Today I’m delighted to feature scriptwriter turned fiction author Sue Teddern. Her debut novel Annie Stanley, All at Sea received rave reviews, so her second novel, The Pre-Loved Club, which is published in August is eagerly awaited.
Sue Teddern has been a window dresser, a secretary, a feature writer and a university lecturer. She has over twenty years’ scriptwriting experience, from episodes of Birds of a Feather for TV to soloparentpals.com and Cooking in a Bedsitter for radio. She is married and lives in Hove.
Over to Sue:
Which five pieces of music/songs would you include in the soundtrack to your life and why?
How to choose a Beatles track? Practically impossible. I know it wouldn’t be Imagine by John Lennon, which has never resonated with me. I think I’ll pick I’ll be Back, one of the forgotten tracks from the Hard Day’s Night album. Beautiful harmonies and chord changes, even if John Lennon does sing ‘re-oh-lise’.
Goldwarp by Esbjorn Svensson was the theme tune to my Radio 4 comedy-drama, soloparentpals.com, which ran for five series. I love its giddiness; it always makes me smile. And soloparentpals.com inspired The Pre-Loved Club, my second novel (to be published in August 2022) so that makes it extra special.
Mirrorball by Elbow. The lyrics, the minor keys, the strings, that piano riff. Everything about it is perfect. How can you not love lines like this? ‘We kissed like we invented it. And now I know what every step is for. To lead me to your door.’
I don’t think I need I explain the inclusion of Happy by Pharrell Williams. It’s a big serving of joy, from start to finish. I love dancing and can’t help imagining myself as one of the dancers in the video.
I’ve been a Bonnie Raitt fan ever since her first album. And I’ve always loved this Blind Faith track. So, by choosing her cover of Can’t Find My Way Home, I’ve cannily chosen a favourite singer and song
What five things (apart from family and friends) would you find it hard to live without.
My street. We moved to Hove in 2013 and got to know our closest neighbours in the first year or two. It was only during lockdown that more households in the street connected and I’m sure that was the same for so many people. There is such a thing as community and it’s great to be part of one.
Marmite. I appreciate that this answer will be ‘Marmite’ to many. If you don’t like it, you’re wrong!!!
A wooden spoon. My mother was an average cook but she made certain things very well. Whenever she had a pan of her signature red cabbage cooking, it was stirred with this spoon and would take on a faint purple tinge for a day or two. I use it every day.
Comfy trainers. I have problem feet and have never got on with high feels or flat flats. Trainers are reassuring, supportive and they go with everything.
Good bread. If I don’t have time to make my own, I buy it from Simon round the corner who runs a community bakery. Hard to choose between his malthouse, sourdough, rye … or half a dozen poppy seed bagels. Proper dense bagels, not the squishy supermarket imitation.
Give five pieces of advice to your younger self?
You were smarter than you thought you were at school. Relish it, don’t downplay it.
Be sure to remember all the times you were ‘in the moment’. They’re too easy to forget.
You will find your voice and it will serve you well.
Your best friends will stay your friends. Others will just be a scene or a chapter.
Don’t put butter on a croissant. Jam is all you need.
Tell us five things that most people don’t know about you
I can’t swim. I was pushed in my local swimming pool as a child and that gave me a lifelong fear of having my head under water. I passed on this fear to my character, Simon, in Annie Stanley All At Sea.
I can sing all the lyrics to the extended version of American Pie.
I have shaken hands with Robert Redford.
I lift weights every Tuesday with a wonderful personal trainer called Fleur.
I am unfeasibly ticklish. I wish I wasn’t but it’s too late to change now.
Tell us five things you’d still like to do or achieve.
I didn’t think I’d be writing novels in my 60s so that’s an unexpected bonus to my writing career. I’m all set to start writing my third; completing that will be my next big achievement.
I would like to speak acceptable conversational German. My parents were German-Jewish refugees who only spoke English at home. And I had a horrible German teacher who failed to motivate me. I have lots of family papers and documents which I’d love to be able to understand.
Scones that rise … particularly cheese scones.
To be fit and healthy, with the minimum of aches and pains, as I get (even!) older.
For readers to continue to enjoy the books I write.
Many thanks for joining me today Sue, it’s been a pleasure. I was particularly happy to see Elbow in your music choices as they are one of my favourites. Your choice reflects everything I love about their music along with the magic of Guy Garvey’s voice. Sorry to say though, I’m afraid I don’t like Marmite (I guess I’m wrong!) but I’m a great fan of good bread, and who can so no to a croissant and jam? I’m also of an age to remember the full version of American Pie but I’d need the song playing as a prompt. Robert Redford eh! that’s some story. Here’s hoping you get the opportunity to improve your German (and your scones). Looking forward to book number three, you’re an inspiration to older, would be writers that age is just a number and not a barrier.
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Annie Stanley All At Sea
Sometimes the end is only the beginning . . .
Annie is single, unemployed and just a bit stuck when her beloved father dies unexpectedly. Furious at his partner’s plans to scatter his ashes somewhere of no emotional significance, Annie seizes the urn and, on a whim, decides to take it on a tour of the thirty-one sea areas that make up the shipping forecast, which her father loved listening to, despite living in landlocked St Albans. Travelling around the coastline of Britain searching for the perfect place to say goodbye, she starts to wonder if it might be time to rethink some of the relationships in her life – but is it too late for second chances?
The Pre-Loved Club
Ned is in IKEA with his wife when she breaks the news that it’s over.
For Gemma, it happens on the way to get fish and chips, when she opens the glove compartment of her husband’s car to find a pair of women’s sunglasses that aren’t hers.
For both, it’s a bolt from the blue that rocks their faith in the world, relationships, and themselves. But you can’t sit around feeling sorry for yourself, especially when there are children involved, so both – for very different reasons – join a support group for single parents.
It’s fair to say they don’t exactly hit it off.
However, as Ned and Gemma know from bitter experience, life is full of surprises, and as they navigate their respective brave new worlds, it’s possible they have more in common than either might have suspected, including – but not limited to – excess emotional baggage, low self-esteem, and the ability to take something promising and well and truly screw it up . . .
Writing for TV and Radio (with Nick Warburton)
This essential companion offers invaluable insights and solid, practical guidance to those keen to write for TV and radio.
PART 1 explores the nature of the media. It looks at the history of writing drama and comedy for radio and TV through a consideration of its key elements and some of the most successful dramas and comedies of past and present.
PART 2 includes reflections and tips from award-winning writers of film, television and radio from the UK, the US and Scandinavia: Sam Bain, Peter Bowker, Elly Brewer, Laura Eason, Ellen Fairey, Nick Fisher, Phil Ford, Jeppe Gjervig Gram, Katie Hims, Rachel Joyce, Marcy Kahan, Rebecca Lenkiewicz, Jan McVerry, Jonathan Myerson, Hattie Naylor, Richard Nelson, Andrew Nickolds, Georgia Pritchett, Mike Walker and Stephen Wyatt.
PART 3 offers practical advice on technical aspects of writing for TV and radio including character development, structure and dialogue. It also gives guidance on how to deal with branches of the broadcasting industry, from agents and actors to producers and script editors.