• CWIP

From Malory Towers to Miriam Margolyes with a witty view - CWIP Longlistee Jane Ayres cracks it

What made you want to write a novel in the first place?

Now that’s the $64,000 dollar question. It certainly wasn’t for the prize money.

I wrote my first funny book in 1969 aged twelve. It was a spoof school story called Pink Minarets where all the girls were great sports, the teachers were strict but brunette, and Hilary the crime busting heroine made Enid Blyton’s Darrell Rivers look like a complete slacker. It wasn’t a great work of literature, but my English teacher indulged me by letting me read out episodes in class, and it got laughs. Lots of them. And that was like opium to me. I was hooked and I’ve been trying to make people smile ever since.


Where do you get your witty inspiration for your writing?

Everywhere and anywhere. It helps to be nosey and I’m a serial eavesdropper. Airports, cafes and cruise liners are the favourite places to earwig conversations not meant for me, and I love to imagine how things will pan out for my victims. Dogs are good value for comedy writing too. Who doesn’t like a belligerent basset, dancing dachshund, or problem-solving pug?

Who’s the funniest female in TV/book/film right now?

I enjoy an autobiography and I’ve just started reading This Much is True by Miriam Margoyles which is a gem, but if I’m searching for a little romance, my go to author is Maddie Please, who never fails to make me laugh. Her latest novels give a new look to the life of the over sixties.

What have you been up to since being longlisted for the CWIP prize?

I’ve been making revisions to The World is Your Lobster and am now looking for agents. Any takers? I’m also polishing up a cosy crime which is in a very different style. That and writing the village Nativity Play…Everyone wants to be Mary…not exactly a box office smash but it did get laughs, so all good.

What advice would you give to other witty women thinking about entering the unpublished prize?

Just do it girls! No shilly-shallying.

Kick your novel into shape, sort out your submission letter and press send. You have absolutely nothing to lose, and this could be your year. Being shortlisted has been such a boost to my confidence as a writer and kept me going when imposter syndrome threatened to become terminal, plus I’ve met lots of other fabulous witty women on the way.

I shall definitely be entering again.



Here I am multitasking in our little bit of Herefordshire. There are never quite enough hours in the day, but I try to fit in my writing wherever and whenever I can. As I’ve got a view like this, I can’t complain.

Jane's multitasking

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