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14 December 2023

King's first Creative Writing PhD graduate publishes novel

Scott Preston has secured a six-figure book deal with John Murray Press.

Scott Preston_20231214
Photography by Melanie Preston

Scott Preston has been awarded a PhD in Creative Writing, which makes him the first graduate of the programme at King’s. His novel The Borrowed Hills which forms the main part of Scott's thesis, has already been accepted for publication by John Murray Press (UK) and Scribner (USA), and will be translated into several languages upon its release next year.

After finishing a first draft, Scott secured a literary agent (Peter Straus) through the PhD CW programme’s agents-in-residence scheme. His agent then secured him a six-figure publishing advance from Hilary Mantel’s former editor, Nicholas Pearson, at John Murray Press.

The Borrowed Hills will be published in hardback, trade paperback, audio and e-book on 11th April 2024. The synopsis says: "As the 2001 outbreak of foot and mouth disease spreads across the hills of Cumbria, emptying the valleys of sheep and devastating the local community, two neighbouring farmers join forces to reverse their fortunes by rustling livestock from the south.

"But when they come under the sway of a ruthless outsider, The Borrowed Hills builds towards a savage conflict that threatens their ancient way of life. Lyrical, elemental, cinematic, Scott Preston’s debut thrillingly reimagines the American Western for the fells of northern England, a story of men and women struggling to make lives for themselves in an unyielding land."

It’s been invaluable to have King’s support while writing and researching my novel The Borrowed Hills, and for the creative writing department’s help in getting the book started on its journey to publication. My dream to have a doctorate in cowboys and sheep rustling has finally come true, and it shows how important creative programs like this are in getting overlooked regional voices heard.

Scott Preston

Scott’s thesis was supervised by Benjamin Wood in the Department of English between September 2020 and September 2023. He writes: “Scott's great achievement is a perfect realisation of our programme’s stated aims: to help talented, committed writers complete a book-length creative work for publication and sustain a long-term career in writing.

Scott leaves King’s not only with a doctorate and a body of exemplary creative and scholarly work, but with valuable experience of teaching creative writing at HE level and a firm foot on the career ladder as a published author. We look forward to seeing him thrive even further."