Monday, 4 November 2013

Alison Moore came to Plymouth #pibf

Alison Moore
I went to see Alison Moore talking about her latest short story collection The Pre-War House and Other Stories last Saturday, as part of the Plymouth International Book Festival. If I'd been more organised, I'd have taken photos - but it was only as I was leaving that I thought it would be a good topic to blog about, if only to prove I do go out and don't spend all my time writing.

Alison Moore rose to prominence last year when her first novel The Lighthouse was long-listed - and then short-listed - for the Man Booker Prize before it was even published! But she'd been writing short stories and winning competitions long before that. I kind of felt Moore was having the career that I aspire to, so that made me even more curious about her.

As I was writing this I thought Hey! Wouldn't it be great to ask Alison some questions of my own! So I contacted her and asked this:

You were short-listed for the Man Booker Prize with your first novel, does that concern you now that you're working on your second? Are you feeling an extra pressure? (Apologies for putting the thought in your head if you haven't!)
When I wrote The Lighthouse, hardly anyone knew I was writing a novel at all. I don't have the same hidey-hole with the second one but I did keep it all to myself until the first draft was done, and having my collection out this year helped as events have been focused on that, enabling novel #2 to remain in the shadows.

A writer friend of mine wrote a blog post today about people disliking her unsympathetic characters and ambiguous endings, and as a result she's been getting 1 star reviews. You said on Saturday that some people can't relate to your characters either, how do you deal with negative comments/reviews?
I know The Lighthouse won't be everyone's cup of tea - I'm just glad that it's also found plenty of people who have responded to it so enthusiastically. One thing I really like is that some people have found Futh utterly infuriating and yet despite this have found themselves caring very much about what happens to him and rooting for him.

Alison and interviewer Johnny Mains before the event -
with thanks to Johnny for the permission to use this photo
Has the past year lived up to your expectations? Have you found it harder to write with all the extra distractions?
Well it's been like ten years worth of good stuff rolled into one! The success of The Lighthouse has enabled me to write for a living, and I would have found it difficult to fit in writing alongside all the other opportunities except that my son started school this year so I'm writing or doing writing-related work full-time now.

And finally, you've just brought out a short story collection. I love reading and writing short stories myself, but I know how hard it is to convince the reading public. Do you think short stories will ever be given the acclaim they deserve?
I wonder if it's partly about exposure - I don't think many short stories cropped up during my education. My rooting out of contemporary short stories was initially via magazines that I was reading as a writer or would-be writer. I'd like to have got my hands on Salt's Best British Short Stories (edited by Nicholas Royle) and Best British Horror (edited by Johnny Mains, and out next year) a couple of decades ago. Now I've got shelves full of short story treasure - I get very excited about my favourites.

Thank you so much for the interview, Alison!

You can find out all you need to know about Alison Moore from her website.
Alison also appears in The Screaming Book of Horror (edited by Johnny Mains, the host of the event).

20 comments:

  1. How lovely to write for a living. I'm still struggling toward that goal. What a wonderful literary encounter for you, Annalisa!

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    1. We'll both get there eventually Mary :-)

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  2. great questions and I shall get her collection. There is hope in the world of short stories. And bully for her with her novels. She comes across as very nice, humble, and smart. Glad you did GO out! Fun night.

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    1. Nice, humble, smart... and very calm - if I'd been short-listed for the Booker, I'd still be running around telling you all about it!

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  3. What a great interview. Do you know I never knew Plymouth had an international book festival? Is it an annual event? I'll have to look out for it next time.

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    1. This was its second year, Suzanne - here's the link for it:

      http://www.plymouth.ac.uk/pages/view.asp?page=40399&eventID=7975&showEvent=1&nocache=1

      It's organised in conjunction with the university.

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  4. Excellent interview, Annalisa!

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  5. Wonderful interview, ladies. I really enjoy reading short stories, too. But it's something I only discovered in the past few years. I hope they are on the rise. :)

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  6. How awesome that you were able to interview Alison! I enjoyed reading it.

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  7. I like the idea of not talking about a story until the draft is done. Whenever I try to explain a story before i have it down, it sounds so silly I lose a little faith in it. So, like Alison, I'm going to quit!

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    1. I don't explain much about mine either - which is why I've got 'the cult one', 'the depressing one' and 'the hotel one' :-)

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  8. Hi Annalisa,

    Kudos to you and what an enlightening interview with Alison Moore. I shall check this fascinating lady out.

    Thank you, Annalisa and well done for approaching her.

    Gary

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    1. Her novel The Lighthouse was one of my favourites from last year, well worth reading!

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  9. My husband and I both really enjoyed The Lighthouse. Poor old Futh! It's one of those books that plays in your head every once in a while. Interesting questions, Annalisa. Just what I'd been wondering about as well!

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    1. I'm looking forward to reading it again. I imagine it's one of those novels which will always throw up something new.

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  10. Glad you had a lovely time, and glad I was able to bring Alison to Plymouth :)

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Please comment - I love a good chat!