Author Spotlight no.27 – Rachel Cochrane

To complement my daily blog interviews I recently started a series of Author Spotlights and today’s, the twenty-seventh, is of scriptwriter and spoken word director, editor (and more) Rachel Cochrane.

After many years of scriptwriting full-time and several shortlists, Rachel decided to bypass the cumbersome commissioning process and take advantage of the advent of digital media.  After being selected for the Creative GLEAM scheme at Durham University Business School and a DigitalCity Fellowship at the Institute of Digital Innovation, she has now set up a spoken word entertainment website, recording her own dramas and inviting other writers to submit their quality work for you to enjoy.  Rachel is about to launch the pilot episode of her webdrama Celia, the deliberations of a middle-class, middle-aged woman which bears no resemblance to her own life – honest.  Catch the trailer

And now from the author herself:

After almost 7 years of near solitary writing, I decided to set up, a spoken word entertainment website.  I had a vague plan of how it might work but I was charting new territory.  Really it was a case of putting my toe in the water to see what might develop.

I wanted to produce the radio plays that I had written as audio dramas and put them out to an audience on the web.  This needed a several-pronged approach:

  • Gathering actors
  • Directing
  • Arranging recording and editing
  • Legal considerations
  • Developing a website to house the productions

Having no experience of recording and editing, I contacted a local studio and arranged to record a short pilot drama.  They were used to recording music rather than drama and so arranged to do the pilot free of charge.  The drama was called Couple and needed 3 actors: a narrator and 2 actors that make up the couple, figures in a sculpture of the same name sited on a breakwater off the Northumberland coast.  Most of my dramas have a village setting because that is the environment with which I am familiar.  However I hope that the themes of my stories are universal and something with which most people can identify.

Through our local am dram I was able to enlist the help of willing actors keen for a new experience.  We rehearsed in my sitting room, it was the first time that I had directed and being tuned into voice was the key, as there would obviously be no visual clues.  Because actors did not have to learn lines, we could concentrate on performance.  The actors were very supportive and I learnt that being open to suggestions does not mean you lose artistic freedom or ownership of your work but that collaboration makes it greatly enhanced.

Waking up on the morning of the recording is always a tense affair; it’s not until I get to the studio, the actors are positioned behind the microphones and I start ticking off items on my schedules that I can start to relax.  Depending on length and complexity of script, it can take anything from a few hours to one and a half days to record.  I usually attend sessions with the recording technician at the later stages of editing.  It takes around four times longer to edit than record.  Sound effects are also added in, purchased with a royalty free licence as my website is potentially commercial.  The actors also sign performers’ contracts to ensure that I own the recording that we make and I can put it out on a website and use parts of it for publicity.  Similarly, for any writers’ work I use, a contributor’s contract is also required.

The finished work is then uploaded with great excitement to my specially developed spoken word entertainment website and publicised through social and traditional media to take it out to an audience.

Radio/audio Plays produced so far: Couple, Village Notes, Tilting at Windmills (monologue), Any Other Business, Oranges and Lemons, A Grand Old Lady (monologue) and Dolly’s House.

There is no greater joy for a writer than hearing their words come to life and I am indebted to my generous and talented friends for helping me realise this dream.

You can find more about Rachel and her work via the links above and you can also find her on Twitter and Facebook. You can also email her at

The blog interviews will return as normal tomorrow with mystery novelist Anne R Allen – the one hundred and seventy-second of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me. You can also read / download my eBooks here.


Are you ready for NaNoWriMo?

Am I ready for NaNoWriMo? Um… probably as ready as I was last year and 2009 which is “no, not really” and certainly not as ready as 2008 when I’d plotted to almost every last detail but then I started writing and quickly learned (it was my first piece over c.3000 words) that once the characters take over the writer takes a back seat and enjoys the ride.

So this year I have a few character sketches and a vague idea of what they may be doing for the next 30 days but that’s about it, and I can’t wait! 🙂

Hitchhiker’s Guide author Douglas Adams is quoted as saying “I love deadlines… the sound as they woosh by” (or something like that) and I love deadlines for a different reason… because it gets me writing. This year will be more of a challenge for me because I only started this blog at the end of March this year and it eats up a lot of my time. Whilst my blog will still keep going during November (at full speed, I’m pleased to say) I will have to find new pockets of time to fit in my 1,667 words a day, but being me, I just know I will. Something will have to give; the scant-already social life… slightly shorter dog walks (sorry hound)… the Red Cross volunteering (I’m my local shop’s ‘book lady’) or some of my equally-scant hours of sleep, and my answering of emails will probably be slower, but I know that come 1st December I’ll look at my 50,000+ words and say, with a smile, “I did that”.

If you’ve considered NaNoWriMo, it’s not too late to take part… even mid-November isn’t too late if you’re a fast typer. The only aim is to write at least 50,000 words and if you do it you ‘win’. What exactly do you win? Nothing materialistic except for the words you’ve created.  I’ve done it three times, how hard can it be? Yes, OK, it’s pretty tough but 2009 I wrote 117,540 so it can be very rewarding… and heaps of fun too. I’m registered as Morgen Bailey so feel free to find me and ‘buddy’ me (especially as the NaNo system seems to have lost the ones I did have :)).

The aim of NaNoWriMo is for quantity over quality and whilst we all want a great book at the end of it, you can’t edit a blank page and given that we have to write almost 1,700 words a day there’s no time to edit as you go along. If I get stuck or know I want to add something later I put ‘MORE HERE’ and go back if there’s time at the end but I know I’ll be going through the whole thing three or four times afterwards anyway (times that by 117,540 words and you’ll know that writing my 2009 chick lit was where the hard work started).

Originated in San Francisco USA 13 years ago, they’re a non-profit organisation which relies on donations and the sales of goodies from their shop (I bought a t-shirt) and with hundreds of thousands of people participating it’s a community event for the usually-solitary life that a writer can have. Whilst you can join the online forums, meet in person with members of your local region (mine’s Milton Keynes, there isn’t a Northampton one) you can equally just sit and write your little heart out. I will probably aim for two of the three (you can guess which two) but I know that my little heart will be beating a little faster come the early hours of November 1st.

Morgen with an ‘e’ 🙂