We’re thrilled to be welcoming award-winning standup, writer and actor Sara Pascoe into the fold for Festival No.6 this year. She arrives in Portmeirion to talk about Animal, her debut book, an imaginative, funny and poignant exploration of feminism, sexuality and the female body in the modern world. Having long supported the encouragement of open dialogue and opportunity among young writers and creatives, we spoke to Sara ahead of No.6 about self-discovery and the importance of opening the conversation.
How did the concept for the book come about?
It came out of an Edinburgh show which was a combination of meeting someone and falling in love and reading this book about monogamy maybe not being the natural state of human beings. The combination of those two things started me off on this journey of thinking about evolution and love. When I pitched the book, I wanted to write about women in particular – female sexuality and the female body.
How was the process different to writing comedy?
I had a lot more space and time. It was a lot more time consuming but I didn’t have that pressure of finding a punchline. I was able to be interesting and talk in a way which is far too self-indulgent for a live show!
What’s been more nerve-wracking, writing it or talking about it?
I didn’t really think about the content of the book until it was released. I hadn’t been going on the internet – that’s a really easy door to close. In person, I’ve had some really fascinating conversations with women – mothers, daughters and people talking about their experiences. I’ve met with book groups and it’s so amazing because me being open has led to other people being open.
Do you think the internet has changed people’s perception of writing as a creative process?
It’s great for research – all that information right there for me and it’s so easy to navigate – it’s incredible. On the other hand, I worry that I’m so deluged with other people’s opinions so it’s difficult to find clarity. If you get up in the morning and the first thing you do is check your phone, that affects your day. If you talk to people and read books, that will make you behave in a different way.
How has your relationship with the concept of gender changed since writing the book?
I thought afterwards that it’s a bit like understanding gravity – you can understand that it’s a force and you can’t help it but that doesn’t mean it hurts any less when you fall down. You can’t resist just because you know.
Is it important to you to share your experiences and talk about writing like you are at No.6?
For me, it’s especially important with young people. I think because I came from a working class background, I always want to break that bubble of people thinking there’s anything magical about artistry, creativity and getting on television. It’s always the outliers, people who see things from the outside, they make the best work.
So what should people expect from you at No.6?
I’ll try and do a short stand-up mini autobiography but then it will be questions really! I find it’s always better when people shape what they are interested in and share their responses. What’s so fantastic about these cross-discipline festivals is that you can almost fall into a tent and end up learning about something completely different which is really energising.