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  • Writer's pictureHelen Lederer

CWIP can't say no ...

When one gets the call to do a CWIP 'panel event' at the BRITSH LIBRARY run by Chortle - well, one has to rally. First trick was to beg brainy AND witty Asia MacKay to host it with searing questions and then entice Kirsty Eyre, winner of CWIP's inaugural unpublished prize, to come along and prove that CWIP works.

I smuggled a bottle of wine in which was strangely empowering, don't tell anyone - but left my glasses behind, which was foolish.  Once I'd tasked Asia to find some 'light pop' on her Spotify for anyone who was early to prevent them from leaving, and Kirsty had sorted the heating, we were set to go.

We thought there'd be 3 people (one friend each) but in fact there were a handsome number of occupied seats - many of whom asked quality questions. One was about how women's content gets defined as 'domestic' whereas the male equivalent is called 'social commentary' (Oh my). Actually, I think I may have asked that - no matter - may I just remind us all that Asia's heroine in her brilliant novel 'Killing It' proves women are proactive, funny and human but never domestic.  I asked Asia to write about the CWIP awards. Thankfully she obliged.

Going off on one - think someone said sandwiches or sausage

'I LOVE YOU JILLY. That was one of my overriding feelings at the inaugural CWIP awards night. If you'd told Rivals-obsessed teenage me that one day I would not only be in the same room as Jilly Cooper - but being honoured at the same awards night, I would've eye-rolled at the ridiculousness of such a thought. And that would've been a fair reaction.... Being at an event with so many great funny women and having my debut book Killing It be Exceptionally Recognised by such revered judges, really did make for one hell of an unbelievable night. The free-flowing gin, the fan-girling at idols and the general joy of women supporting women; there was a lot to love and be thankful to the almighty CWIP founder Helen Lederer for.

That very brilliant hot Summer's night at The Conduit feels a long time ago now. My second book The Nursery (a follow-up to Killing It) is now out and was named by The Telegraph in their roundup of best thrillers of 2019 - with the esteemed critic saying lots of nice things including that he 'laughed a lot'. Making anyone laugh is a kick but making an esteemed critic laugh is an extra specially big kick. Whilst not high-fiving myself over this achievement I am not-so-patiently waiting for the Killing It movie to make it to our screens and writing Book 3. I remain very grateful and honoured at my recognition from CWIP. A prize specifically for funny women is a huge step in taking women's comedy writing seriously. Prizes are a big deal - they help validate your writing, they bring attention to it and they make fierce Chinese aunties finally think that you have a real job...  So, I thank CWIP for all of the above. And for giving me the ultimate comeback to my kids telling me I'm not funny... “Well actually a panel of expert judges DISAGREE.”’

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