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Claire Duffy, Fikabooks, Scotland

Hello, I'm Claire

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Many, (err, many, many) years ago, I left LAMDA with no particular idea of what I wanted to be when I grew up, so I scatter-gunned my empty CV at every theatre in London.

 

Somehow, this got me a job as a wardrobe assistant in an open air production of A Midsummer's Night Dream, during which I nearly castrated Puck trying to repair his trousers in the dark. Later I was cautioned by the police for carrying a ten foot oar on the tube (it was a prop for a production of The Odyssey for which I was an assistant stage manager), and my career as a casting assistant hit something of a wobble when I told an actor auditioning for Bernard Shaw's The Devil's Disciple at the National that he "looked like a Dick." (In my defence, that's the name of the character, but the poor guy was so taken aback by what seemed like a random insult that he forgot the speech he had prepared and his agent complained about me.)

 

Around then, a producer I knew asked me what I actually wanted to do for a career.

Claire Duffy, Fikabooks, Glasgow

I didn't really have an answer other than "work in theatre," which I was doing, (even if what I was mostly doing was traumatising actors)... except that I did know deep down, but I thought it sounded a bit up myself so I couldn't quite bring myself to say it out loud.

 

A few months later, however, I was stuck at home on my own as my then flatmate was on tour with a children's show. There was nothing on TV and I was bored.

For some reason, I started idly thinking about the show I would like to watch. Then I started scribbling out the show I would like to watch. Sometime in the wee hours of the following morning, I had a (handwritten) pilot script and an outline of a first season.

 

It was bloody awful, but I was so taken with the high of making it up that I finally managed to say out loud what I really wanted to do: I wanted to be a screenwriter.

 

Within months, I was off to Canada to study Writing for Film and Television at the Vancouver Film School.

 

Returning to London, I froze when invited to pitch on the spot over the phone to Channel 4 so pretended I'd just seen a car crash and hung up. I sobbed to a then script-reader (who would go on to commission shows like Life on Mars and Broadchurch) about a breakup when I was supposed to be pitching scripts to her, and made up a series on the spot to a producer who dismissed all the ideas I had carefully prepared... and he bought it.

Claire Duffy, Fikabook, sittin on a bench in Glasgow

I worked in the film industry with varying degrees of success for over a decade before moving to Stockholm, where I accidentally catfished the Swedish immigrant community by writing my first novel as a blog (it never occurred to me anyone would think it was real!). My bestselling crime fiction series Dark of Night was featured in Crime in the Spotlight at Bloody Scotland and my original audio series The Stranger for Storytel, read by Joanne Froggatt and currently running in 17 countries, is being developed for TV. While my main focus is fiction these days, last year I took part in The Writers Lab with my drama series Mari, and during lockdown I developed The End, a collaborative drama series dedicated to developing female filmmaking talent in Scotland.

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Claire Duffy, Fikabooks, jumping in the air
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