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Richard Abott-Brailey

Richard Abbott-Brailey

BA (Hons) Sociology with English and History 1997

A University of Sunderland graduate has recently released his first debut novel. Richard Abbott-Brailey is author of Azarias Tor: The History Maker. Published by Austin Macauley of London, the book is a five star read for anyone who is a fan of Doctor Who, time travel, science fiction, and looper movies.

Richard has been teaching since 2001 in secondary and further education, achieving PGCE – post 19 in 2002 and Qualified Teacher Status (secondary education) in 2005. He has also taught in international schools in Spain and Abu Dhabi.

He said: “I am currently between teaching and lecturing posts, having focussed attention on the release of my first novel. I am registered with two agencies, with a view to working part-time as a freelance lecturer in further education, allowing me freedom to develop the Azarias Tor series while producing income in advance of anticipated royalties.” 

In 2006 Richard obtained a post graduate award from Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, having directed three new plays, across three years, with students from Heaton Manor School, Newcastle, in association with the National Theatre Connections programme. 

“Though the desire to write, and to become an actor, existed as far back as my time at secondary school in Bushey, due to the realities of life – earning a wage – it was not until I was 32 years old that I began to realise my potential as a writer,” he said. “Over a period of time I moved away from Watford, via Wellingborough and Kettering, and found work in the bar of a hotel in Keswick, where I remained for two years, while deciding what to do with the rest of my life, or how I was going to set about achieving my true goals. 

“At this point I was attempting to write a novel – a pile of self-indulgent drivel, as it turned out, which was never completed. However, as I came to know the locals, those who frequented the bar with regularity, I spoke about my desire to write, and return to education as a mature student, I received the best piece of advice I have ever been given: ‘Don’t talk about it, do it!’” 

He continued: “Taking that advice on board I auditioned for a place on a performing arts course, and was accepted. I was 32 – with regards to other students, the average age was 19. Taking interest in theatre, as a whole process, I spent a lot of my spare time developing skills, learned on the course, by volunteering my services for stage management, set-building, and lighting and sound, for the many professional touring theatre companies that used the venue in the college. One of those visiting companies, Live Theatre, would later play an important part in my life, proving that it is/was important to ‘make friends’ and tell people about your plans. 

“While I was on the course I also took an interest in writing for theatre, screen, and radio, and began producing sketches for other students, which were later performed in front of audiences for assessment purposes. 

“I was encouraged by a lecturer who advised me to read as many as plays as possible, produced by a range of writers, and watch as much theatre as possible. During the course of two years I saw around 50 different plays and read around 60. I was also afforded the opportunity to read screenplays and radio plays. 

“Following the performing arts course I moved to Newcastle, where previous contacts proved useful, and worked in professional theatre with Live Theatre Company and at The Theatre Royal, on lighting and stage management, before deciding to further my educational career.” 

It was then when Richard decided to study at the University of Sunderland. 

He explained: “I did consider a degree in Creative Writing before deciding to seek a course that would be of interest, yet present a variety of potential career options upon successful completion. The Bachelor of Arts with Honours (Combined), which I completed full-time, afforded me this opportunity, and attracted me to the University of Sunderland. Since obtaining the degree I have taught English Literature, English Language, History, Sociology, and Drama, in secondary schools and in further education.” 

When asked about his biggest challenge, the Sunderland graduate replied: “The biggest challenges did not necessarily involve studying for the degree. I elected to spend the first year at a satellite campus, at Gateshead College, where I took the study skills elective, and this prepared me for university life, and was the greatest influence for me when it came to successfully completing the degree with the University of Sunderland. 

“During the second and third years, alongside my studies, I also entered two writing competitions; Tyne Tees Television New Writers competition and BBC Radio North Playwright competition. I was a shortlisted finalist in both competitions but my time to have written work published or produced was yet to come.” 

As someone who had to work hard to fulfil his career ambitions, Richard has some advice for recent graduates on how to get a foot on the career ladder. 

“Market yourself as you might do for a product – you are the product that you want to sell to potential employers. Tell people, all people, about your plans – no one will know unless you tell them. Make friends – important and influential friends. Ask – shy bairns get nowt! Finally – be prepared to continue studying. Learning is a lifelong process.”

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