I love writing. I got the bug writing concert reviews for the NME while at school. At 17, I applied to be a trainee reporter for a news agency. Asked my skills, I replied: “I’m a really good writer.” The man who’d be my boss, smirked. “Everyone in this building can write,” he said. “What I want to know is, can you smell a story so well, and want it so badly, you’d stick your foot in a door and keep it there?”
It was a lightbulb moment. The ability to sniff out or to create stories, is the fuel that propels great writing. Without a story, it’s just words. I went on to be a Guardian news reporter, and then segued into TV and radio. Radio was easy. You just said your words out loud. TV was a shock. The pictures tell the story. They are the bricks. The words are the cement: vital but barely noticed. That may sound obvious to you, but as someone who is words-driven, thinking in pictures was a torture…
In 1998 I wrote the first of three novels, published in rapid succession. They’re available on Kindle. The fourth was never published despite seven full rewrites across two years. My novel writing mojo went AWOL. In its stead came experiments with short stories and essays, published in numerous anthologies, and a short play performed in 2012. I love short-form writing and was so pleased when the Royal Literary Fund asked if I’d host a Reading Round group showcasing short stories and poems.
My other passion is theatre. After five years as an Olivier Awards judge, I started Monkey Matters Theatre, a well-subscribed reviews website. When the Tricycle Theatre, an emporium of dramatic delights, offered its Paintbox space for meetings, it was like winning the lottery! Tricycle Readers was born, and they’ve a terrific bar and cafe if you want to socialise after the Monday meeting.
I still write both fact and fiction, and provide social commentary on radio and TV. The same skills are used to help organisations improve their communications: creating newsletters and blogs and managing social media. The process of writing is the same across all forms. It is the content and style that change. That’s something I explain on my creative writing beginners courses at City Academy.
As a longtime resident of the Brent hinterland – part Kensal Rise, part Willesden, part Harlesden, and a light dusting of Queen’s Park – I love the social mix in this part of London and think it will make for some lively and provocative discussion. Why don’t you join us?
If there’s anything more you need to know, please email.