjoy most about that experience? 

It was an amazing experience. Alongside fellow writers, Milly Salisbury and Johnny Dry, and under the mentorship of John Wedgwood-Clarke, we explored the unexpected beauty of Cornwall's industrial remnants. We visited old mining sites where pollution and nature had merged in fascinating ways. Think: electric blue biofilm, neon yellow algae and radioactive trout. This experience offered fresh, inspiring material for my writing and was a unique way to see my home landscape. The Writers’ Block is an incredible resource for writers in Cornwall – we’re very lucky to have it. 

Can you tell us about the residency at the Jan Michalski Foundation? How did it come about, what did you work on and what’s next for your work? 

I found the Jan Michalski Foundation via a Facebook group that posted opportunities for writers. I applied quite last minute, mostly drawn to their focus on new voices in nature writing. I was over the moon to be accepted and spent three weeks in the beautiful village of Montricher, near Geneva.  

During my time there I got to meet some really inspiring writers and artists, and I felt very lucky. I worked on a creative non-fiction book about spiders and the many threads they weave, exploring the question: what lessons from the spider can we take into our own fragile, interrelated world? This project will be published by Guillemot Press later this year, which is very, very exciting. 

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