In Conversation With… Wendy Wason

Wendy WasonWendy Wason is an actress, stand-up comedian and writer. She lives in London with her husband, Stephen Hagan and her three children.

This year she is taking her 5th one-woman show to the Edinburgh Festival.

 

 

 

How did you end up doing the job you do?

After leaving University in Glasgow I worked for 6 months for a PR firm and it was so dreary, I thought “This can’t be it”. Then I got a job acting in Taggart and it changed everything.

What are you working on right now?
I am writing a new show for the Edinburgh Festival and trying out new bits of the show in comedy clubs. It’s very exciting.

Describe your first job
My first job was working in Next. I was so happy one minute then gutted the next when they told me I’d need to find 50 quid to buy my uniform.

What would was your B plan if this career didn’t work out?
There is no plan B. I might be something more realistic like an astronaut. I’m quite into nutrition and yoga, I could do that I suppose.

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Who or what has been your biggest source of inspiration to date?
My kids inspire me. They are all so different and brilliant. Exhausting but brilliant.

Who would you most like to work with?
I love Jennifer Saunders. I’d like to work with her. I’d like to be her really. Great career, happy marriage, doesn’t seem that arsed by it all.

Where do you feel most inspired?
I spent three months in Los Angeles a couple of years ago and wrote loads. I think the British winter is really crushing – especially when you’re trying to create something – and it goes on for sooo long. LA is sunny every day and it’s so easy to eat healthily there so I quite like it there.

What did you want to be when you were little?
I wanted to be a marine biologist. I have a thing about dolphins.

Wendy Wason on stage

What advice would you give your children (or nieces/nephews/young people)?
I give my kids lots of advice. It’s really important to be kind. Random acts of kindness make everyone feel good, including yourself.
Also – don’t stand around blaming people, identify what went wrong and fix it.

What was the best piece of advice you ever received?
Take care of your body. You’ll need it for a while.

What are you most proud of?
I’m really proud of my children. I love hearing them laugh together.

What has been your career highlight to date?
Working on Sherlock was pretty cool. I love doing the Edinburgh Festival though. Being part of the biggest arts festival in the world is tremendous.

Which one thing would you like to change about your industry/working life?
I’d like a tardis or something that could get me places in five minutes. There is an awful lot of travel involved with being a comedian.

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What’s the biggest challenge you face in your day to day?
Setting aside time to write, exercise, look after kids and spend time with my husband is a challenge. I tend to make it through by the skin of my teeth.

Who is your favourite fictional female character?
I love Jo March from Little Women.

Right Now I’m…
Watching: The People Versus OJ.
Reading: ‘What I Talk About When I Talk About Running’ by Murakami.
Listening to: The Foo Fighters. I saw them live last year and they are incredible.

Pass it on: Who would you most like to see featured on this blog?
Tara Flynn: @TaraFlynn
Irish actress, comedian. You’re Grand & Giving Out Yards author.
Sarah Benetto: @sarahbehnetto
Stand-up comedian, writer, radio-person, storyteller and wistful vagabond.
Lou Sanders: @LouSanders
Stand-up comedian. Edinburgh Show: http://tinyurl.com/zb2pdh7 Youtube http://tinyurl.com/otvl8a6

You can find Wendy at www.wendywason.co.uk
Twitter: @wendy_wason
Instagram: @woowas

In Conversation With… Suzie Jay

Suzie JaySuzie Jay is a London based event photographer. After becoming disillusioned with life as a secondary school teacher, Suzie decided to jump ship and do something completely different. Fuelled by frustration and a passion for photography, Suzie began working as a photographer’s assistant and subsequently set up her own photography business. Suzie now shoots for various event production companies to create images for PR & marketing purposes. Some of her recent events have been for brands such as Jimmy Choo, Paul Smith, Hackett, Sophia Webster, Glamour magazine & Gap.

How did you end up doing the job you do?

Well I started my career as a secondary school teacher of Spanish. I did a PGCE, worked as a classroom teacher, became Head of Department, the whole shebang. The kids were lovely and the staff were brilliant, but I always felt as though something was missing. In 2008, my friends and colleagues thought I was crazy when I told them my plans to move to London.

The phrase “out of the frying pan and into the fire” springs to mind. I’m not ashamed to admit I found teaching in London incredibly tough. By October (4 weeks in), I knew I wanted out. Life suddenly felt way too short to being doing something that made me so unhappy.

