Ahead of his Outwtih Festival Queer Words Writing Workshop on Friday 9th September at Fire Station Creative, we put a few questions to BAFTA Scotland winner Michael Lee Richardson to find out what makes him tick as a writer:
AS: What inspired you to become a writer?
MLR: A lot of writers say they’ve been writing ever since they could hold a pen, and that’s not my story. I’ve always loved writing and coming up with stories, but it had never really occurred to me that you could do it as a job. When I was 25, I lost my job and was unemployed for 6 months – it was a really difficult time – and I saw this competition that BBC Writersroom were running, looking for sitcoms from Scotland. I wrote a script for that, and it was really important for me to have something to focus on – I think writing that script saved my sanity – and I sent it in. It didn’t place in the competition, but I got some really lovely feedback from someone at the BBC, and that encouraged me to keep at it and write another script – and another and another one!
AS: Is there a piece of someone else’s writing you wish you had written?
MLR: God, loads! I’ve been revisiting Torrey Peters’ Detransition, Baby recently, and I’m so jealous of that book – it has such a bright, soapy energy, and a lightness of touch, and some absolutely wickedly funny jokes and observational stuff that most writers would be jealous of, I think. There’s a scene where one of the characters i doing a ‘follow that car!’ chase, but they have to keep stopping to update their location on the Uber app – it’s so silly and good.
AS: How has your queer identity influenced your work?
MLR: Most of my work is about queer and working class lives and culture, and a lot of my focus is on widening the margins on the way queer and working class people are represented on TV. As a queer person, you’re sort of immediately at odds with mainstream culture, and writing from outside of that – I think that gives queer writers this very specific way of seeing the world, as observers rather than observed. Even my work that isn’t immediately queer has a queer sensisibility – glib, wry, observational, but ultimately kind and compassionate. I think those are queer values.
AS: What’s the dream? Oscar, Booker or Carnegie Medal?
MLR: Mostly to just keep being able to do what I do, and to never have to work in an office again! I just want to get my work in front of audiences – but I’d really like to take my Mam to the Oscars!
There are 30 spaces available for Michael’s workshop which starts at 6pm. Tickets cost just £5 plus booking fee and you can book yours here.
For more information about this and all other evens at this year’s Outwith Festival, click here.