My whole working life is about words. I started out as an in-house ad agency creative; now I work freelance, both with agencies and direct with clients. I’ve studied literature and written academic essays; now I write novels and teach creative writing.
What holds it all together is the instinct for story – as profoundly important for a good business as a good novel. I really enjoy getting to the heart of both.
In 2015 I was asked to rewrite all Brunel University’s subject brochures to a tight deadline. The project was challenging on lots of levels, but I thoroughly enjoyed the learning process of getting to grips with subjects way out of my (arts-based) comfort zone!
I’ve written a lot of case studies this year, where again the trick is to find the story and tell it well. Subjects have included the National Gallery, Krispy Kreme Doughnuts and Serco consultants.
Previous clients include: Cooper Bearings; Arthur J Gallagher; Greenpeace; BBC; New Zealand Tourism Board; Iceland; Kia Cars; Dr Martens; Pret A Manger; Kelloggs.
Creative writing tutor
I teach a ten-week course based on my Creative Writing MA, designed to help would-be novelists get going. I run follow-up workshops and mentor individual writers, helping them develop and complete their books. I have also co-written an online creative writing course for a major publisher.
I give workshops in schools and universities designed to get students excited about writing. I’m particularly interested in what stops young people feeling they can write, and in helping them find ways to overcome these blocks.
* Just wanted to say how amazing today was! We had a great time and enjoyed your company. It was refreshing to learn so much in such a short amount of time.
I am so inspired about copy! Thank you so much, Such a great day.
JD, 2nd year BA Advertising student, Bucks New University.
My Manifesto is one of the things I worked on with JD’s class.
My own writing
I am currently working with an editor on my own first novel. The second novel is in progress. I have published short stories and poetry. Non-fiction pieces are here.
Blue Inc Creative
I co-ran Blue Inc from a dusty office above an Italian tailor’s on Dean Street in Soho, on the corner where the Soho Hotel now sits. Working with an art director I freelanced for most of the big direct marketing agencies of the time, including Ogilvy, Rapier and Leo Burnett, and also worked directly with clients.
Copywriter & Creative Director
McCarthy, Cosby, Paul, Berners Street, London W1
I ended up with responsibility for the creative department’s output at a rocky time for the company. It taught me a lot about how businesses work. Clients included WWF and Vauxhall Motors.
DDM Advertising Eastbourne Terrace London W2
Gathering more experience with major clients such as British Airways and Thomas Cook.
MSW Rapp & Collins Baker Street London W1
This is where I learned the business. I was lucky to be surrounded by very experienced creatives and loved watching and working with pre-digital production pros too. Clients included the TSB and Carphone Warehouse.
MA Creative Writing 2008
Birkbeck College, London University
Published short stories, gave public readings, acquired a literary agent
BA Humanities 2002
Birkbeck College, London University
Art history/film/postmodernism/postcolonial literature
MA English Literature 1989
Queen Mary College, London University
Dissertation on repetition and dialogue in the work of Samuel Beckett
BA English Literature 1986
Royal Holloway College, London University
The works, but mostly 20th century
LIFE IN GENERAL
I live in a great part of Kentish Town where neighbours talk to each other, and ideas and skills are shared. Each year I help a group of local young people, aged around 6 to 14, put together a magazine for our street party. I also lead a group – Friends of Fortess Road – set up to support our independent shops and last year organized a ‘photograph your local shop’ competition for nearby secondary school pupils which has developed into an annual project for the school’s gifted artists.
I asked a few of the people I’ve worked with to say a bit about me. As you can see, I’ve worked with some very nice people.
I’ve worked with Alison many times over the years. We’ve worked together on small tactical projects and big pitches, both of which she approaches with an unerring instinct for understanding the consumer. She has a talent for simplifying the most complex problems and delivering both concepts and copy that completely meet the brief, in any discipline.
At the heart of this is her ability to gently question what is unclear until she has complete clarity on what is required, giving account handlers and clients reassurance that she understands their problem and has produced the optimum solution (she’s great in front of clients).
It’s not often that you get to work with someone with so much experience across so many industry sectors. I struggle to think of many instances that I would not recommend Alison for a project.
SUZANNE PARTRIDGE, CLIENT SERVICES DIRECTOR, PROXIMITY LONDON
* I would not hesitate to recommend Alison. A consummate professional with an enquiring mind – a rare and valuable quality – who works to schedule and budget every time. A joy to work with.
DEBORAH HERCUN, MANAGING EDITOR, WATKINS PUBLISHING LIMITED
* Taking one of Alison’s writing classes is fun, informative and challenging. It made me write; but also read more widely, more often and with more thought and enjoyment. Alison creates a warm and friendly environment where reading out work in progress isn’t scary and writing is celebrated and encouraged. And the coffee is great too!
CHARLOTTE SMITH, BBC RADIO PRESENTER
* As a writer looking to gain competency and confidence, I found Alison’s classes struck exactly the right note. She offers encouragement and support on the one hand, and on the other, clear and thoughtful advice on how to improve your writing. She draws on her own experience as a writer and a reader to inspire students, and effortlessly creates an atmosphere of hard work and good fun.
NICOLA GODWIN, PSYCHOTHERAPIST