Slugworth – 26 Twits – Roald Dahl

Great to see my Slugworth poem for released in time for the great centenary celebration of Roald Dahl’s birth! It’s part of the Latest in 


Written by Mandy Lee, illustrated by Oscar Mackenzie

Inspired by Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Slugworth by Oscar-2

Oh, why aren’t I famed for my fabulous sweets,

like Wonka is known for his outlandish treats?
I know there’s a market for mud-covered chews,
or sour, hairy lollipops handmade from gnu.
And don’t forget green, skunky, trout-flavoured creams, 

with snot-covered gum that, when bit, squirts a stream!

They’re brilliant, inventive and tasty, I swear,
but nobody listens while Wonka is there.
So I’m giving up sweets, going all fancy-pants,
to make Slugworth’s Fun Biscuits from roadkill and ants! 

These brand new concoctions of protein-rich bugs,
will show them I’m not just some slurraping slug!

I worked with Aberlady Primary School classes P4 and P5 to illustrate it, and the fantastic drawing above is by Oscar Mackenzie. More on how the project came together here: . There are further 26 Twits pieces to be released until the 13th September.



Aesthetica Interview

05_Hula_l to r_Naomi MacKenzie_Caitlin Turnbull_Eilish Turnbull_Isabelle MacKenzie_Hannah MyersLovely to be interviewed by about writing, winning and other things!

Below is the text from the interview, and you can click here to read the full piece:

Interview with Mandy Lee, ASFF Filmmaker, Love Cake and Hula

Writer Mandy Lee and her team have been awarded the BAFTA New Talent Award for Best Drama 2016 for new film Hula. Shot in the Scottish Highlands, the piece follows a group of older women living in a rural and remote location. Co-writer for the drama, Lee also worked on the script for Love Cake, which premiered at the Aesthetica Short Film Festival in 2013. Directed by Eleanor Yule, Love Cake is a romantic comedy about loneliness, desire, transgression and cake. Lee completed her MFA at Screen Academy Scotland and has since continued to work on short and feature film projects as well as a TV series. We speak to the writer about her career since ASFF 2013 and find out about the BAFTA winning piece, Hula.

ASFF: First of all, congratulations for winning the BAFTA New Talent Award for Best Drama 2016. What does winning this accolade mean to you?
ML: Thanks. It’s always fantastic to have your work recognised – everyone likes a bit of validation, particularly by such a prestigious organisation as BAFTA! We’re extra proud to win this, especially as Hula has a core all-female team – with two co-writers,director, producer and lead actress – and the plot deals with some of the issues affecting middle-aged women (a group not always represented on film). Hopefully the biggest benefit from winning the New Talent Award for Best Drama, will be that it boosts Hula’s chances of being seen and reaching a wider audience than it might do otherwise. The world needs more Scottish films that showcase the many facets of life and the talent we have. And in general, the world needs more comedy!

ASFF: Love Cake premiered in ASFF’s Official Selection back in 2013. How did this exposure help to promote the film and your ongoing work?
ML: I was choosy about where I wanted Love Cake to premiere (you only get one chance to premiere after all), and I wanted it to screen in a welcoming environment that embraced quirky, universal stories with an arts aesthetic. I had also admired ASFF’s programming from previous years. I was really excited when Aesthetica accepted it and it gave the film (and me as an early career writer) a boost. It definitely helped Love Cake to start its festival run on the right footing, with a little boutique-style, Aesthetica-approved ‘tick’ against its name.

ASFF: Can you tell us more about the process of making new piece Hula? Where did the idea come from and what are the challenges of filming in Scotland?
ML: Hula was inspired by its director, Robin Haig’s observations of older women living in the Scottish Highlands. I jumped at the chance to co-write the project as it featured such an intriguing, multi-layered and very ‘real’ lead character in Clara, played by acclaimed actress Blythe Duff. Short films are challenging wherever they’re made, but we were lucky to have lots of support from Robin’s home town of Dornie, where it was shot. Local businesses were generous supporters, and there were lots of experienced hands on the cast and crew. The weather was better than expected too – something you can’t exactly rely on in Scotland.

