01 August 2019

Kirsty Eyre: ‘comedy writing is an art in itself’

Theo Paphitis, Kirsty Eyre, Jilly Cooper, Helen Lederer and Laura StevenTheo Paphitis, Kirsty Eyre, Jilly Cooper, Helen Lederer and Laura Steven (photography by Steve Burton, Smartpicsuk)
by Katie Smart Author Interviews, From Our Students

Kirsty Eyre took our London-based 3-month novel-writing course in 2017. Cow Girl, the novel she was working on with us has gone on to win the inaugural Comedy Women in Print Unpublished Prize and a publishing contract with HarperCollins.

Here Kirsty talks comedy, writing tips and finding her trusted readers …

You were working on your debut you novel Cow Girl when you studied on our 3-month novel-writing course in London back in 2017. How did the course impact your approach to writing?
I went on the CBC course with a comedy diary (rough cut of Cow Girl) with a completely different name. CBC advised against the format of a diary, which I took on board and rewrote. I probably rewrote three times.

Kirsty Eyre

Kirsty Eyre (photography by Steve Burton, Smartpicsuk)

You’ve just won the Comedy Women in Print Unpublished Prize for Cow Girl and a publishing contract with HarperCollins. How does it feel to know your novel is going to be published?
Absolutely terrific! I can’t wait to roll up my sleeves and get working with Martha Ashby, HarperCollins’ editorial director. The whole Comedy Women in Print competition and campaign has a wealth of impressive people leading it and working behind the scenes. Helen Lederer and her team have done so much to raise the profile of funny female fiction and recognise that comedy writing is an art in itself.

This year was the inaugural year for Comedy Women in Print, the prize aims to give female comedy writers the recognition they deserve. Which comedy authors inspire you?
I love Caitlin Moran, Dolly Alderton and Maria Semple (Where d’ya go, Bernadette?) along with Helen Fielding. I also love Flo & Joan, the British musical comedy duo, whose lyrics are clever, funny and fresh. If you don’t know them, check them out!

Cow Girl is a romantic comedy set against the backdrop of dairy farming, can you tell us a bit more about your story?
I generally pitch Cow Girl as an LGBT Bridget Jones’ Diary meets Cold Comfort Farm. Billie, a 30 something scientist gives up her London life to run her dad’s dairy farm when he gets ill with a brain tumour. Battling misogyny, homophobia and the turbulence of romance, Billie eventually wins over the local farming community, who affectionately dub her the ‘Cow Girl.’

What motivates you to write – do you have any writing rituals or routines?
I love writing so need little motivation, apart from when I’ve written myself into a corner or got a plot block, in which case I feel like rocking in the gutter in the foetal position. I generally mail myself my manuscript and read it on my phone on my commute to work and make editing notes. When I’m writing new material, I can’t work with music on. I know many people listen to a soundtrack but I just get distracted.

Many of our students find their trusted readers on our courses. Are you still in touch with anyone from your group?
I was lucky enough to have a really strong set of fellow writers on my course, who always gave constructive feedback and have brilliant books of their own. We are in touch today and critique each other’s material, which is immensely useful but also support each other. They’re a talented bunch and I’m really lucky to know them. I’m sure it won’t be long before they write one of these blogs on their soon-to-be published works.

Do you have any advice you’d like to pass on to aspiring authors?
Keep going, drink lots of tea, lick your wounds privately and give yourself a break now and then.

What’s next for you and your writing journey?
I’m not entirely sure, but look forward to working with Felicity Trew, my agent at the Caroline Sheldon agency, on ideas for my next book and beyond. She’s a real gem and I’m very lucky to have signed with her.

Find out more about Comedy Women in Print. 

If you’re currently writing a novel why not take a look at our upcoming selective entry courses which feature direct input from Curtis Brown and C&W literary agents. Either our 3-Month Novel-Writing Course in London led by Charlotte Mendelson, or you can take our 3-Month Online Novel-Writing Course led by Suzannah Dunn from anywhere in the world. Applications are open now to start this November.

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