An Audience with Sue Townsend

Childhood dreams of glamour; while waiting for her bus she’d peer through the sloped window of a posh hotel in Leicester, where the punters used cigarette holders. She’d watch the gay bar tender totter around in his black stilettoes; Sue had achieved this dream and was in fact wearing a pair of shiny black heels. What a long way to have come, that same girl who only learned to read when she was eight and left school at fifteen went on to achieve multinational success in the bookselling world.

Perhaps it is Sue Townsend’s background that makes her so humble, Sue quoted Plato when she said: ‘Be kind, for everyone is fighting a hard battle’, as she signed towards her heart. It is the fact that Sue can find something good in everyone that allowed her to refine her compassion and inherent interest in other people and the stories they have to tell. From this she was able to learn how real people feel and respond to given situations, through these understandings of human behaviour she manages to create characters with such strong and seemingly real personalities. This is especially true of the infamous Adrian Mole, who Sue actually talks about as though he’s a real person, explaining that he celebrated his forty-fifth birthday last month.

Of course, such success is never achieved without some hard graft, Sue admitted to rewriting one particular film script thirty-seven times. After progressing through a number of these, the producer began to wonder: perhaps the first version was the best? Sue commented that she had restrained from getting annoyed with him, and simply preserved with her work.

The topic of conversation turned to a specific work: Womberang, Sue’s first play. From this she learnt that directors had a lot of control over stage productions, as her carefully-crafted Bernard Shaw style stage directions were very much over-looked. Alongside this, she realised that actors can be very particular about phrases which they are able to pronounce, but regardless of meddling directors and whinging actors, Sue stuck it out and became a very successful playwright.

As final bit of gossip, Sue did let on that she would be beginning the next book in the Adrian Mole series the following day, apparently she has no idea what path the story is going to take- except there will be an inclusion of a certain box…

And so, An Audience with Sue Townsend was exactly as I imagined it would be: insightful, inspirational and, of course, full of wit and humour.

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