Actress and Author Carrie Sutton tells us about her journey.
As an actor, I love to explore people and their relationships – what makes them tick, what drives them, what their hopes, dreams and aspirations are. What flaws they have and how they are imperfect. I thrill in discovering the different dynamics between people. Ultimately that’s what the job of acting is, I suppose.
As a writer I can take this to another level. I can use my own experiences and opinions to create characters with real identity, dysfunction and idiosyncrasy – but I also give them a story to voice. I can say something I feel passionately about through them.
I am, and have always been, A Story Teller.
So you want to put on your own work?
Since I was tiny I have done this. It started innocently enough with me putting on little plays for my Grandmother, which she watched stoically and with a smile, giving much encouragement from the other side of her ironing board. So I was packed off to dance classes. Then came the acting and singing classes. And, inch-by-inch, it took over my life. Then one day, at the age of 14, having seen Miss Saigon at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, I announced that I was not going to become a lawyer (something I had eluded to for some time – perhaps I liked the idea of the drama of court life?) but that I wanted to be an actor instead.
But there was another creative ‘something’ too. I had always written. Various editions in homemade hardback or notepapers stapled together for a paperback, poems. It wasn’t until some years, and one terrible divorce, later that I started to think about writing again, and seriously. I just sort of ‘decided’ one day. I was going to write a book and I was going to get it published.
I was very lucky to be picked up quickly and offered a book contract through an existing friend and contact at Big Finish. I was unrepresented at the time as, simply, I received my offer before I had looked into the world of Writing Agents properly, though many authors do chose to go it solo. There are many avenues into writing and whilst an agent can place a book for you – for a commission – many people do slip through the net. J.K Rowling for example was turned down before being picked up – I’ll bet that agent’s furious with himself now! So I negotiated my own contract under the supervision and vetting services of The Society of Authors and I was away.
My first book “After the Break-Up; A Girls Guide” was me charting the year after I left my ex husband and is non-fiction; a funny and true account – very Bridget Jones! A light read but with heart and honesty.
What is the Actor Awareness Campaign
My second and most recent book is very different. With this book I had the freedom to create characters and give them whatever background I felt right for them. Writing fiction gave me a lot more scope. I was not tied to an existing plot and I could make it what I wanted or needed it to be. It is a gritty read. It is my soul laid bare through one womans struggle to come to terms with her current situation. Our couple battle through IVF, and we hop through time listening as their life together starts to come away at the seams. We see each of them pushing more and more to the extreme of their very different ‘wants’ – perhaps pushed there in part by the desperation in the other’s opposition. Technically speaking its a diary style piece, written in the first person, but is non-linear. Our heroine is a tough thirty something who is on the brink of emotional collapse, torn between career, marriage and kids. She meets her partner as they renovate her house, so there is a real parallel with the DIY element to them making their baby and the two of them trying to physically build and rebuild; plastering over the cracks between them.
I felt the whole subject of modern relationships, especially with regards to women, children and careers, was a very interesting and tangled one. There is great demand and expectation placed upon women these days. In many ways we want this. We want to be equal. We want people to expect great things of us. We want to be career girls, partners, wives, mums, friends, and the list goes on. But there is so much to achieve, in so little time. So much responsibility to bear and it must all be done equal to, and in the same measure as, men. The burden of being a mother; or of not being a mother. To be or not to be?
A few years ago I had the difficult experience of going through IVF myself. Nothing had prepared me for the brutality of it. I felt there was a story to tell – one that I needed to tell – one that would resonate with the thousands of women who grapple and struggle, physically and emotionally, with the subject or prospect of motherhood. It was my way of assuaging some of my own pain. I transferred it to the pages so I didn’t have to live it every day. I gave it over to a fictional couple. And, although the ending is not a traditional ‘happy ending’ there is a different message of hope. Because as I wrote, I realised that I wasn’t actually ready to be a mother. I craved it and dreaded it with equal measure. I realised that there are many other paths you can take and a plethora of different lives to be lived. And that’s just what they are: different, not better or worse. It is a message that is often missing in the emotional conversations around infertility – and it is one that many women need to hear.
The actors relationship with money
‘Plastering Over the Cracks’ is out now along with ‘After the Break-Up: A Girl’s Guide’, available online through bigfinish.com, amazon.co.uk and in store through good retailers.
Carries acting credits include: Bystanders; The Onion at the End; Kiss Me, Kate; She Loves Me; The Boys from Syracuse; The Wizard of Oz; Sister Act; Cabaret; Much Ado About Nothing; Oklahoma; Cats; Little Women; Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and The Shoot Horses Don’t They?
Find out more about Carrie Sutton at www.carriesutton.net or contact Sarah Bryan at Access Artiste Management.
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Published by The Ascend Actors Group 9/02/16
Written by Carrie Sutton