About Me

For 10 years, I was a journalist; Havana Correspondent for CBS, The Economist and The Daily and Sunday Telegraph. My news, features and columns have appeared in publications across the English-speaking world. I also write comedy and have had a sitcom commissioned by the BBC.

I live oop north, in sheepshagger country.

I love books, comedy, fantasy, gardening, permaculture and all things earthy.  Make me laugh and I’ll be your friend forever.


20 thoughts on “About Me”

  1. I was wondering what the sitcom you had commissioned is called? It has a certain resonance to me as I submitted a pilot years ago and was resoundingly rejected! Channel 5 showed some interest then decided they weren’t taking on new scripts (after a year I might add). It’s a funny old business, sometimes not for the right reasons.

    • Maya Panika said:

      What was yours called? What was it about? When you say you submitted a pilot, do you mean filmed one, or just a script?
      It’s a horribly hard business to get into isn’t it? I had 2 through the BBC, both were finalists in their Comedy Talent sitcom scheme. The first, which I wrote with my sister, was called Kevin’s Quest; got commissioned and went through the production process (and I can tell you, the second series of Extras is not sitcom, it’s documentary). I had a wonderful producer in Paul Sclessinger but it still ended up with all the life and balls (and comedy) kicked out of it before being ultimately turned down by the then head of comedy. The second I wrote on my own and had the working title Snafu. It had an enthusiastic backer but he couldn’t get it past the same HOC who clearly did not like me! I’ve done a bit of sketch writing since but have more or less given up on comedy now. Unless you’re willing to give it your all, take a show to Edinburgh etc, it’s pretty much a non starter.

  2. It was October 2006 – the late autumn of loaf (I had just bought a bread maker). I was working as a database consultant at the local social services and having a laugh with the team I was advising. One of them had an idea called “Making the North Americans Think Like I Do” or Mt. Natlid for short. The idea was a single British guy goes to America to find himself, love and anything else that might be on offer. The pilot episode starts with him waking up next to a beautiful woman in a hotel room and not knowing how he got there. The rest of the series follows his adventures, theoretically explaining how he ended up with the woman.
    The script which consisted of two full episodes and a synopsis for the other 4 went to the BBC Writersroom, Channel 5, Talkback and a few other smaller producers. Channel 5 showed the most interest – within 20 minutes of sending the synopsis to the head of comedy, we had an e-mail back asking for the script of the pilot. Then we waited for exactly – to the day – a year when I received an e-mail saying that Channel 5 were not commissioning new series.
    My fellow writer and I kept our day jobs so it wasn’t an issue. And having read what happened to yours, I think I may have had a lucky escape! Every now and again I think about turning the idea into a novel. My ending was a lot darker than my co-writer’s, involving mistaken identity and terrorism but that’s just me – I actually wanted the action to start with Our Hero on the window ledge of the eighteenth floor of the hotel, but hey! That’s the happy-go-lucky, glass-is-half-full kind of writer I am.
    And I do have a rant, from time to time, when I see what the BBC does spend its TV Comedy Budget on. BBC Radio comedy seems to be much better!

    • Maya Panika said:

      I’m sorry, somehow your response slipped past my radar, I never got an email and never saw your response. I do apologise. Your sitcom sounds like something Armstrong and Miller – or maybe Mitchell and Webb – might do, you could try approaching their agents. Radio is a much better bet than TV, telly is just too expensive to take risks with newcomers. If I ever decided to have another crack at it, I’d go for radio every time.

      • Oddly enough I met a guy who said exactly the same thing. He had written a film about Dylan Thomas, I don’t know if it got made. Record stuff for the radio was his advice. One day I think, after BATDIG and other things!

        Congrats on your Blog Award nomination, by the way!

  3. Greetings. I nominated you for the One Lovely Blog award: http://wp.me/p2s9cG-8y. Keep being awesome 🙂

    • Maya Panika said:

      Well goodness gracious me! I’m sorry to say I’ve never heard of the One Lovely Blog award but I shall go and investigate further. Thank you very much!

  4. You’ve had some interesting experiences. I like that you write comedy because we can always use more laughter 🙂

    • Maya Panika said:

      Let’s say I try to write comedy with varying levels of success. It does tend to creep in here and there, like in the novel when I was trying to be at my most serious.

  5. I love your last line. Laughter is so important! The reason my marriage has lasted so long is because my husband and I can still make each other laugh.

    • Maya Panika said:

      I honestly believe that humour is THE most important thing in life. It keeps us all sane. 🙂

  6. I’ve nominated you for TWO blog awards! Check it out: http://imagineerebooks.wordpress.com/2013/07/01/received-two-awards/

    Steve 🙂

  7. Maya Panika said:

    Well, thank you, that’s very thoughtful, but I’m afraid I’m proper-blogging (ie, – reviews and re-blogs aside) so rarely at the moment, I don’t think I’ll be able to fulfil the reqs.
    I hope it all goes well for you, though. Best of luck!

  8. Hello,

    My name is Margerie and I am writing on behalf of NewAsianWriting.com

    We interview writers and we’d like to interview you for our section Author’s Speak.

    If this sounds interesting to you, please get back to me.



    • Maya Panika said:

      Hello Margerie. I’m happy to be interviewed but I am not Asian.
      Let me know if you’re still interested
      Best regards, Maya

  9. What is your email ID? Let’s discuss on email.

  10. Maya Panika said:

    I’d rather not put my email on an open forum. Can you message me on Facebook:

  11. naw.submissions@gmail.com– this is my email ID. can you mail me on this.

    I am not very fb savvy.

  12. Hi Maya! Hope all is well with you and yours. I have been nominated, if that is the right word, for “My Writing Process Blog Tour” so have written answers to the questions. I have nominated you but I don’t think you have to do anything unless you want to. Kate Murray nominated me. How’s Chaos coming along? I have finally published a paper version of BATDIG and am trying to get it together enough to finish my next novel in time for Winter – which appeared to be here already two days ago! Take care, keep laughing! Jon

  13. Maya Panika said:

    Hello Jon. I’m sorry to be so tardy responding, I only just saw this – I currently have 400+ emails unseen and unanswered in my inbox. 😦 It’s very good of you to nominate me! I don’t think I stand much of a chance, it’s been over a year since I posted here. Tbh, things have been rather rough this year, I’ve barely written a word or done anything writerly – no time, no energy – since last summer. I’m just now trying to get back into the stride, started writing Chaos just this Monday. I’m quite pleased with progress so far but there’s a log way to go yet. Good luck with BATDIG, btw. It really is an excellent story and your writing is superb. I’m happy to plug it here, just say the word. It would be a good way to get back into the blogging habit. Good to hear from you anyway. Take good care. Maya.

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