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Creative Spotlight: Tia

What did you most enjoy about your time at university?

I really loved my course. It kept getting better as you got into second and third year because you got to specialise a little bit more. Most of all though, I enjoyed working on my dissertation, because it was like being a full-time writer, working with an editor, which was your tutor. It was amazing to have the freedom to create content and explore the form you really loved.

We studied all forms of writing, like non-fiction, fiction, poetry, and script, but alongside my studies, I did a lot of clubs and societies at university such as, running, snow sports, and badminton. In my final year, I was Club Captain of YSJ Snow-sports and had to organise the annual ski holiday.

You did so much! It seems almost silly to ask now, but what kind of hobbies do you enjoy in your spare time?

Reading, writing, running, skiing, and I love baking but not all at the same time!

Lets’ talk about your career aspirations! What is the ultimate career goal for you?

Well, so far since finishing university, I have been pulled in a few different directions. When I first arrived back from university, I applied for a job at Manx Radio. I ended up coming away with a different job when I went for the interview and took on the News Intern role (a paid internship). During that time, I soaked up all the different aspects of a Newsroom and national broadcaster, from doing VOX pops to interviewing local politicians. I even put together my own podcast about publishing on the Isle of Man and how to make it as an author, looking at the different routes a person can take to getting their work published, particularly self-publishing or using a traditional publishing house. I had the opportunity to interview two local publishers – Lily Publications and Loaghtan Books. As a writer, it was really cool to learn how our book gets made.

After that, I completed another internship at a HR consultancy doing copywriting and marketing, before temping at my local library. I also had a part time bar job. However, my ideal career would be to get into screenwriting for TV stations, such as the BBC or ITV, working on the dramas or adaptations. Anything like that would be an amazing path for me.

Why this career?

I’ve watched quite a few TV dramas and series like The Whitehouse Farm Murders, Fleabag and Hidden, which was a Welsh dark noir drama, quite psychological but the script for that was amazing’! I enjoy seeing ideas spring to life in front of your eyes and exploring so many different issues that really connect with an audience. Killing Eve was also a huge inspiration – Phoebe Waller-Bridge is an awesome writer.

Any writing projects on the go?

I’m writing a television series at the moment, in between juggling a full-time job and all the other aspects of adult life. I’ve done the pilot episode but hope to flush out the synopsis and all the characters in time to enter BBC Writer’s Room next January, but we will see how it goes. It’s a folk horror series, with the working title The Bell Flower Witch and it’s about a family who searches for a new life in the English countryside, only to experience a series of mysterious and strange events.

How has COVID-19 impacted you?

In so many ways! My plan had been to have a mini gap year and work a ski season before I settled into my career. I did Camp America while I was university and just caught the bug of working abroad. Then, COVID hit and hasn’t ended yet, so it put a damper on everything because time moves on and you need to start working. I do feel a little limited creatively here on the Island, but the pandemic has allowed me to focus more on my writing and challenged me to push myself a bit further. The Island’s local writing scene hosted a variety of literary competitions this year and last year, which gave me an incentive to get writing. At the same time, the pandemic provided the inspiration for some pieces and without it, I don’t think my writing would be where it is now.

What kind of event or tools would help young creators on the Island?

Social networking events are so important to building bridges between you and your dream career. I would like to raise awareness of the creativity on the Island, especially with recruitment agencies. I feel like creative graduates are overlooked too often and there is a certain stigma attached to an arts degree – something I would like to break.

Any awards and achievements you are especially proud of?

In 2015, my poem was published and displayed as part of the Manx Litfest Poetry Trail, and in my third year at university, one of my pieces was published in Beyond the Walls Creative Writing Anthology 2019 at York St John University. I ended up performing at their book launch/showcase for the publication as part of York Literature Festival. In 2018, my STEP project was recognised as the Most Enterprising Student Runner Up, which is a government scheme I highly recommend. During that time, I used my degree and re-wrote the Visit Isle of Man website and created video script templates for the TV and online adverts. I was a winner of the Manx Litfest Lockdown Fiction in 2020 and was one of the recent winners of the Isle of Man Arts Council 2021 Literary Lockdown competition.

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