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To take my mind off things, I decided to indulge my curiosity for photography. I had always enjoyed using a point and shoot and decided that now was as good a time as any to invest in my first DSLR and learn how to use it.

I very quickly became completely obsessed with photography. It was my escape. I signed up for courses and consumed the Internet. I was amazed at how much you could learn for free, all it took was time, which I had. I listened to photography podcasts on the way to work and evenings were dedicated to devouring photography forums and blog posts. Weekends were for shooting and tentatively posting up some of my own work for critique and comment. It took a friend to point out what was staring me in the face: I should become self-employed and start my own photography business. I decided to go for it.

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In the lead up to the end of the school year, I was teaching full-time during the week and working for free as a photographer’s assistant evenings and weekends. Although it was exhausting, it all felt worthwhile.

My first solo ventures involved shooting weddings of friends. Referrals then followed at a steady, reassuring pace – I was doing it! Wedding photography proved to be the perfect place to hone my skills and find my identity as a photographer. Three years in, I got my break shooting fashion events. A friend worked as an event producer and decided to give me a shot. My first job was a shooting Nicholas Oakwell Couture at Claridges. My heart was pounding the entire time but I loved it.

Since that first fashion show I’ve built my portfolio, developed my network and sharpened my business skills. Although I no longer shoot weddings, I’m really glad to have had this chapter in my career, it brings a documentary style to my event photography that sets me apart from others. I love to look for the narrative at an event and tell a story with my photos.

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What are you working on right now?

I’m mostly shooting fashion and editorial events. This involves lots of fashion shows both backstage and front of house, private dinners and press days. I’m always looking for new ways to build my network and make new contacts too. I’ve recently made a more concerted effort to develop my Instagram feed (@suziejayphoto) and grow my following by posting a wide range of images from all the events I shoot.

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What would was your B plan if this career didn’t work out?

As I started my career in education I always have that nipping at my heels. I know that if my photography career didn’t work out, teaching would be my alternative.

As a freelancer I’ve become pretty resourceful, so maybe I could find a way to teach in a way that wasn’t quite the norm- probably via a blog or something. I’m hooked on the idea of being my own boss so I’m not sure I could simply return to straightforward employment.

Who or what has been your biggest source of inspiration to date?

My partner Paul. When I met him, my enthusiasm and drive was wild and untamed. As an artist and designer, Paul has helped me hone my craft to get it to a place where I’m more consistently happy with the work I produce. He’s a great sounding board and we’re big fans of each others work. He definitely encourages me to strive for more than I believe I’m capable of.

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Who would you most like to work with? 

Bureau Betak. Their event productions are spectacular with photography to match.

What did you want to be when you were little?

Journalist, actress, forensic scientist… I was such a daydreamer as a child I had a different plan for myself every week.

What advice would you give your children (or nieces/nephews/young people)?

If you find something you love doing, you’ll never have to work a day in your life. Its a cliche but it’s true. I’d also encourage them to believe that school really isn’t the defining moment of their life. All you really need to succeed is passion, drive and a spark of an idea. We live in an age where, if you’re willing to really commit to something, you can learn, network and be whoever or whatever you want. It really is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration.

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What are you most proud of?

The fact that I work for myself. Being your own boss really does feel great. I love the fact that I had an idea to set up a photography business and six years later I’m still going! I still enjoy what I do and I’m clearer than ever about what I hope to achieve.

What has been your career highlight to date?

Well it’s really hard to pick a career highlight because there are so many events that I’m thrilled to be a part of. Each one is so unique. The set design, lighting and choreography is so carefully considered, it’s always a feast for the eyes! I count Jimmy Choo, Mr Hare & Paul Smith amongst some of my favourite shows. I also recently had the privilege to photograph Prince Charles at the Invest in Futures Dinner 2016 which was a pretty special moment.

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What’s the biggest challenge you face in your day to day?

Keeping the faith. Whilst the freelance life can feel incredibly liberating, it can also be a challenge to hold your nerve and believe that the work will keep coming. The fear of failure never really goes away, you just get better at living with it!

Who is your favourite fictional female character?

Carmela Soprano. The ultimate matriarch. She’s flawed in many ways but so strong and stoic – what’s not to love?

Right Now I’m…

Watching: Repeats of Ab Fab on Netflix

Reading: Mick Fleetwood’s autobiography ‘Play On’

Listening to: Bobby Womack’s Soul Sessions has been played a lot lately and I’m addicted to the glorious vocal arrangements of folk rock groups. One of my favourite tunes at the moment is Creeque Alley by The Mamas & The Papas. I’m mostly enjoying songs that translate well to my learning the acoustic guitar.

