In the middle of a conversation with Susan Stairs, in a Dublin hotel full of tourists, we talk about that most divisive of writerly topics: the creative-writing master’s. Not everyone (including many writers) is a fan of their write-to-schedule ethos, so I lob a devil’s advocate grenade – can the work of one class become identikit, and do they “hothouse” writers?
Stairs is an ardent defender, claiming her debut novel The Story of Before, would simply never have happened if it weren’t for UCD’s MA in Creative Writing, taught by James Ryan.
“I don’t know why there’s a controversy about creative-writing classes. We don’t question people who take music or art degrees in the same way. The MA – and a course in the Irish Writer’s Centre before that – really focused me.’