JOBS at Winfield’s in Haslingden and stocking shelves at Accrington Asda may not be obvious training for a literary career.
But Rawtenstall-born Paul Roundell, scriptwriter for ITV’s Emmerdale, has finally succeeded in making a living from his love of writing.
“I left school at 18 then dossed about really, working at different places.
"And I didn’t really know what to do with myself,” said the former St Theodore’s Boys School pupil, who has written for the Leeds-based soap for the past six years.
It was an ex girlfriend who encouraged Paul to follow his writing dream, which took him to a job at the Lancashire Telegraph in 1991.
“Writing was all I was any good at, but I didn’t know how to get into it. I got a job selling adverts at the Telegraph as it was then because I thought I’d get to write a bit for a living — it would be a start.
“But I hated it,” the 41-year-old confessed. “And I was rubbish at it, because I don’t like bothering people. I didn’t sell a single advert at all, so I gave up and went on the dole,” said Paul, who wrote the recent controversial assisted suicide storyline which picked up an accolade at last month’s Inside Soap awards.
“I bought myself a games console to cheer myself up, and then I saw a job advertised for a games magazine in Macclesfield. To apply you had to write a review of a game.
“I got that job in 1992 and I’ve been writing really ever since,” said Paul, who writes scripts from his home in Mellor in a back bedroom converted into an office.
Initially Paul worked for a string of games magazines and was based in London for several years before getting his first TV job with Emmerdale in 2003 as a storyliner.
Paul said: “It was much more office-based than my current job with Emmerdale, and I lived near Ramsbottom at the time so it was a 100 mile round trip a day to Leeds and back.
“I gave it up in the end and started to write a book, but at the same time I decided to write a few scripts for Emmerdale and send them in. I never really chased them up because of my thing about not liking to bother people but after a few months I got a job as a scriptwriter there, and I’ve been doing that for six years now. It’s the longest job I’ve ever had,” he laughed.
And while his late mother was more of a Coronation Street fan, Paul has converted his father, who visits for tea and a helping of Emmerdale once a week.
Paul said: “I love watching because I know what’s coming and when it’s finished my dad will go into his pocket and take out £50 and say ‘well done, treat yourself’.
“Dad’s always spoiled me. I’m an only child. But I have to stop him; he’s a 77-year-old pensioner.”
Paul is the only Lancastrian in a team of 22 writers, responsible for creating enough scripts for six episodes a week.
On top of that he has recently written a feature length DVD called Paddy and Marlon’s Big Night In, released on Monday.
With 180 hours-worth of material a week to come up with and a 90 minute DVD script to write, Paul admits he can live a bit like a recluse at times.
“People say I don’t know how you have the discipline to work from home and not get preoccupied by doing work around the house or watching TV, but I never feel the urge to do housework and my natural laziness makes working from home ideal,” he smiled.
“I can’t have any noise, though. I have to have it very quiet while I’m writing. I can actually go a couple of days and not see anyone,” Paul admitted.
“When the postman arrives I want to invite him in, just to talk to someone. Sometimes, apart from putting the bins out, I won’t go out of the house for up to two weeks. It is a bit like cabin fever, but I like it.”
The new DVD, stars two of Paul’s favourite Emmerdale characters, Marlon and Paddy.
“They’re like Emmerdale’s comedy double act,” Paul added. “I default more towards humour, it’s natural to me. I have done darker stuff but I love comedy. Their characters are so well rounded and it’s really enjoyable to write for them.
“The DVD wasn’t actually my idea, they didn’t want my idea,” he laughed. “But I was asked to write it.
“It was a real challenge to write 90 minutes from one short paragraph of an idea. It gives you more freedom as a writer which is nice, but also quite scary.”
Paddy and Marlon’s Big Night In follows the events of a not-so-quiet night in and a rather hazy morning after when the pair are left to babysit while the girls go on a night out.
Paul explained: “Told mainly through flashbacks, the lads decide one pint at The Woolpack won’t hurt but when they wake up the next day they can’t remember anything from the night before. And there’s a mystery to unravel.
“It was great fun to write I hope Emmerdale fans enjoy it as much as I did.”
n Paddy And Marlon’s Big Night In is out now, priced £19.99.