Pass it on:

Who would you most like to see featured on this blog?

Nadia Anne Ricketts: @Beatwoven Instagram & Twitter

Heather Davies: @AlpineEthos Instagram & Twitter

Sam Pearson: @Sam_sue_Pearson – Instagram

You can find Suzie at: www.suziejay.com & @suziejayphoto on Instagram & Twitter.

In Conversation With… Marianne Levy


Marianne LevyMarianne Levy is a novelist. She’s written a series of books about Ellie May, a little film star, for children aged 6-9, published by Egmont. Her latest book, for teens, is Accidental Superstar, published by Macmillan. It’s about Katie Cox, a young singer songwriter, who records a song in her bedroom and changes her life forever.

Also a voiceover artist and freelance writer, Marianne’s work has appeared in the Independent on Sunday, the Financial Times’ How To Spend It and on BBC One. She lives in London with her husband, daughter and a bad tempered cat.

 

How did you end up doing the job you do?

When I was in my early twenties, I was trying to make a living as an actor. I was sent a lot of scripts, and most of them were pretty dire. It frustrated me, trying (and almost always failing) to get a part in something I didn’t think was any good. So I suppose I began writing books because I wanted to tell my own stories and regain some kind of control.

That’s one answer to the question, anyway. How does anyone ever end up doing what they do? I don’t quite believe in clear paths. Life’s complicated.

What are you working on right now?

My second book for teenagers, Accidcental Superstar: In Concert. My heroine Katie is trying to navigate her way through her newfound fame, along with all the usual difficulties of being a teenager. And, if this current draft is anything to go by, she’ll be making the most terrible mess.

As part of my research I’ve been getting deep into what it’s like for teens on social media, and it’s fascinating and scary. More and more I’m coming to think that I’m so glad that we didn’t have any of that when I was 15.

Marianne Levy and kids

Describe your first job

It was selling double-glazing over the phone. I spent three shifts as a cold caller, coming between people and their partners/ children/ dinner/ TV to try to persuade them to buy plastic windows. I didn’t get a single customer, and I’m glad.

What was your B plan if this career didn’t work out?

I’ve never had a plan B.

Who would you most like to work with?

Lena Dunham just gets better and better. Nora Ephron, if she was still with us. But then, I’ve had the good luck to work with two terrific editors in Ali Dougal and Venetia Gosling, so I really can’t complain.

My friend Susannah Pearse is an astoundingly talented writer of musicals. I’d love to do something with her one day, but I’m too shy to ask. Maybe she’ll see this.

Where do you feel most inspired?

The boring answer is, when I’m at my laptop. I can only find inspiration through thinking, and I think through writing. I work best in the café at the end of my road, because then I can’t procrastinate as much as I would at home. It was a bad day when they got WiFi.

Marianne in Cafe

What did you want to be when you were little?

When I was very little, a writer. Then, an actor. Luckily, when I was about 24 I saw sense and went back to writing.

What advice would you give your children (or nieces/nephews/young people)?

Be brave.

What’s the biggest challenge you face in your day to day?

Managing my fear. It’s a leap of faith, writing a novel. And, for most of the writing process, what’s on the page is pretty bad. Telling myself that if I can just keep going I can make it good… it’s hard. Harder than the actual writing, I think.

What are you most proud of?

Passing my driving test when eight and a half months pregnant.

Right Now I’m…

Watching: Michael Palin’s Full Circle. It’s hard for me to go anywhere as I have a toddler, but this gives me a tiny taste of what it’s like to roam.

Reading: I’ve just started ‘Undermajorduomo Minor’ by Patrick deWitt. I loved his novel ‘The Sisters Brothers’, so I have high hopes.

Listening to: Podcasts of This American Life. One day I’m going to run out of episodes and then I don’t know what I’ll do.

Pass it on:
Who would you most like to see featured on this blog?

Shelley Harris, one of the strongest and kindest women I know, and author of the novels ‘Vigilante’ and ‘Jubilee’ @Shelleywriter

Abigail Tarttelin, the very embodiment of bravery. She’s an actress, singer and the author of ‘Flic and Golden Boy’, @Abigailsbrain

Jane Hill @JaneHill64 She’s had the most fantastic career, from writing novels (Grievous Angel, The Murder Ballad, Can’t Let It Go) to standup comedy to running a radio station. I’ve been following her on Twitter for the last few years, and although I’ve never actually met her, I feel like she’s a friend.

