My Life in 37 Therapies: Q&A with author and publisher Kay Hutchison

By   Hannah Bickerton 5 min read

Kay Hutchison is a content creator with extensive experience in radio, television and publishing. After gaining her BMus and MA at Glasgow University she joined Decca Records in London and then BBC Radio as a Producer.  She moved to television with Channel Four and went on to lead the launch teams for Disney TV and Channel Five. In the build-up to the 2012 London Olympics she successfully led the legacy partnership that delivered a long-term future for the multi-million pound Olympic Broadcast Centre. Kay founded her own company, Belle Media, and launched Belle Kids in 2015 producing multi-platform, conservation-focused content for children. An inveterate traveller with a restless mind, her career is now centred around writing and publishing. We chat to Kay about her work and new book My Life in 37 Therapies

Tell us a little about yourself, Belle Media and your new book My Life in 37 Therapies.

I’m a content creator interested in publishing, media, tv, games, radio and audiobooks. From the age of 8 I was a keen musician and went on to study music and performance at Glasgow University and the Royal Scottish Academy of Music. I started work with Decca Records, became a music producer for BBC World Service Radio and then went across to Channel 4, where my career continued in TV. I led the launch teams for both Disney TV and Channel 5 and then returned to the BBC, where I became Director of Client Services and Director of Partnerships. I was responsible for leading the partnership of media organisations ensuring there was a meaningful employment legacy after London 2012, specifically focusing on the repurposing of the 1 million sq ft Olympic Media Centre – it’s now home to a thriving digital business and education campus and also the headquarters and studios of BT Sport.

I first became interested in publishing when we looked at options for my father’s memoirs – he was Senior Master on the Clyde and a wonderful storyteller. We turned down a traditional publisher because we wanted to create something more interesting than that which was being proposed. This was followed by two acclaimed children’s book series Tigeropolis and The Adventures of Captain Bobo.

I began writing my own book, My Life in 37 Therapies, as I started this new phase of my career. It has taken me quite a few years but, thanks to the guidance of many experts in the industry, including whitefox, the book is now out and published by RedDoor Publishing.

You have a lot of publishing experience. How did you find the process of creating your own book, rather than working on someone else’s?

It is a completely different experience writing one’s own book, but I did learn a lot from the process of publishing other books and working with some great people. Having focused all my efforts on other people’s projects during my career, it was great to focus on something truly my own. I always loved my work and, in some ways, My Life in 37 Therapies is the culmination of my creative career.

I took my time with this book – not only because I was busy with my day job running a small business – but also because I wanted to do things properly and find the right route for me. I discovered it’s best to learn from the experts in each and every part of the process.

Was the process of writing My Life in 37 Therapies cathartic?

Yes, although it was by no means a quick fix. Writing therapy is actually one of the therapies I recommend in the book. My writing journey started somewhat accidentally when a friend asked me to accompany her on a writing retreat she was eager to join. I thought it would be a lovely way for us to spend some time together catching up, but it wasn’t quite what I expected. It was hard work and we didn’t have a great deal of time together. However, it turned out to be a very important trip for me personally, as I discovered my love of writing. We had homework to prepare before the retreat started and I wrote 12 short stories and some poetry. There were many talented writers and we had a unique course leader in Mavis Cheek. And it was a wonderful place to write; the Ty Newydd Writing Centre in Wales is set in relaxing countryside, the place has history and is warm and comfortable. An unforgettable experience spending time with other writers and teachers. One of the short stories ended up being the inspiration behind 37 Therapies.

What are your hopes for the book – is there one message you would like to leave with your readers?

I hope that the book will shine a light on people’s own lives. The importance of my childhood and upbringing is a constant theme throughout the book, and it was only in my mid-life years that I began to see that these influences had actually shaped my whole life. I have already had some very different responses to the book, depending on whether it’s a man reading it, a woman, someone my age or someone much younger. But each person reading the story seems to find something that resonates, which is good.

What’s next for you? Can we look forward to another book?

I have started planning two books. There’s 37 More and a new memoir called The Lost Letters. This time I’ll start working with an editor right from the outset so that I don’t waste time. I aim to complete the first draft of The Lost Letters by Autumn 2020, but let’s see what happens. I started writing the outline at the wonderful Scottish writer’s retreat ‘Moniack Mhor’ near Loch Ness where I had initially gone to finish 37 Therapies. I really appreciate the calm and beauty of nature. I find I need this, together with the right kind of music, to help me write.

Do you feel that, after finishing the book, you have the answer to the ‘question you couldn’t even articulate’?

Well, life is an ever-questioning state, and so although I definitely found some answers (and can even define some of the questions that emerged), I’m still enjoying discovering new and surprising facts about life every single day. I had so many questions at that time, there wasn’t just one. Why was I so career-oriented? Why did everything change in my happy existence? Why did I need to be on my own? Why did I not have children? These are the sorts of questions everyone has to think about at some point. And there is so little time in today’s chaotic world. And yet it’s important to make time for these fundamental questions.

And finally, what are you reading at the moment?

I am reading:

  • Motherhood by Sheila Heti
  • Yuga: An Anatomy of Our Fate by Marty Glass
Hannah Bickerton
Hannah Bickerton
Hannah has worked in marketing for nine years, specialising in strategy development for start-ups and EdTech companies. Having recently jumped across industries to join the Whitefox team, Hannah isn’t a complete stranger to the publishing world with previous employment at Macmillan and TES Global. She is now dedicated to ensuring that anyone who has something interesting to say knows all about whitefox.