About Us

Contact Us


The 21st Century

Hacktreks Travel

Hacktreks 2

First Chapters
Lifestyles 1
Lifestyles 2


Welcome - September 2004 Issue - The International Writers Magazine September 27th

Our Writers' Brilliant Success:
The new academic year will begin in October– and we will be welcoming new students here at Portsmouth. Hopefully a few will interested in writing for Hacks. Every year I make my final year screenwriting students write an hour long original TV drama, give it a public performance in character with a professional cast, then after polishing, try to sell it. It’s a tough call. I doubt there is another course like it in the UK in the public sector. Well two of my students have agents genuinely interested in their scripts. It's early days but very satisfying that they have found interest.
More news about that later, but I knew, from the way they went about it, stuck to it and listened to their peers and tutor’s comments and quickly adopted their suggestions that they would make it. The mark of a good TV writer is never to be precious, take a good idea from wherever it comes from and make it your own. Even if they don't get taken up, they are on their way.
Meanwhile one of our former writers Hazel Marshall is on a book tour across the UK. She was a regular on Hackwriters for a year and developed her wonderful children's novel in my writing classes. It's about Marco Polo's nephew and he wants his own adventures, despite his young age and seeks out the inventor of a flying machine...
Troublesome Angels and Flying Machines is published by Oxford University Press is now being acclaimed and praised and I wholeheartedly recommend it.
You can buy it here. Hazel deserves every success – again a person who sticks at it, takes on board criticism and strives to make her work better, always improving and polishing and most importantly believing in herself.

Three examples of students going beyond ‘academic’ work.

Buy it here

Most of the time, and I am sure this is the experience of many academics, we are faced with students who just do the minimum and are focused on just getting that degree. But occasionally you get that student who want success badly enough to understand that academic work – particularly in creative programmes such as we run here in Portsmouth can be a starting point for a real career. In the Creative Arts and Creative Writing programmes, you can write plays, scripts and novels. All the time you will be facing critical comment from your peers and tutors. If the student looks beyond the grade they get, particularly in the final year, some realise that the grade is almost irrelevant if you have got a good idea worth developing. We are designing units here where final works can be sufficiently ambitious in scope that students with dedication can stretch themselves and aim, not just to please the tutor, but the real world and the market beyond that. I am more than happy if a student goes out the door with a completed and polished script, even half a novel, or a new play that has fellow students excited by it. There really is a demand for new work and new voices and we want our students to explore and explode ‘out there’ in the commercial world.

Of course, not every academic agrees with me. Few actually. Perhaps they’d rather students were more analytical or just developed more critical skills. However, it is my belief that students on creative degree courses should be given this chance to write beyond the limitations of the course and aim higher. They should be encouraged to learn that striving for success is essential, their right and the perfect time to do this is when you are young, bursting full of new ideas and prepared to make mistakes. Mistakes can be rectified, they can be wonderful learning opportunities. It’s called experimentation. Being at University is the best time to do that. Afterwards everything you do needs to pay off if you are to pay the rent with it and that is a pretty tall order. I have seen too many students with talent gain their degrees and then be pressured to conform, get that dull job, take on huge mortgages and ten years passes by and they haven’t written another word. Of course they would say they are being successful. Their house has doubled in value, they have a much nicer car than me and the job pays bonuses; but what happened to the talent? To their creative ambitions? It’s probably a small dark place in their consciousness that they dare not look at. Yes, I admit, as a teacher I have compromised too. It’s the nature of life. Creativity is a hard world to make a profit in a society that places more value on real estate agents. This trend may worsen once students have to pay three grand a year to do the course on top of rent and food and the massive quantities of booze they seem to need... but take heart from the USA where students pay a fortune yet find time to party hard...I'm told.

As students you can aim for the top if you are prepared to work harder than you ever did before, take it seriously and stand by your work, believe in it, send it out there, beyond the citadel walls. There is nothing to lose and a vast world to gain. Not everyone will succeed. Not everyone deserves to. Some aren’t even sure they want to, but success is sweetest tasted young (I’m informed).
Now let’s see what talent comes through the door this year.

If you are looking for a good read my new book Diamonds is available now. Here's a tip chose the cheapest delivery option. You can buy it direct from the publisher Lulu or from

Sam North - Editor -

Many thanks to Dominic Robson in SA who put the book together for me.

Diamonds - The Rush of '72
By Sam North
Buy now direct from
'...a terrific piece of storytelling'
- Historical Novel Society Review

Missed January edition - it's here

Missed February edtion -it's here

Missed March edition - it's here

Missed April edition - it's here

Missed May Edition - it's here

Missed June Edition - it's here

Back to Index

© - Publisher Carine Thomas


Hackwriters - an independent writer's magazine - all rights reserved © 1999-2004