Creative support for writers
from Professor Jem Poster and Dr Sarah Burton
©  Kt Bruce Photography

Who is it for?

©  Stephen Coll

Is it what you need?

Writers come to us with all kinds of problems and queries. You might:

  • have begun to develop an idea but want help in taking it further
  • have an incomplete project that has stalled and need help to get it back on track
  • have a completed draft and need editorial advice
Whether you are writing fiction, non-fiction or poetry, it’s up to you to define the kind of help you want and we will agree an approach with you.
©  Kt Bruce Photography

How is this different from other mentoring schemes or literary consultancies?

We started Between the Lines because we understand how important it is for writers to get well-informed feedback that doesn’t cost the earth and doesn’t commit the writer to a series of sessions. We also recognise that you are choosing to work with us, so we do not delegate work to other writers/tutors/editors. And because our own publications and our teaching experience encompass fiction, non-fiction, writing for children and poetry we are able to support writers in all these genres. 
We are unusual in both being critically acclaimed published writers, well-qualified academics in the field of literary studies, and experienced creative writing tutors. So we are able to offer practical solutions and strategies based on a deep understanding of the challenges writers encounter.
©  Stephen Coll

How does it work?

Your submission

We shall want to discuss the detail of your work, so our feedback is delivered by a combination of written comments and a conversation (usually 30 - 40 minutes, by Zoom or Skype).
You can expect feedback between one and three weeks from the time of submission; a mutually acceptable timeframe will be agreed in advance.
You submit up to 3,000 words of prose or 1000 words of poetry with a brief outline of the kind of advice you are looking for.

Fees

£295

Standard rate

£250

Returning writers rate
Returning writers rate applies whether you have attended a course run by one or both of us at Cambridge, Oxford, the Guardian or the British Library, or one of our writing retreats at Madingley Hall or you are a returning Between the Lines client.

Getting started

If you would like to work with one of us, simply click here:
Contact US

About us

Co-founders of Cambridge University’s Master’s programme in creative writing, we draw on a wealth of teaching experience in a variety of contexts, from informal community education to PhD supervision. 
©  Kt Bruce Photography
Sarah is a novelist (The Strange Adventures of H, Legend, 2020), biographer (A Double Life: A Biography of Charles and Mary Lamb, Penguin, 2004, shortlisted for the Mind Book of the Year award), and social historian (Impostors: Six Kinds of Liar, Penguin, 2000). 
More informationSelected Reviews
More informationSelected Reviews
Jem is the author of two novels, Courting Shadows (Sceptre, 2002; translated into German, Polish and Spanish) and Rifling Paradise (Sceptre, 2006; translated into German), poet (Brought to Light, Bloodaxe, 2001) and literary critic/editor (Edward Thomas, Prose Writings Vol. III, Oxford University Press, 2018); he is Emeritus Professor of creative writing, Aberystwyth University.
©  Kt Bruce Photography
In addition to teaching for Cambridge University’s Institute of Continuing Education we both teach for the Oxford Literary Festival, the British Library and the Guardian Masterclass series.
We have been working together since we established the Master’s programme in creative writing at Cambridge University in 2013. Our students have won literary prizes, secured agents, and seen their work published and performed on stage and screen. Our co-authored handbook for fiction writers, The Book You Need to Read to Write the Book You Want to Write, is due to be published by Cambridge University Press in March 2022.

Biographies

Jem Poster

Jem is the author of two novels, Courting Shadows (Sceptre, 2002; translated into German, Polish and Spanish) and Rifling Paradise (Sceptre, 2006; translated into German), as well as a collection of poetry, Brought to Light (Bloodaxe, 2001), and editor of a volume in the six-volume Edward Thomas: Prose Writings (OUP, 2018). He has won prizes in major poetry competitions including first prize in both the Cardiff International Poetry Competition in 1995 and the Peterloo Poets Open Poetry Competition in 2001. 

From 1993 to 2003 Jem was University Lecturer in Literature with Oxford University's Department for Continuing Education and a fellow of Kellogg College. From 2003 to 2012 he was Professor of Creative Writing at Aberystwyth University, and is now Emeritus Professor. He is currently Director of Cambridge University’s International Summer Programme in Creative Writing and is also Director of Academic Programmes for the Oxford Literary Festival. He teaches the writing of fiction, non-fiction and poetry.

