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CWIP celebrates our first Unpublished (soon-to-be Published) Winner! Get In!

cover photo of Cow Girl the debut novel by Kirsty Eyre which won the first Comedy Women in Print Prize for an unpublished novel in 2019
Cow Girl by Kirsty Eyre

Helen Led here. Well done Kirsty! 

I can still remember that first meeting at Harper Collins, in a rather smart boardroom - when I had to pinch myself that this great publisher was offering to publish the winning CWIP manuscript.

I snaffled the biscuits and went out skipping.

Fast forward to now - and in spite of lockdown and a host of other variables (don’t ask) Cow Girl by Kirsty Eyre is out and proud. 

Not only are we enormously chuffed with our winning author, but this publication is evidence of what CWIP can do and will continue to do, to shine a light on witty writing.

I found these notes from that first judging meeting and thought I’d share them with you now – let’s all toast our first winner! Cheers Kirsty!

There was huge affection from all the judges for this witty novel set in the unlikely world of dairy farming.
The narrative voice was as strong as it was instant – providing an original and modern take on a romantic storyline.
An inspired and stylish read which was both smart and edgy. We cared about the witty and clever protagonist, the supporting characters and the cows in equal measure.
Kirsty Eyre celebrates winning the inaugural Comedy Women in Print Prize for her unpublished novel Cow Girl at the Groucho Club in London's Soho, July 2019
CWIP's ecstatic first Unpublished Novel Winner, Kirsty Eyre

The Cow Girl blog tour kicks off here today. I asked our first witty winner these probing questions:

Have you ever written in biro in a book and then felt that you’d committed blasphemy or were you OK about it?

I have. I've been on a few travels (pre-laptop/smart phone) where I've needed to jot down thoughts before they escape my brain and found myself scribbling in the blank pages at the beginning and end of paperbacks. I feel a similar level of guilt when I forget my water bottle and out of desperation have to buy single-use plastic.

Did you blush when you wrote the words ‘satin’ and  ‘bra’ in  the same sentence in your novel Cow Girl? Do you sport one yourself?

I didn't blush when I wrote it but did get a wave of writer's paranoia that Cow Girl might get featured on My dad wrote a Porno - the podcast where they ridicule paragraphs from amateur erotic novels - when you read it out on our Witty Wednesday Instagram live session!

I don't have any satin bras. I have several discoloured ones and most have lost an underwire along the way. I guess I'm more of a Billie than a Joely - nothing too showy, but something that can make mountains out of mole hills. 😉

Have you read all the Harry Potter books? And would you buy Harry Potter memorabilia in a mug form?

Controversially, I didn't read every single one when they came out but am now reliving them as my boys are big Harry Potter fans. World Book Day in our house saw Mad-Eye Moody and Harry Potter arm in arm at the school gate. I love J.K. Rowling's writing style and find myself gripped. Is it the Chamber of Secrets where Harry, Ron and Hermione take the Polyjuice potion and transform into other people? - a masterclass in description and choreography. 

I probably wouldn't go for a Harry Potter mug but if I was in the Platform 9 3/4 gift shop, I'd probably plump for a whimsical notebook. I do love a whimsical notebook.

Kirsty Eyre photographed in front of a bookcase at home
A year on from her scooping the prize - and Kirsty's about to become a published author

What was the best and worst thing about going on a creative writing course?

The best thing was getting candid feedback and the worst thing was getting candid feedback. No, actually, I think the best thing was meeting a talented bunch of fellow writers and continuing our group chats beyond the course. It's been great for solidarity, advice and support. The worst thing was having to read your stuff out loud. I became really self-conscious and got too wrapped up in trying to put my posh voice on.

Were you a member of the guides? If not was this a political decision? If yes, what badges can you boast? (ie was it the ‘writing is my life’s work badge’ and if not which bad would you prefer - since we are still on the subject of badges?)

I was a reluctant girl guide. I had a hand-me-down pleated skirt which could have housed a whole family and I can't remember if I actually got any badges. I think I was a better Brownie. I've just done a Google search for girl guides badges and see that these days there are badges for Vlogging and blogging (but not dogging). Back in my day, it was all about needlework and home economics. If there was a badge for writing humorous poems about school mums, I'd like that one, please.

Have you ever read anyone else’s bad review and felt slightly chuffed?

I have the utmost sympathy for any author who gets a bad review. We've all been there. It's important to remember that reviews are one person's opinion and quite often it depends on the circumstances under which they read your book. Obviously, if it's a great review then all of that is null and void and it isn't just one person's opinion, it just means your book is fucking great. 🙂

Caitlin Moran or Barbara Cartland? please kindly give two reasons

Sorry Babs, but I'm a huge Caitlin Moran fan so I have to pick her - firstly, because I think she is one of the funniest and cleverest people on the planet and has grafted hard to get where she is. Secondly, because I heard David Baddiel interview her on a book podcast and felt like she was my twin as she carries a swimming costume around with her wherever she goes in hope of a dip and loves Hampstead Heath bathing ponds - a girl after my own heart.

Have you been to a book launch and talked during the speeches?

I must admit, I haven't been to hundreds of book launches but I've been to quite a few online of late. Does it count where I have to tell my children off during their speeches? The other day I was contending with a noisy ice-cream van, a Sainsbury's delivery, the teenage boy next door doing his drum practice and then my two boys feuding on the stairs.

What made you write your udderly brilliant cow book? And do you still eat beef?

I'm not sure when I first had the dairy farm idea. My mum loved cows and my stepdad grew up on a dairy farm - maybe that's it. There is a farm just outside Baslow village in the Peak District which became my muse for the book. I've always found cows fascinating. They have individual personalities and can display signs of jealousy, solidarity, love and grief. The majority of dairy farmers love their cows and understand their personalities - as Billie does. I'm not a vegetarian but I tend not to eat beef. 

Why do you like writing so much ?

Escapism, probably. I find time flies when I'm writing. I genuinely love the craft of writing and given that my set up doesn't allow me much writing time (day job, homeschooling, kids 24/7), I find I do a little clap of delight each time I open my MacBook and set out my pot of tea. I've kind of always written - early days it was humorous poems, then it was pantomime scripts, then comedy stage-plays and most recently a novel. I often get enlisted to write funny poems for weddings and then I wrote a funny one about my grandma for her funeral and it kind of morphed in to writing family eulogies - I hope not to have to write many more! I love writing and feel a real sense of accomplishment in making people laugh and cry - God, that sounds a bit sociopathic, doesn't it? I'm honestly not...

Kirsty's also over on CWIP Kath's Nut Press blog today with an Author Q&A.

Mix yourself some moo-jitos and mosey on over to CWIP's Instagram on Thursday, 25 June to join Helen & Kirsty for the Cow Girl Insta Live Launch.

Cow Girl is published by Harper Collins. It's available as an audiobook and ebook from Thursday, 25 June with the paperback due out on 3 September and you can pre-order it here:

Cow Girl is Kirsty Eyre's debut novel. It won the inaugural Comedy Women in Print (CWIP) Unpublished Novel Prize in 2019. Kirsty was raised in South Yorkshire but now lives in South East London with her family. You can find her on Instagram and on Twitter.

The Cow Girl blog tour kicks off here and runs for the next two weeks. Here are all the stops:

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