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10 minutes with ex-Celebrity PA Merryl Futerman, author of Don’t Make a Scene

Don't-Make-a-Scene-novel-by-ex-celebrity-PA-Merryl-Futerman

Merryl started her career in publishing. Lured by the bright lights of showbusiness, she moved to the film industry, but quickly realised the lifestyle didn’t suit her. Having recognised her skill set as forming individual relationships, she set up as a freelance Celebrity PA, truly believing it was a role she had created. Over the last twenty years she has supported some of the biggest names in UK entertainment – that’s before becoming an author and the ex-Celebrity PA Merryl Futerman.

Her debut novel Don’t Make a Scene is available on Amazon or to order from bookshops.

What made you decide to write a novel?

I had always wanted to write a book, but life got in the way! It was the pandemic that was the turning point – my work was in the entertainment industry, which essentially shut down, so I turned my full attention to writing, which had been more of a hobby up until then. It gave me a focus and I set myself a daily writing target. By the end of lockdown, I had the basis of my novel, and that is when the really hard work of editing started.

Why set it in the world of the PA?

Well, they say write what you know! But seriously all the big themes of friendship, setting boundaries, making mistakes but not losing sight of your dreams were all there, and above all I wanted to celebrate the initiative and resourcefulness of PAs. There are so many fabulous PA networks out there, and those networks are a big part of the plot of Don’t Make a Scene. I set it in the area of London I know well – Muswell Hill – because I wanted to celebrate that too, it’s another great community.

How much of it is true?

Well, it’s a novel, so it is definitely all fiction. The characters are completely made up, and I had a lot of fun coming up with them, but I will say that some of the situations Maddy and her friends find themselves in have some truth in them, usually exaggerated for dramatic purposes. I was once rude about a film crew whilst wearing a body mic I had forgotten about, and that has made it onto the page.

How different is being an author to being a PA?

In lots of ways not that different. I was always a freelance PA, so I am used to working on my own and not having any IT or HR departments to draw on. I guess a big difference is that I have to motivate myself each day, rather than responding to someone else’s demands, and I still half expect to get that ‘I need it done NOW!’ call, and that is one of the things I definitely don’t miss.

What advice would you give to a wanna-be celebrity PA?

Network! Tell people what you want to do, and make sure you have the skills required to do it. Choose a field you are knowledgeable about and have a genuine passion for. I ended up mainly working for people who worked in TV, and I love good telly!

Any advice for new authors?

Just get on with it – devote all the time you spend thinking about it doing it! And I’m finding a bookish community online, also very supportive. I did some creative writing classes, in person and online, but essentially no one can do it for you. Don’t get discouraged – it’s really tough, but really rewarding.

What was the best thing about being a Celebrity PA?

I got to attend some amazing events and also to meet well known people that I would never have had the chance to meet otherwise. I loved seeing behind the scenes and sometimes being part of the process of something creative.

And the worst?

Never knowing when I’d get one of those calls where you have to drop everything and go into full on emergency service mode. Also being on call 24/7 – often for people who no concept of weekends or holidays.

What’s next for ex-Celebrity PA Merryl Futerman?

Another book for sure! I’ve already started. I’ve had lots of people asking what happens to Maddy and her friends next, and I am running with that theme, staying in the world of the PA. The next book is going to be even more dramatic, now I don’t work for clients anymore, I feel liberated, so watch out! And if I’m dreaming, a movie of Don’t Make a Scene – it definitely has Devil Wears Prada/Bridget Jones vibes, or maybe it could be a series like Call My Agent, another favourite of mine.

 

For latest news follow @dontmakeascenenovel on Instagram

See more at www.merrylfuterman.com