“A story is a story is a story, however you tell it”
I live in Hove with my partner
“A mine of information”
When I left school, I wanted to be a window dresser. I swiftly achieved my modest ambition and worked at Littlewoods and John Lewis, where I became very proficient at draping home furnishings and hefting heavy mannequins across a busy shop floor. But I soon accepted that it wasn’t for me; I wanted to write words for a living. So I did a quick shorthand-typing course, in order to get into publishing via the secretarial route. I was a terrible secretary.
In my mid-20s, I made the leap to magazines, working on publications as varied as Ideal Home, My Guy, Radio Times, The Guardian, Mizz, Holland Herald, City Limits, Woman’s Journal, Honey and 19. I liked writing features about TV and, when I went freelance, I started to specialise in ‘Women in Comedy’ at a time when so many were making their mark. I’m hugely proud of Radio Times cover-story interviews I did with Victoria Wood and French & Saunders.
My big break came with some episodes of The Archers and a radio play called Sauce, about an ‘over-friendly’ restaurant reviewer; very much a #MeToo story of its day. I covered the same subject a few years later as a member of the Birds of a Feather writing team. Sharon, Tracey and Dorien exact revenge when Tracey is sexually harassed by her boss. I wrote 14 episodes of Birds and learnt how to tell a story from its creators, Marks & Gran.
More radio drama followed: single plays, series and serials, plus a stint on the World Service soap, Westway. Particular radio favourites are two series of The Charm Factory; five series of soloparentpals.com and, most recently, two series of Cooking in a Bedsitter. I’ve written a fair bit of TV too … from My Parents are Aliens and Bosom Pals to Happy Together and Homefront.
I’ve taught scriptwriting in universities and prisons, residential retreats and evening classes. With Nick Warburton, I’ve co-written Writing for TV & Radio: A Writers’ & Artists Companion.
And now I have Annie Stanley, All at Sea and The Year of Bad Choices to add to my CV. Shifting from 30-minute script to 100k-word novel has been a change of pace and a readjustment of my writing muscles. It’s been an incredibly satisfying process, especially when you type ‘The End’.
But, as I see it, a story is a story is a story, however you tell it.