My Life as a writer
When did you first realise you wanted to write for a living?
I started writing when I was only 14, after having a dream about a girl in a spy family kicking ass. I think after I started letting people read my work at that point I decided that I wanted to follow the creative path. Up to now that initial first character has, as I put it, invaded my head ever since. The strength she had to keep getting back up and overcome her disability of Asperger’s Syndrome kinda fuelled me to want to do the same. That drive hasn’t given up on me yet.
Which writer, past or present, do you most admire?
Sadly, I’m one of those people that can’t choose one because there are so many! I love Lee Child for his Jack Reacher novels, Sally Wainwright for Happy Valley, Andrzej Sapkowski for his The Witcher series of novels, J K Rowling for Harry Potter and Russell T Davies for his Doctor Who episodes are just the tip of the iceberg.
What was your first published (or performed) credit as a writer?
My first credit was a short film I was the writer, co-producer, camera operator and art department for. It was called Anything and it was about youth homelessness. It was the first film I made and I was delighted to see my writing brought to life, especially as it then got nominated at the Birmingham Film Festival 2018. I still can’t believe that and it’s been a year or so since I made it.
Which piece of writing work are you most proud of?
I’m torn between a feature film I’ve written called International Protection Service, which is the renovated version of the idea I had when I was 14. The protagonist is Amelia ‘Amy’ Thomas, the youngest in a family of spies. She has Asperger’s Syndrome like I do and she has to battle the way the world looks at her to get the job done to find her family that went missing on a mission. Writing Amy has been a learning curve for me because whenever I tried to write the story it was so info-heavy and I didn’t want to do that. In its current version it flows so much better and she is vulnerable and badass.
The other project is a short film I made recently called Sensory Minefield about what it’s like to have a sensory overload. I’ve only been having them since I was 20 and I’m still trying to get my head around what’s going on three years later. I also realised that there’s barely any knowledge out there of what it’s like to have one so I decided to express it in a film. I am so proud of the team that helped make it because it showcases how much information we try to take in mid-sensory overload and hopefully with that viewpoint others can understand and maybe even try and help.
Who or what inspires you to write?
I know it will sound really, really weird, but the character I created, Amy Thomas, inspires me. I created her when I was going through some really nasty bullying in school, like I have for the majority of my life, and she was a rock for me to get through those hard times. She was always there and kept nagging at me to write. I’ve now gotten into the habit of writing when I can and somehow it seems to turn out alright. I’m still doubting in the ability with words that I have, but I hope with more practice and with time I might finally be able to let myself believe my writing is more than just okay.
How do you switch off when you’re not writing?
I’m not 100% sure I do fully switch off. I sit on journeys and my mind wanders away into the worlds I’ve created. Watching my hoard of DVDs helps, and attempting to get through my reading pile is always good, but sometimes it just doesn’t beat writing the weirdest things I can get away with.
Which one piece of advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Read and/or watch projects that are in the same ballpark as your WIP. As annoying as it is to hear it, it really does help. I read the The Witcher series that helped to fuel a fantasy project I’m writing at the moment that I then put my own spin on by throwing a bit of sci-fi in there. Just take as much in and then write as much as you can. As the saying goes, “knowledge is power”, and in the case of writing, it definitely helps.
Why are you a member of WGGB?
I have a very good friend, William Gallagher, who had been suggesting it for a while and as my writing is starting to take off and me write more, I thought it was probably the wisest decision to make sure that when things do get serious I have someone in my corner to back my play if I get out of my depth. I did that and I haven’t regretted it.
Abbie Allen was nominated for the Birmingham Film Festival 2018 for her short film Anything about youth homelessness.