(Photo: Alice Lubbock)
Dearest Riff Raffers,
I am writing this with a heavy heart and a tear in my... fuck it, I'm crying. As of the 28th January I shall be stepping back from The Riff Raff to take up a full time role as Communities Producer at Metro.co.uk.
Seeing it written down doesn't make it easier to believe. The Riff Raff has been everything to me since Amy and I launched it in April 2017. Through it I have met the most incredible people, learnt more about the cogs and wheels of what it takes to write a book than I ever thought I'd know and along with surviving dialysis and eating a box of Jaffa Cakes in 15 minutes, I count it as one of the crowning achievements of my life.
The Riff Raff started out as a small passion project with the aim of hosting a monthly event and giving debut authors a platform and a network. Over the year and a half we've been running it, it has grown bigger and more successful than we could have ever thought possible. We've been featured in Time Out, Emerald Street and Reading in Heels; we've launched a podcast and created a manuscript feedback service as well as The Riff Raff Mentoring Scheme… and those are just for starters.
While I am delighted with these plaudits, I am most proud that, in everything we have done, Amy and I have stayed true to the ethos The Riff Raff is built on: that everyone who wants to write a book should have the chance, and it is up to those of us who have had the luck to be published to pass on our knowledge and help those who aspire to do the same. By bringing people together, in both the tangible and digital world, we can support each other, guide each other and ensure that everyone fulfils their potential.
Writing should be a meritocracy. Publishing is one industry that is richer the less elite it is. Everyone has a story and they deserve to have their voice heard; through diversity, we all become stronger and our lives more textured. In my (notably humble) opinion, this is what The RIff Raff does so well and I am thrilled that Amy will continue this legacy.
(Photo: Alice Lubbock)
I have so many highlights of running The Riff Raff it’s hard to single them out, though our very first event in May 2017 immediately springs to mind. Authors came – they actually came – and spoke candidly and articulately about their writing processes. The audience came – actual people – and asked smarter questions than occurred to me conceive. Sure, we might have drunk a bit too much wine and the last half hour was a bit of a blur. But the feeling of elation I felt at the end of the night, and the excitement for what might just lay ahead, will never leave me.
Our events have gone from strength to strength since: we’ve welcomed authors who’ve made me howl with laughter, authors who have given me light bulb moments about my own writing, and writers who have made me cry (just a little, mind) as I stood in front of a room of 50.
Launching the podcast was a dream come true and had no one listened, I don't think Amy or I would have been deterred from recording it. What a joy to sit and listen for 45 minutes as authors take us through the ins and outs, highs and lows, of their writing world. Each episode is a masterclass in craft and I come away from each recording fired up to write.
Came away, I suppose that should be. Yep, really crying now.
Regular Riff Raff attendees will know that I had to miss two Riff Raff events due to illness. By taking up a full time job, I am hoping to reclaim a little work-life balance that has been AWOL for me for the last few years, and to prioritise my health a little bit. But I will miss deeply the excitement and variation The Riff Raff provides: no two authors have been the same, no podcast feels like a repeat and every event has given me something new. I don’t yet know how I will fill the whole it will leave in my life.
While Amy and I have run The Riff Raff day to day, we could not have done it without the help of so many others. We are supported by incredible publicists at publishing houses big and small who provide us with authors, books, support and publicity – thank you all so very much.
Then there are the authors themselves, without whom there would be no Riff Raff. To date, we have welcomed well over 100 authors to our events and podcast, and I am forever indebted to them for giving their time and supporting our mission. I will never forget saying goodbye to one author after recording a podcast, asking what she was doing with the rest of her day and hearing her reply that she was off to do an interview with the Financial Times. This is the league The Riff Raff plays in, the company we keep. It is truly astonishing.
(Photo: The Riff Raff)
Every Riff Raff event is photographed, and I am immensely grateful to our professional photographers Alice Lubbock and Isis Pealing (as well as our friends Michelle and Bobby!) for documenting each night so beautifully.
The Effra Social in Brixton has been our home and sanctuary and I am indebted to all the staff there for making us so welcome. Clapham Books have been supplying our books for a while and make the whole process seamless.
Then there is you, our loyal readers, attendees, mentees and social media followers. Those of you who have committed your Thursday nights to The Riff Raff, paid your hard-earned money for tickets and been the foundation of the community we have built. I cannot tell how much I appreciate that support and how utterly grateful I am to each and every one of you – thank you.
My biggest and most wondrous thanks must go, of course to Amy – my love, my business partner, my co-founder, my mate. She is the heart and soul behind The Riff Raff and always has been. Her drive and commitment to writing, and to supporting other writers, is immense. She has supported me through personal and professional highs and lows, always listened and always said the right thing. She is funny, kind, smart and phenomenally talented – if you haven’t read her book I insist you buy it and read it now – here is the link. Thank you, my darling, for everything and for always.
Amy is going to carry The Riff Raff on and there isn’t a doubt in my mind that she will make it bigger and better – please continue to support her. I am so lucky to have her in my life, and if you dream of getting your book published, seek her out and she will bring a bit of magic to yours, too.
I shall be hosting my final Riff Raff with Amy on Thursday 7th February. We have a phenomenal line up in Anthony Good, Caroline Lea, Hanna Jameson, Haroun Khan and Daniel Ross. And while it’s likely to be a bit of an emotional one it will also be a huge celebration, so please do come and join us – tickets are here.
And if you are reading this, please, whatever you do, keep writing. The best books in the world have been a labour of love, and the best writers battle demons. Your story deserves to be told, and your words are important. As writers, we improve with every sentence we write so never be afraid to commit yours to the page.
With love and thanks,