Louise Burfitt-Dons, FRSA

Louise Burfitt-Dons, FRSA is a British writer, humanitarian, and former Conservative candidate born in the Sheikdom of Kuwait when it was still a British Protectorate. Today she lives in Chiswick, London with her husband Donald. She has grown up daughters Brooke and Arabella.

Louise founded the children’s charity Act Against Bullying, co-founded Kindness Day UK, stood for Parliament in the 2015 General Election and blogs on women’s issues which is why I pop up from time to time on the radio or TV talking about current affairs.

Tell us about your early years that influenced you in the path of media and the arts.

I was born in Kuwait in the nineteen fifties. My father worked for an oil company, KOC.  When I was seven, Ian Fleming visited Ahmadi and became a regular friend and a visitor to our home there.  I’ve been a James Bond fan ever since! We had access to a well-stocked library in the basement of the Hubara Club which was the social centre for the ex-pat community. So I turned into an avid reader of mystery and adventure novels from a young age.  The compelling stories of The Famous Five and Agatha Christie inspired me to create my own material and staged shows in the backyard of our desert bungalow.  I got my first offer to use the school hall at ten, which paved the way for my comedies being produced by theatre companies in Australia later in life.  Being the daughter of British parents in the Middle East allowed me to experience the fusion of disparate cultures, which influences my writing a lot.

You have founded remarkable campaigns in UK tell us what prompted this.

Thank you.  My daughter was bullied at school and I saw the need for some material to help other children and parents in the same situation as myself. I wrote a set of monologues to help raise awareness of what was actually going on in the schoolroom. These focused on the small hard-to-pinpoint situations being overlooked by teachers. An example is ‘isolation bullying’, which mostly affects girls.  On reviewing them, a radio interviewer said, ‘Well that’s highlighted the issue brilliantly. So what do you suggest we do to stop it?’  So I formed Act Against Bullying to research the problem. It was my mission to empower child victims with confidential practical advice and at the same time encourage empathy amongst bystanders. I began the Cool To Be Kind campaign in 2001 which went global. The tone of the charity is motivational, and its motto is ‘Keep going’.  After that I was approached to design and front other social movements with similar goals, such as Kindness Day UK on November 13th in collaboration with the World Kindness Movement.  I’ve been much involved with highlighting women and girls’ safety issues, such as stalking and harassment.  Having done a lot myself, I set up an initiative to promote women in public speaking with the RSA.  In addition to these concerns and children’s problems, fighting climate change was also on my list of priorities.   Many of these issues now crop up now in my books.

Which book was the most challenging for you to write and why?

I’ve written six-handers plays, news copy, motivational speeches, comic verse, non-fiction and fast-paced US tele-thrillers, such as Your Husband Is Mine which premiered on Lifetime TV a few weeks ago. But my novel The Missing Activist was probably the most.  As a debut thriller it had to be spot on.  Plausible plot with the page turning surprises a crime book needs.   I also dived headlong into the two controversial themes of the day which were the world of British jihadi brides and the internal bullying practices of political parties. Some other issues the books covers include female candidates, domestic violence, trafficking, modern slavery, sharia law and feminism.  I wanted to capture a little humour along with it.  Hopefully, I achieved that aim with my off-the-wall protagonist Karen Andersen.

In September 2014 you were selected to fight the 2015 General election for the conservative party in Nottingham North what was one of the most valuable experience that you had?

Having to communicate with people who don’t always share your point of view!  Before you can represent the views of others, you are expected to be transparent on your own. Being a political candidate tests you on issues you may not have encountered personally.  Most problems we face are complex and there is not always a clear ‘yes’ or ‘no’ solution. But, either way, a prospective politician is expected to state whether he or she would Vote For or Vote Against if the issue arose in parliament. Whether you are a Remainer or a Brexiteer to legalising drugs, assisted dying or regulating the internet, you have to dig deep into your conscious and your personal life experience to hold a respected view. Put three individuals in a room and it’s difficult to get a consensus.  Let alone, 65,000.   Standing for parliament was as humbling as it was exciting.

What are your thoughts on feminism today and impact it has on society now?

I believe in conservative feminism, which regards women as equal but different.  The French say, ‘Vive la différence!’ Compared to a hundred years ago we have far more opportunities to fulfil potential in politics, business and STEM subjects than back then. That’s rightly given us long overdue economic liberation. Here in Britain we have equal opportunity in most employment fields. And there is a greater awareness and sympathy for female victims of domestic violence and sexual harassment cases than ever before.  All that is positive, and also empowering for girls growing up.

However, I don’t believe radical feminism in the West has done quite the same. If anything, the movement has become as divisive as any extreme political group. It is too anti-male and wrongly blames men for all women’s problems. This is not healthy for society at all. In my view, the countries that support honour killings and sex trafficking is where the strident feminists should focus efforts.  And on the systems and practices where a woman is still considered half the value of a man – which is how it was back in Elizabethan times.


What advice would you give women choosing media and arts careers?

The media industry is huge.  For example here in the UK it is forecast to grow to £76 billion in the coming years, making it one of the largest markets in Europe. That’s good news for someone set on a communications career. But while the internet is creating extra opportunities in one sector, it has also decimated in others. The print industry is an example. It’s in a downturn because of downloadable content. People won’t pay for what they can get free. The film business is another. Viewers watch on iPads and via streaming networks rather than visit a cinema. So my advice for those choosing to enter the arts is:

  1. Learn which sectors are on the rise. Focus on the fields that are expanding and the products and techniques they are looking for.
  2. Be proactive with your talent. You can showcase these days by setting up a blog or a website. Even a fun twitter feed will demonstrate your communication skills to a future employer or client.
  3. Be easy and agreeable to work with. It’s a competitive market!

What’s next for you?

I’m currently working on the sequel to The Missing Activist and second in the series featuring London PI Karen Andersen.

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