“I had written a couple of things before, but I was insecure about my writing because I was terrible at English at school and I hadn’t been to university. The Edge Hill course gave me the skills and confidence to attempt to write for a living.”
A book launch in a record shop might sound unusual, but for music industry executive turned Creative Writing student, AW Wilde, it was the perfect way to celebrate the publication of what he calls his “latest release”.
The launch of Wilde’s first collection of short stories, A Large Can of Whoopass, had all the hallmarks of a music industry event. Held at Rough Trade West in London, it featured DJ sets from BBC6 Music’s breakfast show presenters, Shaun Keaveney and Matt Everitt, providing a suitably rock ‘n’ roll backdrop to Wilde’s readings from the book.
“I just stuck to what I knew,” said Wilde, whose former life as Creative Director at EMI Music Publishing saw him help the careers of Lindstrom, Duffy, Joanna Newsome and Beirut. “As a self-published writer, I was responsible for promoting the book so I approached it as I would a record launch.”
Wilde, who cites rapper Chuck D and writer Juno Diaz among his creative influences, spent 15 years in the music industry, six of those at EMI. He was responsible for creating the acclaimed Another Late Night and Late Night Tales compilation series and the UK releases of the Nike + original running music programme that featured dubstep artist Skream.
“Once I found out about the music industry, working in it was all I ever wanted to do,” said Wilde. “I grew up in a small town in Essex so moving to London to work in the music industry was a dream come true for me. I loved the excitement of hearing a great song for the first time. The first time I heard Rockferry by Duffy, for example, the hairs on my arms stood up and I knew there was a chance she could sell some records.
“I enjoyed the creativity of the job and working alongside passionate people, a handful of whom became close friends. But the industry was severely hit by downloading. When EMI was bought by private equity, the suits’ economics superseded a desire for nurturing artists’ long-term. My father died in the middle of my most successful period and it made me revaluate my life. In the aftermath of grief, I decided to follow my gut, rent out my flat and focus on writing.”
Wilde moved up North to Chester and enrolled on the MA in Creative Writing at Edge Hill University, with the long-term goal of forging a new career as a writer.
“I had written a couple of things before,” said Wilde, “but I was insecure about my writing because I was terrible at English at school and I hadn’t been to university. The Edge Hill course gave me the skills and confidence to attempt to write for a living.
“The short story format really appealed to me. Maybe it’s because, like song lyrics, you have to pack as much as you can into a small space. It’s a kind of maximal minimalism, you can’t waste anything and you have to know what not to say.
“When you’re writing a novel, the endless possibilities can rub up rough against the sheer amount of information you need to retain – and leave you crumpled on the kitchen floor, asking the dog why you bother. Some days it’s great to start a story you can see an end to – this is a release in itself.”
Wilde is currently working on a novel entitled Deeds that is due for completion later in the year.
“One of the stories in A Large Can of Whoopass is a section of the novel,” said Wilde. “The two brothers in That Black Leather Jacket and their lives growing up in London are central to the novel’s thematic principle of change, both genetic and through gentrification.
“When practicing in any creative industry, I think it’s important to show that you’re committed to what you’re doing. Releasing a short story collection is, in some ways, a statement of intent. A statement of intent with a drawing of a soup can on the front.”
To find out more about studying this programme, please view full course information for MA Creative Writing.