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Helen McWilliams Interview

Posted on 06 August 2015. © Copyright 2004-2023 WriteWords
A longer version of this interview is available to WriteWords Full and Community Members.
Click here to learn more about becoming a member.

WriteWords talks to WW member Helen McWilliams about her blogging, articles and other writing

Tell us all about your writing background- what you’ve written, what you’re currently writing

I’ve been writing in an amateur capacity for more years than I can remember, always with a particular interest in writing for radio or television as well as dashing off short stories and poems. I was fortunate enough to be mentored in poetry by a lady called Jacqui Rowe who is a published poet among other things. She ran a series of courses at the MAC Arts Centre in Birmingham and attending those helped to boost my confidence in sharing my fictional work.

I have my own theatre and event review blogsite www.breakalegreviewblog.wordpress.com which I’m pleased to say is going from strength to strength. I also write for www.the-newshub.com, I write articles for them on whatever subject takes my fancy, which is extremely liberating.
At the moment I’m working on an entry for the Ruth Rendell Short Story Competition, a number of poems for the flash poetry group I’m a member of at ‘Write Words’, and three more articles for ‘The News Hub’. In addition I am always writing monologues/duologues when an idea for them springs to mind, I’m in the process of turning a few of those into possible scripts for radio.

Other work besides writing; ie. Editing, dramaturgy, tutoring, and how it works/worked for/against your own writing

I work for the NHS! I have done on and off for over ten years, now and I see writing as my second job in addition to the necessary day job. Maybe that will change, one day and writing will be my first job…

How did you start writing?

As a child I was always making up stories in my head (I still do to an extent!) and writing was a good way of allowing my imagination to run wild. When I was introduced to my first primary school teacher in the juniors section of the school (when I was graduating from the infants section!) the teacher who ‘handed me over’ said “this is Helen and she’s a very gifted story writer and poet”, those words struck a chord with me, and that introduction is recalled verbatim. Encouraged by this glowing report I started writing for fun outside of school.

I used to write off for autographs from television and theatre actors and actresses, too. One letter which I still keep close by is from star of television programmes ‘Outside Edge’ and ‘The Royal’, Robert Daws – he writes “I must say if your letters are anything to go by, you could have a very good career as a writer!”

Who are your favourite writers and why?

I am a huge fan of JK Rowling, the ‘Harry Potter’ books re-introduced me to reading at a time when I had been particularly lax. I also rate Alan Bennett, as I enjoy his observational style, he’s my top monologue writer. I must also add Julian Fellowes to this list as I am a fan of ‘Downton Abbey’!
I was and still am influenced by the actors and actresses I grew up watching on television and in the theatre. I have quite a long list of favourites, but I have a short-list of five actresses, all of whom I would be honoured to write roles for and they are Judy Buxton, Tracey Childs, Felicity Dean, Phyllis Logan and Lesley Nicol. I suppose you could call those ladies my childhood heroes, and they very often pop into my head when I’m writing monologues/duologues.

How did you get your first agent/ commission/publication? Can you tell us about the process/journey?

One of my first small ‘breaks’ came while I was writing for another theatre review site before I started ‘Break A Leg Review’ when one of my reviews was picked up on by the Birmingham Evening Mail, they asked for permission to publish it, which I gladly agreed to.

Following that I applied to be a contributor to ‘The News Hub’, I had to submit a sample article (which was published as they were so happy with it), as well as my writer’s CV and a few lines about what I could bring to their organisation.

What's the worst thing about writing?

For me, sometimes it’s finding the time as I’m a parent to a toddler who wants to take the pen from my hand or play with the laptop if I need to quickly make a note of an idea that I don’t want to lose! That’s frustrating!

And the best?

That’s an exhaustive list, however I’d say it’s the journey that it takes you on, I’d never have thought I’d be writing articles when I was merrily penning stories and poems as a youngster. There are always different paths to take, new goals to set yourself, as well as different genres of writing to try.

Tell us what kind of response you get from audiences/readers and if/how this affects/influences your writing

Everyone is always very kind and in relation to poetry, I receive an abundance of lovely feedback if I make my poems rhyme! To summarise the responses I get is a difficult task, however one of the pinnacle moments this year came when my childhood hero, actress Judy Buxton told me that she thinks the reviews that I write on ‘Break A Leg Review’ are “brilliant”.

A longer version of this interview is available to WriteWords Full and Community Members.
Click here to learn more about becoming a member.

Comments by other Members

TassieDevil at 17:55 on 06 October 2015  Report this post
Hi Helen, I didn't realise you had this interview posted. Interesting reading, as it's always great to discover the inner workings of members on the site and in particular Women's Fiction. You certainly sound as though you have the motivation and skills to succeed in your chosen genres. There are some that I know very little about, but would like to learn more. A radio series is a great aspiration.

dorothylusk at 11:18 on 27 December 2020  Report this post
Very interesting interview!

dorothylusk at 11:18 on 27 December 2020  Report this post
Very interesting interview!

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