Meet your new ALCS Board Members

16 January 2019

This year we welcome one re-elected and two new Directors to the ALCS Board. Find out more about them here.

Joanne Harris

Joanne is the author of 19 novels, including Chocolat, as well as scripts, libretti, short story collections and cookbooks.

Tell us something about yourself, and what you write.

I was a teacher of modern languages for fifteen years. I’ve since been writing full time for 20 years: I’m the author of many books in a number of genres, including literary novels, psychological thrillers and fantasy. I have also written cookbooks, short stories, novellas, scripts for games, articles, libretti for operas and musicals, and at literary and music festivals I perform as part of the #Storytime Band with a live music and storytelling show. My best-known novel is Chocolat, which became a film in 2000, with Juliette Binoche and Judi Dench.

What are your own current writing projects?

A continuation of my fantasy series based on Norse mythology; a stage musical, co-written with Howard Goodall; a CD with the #Storytime Band.

What are your current top cultural picks from film, TV, theatre or music?

Theatre: the stunning new revival of Company, at the Gielgud. On Netflix: Arrival (film), and the beautiful, classy adaptation of the Margaret Atwood novel, Alias Grace.

What skills and perspectives do you hope to bring to the ALCS Board?

I hope I can bring some insights from my own experience of writing, performing and being published, including from the perspective of an author living and working in the North. I am an experienced public speaker; and in the past I’ve used my social media platform to raise and discuss issues important to writers, and will be happy to continue doing so.

What do you think are most pressing issues for writers and for ALCS in 2019?

Copyright (including the disturbing trend among some magazine groups to include moral copyright in their contracts); internet piracy; giving due credit to translators and illustrators; the continued reluctance of some festivals and publishers to deal fairly with the authors who provide their content.

 

Di Redmond

Di has written film and television scripts for broadcasters both in the UK and internationally, and has written over 150 books.

Tell us something about yourself, and what you write.

I’ve written all my life but I started making an income out of writing when I was commissioned by CBeebies and CITV to write Angelina Ballerina, Bob the Builder, Fireman Sam, Postman Pat and many more wonderful shows for children’s television. I loved every single minute of it; those shows were the beginning of a career that has spanned many years and given me an income on which to live and bring up a family too. Script writing led to stage plays, ghost-writing for celebs and publishing. I’ve published over 150 books for all ages, from Bob the Builder (which sold globally) to a saga series about conscripted women in WW2 recently commissioned by Penguin Books.

What are your own current writing projects?

I’m working on several commissioned projects at the moment: a new animation series for rising fives and I’ve just completed my latest WW2 novel, Wartime Midwives, which is set in the Lake District in an isolated mother and baby home soon to be requisitioned for London evacuees. The series has been hugely successful, mostly thanks to the lead female characters, some of whom are built around real woman I read about in WW2 histories.

What are your current top cultural picks from film, TV, theatre or music?

When I’m not reading or writing I listen to Radio 4 where I become increasingly more fearful of Brexit, so I cheer myself up with their Radio 4 comedy shows, which are priceless. I have an annoying habit of watching my favourite TV programmes twice. I’ve just repeated Bodyguard which, even second time round, had me on the edge of my seat.

What skills and perspectives do you hope to bring to the ALCS Board?

I’ve been a paid-up member of ALCS since I started writing professionally; the society has supported me through many a financial crisis and as time passed, I found I wanted to give something back. I realised that the only thing I could give was my experience in the audiovisual world where very often writers’ copyrights mysteriously disappear as their artistic property is sold on. I have personal experience of this having seen a script I wrote transposed into book form with no mention of the author – ME! – anywhere. Working alongside ALCS and the Society for Audiovisual Authors, I have lobbied in Westminster and in Europe on behalf of writers and now as AV Board Director, I am in a position to do so much more. So this is my campaign, to influence and educate people in power to change the laws so that in the future writers’ very precious copyright will be protected and they can continue to work on the back of their hard-earned income.

What do you think are most pressing issues for writers and for ALCS in 2019? 

I think the globalisation of the market place is a growing concern for many writers and indeed agents. The likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime are great services for people to watch content but there is a lack of transparency.  Netflix publishing its streaming figures for Bird Box was, I think, a rare example of getting information on how a work is viewed on their platform and it is difficult for agents or producers to negotiate a fair deal without information on streams – particularly as such sales may impact on the ability to sell works to channels in other countries. Secondly, with more and more people streaming catch-up and watching on dedicated platforms – as opposed to watching live TV – there is the threat of pressure on contracts and the primary rights and fees paid to writers.

 

Maggie Gee

Maggie was re-elected for another term in 2018 after joining the Board in 2015. She has written 12 novels.

What are your own current writing projects?

I have a new novel, Blood, coming out next month, a black comedy/thriller set in an angry, volatile Britain. The heroine, Monica, is a six-foot-one-inch, twenty-stone deputy head teacher with an axe. I also have an updated and extended version of my last novel, Virginia Woolf in Manhattan, coming out in the US. Lastly, and bizarrely, I have a sequence of 14 sonnets inspired by the Elizabethan poet, Michael Drayton, being published in an anthology of short stories called Kiss and Part.

What are your current top cultural picks from film, TV, theatre or music?

Books: Cull an amazing satire on UKIP and universal credit by sparky new novelist Tanvir Bush, which has the most real and lovable dog character in modern literature, a guide dog called Grace. Woof! Sally Rooney’s Normal People –  the quiet brilliance and close human observation of this novel totally won me over. TV: Game of Thrones – recommended to me for its plotting by my students, but actually it’s the characters, like Tyrion, the handsome, witty dwarf nobleman, who keep me watching even when I really want to do something else. I look away from the violence. Theatre: James Fenton’s witty and wonderful adaptation of Don Quixote at the Garrick. Music: LP (yes, that’s the name of the artist – weird but true), Lost on you. Totally addictive and makes me dance round the table.

What do you think are the most pressing issues for writers and for ALCS in 2019?

For writers the most pressing issue is always getting fairly paid. That means: first, finding good publishers with fair contracts who can help us get to readers, or else self-publishing efficiently. Second, we have to get paid for secondary rights and especially, online appearances of our work. And this is what ALCS is addressing all the time: the online remuneration problem. Also, ALCS, like all of us, has to deal with Brexit and how that may affect copyright law. Fortunately, the executive remains calm and professional.