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The power of Spanx and the funny bone - CWIP shortlistee Emma Williams gets hurt by her Spanx

Emma Williams

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

I've always wanted to be a writer and frankly getting divorced and not having worked much as an actor for a few years was what sparked me back into writing and being creative about ten years ago. I didn't know I had an ability to write funny though, and it wasn't until I took a course with Curtis Brown Creative that I started to find my funny bones and Agnes, my protagonist, was born.

Who are your female comic inspirations? Who’s the funniest female in TV/book/film right now?

My comedy heroes have always been Victoria Wood and Eddie Izzard, a combination of brilliant execution, keen observation and the absurd coming together in a lovely hotchpotch. I'm a huge fan of Candice Carty-Williams - Queenie was an exceptional debut - and I can't wait to read what she writes next, Beth O'Leary has also become something of a go-to for fun and funny fiction for me.

What have you been up to since being shortlisted for the CWIP unpublished prize?

Since being shortlisted I've signed to my literary agent, Samar Hammam at Rocking Chair Books, and I'm currently working on my final edit for her before we (hopefully) put The Death and Life of Agnes Grace out to publishers. I've also been busy writing and performing in my own one-woman show about my 20-year career (so far) as an actor as well as filming pieces for various TV shows.

What difference has being shortlisted made to you?

Whilst it would've been amazing to win, being shortlisted introduced me to an amazing brood of witty women also on the long and short lists and that support network is immense. Writing is such an isolated, internal process that you need to have a great group of fellow writers around you to sound off and I'll always be grateful to CWIP for that. And for the new-found confidence it's given me in my writing.

It also led to an enforced one week writing in the latter half of last year. I'd found an amazing dress to wear to the awards on Vinted but when it arrived it was a little, shall we say, snug. Out came the trusty Spanx and some safety pins and away we went. I was fine but realised after the awards had finished how desperate I was and so ran to the loo. No problems until I tried to get the bloody things back up again and the Spanx were, shall we say, less than willing. I heaved a little too hard, the waistband pinged away and my hand went slamming back into the porcelain tiles of the Groucho Club toilets. Leaving me with a rather bruised ego, and a broken knuckle. Oops!

Can you sum up the CWIP experience in three words?

Inspiring, exhilarating and empowering.

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