ASFF: How has your overall practice developed in time between Love Cake in 2013 and Hula in 2016?
ML: I was still finding my writing ‘voice’ with Love Cake, but since then, my confidence and experience have grown along with my interest in unusal, strong female roles and deep fascination with the forces that drive us as human beings. I’ve also discovered (unexpectedly) a real love of co-writing; I think Hula really benefited from the shared experiences of the core team, which allowed Robin, co-writer Clare Nicol, and myself, to refine the script. I’ve also enjoyed being part of the writing team on a BAFTA-winning children’s TV series, and I’m currently co-writing on a feature set in India about the unusual female friendships that develop between fans of a rock group.

ASFF: Can you provide us with details of any upcoming projects on the horizon?
ML: We’re currently developing Hula as a TV series, exploring more of the world that Clara is in and the other characters around her. Working on Hula has also reignited my passion for shorts, so I’m considering a couple of options at the moment, perhaps working on a more lo-fi basis. But ultimately, I’m keen to make my first feature, so as well as the previously mentioned India-set feature, I’m also developing a Scottish-based romantic comedy, and a couple of other exciting things.


*pic from Hula

Hula wins BAFTA New Talent Award


It was exciting enough to find out that the short film I co-wrote, Hula, was nominated for Best Drama at the 2016 BAFTA New Talent Awards. Then last night, things got even better when we heard we’d won!

bafta nomIt’s a real testament to the work of everyone involved; cast and crew, and all who supported it, and I’m thrilled to have been part of it right from (almost) the start. Extra thanks to Director and co-writer Robin Haig for inviting me to be a part of it.

The film had fantastic men and women involved in its creation, but because there’s a particular lack of women in the film industry, it’s filling me with pride that the film’s core team of co-writers, director, producer, and the lead role were all female.

It’s also the first time I’ve seen my name etched on an award – which is a bit of a buzz.

Nice work everyone. Now go team Hula, out into the world where your loveliness can be seen far and wide!!

Bang! It’s 2016!

12657955_966759430087128_1756063726384766893_oI’m unsure how we managed to whizz through the rest of 2015 and suddenly be here, right here in March 2016! Although I managed to break my fibula at the end of October which did mean that normal service halted for a couple of months. Glad to say the ankle is now fully on the mend and I’m walking around now almost not thinking about it except for the odd twinge and some crochety ligaments.

I broke my ankle taking a photograph at work – of mulled cider (no I hadn’t been drinking) – but unfortunately my ankle went all the way over then all the way back with a mighty ‘snap’. I still thought I’d sprained it badly until I started to walk and then it was pretty clear something was up. I was very lucky that one of the guys at work was around to hear me yelling, and they miraculously ran off only to reappear with a little wooden chair (from a barn… I’m still not quite sure how that happened). Then it all went horribly wrong for a couple of weeks only to finally get sorted with a sort of Robocop boot (I argued my way out of a stookie).

But here’s the thing, there’s always that Rear Window fantasy that breaking a limb (nothing complicated mind, just a break that required some resting time to fix it) that meant you’d be physically restricted but mentally freed, would actually turn out to be a bit exciting (once painkillers and suitable fixings were applied). But nothing could’ve been further from the truth. It was hellish and boring, and entirely uninspiring

The only thing I’ve broken before, was my big toe which never healed properly because I didn’t believe I’d broken it and left it too late to get anything done with it. However breaking a limb was much, much worse. As expected, it was painful, tiring, expensive and awkward, but I hadn’t reckoned on how depressing and monotonous it would be, or the sheer frustration at not being able to do everyday things (showering on one leg is a BAD idea ok?). I was also unprepared for the lack of good sleep which along with the painkillers resulted in a hazy, anxious brain which completely hindered any creativity or work of any kind. I really tried, but each time the consultant signed me off work again despite my begging, I felt my mood drop. It didn’t help that the first few painful and panicky trips to the hospital cost my entire sick pay for a week (as thankful as I was to receive something) – it also ended in an embarrassing (but temporary) wheelchair when I tried and failed to be stoic in getting up the hospital corridor on my own with a puny stick. The consultant told me to stop being stoic, as it was dangerous and I might displace the fracture which could result in me ending up in theatre getting hardware in my leg, and a much longer recovery time… I left suitably chastened.

But now, other than a bit of an old bruise, and a few puffy, stiff bits, the ankle is feeling good and strong. And, I’m glad to say that some great things happened during the last few months!

Love Cake had its Australian premiere at Scots Day Out (posted above), and won 1st Runner-Up at the People’s Choice Award in Bendigo! The screening was rather wondrously held in the Central Deborah Gold Mine which is pretty incredible, and it’s fantastic to hear how well it was received.

