Friday, 26 February 2010

Interview with Deirdra Morris

This week CC director Lorelei King talks to Deirdra Morris, co-author – along with her husband, David Gwillim - of ‘Improve Your Speech: British English – Level 1’ and ‘Improve Your Speech: British English – Level 2’, which publishes today.

Q: Thanks for talking to us Deirdra! Of course we know you as the co-author of the best-selling audio download title 'Improve Your Speech: British English - Level 1' - but can you tell us a little more about your background?

A: I've been an actress for over thirty years - unless you go back even further to when I was four and appeared as a Turnip in JACK AND THE BEANSTALK. I also played Dopey in a production of SNOW WHITE. I don't know what this says about my stage persona! The last year or so I've been doing more writing than acting, and I must say I've enjoyed being in one place rather than rushing about all over the country.

Q: How long have you and your co-author David [Gwillim] been married?

A: David and I have been married for thirteen years. We first met in a dressing room at the Aldwych theatre - he was coming to see another actress after the show. He was playing HENRY V at the time, and with his thick black beard I thought he looked rather shifty!

Q: You first collaborated on 'Improve Your Speech: British English - Level 1'. Was that the first time you'd worked together

A: No. We worked on stage together once, playing husband and wife in COMEDY OF ERRORS. It was an outdoor production during a very wet summer, and most evenings we played with rain dripping off my cowl (I was playing an Abbess) and David's beard (another one!).

Q: How did you divide up the labour in working on 'Improve Your Speech'?

A: David came up with the information; I wrote it down and shaped it. This was sometimes very laborious indeed, as he would demonstrate an exercise and I would try to work out how on earth I could describe what he was doing.

Q: What are the best things about working with a spouse?

A: Finding out how you can really, really needle them!

Q: And what are the worst things?

A: Getting really, really needled!

Q: What's your best piece of advice for anyone working on a project with a spouse?
A: FORGET THEY'RE YOUR SPOUSE! Work together as if you're just colleagues and not aware of the other's Achille's heel!

Q: What are you working on now?

A: I'm engaged in writing scripts for a children’s animated series on CBeebies and am also writing a book, and a play.

Q: And what are your plans for the future?

A: Now you have me! Writers and actors find it difficult to make plans, because they rarely know what's going to happen next week, let alone next month or half a year away. I can't even be sure I'll be in London! If I COULD make plans, I'd learn to drive (too late, too late, my friends wail), sign on for a course in Arabic, and take up ice-skating. I DO intend to join the London Library, funds permitting, and begin research for two novels, about two respective Irishwomen who brushed against the skirts of History and came off rather badly.

'Improve Your Speech: British English - Level 2' is published today.

Friday, 19 February 2010

'Ere We Go 'Ere We Go! 'Ere We Go!

CC director Ali Muirden blogs about her love of football...
Lorelei and I met up yesterday to record a new title we are publishing in March called “A Short History of the World Cup”.

Everyone who knows me well has had a good laugh at the idea of my being involved in publishing a book on football. I am a complete and utter dunce when it comes to sport. Once, at an editorial meeting when a beautiful full colour pictorial book about Cristiano Ronaldo was being discussed, it had to be explained to me that he was a famous footballer and not a male model with just an impressive pair of abs and a great tan to his credit! (Although I have to admit if he ever has to give up the day job I am sure he won’t be lacking offers from the designers du jour...)

The mystery behind the fanaticism of football addicts is something I find impossible to comprehend. Why, whenever QPR lose, my two brothers, Rob and Martin take to wearing a metaphorical black arm band and wandering around in a gloom for several days is beyond understanding! It’s only a game, for goodness sake!!!

So it was an interesting exercise to commission Mail on Sunday football journalist Mark Ryan to write “A Short History of the World Cup” for us back in October last year. We commissioned the title because one of our clients was urgently trying to source an audio book on the subject and we were delighted to get our thinking caps on and help them out. We also realised that with the interest and - some might say - hysteria that surrounds the football world cup, it was a very good idea to publish something that recounts the history of how the tournament came into being at precisely the right time to coincide with this!
I have to admit I really enjoyed reading all about the origins of this amazing competition. How the idea for it was first mooted in 1872, but it wasn’t until the 1930’s it finally came to fruition with just a few countries competing in the inaugural tournament – right up to the modern day, which saw over 5.9 billion people watching the 2006 final in 54 countries around the world! Even more interestingly 41% of those watching were female!