Sarah Burton

Sarah's publications are diverse, including two critically acclaimed biographies, Impostors: Six Kinds of Liar (Penguin, 2000; translated into Korean, Japanese, Czech and Spanish) and A Double Life: a Biography of Charles and Mary Lamb (Penguin, 2003, shortlisted for the Mind Book of the Year award); a children’s book, The Miracle in Bethlehem: A Storyteller’s Tale (Floris, 2008); a page-to-stage guide, How to Put on a Community Play (Aurora, 2011); and a spoof, The Complete and Utter History of the World By Samuel Stewart, Aged 9 (Short Books, 2013). Her most recent book is a historical novel, The Strange Adventures of H (Legend, 2020). She has also written for radio and the stage.  

Sarah has been teaching creative writing since 1995 in contexts as diverse as mental health units, primary schools, literary festivals and universities. She teaches a variety of courses for Cambridge University’s Institute of Continuing Education and also runs the Institute’s Writers’ Retreats. She teaches the writing of fiction (including children’s fiction), non-fiction, and writing for performance.

Jem Poster Selected Reviews

Courting Shadows

 'If great openings are meant to make the reader turn the page, let's just say I turned it and kept on feverishly turning to the very end. Jem Poster's first novel is as intelligent, daring and profound as it is highly, bewitchingly readable ... As a psychological thriller, it's as close to wonderful as anything I've recently read. But Poster's biggest achievement is that he creates a young male voice of such unnerving complexity and moral turmoil. Stannard is a stunning creation awkward, difficult, dangerously self-deluding and, ultimately, someone who moves you to inspect your own damaged soul.’ 
Guardian  
'Poster's beautifully honed and deliciously creepy fiction evokes Victorian England in all its glory ... both a spooky psychological thriller and an unnervingly intimate story of hubris. ’
Sunday Times
'He writes beautifully, with rustic setting and period circumstances vividly described.'
Sunday Telegraph
 'One of the best first novels I've read for a long time ... Poster mixes together the familiar ingredients with a subtlety that is rare in contemporary writing.'
Sunday Herald
 'Satisfyingly creepy ... beautifully written, full of precision and intensity.'
Independent
 'A novel of lasting images and conversations ... an impressive debut.'
Daily Telegraph

 Rifling Paradise

‘A stylish, assured and thoughtful narrative.’
Guardian
‘A terrifying journey into the dark recesses of the human soul ... his evocation of the [Australian] flora and fauna is inspiring.’
Mail on Sunday
‘A narrative so vivid that you can almost smell the eucalyptus ... an engaging tale, full of intrigue, emotion and individual realisation.’
Morning Star

Brought to Light

‘Jem Poster works rich veins of love and loss. His poetry is lit up by sensuousness, realism, and a bold, wide-ranging intelligence. There’s plenty of art, but never any pretension. These poems speak directly to the human heart, and offer a deepening pleasure with every reading.’
Helen Dunmore

Sarah Burton Selected Reviews

Impostors

'Sarah Burton writes clearly and purposefully, pulling together a multitude of examples of people who were simply not prepared to be themselves ... This is a wonderful subject, cleverly presented. '
Mail on Sunday
'This is a delightful book, crisply written, well-researched, common-sensical in approach and perceptive in attitude. '
Evening Standard

A Double Life

‘Sarah Burton has picked herself a plum of a subject. The Lambs must be the last interesting members of the Romantic circle to have escaped attention… The story of the Lambs, well-researched and perceptively told here, is not one of great events, beyond that shocking act of matricide … Sarah Burton has done a splendid job in bringing the Lambs to life, with all their quirks, caprices and tenderness.’
Miranda Seymour in The Spectator
‘Burton’s great achievement in this excellent biography is to make you care about two people whose names are all but forgotten now. Shining through her meticulous research is a sense that she feels deeply for the Lambs and wants to make her readers understand why they should too. And yet there is nothing hectoring or sensationalist about this book. Warm, witty and wise, it is everything the Lambs themselves would have loved.’
Kathryn Hughes in The Mail on Sunday
‘Laughing and crying both together are what Elia’s essays and the Lambs’ life invoke, and it’s a merit of Burton’s book that what could be a deeply depressing story keeps turning into comedy. She tells a well-organised, lively and interesting story and there is plenty of wonderful writing to be found in it.’
Hermione Lee in The Guardian
‘ “They are the World, one to the other,” wrote a friend, and one of the most successful aspects of Burton’s dual biography is the wise and perceptive way in which she deals with the workings of their siblinghood … the book is full of fascinating revelations and hypotheses, which are the product of deep research and close empathy.’
Kelly Grovier in the Times Literary Supplement
‘Admirably researched and lucidly written, her work’s strength lies in allowing its soulful subjects to speak for themselves.’      
Mark Bostridge in The Independent on Sunday

The Strange Adventures of H

An Amazon bestseller; longlisted for the Guardian ‘Not the Booker’ award; Audiobook Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award.

©  Martin Burton Photography

Our aim

To help you find your voice
©  Martin Burton Photography