Accidental Superstar cover

Ellie may

In Her Words… What’s in a Name? by Elisa Adams

Elisa AdamsElisa splits her time between singing and working in the big city for TCOLondon and Little White Lies, whom she also writes for. Last year she took a year out of the city to say ‘Yes’ to any task that came her way. From running the marathon, teaching a spin class (she’s not a spinning teacher) to performing in a close-harmony choir for a play in London, it was a year she’ll never forget! She knows the whole script for The First Wives Club and gets a little bit emotional when she listens to Kylie Minogue.  Elisa also blogs at The Bones of It


What’s in a Name?

Anyone who has picked up a baby name book knows that by each name is a meaning or trait which defines it. But can a name, given to us before any defined personality has developed, shape who we are?

My name is Elisa and this is how you say it. You start with and E and then you say Lisa. There is absolutely no need to add in extra letters, or remove them, change the S to a Z, E to an A or make me an Alicia, Elice, Eliza or bizarrely Alice. The only exception to this rule is if you are my friend and have made your own nickname for me. That’s it. If you’re name is Gary I wouldn’t call you Garrera. So please, I ask you, stop doing it. Not only to me but more importantly anyone with a uncommon name.

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When my Mum and Dad were deciding what to call me, they chose from two sources. Like most people on a Saturday night in the late 80s, Mum could be found watching Cilla Black matchmaking singletons on Blind Date. In some sort of hormonal fuzz she thought that naming her unborn child after a contestant on a dating show was an inspired idea. Dad, on the other hand had seen the Clint Eastwood musical Paint Your Wagons and liked Eastwood’s singing style on ‘I Still See Elisa’ so much that, he says, I’m named after that. “What an auspicious start!”, I hear you cry. But there you have it, on 18 November 1988 I came along and the weird relationship to my name began.

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It was at school where the most notable problem with my name started. Around 6 or 7 years old I began noticing that my name was different. People began telling me it was weird or unusual. At that young age I took it to heart. When new or substitute teachers claimed it was a typo or joked that they couldn’t pronounce it, so would call me Geoff or You! (Yes that happened) instead it hurt.

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At primary school I didn’t know how to respond to the situation. At first I fought it and would shout “IT’S ELI-SA” which garnered laughter and jeers from my classmates. Overtime though it became embarrassing to fight. So instead of arguing, I went a bit further inside myself and accepted that maybe I was wrong and didn’t fit in. I still preempt that people won’t say my name correctly but I have made no means to correct them. The longest I have gone without correcting someone is 3 years. I think it’s a fear of rejection that stops me from correcting people.

In February I took my Nanna to Claridges for Afternoon Tea. It was truly special but when I went to the reservations desk and said my name, the lady present said “We only have an Eliza Adams here”. I could clearly see how my name was spelt in front of her, with and s and not a z. Did she really think that I was saying my name wrong? Perhaps I’m thinking too much into it, but it’s these little moments have certainly contributed to me feeling like I don’t belong and lack an identity. If I had a backbone and was a bit more assertive maybe things would be better. I’d be able to progress a bit more. Yes I sing for part of my living but have gone on many a stage being called the wrong name and when months down the line I finally say “You know that’s not how you say my name, don’t you?” ultimately I’m the one that looks like an idiot.

472275_10152335253705646_770541636_oOn the other hand, it is kind of funny. In a way that only tragic things can be funny. Even my family call me by different names, not nicknames, just different versions of my name. Which is hilarious. Everyone is walking around in a state of confusion. Most of all myself, who has on more than one occasion wondered if I’m in the wrong. On the days when I chuckle to myself about it, I feel like an international woman of mystery. Perhaps if everything went a bit tits up I could just flee the country. When asked if I was Elisa Adams I could say “No, it just looks the same but actually it’s pronounced Eliza – Cheerio!”. Also, my now standard line of “I don’t mind what you call me, so long as it isn’t rude” – which is clearly a lie given topic at hand- does make people smile. So that’s a small victory.

