Catie Wilkins is a writer, comedian, screenwriter and children’s books author. ‘My Best Friend And Other Enemies’ is a series by Catie for 8-12 year olds and has been published by Nosy Crow.
Catie has also written for the BBC, The Independent, New Humanist, Tantrum, Standard Issue, Matador Films, and she appeared on ITV4’s Stand Up Hero. Catie lives in London with her husband, baby daughter and two rescued cats, Liono and Smithers.
How did you end up doing the job you do?
It was kind of a meandering path. I was working at various normal jobs, mainly admin based, and in my spare time, writing. I also started doing stand up comedy. I gradually met other comedy writers and more like-minded people. I wrote lots of different things, eventually a sitcom got optioned, then ultimately rejected, but that led to me meeting the person who is now my book agent. She liked a book I’d written and knew some publishers who were looking for a similar voice but younger. I came up with something at her suggestion, wrote the whole thing on spec, and they decided to publish it.
What are you working on right now?
New books, a comedy documentary, articles, my one-year-old baby. Not literally working on her. With her? Either way she is work. But lots of fun too.
What was your B plan if this career didn’t work out?
There was no B plan as such. I’ve done lots of different jobs: delivering pizza, developing photos, bar work, admin. Lots of admin. I would probably still be temping and trying to get paid for writing. But I would always be writing, even if it was only for me.
Who or what has been your biggest source of inspiration to date?
I always loved comedy and stories. So when I was a kid, Roald Dhal, Victoria Wood, French and Saunders, The Simpsons, Roseanne, Father Ted. Now I love Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Mindy Kaling, Sarah Silverman, Amy Schumer, Kristen Wiig, SNL, Douglas Adams, Margaret Atwood, Kurt Vonnegut and loads more.
Where do you feel most inspired?
My bed at night time when I’m trying to go to sleep. When I did more stand up and before I had a baby I was a bit more nocturnal. Now my day starts at 6am but my brain still hasn’t got the memo. I end up making loads of notes on my iPhone in the dark. But at least the next day I can go through them, so I’m rarely staring at a blank page.
What did you want to be when you were little?
What was the best piece of advice you ever received?
“Keep going, it’s hard, babe.” – My husband.
What has been your career highlight to date?
I never had particularly high aspirations for myself, so my career has already surpassed my fifteen year old self’s bucket list. Which seems to be the secret aim of how I’ve lived my life. Sometimes when things are happening I think, ‘Fifteen year old me would be so excited we just did a gig with that comic we used to watch on TV.’ For me there’s been a constant series of mini highlights, which make up for all the tough bits and rejection along the way. Things like performing at the Bloomsbury Theatre, winning the Gong Show at the Comedy Store, or being bought pints by vanquished hecklers at the Edinburgh Festival during our first gang-show run. Being published was definitely a stand out highlight.
Which one thing would you like to change about your industry/working life?
WELL. OK. I’m not being anti-my-industry, BUT… Firstly, more review space for children’s books. Children’s books currently get 3% of all book review space in newspapers, even though they account for 30% of the UK book market. A brilliant campaign called #CoverKidsBooks has been launched by children’s literature critic, Imogen Russell Williams to help rectify this. Everyone would benefit if children’s books were more fairly represented. Parents would be able to buy more than the same Roald Dahl, Enid Blyton and David Walliams, if they knew more about what was available.
Secondly, it’s very hard to get paid to write or develop a script in the UK, in part because there’s no set schedule or budget for development. In America it’s a proper business with a pilot season, writers unions and things in place to help protect and develop new talent. Sometimes I wish we could bring some of that over here.
Thirdly, unpaid internships and the fact that new writers coming up are expected to do so much work for free is pushing out the voices of a huge section of society, from journalism to TV.
Who is your favourite fictional female character?
Right Now I’m….
Watching: Better Call Saul on Netflix (and also re-watching Community for the millionth time)
Reading: ‘Modern Romance’ by Aziz Ansari
Listening to: The Adam Buxton Podcast (and Elmo’s Song)
Pass it on:
Who would you most like to see featured on this blog?
Pamela Butchart @Pamela_Butchart (award winning author of some very funny children’s books)
Wendy Wason @Wendy_Wason (very funny comedian, writer and actress)
Vikki Stone @vikkistone (very funny musical comedian)