Hula Trailer from Robin Haig on Vimeo.

And in other news, Hula, the short film I co-wrote is finished! And the trailer is now out so please do have a little click to support us. It will start its festival run shortly so fingers crossed it’s welcomed across the world.


Insula Sacra for #26Postcodes

The refuge hut

Earlier in the year I took part in a project with 26 called ‪#‎26postcodes‬. The postcode I was given was the magnificent Lindisfarne in Northumberland and now it’s time for my response (which turned out to be a poem) along with its creative journey to go live. If you want to read it, click here for Insula Sacra

Photo credit: Pilgrim’s Way – Lindisfarne Causeway, Gail Johnson for Visit Northumberland

Cider Cocktails feature

12068555_10153416089263876_6622784392433283881_oAs some of you may know, I spend many of my days on a farm with the magnificent Thistly Cross Cider, writing words and producing all sorts of content both text and image-based. I haven’t really been discussing my work there much, but it suddenly occurred to me that that’s rather short-sighted since I’m a big believer in the creative, every-day ways that word-weavers, content-creators and story-tellers can utilise their skills. So here’s my most recent feature for Chaat! magazine – a piece about cider and cocktails that would be suited to more spicy dishes like curry.

I’m pleased you can’t tell how much it rained during that photo shoot 🙂

Love Cake at Trinidad & Tobago Film Festival

Love Cake has just had its Caribbean premiere at the Trinidad & Tobago Film Festival.

Lovely! And it means that our short film has now had its UK, European, Asian and Caribbean premieres – not bad for a wee film from Scotland that isn’t solely focused on the hardships of life. And features cake. LOTS of cake.

love cake triniidad


Hula filming

blytheChuffed that not only is Hula the short film I co-wrote shooting RIGHT NOW in the Highlands of Scotland, but that we have the amazing actress Blythe Duff in the central role of Clara.

Looks like they’ve got some decent weather too so fingers crossed for an excellent few days!

If you’d like to keep up with Hula news and developments, follow us on Facebook here.

26 Children’s Winters at the Museum of Childhood

26MLIn the last few months,  I’ve been working on creating my first ever Sestude – a creative written response that is just 62 words long for ’26’ a not-for-profit group who love words, and who are unafraid to bring together writers and creatives who use words in all manner of ways: copywriters and poets, screenwriters and novelists, journalists and technical writers.

I was selected for the 26 Childrens Winters project which will culminate in an exhibition at the Museum of Childhood in Edinburgh (starting in October). I excitedly waited to see which item from the Museum’s collection I’d be given for inspiration, then it was up to me to create my 62 word response. I was initially less moved by my object that I’d expected, but as I researched it and studied it, trying to stay openminded, I started to see how much of a link to history it was and suddenly I had an unruly but undeniably present sestude. It’s a great discipline having the restriction of 62 words – every single word matters, and now that I’ve redrafted and resubmitted my final draft, I’m pleased with the result. The sestude, my inspirational object and all the others will be here:

Museum of Childhood, 42 High Street, Royal Mile, Edinburgh, EH1 1TG from 9 October, 2015 @ 8:00 am – 17 March, 2016 @ 5:00 pm (exact dates to be confirmed).

We’ll also be hosted at Edinburgh City of Literature’s Salon to chat about the project in November, and the exhibition’s online advent calendar goes live (for 26 days) on 1st December.

The Last Guest at the Edinburgh Fringe

vpt logoWow, I know, 2 posts in a month… living on the edge!

But August is proving to be a very good writing month, with the news that my short play The Last Guest will be playing the Edinburgh Fringe as part of Village Pub Theatre’s extravaganza of writing.

If you fancy seeing it, along with lots of other great writing, then it’s on the evening of 29th August – tickets here! 

They featured the first public reading of the play so it was great to be asked to reprise it for the Fringe. It has developed from a much more esoteric piece I wrote for the Traverse Theatre’s Noisy Words about a woman who finds…. well….. a rather unique final guest leftover from her Halloween party (to tell you more would spoil it!).

Nice piece here by The Scotsman. And the VPT Facebook page is here if you want to stay updated.

Now I’ve given it a little edit and refresh, I desperately want to make it long-form and into a musical. I know. That’s nuts. But I might do it anyway.