Innovation and enterprise blog

22 January 2016

Storytelling for businesses and business for storytellers

We are excited to be welcoming Melissa Addey as our first official Writer in Residence at the Business & IP Centre. What does a Writer in Residence do we hear you ask? Good question! Apart from the obvious connection between literature and the British Library, this residency focuses on the twin themes of storytelling for businesses and business for storytellers. Melissa will be helping small businesses using creative writing and narrative techniques as a business strategy and will work with us to raise awareness about the links between business, creativity and storytelling to make your business stand out from the crowd. Meanwhile writers will be encouraged to think about their work in a business-like way, from developing business plans to creating their own merchandise. You can also expect to find regular articles from Melissa on this blog – so watch this space!

The lovely people at the Leverhulme Trust are supporting and funding this venture, which we hope will allow both writers and business owners to learn new creative skills to enhance your business and also avail yourselves of some creative opportunities to use our inspirational collection items.

So, without further ado we would like to introduce our writer extraordinaire, Melissa Addey…

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Hi Melissa, we are excited to work with you at the Business & IP Centre. Can you tell our users a bit about your background?

I grew up on an organic farm in Italy and was home educated. I’ve spent the last fifteen years in business. Along the way I’ve worked for Sainsbury’s head office looking after the organic range of products, as well as developing new products and packaging; for Roehampton University developing student entrepreneurs; did a Masters focused on creativity; and worked as a business consultant on a government scheme for over six years offering mentoring, advice, training and grants to small businesses, mostly in the food sector.

What led you to start writing?

While working, I started writing on the side, both historical fiction and non-fiction. My first historical novel, The Fragrant Concubine, was mostly written while my toddler son napped and it got longlisted for the 2015 Mslexia Novel Competition. My first non-fiction book, 100 Things to do while Breastfeeding, was written while (you guessed it) breastfeeding my baby daughter. At the beginning of 2015, with small children to look after and childcare costing what it does, I decided to focus on my writing rather than going back to work.

What are you working on at the minute?

I’m currently working on a novella prequel called The Consorts and am about to publish a book called The Happy Commuter, which aims to improve people’s commute by suggesting ideas to pass the time. Plus, of course, the two books for this residency: one called Merchandise for Authors and one focused on storytelling for entrepreneurs.

What do you plan to do during your residency?

I plan to mainly focus on exploring and developing two streams of thought. I call it ‘Storytelling, Inc.’ and it can be summarized as storytelling for businesses and business for storytellers.  I think that the British Library’s Business & IP Centre is unique in that it has connections to creative writing through the main Library and to business but until now it’s not had the chance to draw these two threads together in a meaningful and fruitful way. My own background is the same – business and writing and so through this residency together we hope to give both writers and businesses the opportunity to draw on new skills and perspectives.

How can entrepreneurs and writers get involved and benefit from your residency?

There will be free workshops for both writers and businesses. There will be  two displays to showcase related business ideas – these will be held n the Centre and anyone can attend. There will also be two books published by the end of the year (what was I thinking?!). I will be in the Business & IP Centre twice a week most weeks, usually on a Monday and Friday (do come and say hi!). If you’d like to get in touch and propose ways to work together that fit the residency’s aims (such as taking one or more of our workshops out to a wider audience) please do get in touch at You can read about progress on this blog every month and get shorter updates more frequently on my own Facebook page. I’ve only just started this residency and there’s already so much to do, learn and share - I’m excited to meet you and help you on your journey!

The first of Melissa’s workshops will be taking place this March. Sign up for 'Merchandise for writers' and 'Books means business' to meet Melissa and learn how to use books and writing to advance your business ideas.





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