Annabel is an English Literature alumna, and an award-winning author, following the release of her debut novel, The Joyce Girl. After fifteen years running a marketing company, Annabel took a break to spend more time with her four children, before turning her attention to her blossoming career as a writer and a novelist.
Why did you choose to come to UEA?
My grandparents lived on the North Norfolk coast and I spent my childhood holidays there, so the landscape was familiar and I liked the idea of seeing more of my grandparents. I wanted to be in a small, old city and Norwich seemed perfect. The Literature department had a good reputation and I wanted to be in a modern, radical university brimming with new ideas.
What is your favourite memory of UEA?
Eating the vegan meals of a certain male student who spent all day cooking and made rice and carrots utterly delicious.
How did your UEA experience help you beyond your three years as a student?
Just the usual – I grew up!
What motivated you to get back involved with and donate to UEA?
One of those serendipitous moments – my novel had just won an award and was about to be published. As I wrote it (a difficult and lonely experience), I sometimes googled the famous UEA Creative Writing course and felt very envious of all the aspiring writers sharing ideas and tips. With four children and elderly parents I never had that option. One day, UEA emailed me and invited me to meet John Boyne, alumni and author of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. My daughter was reading this for her homework and begged me to go. Later, I realised the world would be a poorer and less humane place without authors like John Boyne. Following my personal struggle to write a novel, everything fell into place and I agreed to fund a scholarship for an MA in Creative Writing. I really believe the Arts play a profound role in creating a more thoughtful, diverse, empathetic world.
What would you say to other UEA alumni to encourage them to become involved in a similar way?
We were privileged to have free university education. If you’ve been successful enough, now is the time to give back.