It stands to reason that if you give a child an unusual name they will probably grow up to be different on the basis that they will constantly be told they have an unusual name. Now despite never really meeting any other “Elisas”, I don’t consider my name to be all that unusual but it has definitely shaped who I am. There has always been something that pushed me to be different and perhaps the starting point for that was my name. For all the times I’ve felt like I don’t exist, I’ve taken more chances to prove to myself that I do. Now though, I would like to bury the hatchet, for everyone with an uncommon name. Please, if you’re unsure just ask, if you’re told “That’s not my name”, please listen and remember what is correct. It just comes across as a little rude if not. Finally if you’re someone with a weird name, I salute you and let’s go for a drink!

Pass It On. Who would you like to see featured on this blog?

Sophie Monks-Kaufmann @sopharsogood – Contributing editor at LWLies, lover of cats and creator of bulimia podcast, Spill Your Guts. She is lovely, intelligent, funny and drinks her coffee with a straw – What is not to love?

Sarah Barlow @wealdhandmade – She’s like Rambo…If Rambo made leather bags for Toast, ran two businesses, was an amazing mum and drank redbush tea

Alice Annetta @aliceannetta – One of the best friends a girl could have – She’s just spent the last year travelling here, there and everywhere learning all about fashion manufacturing. Now based in Milan, she’s too far away!

Barbra Streisand – @BarbraStreisand Yes it’s most likely impossible but CAN YOU IMAGINE!?!

In Conversation With… Sarah Parham

2016_0120_PushPR_SVP_Antonia3768Sarah Parham is CEO and Founder of SVP Jewellery. She worked in advertising for 26 years as a Creative Director before a chance meeting in India led to a whole new career and way of life. Sarah’s vision behind SVP Jewellery is about introducing fair, kind and ethical working practices all the way through the line.

The organisation believes in taking care of their talented workforce, providing a safe place to work and pushing for more transparency across the whole supply chain. SVP is on a mission to change the coloured gemstone industry for good – they want to implement traceable sources and are working to make this a reality. #Changeisbeautiful

How did you end up doing the job you do?
My husband went to India for work and I used to fly out regularly. He employed many people and we all used to go for drinks after work – one girl returned to Jaipur to work in her family business and whilst we were travelling my husband got a call asking us to come to meet her family for afternoon tea. It was there that I was introduced to a whole new world of gems and jewellery makers. And my new life began. I just didn’t quite know it at the time.

As a thank you from the family they let me design a ring. Friends wanted one and as no one knew what size their fingers were I created a ring to fit any finger – retailers soon saw them and wanted them – from there everything fell into place and I quit my job and started a new career.

What are you working on right now?
April is the 20th Anniversary of Fashion Targets Breast Cancer that was originally set up by Ralph Lauren. TV presenter and fashion broadcaster Antonia O’Brien and I have collaborated and designed our Mono Switch collection for this amazing charity. At the moment we’re busy with press days, pop ups and parties.

We’re also working on three new collections and a new type of business but that’s a secret for now – watch this space!

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Describe your first job
I left college at 19 and I became part of the first all-girl advertising team in London and the youngest art director.

What would was your B plan if this career didn’t work out?
We are working on a new part of the business that will transform and work side by side with SVP – I love change and I believe that constant evolution is a key to success.

Who or what has been your biggest source of inspiration to date?
My father – he built a business from nothing and made it a huge success.

Who would you most like to work with?
Stella McCartney

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Where do you feel most inspired (perhaps an unusual place to work or a favourite location to find new inspiration for future projects)?
I have a nomadic work life – I love working in different spaces, anywhere from The Ham Yard Hotel to my front room to my business partner’s home to our office.

What did you want to be when you were little?
A farmer’s wife – I just loved animals and I still do. My chocolate Labrador Margot comes everywhere but London with me.

What advice would you give your children (or nieces/nephews/young people)?
Don’t be scared – go for it!

What was the best piece of advice you ever received?
You can do it.

The Bonbon Collection

What are you most proud of?
I’ve just been shortlisted for New Jewellery Designer of the Year by International Jewellery London – I have received many awards in advertising over the years, but none of them has meant as much to me as this one.

What has been your career highlight to date?
I have had so many including collaborating with Antonia, meeting my business partner and growing something from scratch that’s mine.

Photography by Brighton and London photographer Emma Gutteridge

Which one thing would you like to change about your industry/working life?
I wish the mining industry wasn’t so corrupt – everyone in the world is making, buying and selling something whether it’s a product or a service – we should all remember and respect that.

What’s the biggest challenge you face in your day to day?
Juggling cash as we are growing quickly.

Who is your favourite fictional female character?
Alice in Wonderland. I just loved her as a child. Brave and open to the different and unusual.

