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  • Writer's pictureHelen Lederer

Meet The Team

Updated: Apr 3, 2019

CWIP is happening - so meet the team why don’t you…

‘Laughing can be as baffling as it’s thrilling, but we salute anyone who can make us do that with words on the page’ (a quote from me).

It was only when I was seated around a shiny table in the glass-walled office of Harper Fiction – staring at a group of people who all seemed to be staring back at me in an expectant sort of way - that I knew CWIP had come of age. No more ‘wouldn’t it be great if there was a prize for funny female fiction…’ or even ‘can’t someone else do it who's more sensible…?’ - this was happening.

I felt it incumbent to open the meeting with some important news so I said ‘wow, I can’t believe we’ve got coffee in here...amazeballs’ before Martha Ashby (Harper Fiction) gently suggested that perhaps we might all go around the room and introduce ourselves, which moved us on considerably. We all said our names and what we did. I couldn’t remember what I did apart from bang on about CWIP for the last 4 years but tried not to boast too much. Or lie. See below for a check list of the team – otherwise known as an amazing group of individuals who share a passion to create a prize that didn’t exist before.

We had assembled to discuss prize ‘logistics’ which has never been a word I’m drawn to - but 7 months after CWIP started – I can’t get through a morning without saying it at least twice followed by a knowing look for extra logistical élan (‘élan’ is a word I learned when judging the Women’s Prize for Female Fiction – been dying to insert).

Thing is - it’s all very well having an idea to improve things - in a grumpy way - it’s quite another to enlist a team and support of a university faculty, encourage and maintain friendships with administrators, prize wranglers, coordinators, digital content people, PR people, wondrous sponsors and supporters, quality comedy judges who are prepared to judge for nothing and on and fact we could fill a small comedically enhanced town…

But here’s the THING, the massive amount of entries has proved there is much funny writing talent out there – it’s been given a light. This is a start. It’s our first year. Next time we can do it bolder with more categories and even more logistics. Our excitement about humour on the page is that one’s person joke is another person’s groan – bring it on! Oh – but we just did that.

By offering a bit of parity in celebrating more witty women’s content - my tiny hope is that we can make the word ‘quirky’ obsolete by 2020…but who knows – even I still cleave to the word ‘larder’. We’re all guilty….

Because one of the aims was to nurture new talent – it was crucial and fitting that the University was there to support the initial stages (as well as offer a FREE MA if you please). Apparently - in the land of other book prizes - they work to an eighteen-month timeline - who knew? CWIP did it in 7 months. I did ask ‘why?’ the other day, when one of the team said, ‘because you insisted’ which is unusual for me, but then - needs must. Luckily for CWIP, the University made all this happen – and laughed their way through a massive amount of wit - before surrendering the long list to the comedy judges.

So, what have we got in the pot then? The runner up of the unpublished will receive a free MA in creative writing at the same university. CWIP will have nudged some energy in this area of burgeoning encouragement. The winner will get a publishing deal and five grand …wtf!!! Equally (obvs) the Published Winner will receive a financial prize and all the praise we can muster.

So, the turnaround around from that logistics meeting has been fast and furious - but here we are - and here’s the team of splendid people if you’d like to see…

From left to right, top to bottom...

Me - Founder

Wendy Jeffrey and Jenny Dart - Partners from the University of Hertfordshire

Karen McPherson - Logistics and Book Prize Consultant

David Colthart and Andrew Colthart - Digital/Creative Content/Scottish Lads Anna Pitt - Administrator

Teresa Rendell - Administrative Assistant

ED PR - Publicity (


Published: Marian Keyes, Allison Pearson, Katy Brand, Kathy Lette, Shazia Mirza.

Unpublished: Martha Ashby, Fanny Blake, Susan Calman, Jenny Eclair, Lara Marshall, Karen McPherson, Jennifer Young.

Massive thanks to Helen Wakeman Jones, Lisa Batty, Amanda Brint and the Late Simon Brint, Dan Cresta, Heather Hill, Nick Russel, Karen Morris, Annabelle Pounder, Hector Proud, Angela Robertson, The Pleasance Theatre, Antonia Teixeira… No more space for now - more to come.

Namaste actually.

Some small pics of our very favourite people here:

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