Meet a Member: Suzie Inman

Based in Porthleven, Cornwall, Suzie is a self-confessed ‘serial 26 project-er’ and, I have decided, a superwoman judging by everything she’s got on the go. From exciting projects for local charities and festivals to a historical novel – find out what she’s been up to.

Well be meeting a new 26 member each month. If youd like to feature, or nominate another member, drop me a line at Don’t be shy.

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

I’m Suzie Inman and am currently very lucky to work as a freelance writer, editor and content creator (find out more here).

My background is in PR and Marketing and I’ve worked for a variety of companies from small to large including Elemis, JVC, Arsenal FC, Chrysalis TV, Visit Blackpool and Blackpool Council and the Eden Project. Since taking my MA in Professional Writing in 2012 I have been working freelance on lots of projects, including with local agency Stranger Collective and for Cornish brands, companies and charities including Skinners, Porthleven Food Festival, Tom Raffield and ShelterBox.

I am originally from Lytham in Lancashire but currently live in Porthleven, Cornwall with my husband, Chris and my three-year old, Ezra.

Where did your love of words come from?

I have always loved reading and I think really it started there. I also love acting and putting myself into someone else’s head is a big part of the reason why – I think that’s why writing first person feels most natural to me.

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

I have been a member for about five years now I think. I joined because I had read (and loved) ’Twenty-Six Ways of Looking at a Blackberry’ and I heard John Simmons was one of those who ran the group. I wanted a way to do more creative work and link-up with other artists and writers in new and exciting ways.

Have you been involved in any 26 projects?

Yes – I’m a bit of a serial project-er, in fact! My first one was the project with the Story Museum in Oxford and my most recent 26 Trees. In between I made a firm friend across the pond through 26 Atlantic Crossings, so much so that I wrote about her husband’s grandparents for 26 Armistice. I also did 26 Memory Maps as well as the design writers project for Fiera and the project that celebrated Norwich as the European City of Literature, I’ve had some real fun researching and writing these! I’m very excited about being a writer in residence at the Bloomsbury Festival later this year, too and hope to meet more of the 26 team and members there as, being in Cornwall, I have not made it to as many get-togethers as I would like.

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 like to have time and space to write. I need to clear things out and do my research and then find a space to commit the words to the page. It helps if the space is relevant to what I am writing too – so 26 Trees I wrote in the graveyard that’s the inspiration for the piece and my fiction I try to write where it is set – or at least to take notes there and then take them home. Music can help with emotional scenes and pieces – and sometimes helps me to get in the right frame of mind.  My friend Charlie runs Urban Writers Retreats and I never fail to bash out a good number of words there because she is an absolute genius at removing all the distractions – particularly by cooking for you!

What are you working on at the moment?

I am always trying to write my novel – The Morning Star. I started it as part of my MA and achieved a distinction but life as a working mother with a small boy has been quite busy! I am now two-thirds of the way there and aiming to book another retreat with Charlie soon to finally get the first draft finished. It’s a story about a dancer who is owned by a demon and when she falls in love he will not let her go. Set in Victorian Blackpool it draws on my love of heritage, weaving in real places, images and happenings to the story. Throw in a vein of something-not-quite-like Greek myth and a dollop of fantasy and plonk it all into a seedy but flamboyant underworld at the turn of the century and you start to get the picture.

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

Recently I was lucky enough to be commissioned to tell the story of the Cornish charity ShelterBox on the walls of their new Visitor’s Centre in Truro. It’s a charity I really believe in and have followed for a long time. So it was amazing to be able to help with the way the story was told not just through the words that were used and the way it was written but also through using different media such as having messages printed on welcome mats, tied to tents and conveyed in video and audio.

In a similar vein when I lived in my hometown of Lytham about ten years ago I was asked to write some history boards that were erected on the promenade. It is always a source of joy to see them still there when I go back and to watch people read them and learn something more about where they are standing.

Where do you get your inspiration?

I love a bit of history. Some of the stories you uncover during research are far more fantastical than you would dream of writing and there’s so much potential for finding untold and worthwhile gems. The danger, I often say, is that you can find yourself disappearing down the rabbit hole of history and never get around to writing anything fictional at all.  I like the discipline of the 26 projects because there comes a point where the research has to stop and the creativity and writing must begin.

– Suzie Inman and Sophie Gordon

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