There are loads of other great stories and interesting facts and figures in the book ... but I won’t spoil it by giving them all away here.

And you never know - this year I may just watch the World Cup final along with everyone else... or (much more likely!) maybe I’ll just go shopping in peace, knowing I can get a car park space and get served without queuing... while everyone else in the world is in the pub... watching the footie!! - AM

We'd love to know: Will you be glued to the World Cup this year?

Friday, 12 February 2010

Touch me,'re just my type!

CC director Lorelei King touches on typing...

I’ve really been enjoying the latest series of Mad Men – the handsome leading man, the retro design (and the retro attitudes)... and don’t the women look fabulous: the clothes, the hair, the make-up. So glamorous - and boy, can those girls type! And they can all type.

It took me back to my time in high school, when I had to choose between woodwork and typing. It was compulsory back then; you had to do one or the other. Woodwork was tempting – so many boys – but my Mom said I was bound to have a knack for typing because of all those years of piano lessons. I took her advice and opted for the typing class. I’ve never regretted it.

Typing is one of the most useful skills I can think of for writers - or anyone in publishing – to have. It certainly came in handy for me last year when one of our Creative Content ‘The Lowdown’ authors - I won't name and shame - refused to type at all, and dictated his... or her... book. I was the official transcriber, and was grateful for my 90 wpm! But I was astonished that a writer didn’t have the basic ability to type his - or her - work him or herself. (Oh who am I kidding? Of COURSE it was a ‘him’! :oD)

As far as I know, typing is no longer a compulsory subject in school – but it should be! It’s far more useful than a lot of stuff that’s taught – and touch typing is even more relevant now than it was then, as technology means we're all spending more and more time with the QWERTY keyboard.

Kids – learn to touch type, especially if you want to be a writer. Not only will it help you to get your thoughts down as quickly as they occur to you and make you a super-speedy conversationalist on social media - it might also help you get a temporary job ... just in case you don’t get that Dan Brown-sized advance straightaway.

Grownups – learn to touch type. It will keep your brain active and your fingers limber and will irritate your kids no end when you can tweet and instant message faster than they can.

You know what? I finally took woodwork, too - at adult education class. I made a tall, skinny plant stand that wobbled like crazy. My husband did his best to hide his annoyance when it rocked wildly any time he walked past it – but he cracked open a bottle of champagne the day I put the Women’s Beginning Woodwork Final Project Plant Stand out of its misery. It’s wobbling in heaven now. St. Peter’s probably going mad trying to find matchbook covers to shove under its wonky little legs...

We'd love to know: Do you touch type? Or are you still hunting and pecking?

photo by foxtongue

Friday, 5 February 2010

Onwards and Upwards?

This week CC director Ali Muirden blogs about some of our plans for the year ahead.
Following my re-cap on the key moments from last year, I thought this week might be a good idea to have a look forward to what 2010 has in store for Creative Content!

We’ve got off to a great start by publishing “The Babyjuggler” in January.

This great book, chock full of sensible, practical tips and advice for women returning to work following the birth of their first baby was inspired by the blog of the same name written by Sara Lloyd.

Sara has done a fantastic job in pulling together all the key issues that seem to be crucial in coping with work and having a family. Let’s face it, there are few people these days that can afford to live on one salary and most women would agree they need all the help they can get!

In February we are launching a new title in our speech series: Improve Your Speech – British English – Level 2. This sees us tackling those tricky areas such as the mighty R and explaining how to “do a Dracula”.... and I’ve not even mentioned the Schwa!!

Improve Your Speech: British English – Level 1 has been a fantastic best-seller on iTunes and Audible and has rarely been out of their language best-seller lists since it published. Huge congratulations to David Gwillim and Deirdra Morris for their success with this title.

Moving into March we have “A Short History of the World Cup” which will give the lowdown on the history of the football world cup from its inception up to the modern day. I was particularly amazed at a variety of facts and stats I discovered working on this title, especially the one about how some Brazilian fans actually committed suicide when their team lost!
The rest of the year is also full of really great books. I’m not going to give too much away too soon, but suggest you check out the website for information on a new history series we’ll be launching in April, some more titles in the area of Business Etiquette in the summer and some new “mini” speech titles which are due out in the autumn.

And that’s not forgetting the launch this Spring of our exciting new eBook fiction series from Creme de la Crime!

And we’re keen to hear from our customers! If you have any great ideas or suggestions then please do let us know! - AM