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My First Time...with Charlene Allcott

Charlene Allcott at The Riff Raff

Born and raised in London and now living in Brighton with her four-year-old son, Charlene Allcott works part-time with young people in a residential care home. In 2017 she was selected to be one of the twelve writers mentored under the Penguin Random House WriteNow scheme, a movement to find writers from a variety of backgrounds.

Charlene is reading at The Riff Raff on November 8 – come and join us!

Describe the exact moment you decided to write your book.

My son’s father and I had recently made the decision to separate and I was living in the spare room of the home we shared. By living I mean hiding and my laptop was my only company. I decided to write a story about a woman who feels trapped and what she decides to do about it.

What’s the one thing you wish you’d known before starting to write it?

I wish I had known, or perhaps more accurately believed, that people were going to read it. It would have meant much less editing out of identifying features.

What did you enjoy most about writing it?

The process was extremely cathartic. It was a great place to process some of my emotions about going through a break up and becoming a single parent. If I’d been able to afford therapy the book might not have been written.

The final edits. God bless my editors.

What’s your go-to procrastination method?

ASOS, all day long. Literally all day long.

Go-to writing snacks?

It used to be sweets, preferably the really sour kind that make your mouth ache. There’s a specific sweet shop in town that I would visit before big writing days. Unfortunately, my dentist has informed me that novel writing has had a detrimental effect on my oral health, so I’ve switched to grapes.

The book that changed you?

‘Liz Jones Diary: How One Single Girl Got Married’. It showed me that however painful life becomes it can always make you laugh.

Your pump up song?

Queen Bey has a song for every occasion but I most often turn to Best Thing I Never Had. It’s a kick-ass break-up song but I also like to apply it to all the bad bosses and toxic friendships that I’ve encountered along the way.

If you could share a bottle of wine with one writer, who would it be?

Tammy Cohen who writes amazing psychological thrillers. I struggled with the isolation of writing and she was kind enough to take me under her very experienced wing and answer all my inane publishing industry questions. I owe her a drink.

One piece of advice you’d give first time writers hoping to getpublished?

If you want to write for a job, treat it like one. Set out a schedule for writing and protect it fiercely; start networking at the earliest opportunity - go to events and email people you admire.

They say it’s not what you know but who, get to know as many people as you can.

Why do you write?

Why not? I say this because I think it’s important to demystify the arena of writing. I write for a myriad of reasons, the same reasons someone does any job or pastime.

It’s great to have a burning passion that keeps you awake all night but it’s equally valid to want to pay the gas bill.

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