Right Now I’m….
Watching: The Good Wife (I know, I am way behind everyone else)
Reading: The Sunday Newspapers – I don’t have time to read books at the moment
Listening to: My dog snoring
Pass it on:
Who would you most like to see featured on this blog?

Antonia O’Brien who has collaborated on the Mono Switch collection with me
Twitter: @AntoniaOBrien
Insta: @antoniaobrien

Ali Tayor Maplecroft who owns Age of Reason
Twitter: @AgeofRStudios
Insta: @age_of_reason_studios

Alexis Foreman owns the brilliant fashion blog Stylememos
Twitter: @stylememos
Insta: @stylememos

Julie Donfrancesco – Amazing writer and all round gorgeous person
Twitter: @jueydon
Insta: @donnyfresh

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http://www.svpjewellery.com/

https://twitter.com/svpjewellery

https://www.instagram.com/svpjewellery/

In Conversation With… Jo Overfield

Jo OverfieldJo Overfield runs a food pop-up in Leigh-on-Sea called Beep Beep Pop. She is also the Artistic Director of Sundown Arts, a non-profit mixed arts organisation and is a writer. She credits her parents Kay and David, her ‘brilliant older sister’ and her partner for providing regular inspiration.

Jo’s career has been varied and never followed a conventional path. She spent 10 years working in schools and colleges within their special educational needs departments. Alongside that she ran her arts organization, did events work, wrote for magazines and fanzines and worked in PR and marketing for up-and-coming bands. She then started working in the catering and hospitality industry, becoming a director of her own community café, and now manages her own pop-up.

What are you working on now?

I currently host the coffee mornings at the Fishermen’s Chapel in Leigh-on-Sea where together we are trying to build on the community within this area of Leigh and also to help the chapel boost their visitors. We also host an afternoon tea with live vintage music here, every first Friday of the month. We have also started to collaborate on food & wine matching evenings with local, independent wine shop, Vino Vero.

Describe your first job

Age 14 at Sport & Ski, Eastgate Centre, Basildon. My job was to sell the sport and ski equipment on the shop floor. I knew nothing about skiing. Although roller blades had just come out, so I sold my first pair to an unsuspecting young woman – I was chuffed to bits! I was terribly paid I seem to remember.

Who or what has been your biggest source of inspiration to date?

My family for their strong work ethic and for being good, wise, people. Also great, pioneering female writers and performers who also produced their own work like Lucille Ball, Lily Tomlin, Victoria Wood and those today such as Amy Poehler, Lena Dunham and many others. I would like to add Mary Portas too for her strength with branding, her vision and the way she works with people.

Jo Overfield

Where do you feel most inspired?

In the kitchen, reading recipes. Visiting London for street food, markets, new pop-ups, coffee shops and restaurants. In terms of writing then it’s in life, in people, queuing at the supermarket, waiting for a bus or what I’ve overheard in the street.

What did you want to be when you were little?

A cartoonist and a journalist.

What was the best piece of advice you ever received?

A fairly famous person once told me to stop apologising for myself, it was a good kick up the backside.

What are you most proud of?

Running Sundown for 12 years and counting, the people we’ve booked and the reputation I’ve worked hard to build. Also taking over a café and making it my own.

What has been your career highlight to date?

There’s been a few actually: receiving Arts Council funding more than once; booking Frank Sidebottom before he died; writing in the BBC Radio 4 building with a team of other writers; the launch day when I opened my café.

Beep Beep Pop
Which one thing would you like to change about your industry/working life?

The security. Although it shapes who you are and how you cope.

Who is your favourite fictional female character?

Candice Marie Pratt. Or Ripley in the Alien films.

Right Now I’m….

Watching – The People vs OJ Simpson

Reading – ‘My Life On The Road’ by Gloria Steinem

Listening to – Link Wray and the Wraymen

Pass it on:

Who would you most like to see featured on this blog?

Writer and stand up comedian – Josie Long @JosieLong

Instagram.com/josielong

Freelance film producer – Jo Farrugia @jofarrugia

Instagram.com/jofarrugia

Music writer and biographer – Zoe Howe @zoehowe

Instagram.com/zoe_2dots_howe

In Conversation With… Catie Wilkins

Catie Wilkins

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.

Catie Wilkins

What did you want to be when you were little?


A mermaid.

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? 

Liz Lemon.

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)

http://catiewilkins.com

@Catiewilkins

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)

My Best Friend and Other Enemies

my great success and other failures