“Women can make things up too!” says Killing Eve and Fleabag creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge.
With critically acclaimed shows Fleabag and Killing Eve under her belt, Phoebe Waller-Bridge is one of our most celebrated writers out there right now. Firstly, she’s got the Bafta awards to prove it. And, it’s the reason why she’s been brought on-board the new James Bond film’s writing team.
Waller-Bridge’s breakthrough came with Fleabag, which she originally wrote for her Edinburgh Fringe one-woman show. Flawed, funny and often relatable, female audience’s welcomed the refreshing character. But Waller-Bridge has called out a common misconception about how she found inspiration for the character.
Speaking with Elizabeth Day on a yet-to-be-released episode of the How To Fail podcast, The Guardian reported that she talked about how often people assume female writers are incapable of using their imagination to write good characters. She also explained how this had led to fans thinking that her off-screen family are the same as her on-screen family, which has unexpectedly led to them having to defend themselves.
“They were actually taking the brunt of the profile of the show getting bigger,” Waller-Bridge told Day. “They were being asked all the questions about the show… Basically, there was just a communication breakdown with my family.”
Vocalising her frustration over people conflating her real life with her fictional work, she added: “Women can make things up too! It’s not all our diaries!”
Waller-Bridge then went on to explain how she in fact uses her deepest worries to create characters.
“Of course I’m drawing on really personal things and things that echo in real life, but I write about my biggest fears,” she said. “I write about losing my best friend or losing my mum, or not communicating with my dad, or not getting on with his new partner, and all those things are my worst fears: whereas actually my mum’s alive and well, my best friend is alive and well and we have an unbelievable relationship, my relationship with both my siblings is incredible, I get on really well with my stepmother and my dad; but it’s the ‘what if?’.”
Waller-Bridge and her family shouldn’t have to make a point of disassociating their real stories from fiction, just because some viewers assume that women can’t create original characters using only their raw talent and genius imagination. The fact that her family have had to defend themselves shows how negative this way of thinking can be.