Meet a Member: Alice Hollis

We love it when you nominate other 26ers for our member spotlight, and how could I resist this introduction from Lauren McMenemy: ‘Alice Hollis is a copywriter extraordinaire and also the loveliest human that ever did live. Plus, she bakes.’ 

Tell us a bit about yourself – where are you from and what do you do?

Hello! I’m Alice – cake enthusiast, mummy, gin drinker, wife, ex-marketer, crazy cat lady, and Tim Burton fan (not necessarily in that order!). But perhaps most importantly I’m a B2B tech copywriter, executive ghostwriter, and I’ve just started offering content consultancy services again.

I’m originally from a town called Hitchin in Hertfordshire, which I left to attend Sheffield Hallam University. For the last 18 years I’ve been lurking round West Berkshire, and right now I’m in my office huddled next to a radiator under 3 blankets with Violet (pictured below) snoring on my lap.

Where did your love of words come from?

Roald Dahl. The man is a genius. Escaping into his books was the best gift I could ever receive. Matilda was strong, the BFG broke all the rules by making up his own words, Charlie got everything he ever wanted despite having nothing – and Mr Twit knew to play the long game (adding those little disks to Mrs Twit’s chair and walking stick to make her think she was shrinking still makes me laugh!!).

But then I went to secondary school, and Mrs Kiani (who I believe was a witch) kept telling me I was stupid, because I didn’t understand Shakespeare and refused to read ‘the classics’ like Sense and Sensibility. As a self-conscious pre-teen with no one saying anything to the contrary, I believed her and carried that belief through life. 

It wasn’t until I entered the workplace as a marketer and began writing articles and case studies that I rekindled my passion for words.

What made you join 26? And how long have you been a member?

The amazing Lauren McMenemy. I’ve known Lauren for several years through ProCopywriters (we’ve even shared a packet of fig rolls in the jungle at CopyCon) and I live in awe of her amazing-ness. She has the most beautiful way with words and I’m always jealous of her side-projects. 

I can’t remember exactly what she shared about 26, but I felt compelled to find out more. I loved how it is a community of people who just love words and want to create incredible things with words. So in September last year I signed up.

Have you been involved in any 26 projects? 

Not yet because I’m suffering major imposter syndrome about being here!

What’s your ideal scenario for writing? (A coffee shop? Quiet retreat? With or without music? What do you do to get yourself in the right frame of mind?)

I love my office (pictured below). We converted our garage a couple of years ago so I have my own space, and I’ve filled it floor to ceiling with beautiful things – think Ariel’s cavern in The Little Mermaid. It’s a happy space where I can ignore life and just be me.

Writing always starts with tea, writing gloves and a blanket. Then Violet usually jumps onto my lap to leach my heat and away we go. When I’m researching I’ll put on some quiet music – usually something instrumental from film soundtracks so there’s no risk of me singing along and getting distracted. But when I’m in writing mode, I need deathly silence.

What are you working on at the moment?

Professionally, I’m writing a white paper about the need to facilitate better information sharing to improve child safeguarding, another on digital transformation in local government, a blog series on AI in the retail sector, and an article on risk management. 

Personally, I’m in the planning stages of a new ebook about content marketing, which will contain lots of templates to help marketers with their campaign execution. I’ve also volunteered to write the Scouts’ annual report. And as part of my role as a school governor, I’m talking to the SENDCo about writing a series of blogs on different special educational needs and interventions, to create a bit of an information hub for parents on the school website.

Could you tell us about a piece of writing you’re particularly proud of? 

In December I published my first ‘proper’ book ‘Copy Cats: 101 copywriting tips, tricks, and techniques’. (Pictured below)

I say ‘proper’ because I had it professionally made and printed to create a gorgeous coffee table book. Rather than create another boring business book, I decided to share my insights using the power of cat-shaped post-it notes – drawing inspiration from the book, ‘The Napkin Art of Tim Burton’. 

Where do you get your inspiration? 

Everywhere. I took a masterclass with Neil Gaiman years ago, who talked about having a rubbish dump in our mind. We need to feed the pile with random words and phrases, things we’ve read, seen, or heard, experiences of how things feel or taste. You let the heap fester, mix, and break apart and eventually it produces new ideas or connects unconnectable things to create something truly weird and wonderful.

– Interview by Sophie Gordon 

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