Writer of the Month
May – EMBA
To celebrate this year’s fantastic shortlist, we’ll be featuring the East Midland’s Book Award authors in the countdown to the award ceremony on the 20th June, where the winning author will receive a ?1000 prize.
Alison Moore was born in Manchester in 1971. Her stories have been published in various magazines and anthologies including Best British Short Stories 2011. She has been shortlisted for the Bridport Prize and the Manchester Fiction Prize, and won first prize in the novella category of The New Writer Prose and Poetry Prizes. Her first novel, The Lighthouse, was shortlisted for The Man Booker Prize 2012. She lives near Nottingham with her husband Dan and son Arthur.
Writing East Midlands caught up with Alison to talk about her writing:
Congratulations on being shortlisted for the East Midlands Book Award 2013. How do you feel?
Thank you! The local support for The Lighthouse has been fantastic. I’m hugely pleased to be on the shortlist for the East Midlands Book Award 2013, and flattered to be in such fine company.
Could you tell us a bit about The Lighthouse?
The earliest version began with a man sitting alone in a woman’s kitchen – they were once in a relationship but now she doesn’t even know he’s there – so it’s about returning, and unhealthy attachment. When I decided to send him off on a walking holiday in Germany he became Futh, who is having trouble finding his way. I liked the idea of a confusion between a lighthouse beam warning you away from a place, and a light to guide you home.
Being a writer based in the East Midlands, how do you feel about the opportunities on offer in the region?
The East Midlands is an exciting area to be based in – I’m a member of Nottingham Writers’ Studio which has, amongst other things, been instrumental in organising the new Festival of Words. I’m also in contact with the Centre for New Writing in Leicester, and was very pleased to be part of their launch event in May. There are plenty of well-organised and well-attended literature festivals in local towns and villages too – in the past few weeks I’ve done events in Lowdham, Melton and Oadby, all of which were a pleasure to be involved with.
What advice would you give to emerging writers?
It’s a clich? for a good reason – read a lot and write a lot.
Can you tell us about your writing process? What do you find to be the most exciting part, and why?
With The Lighthouse, once I knew where the story began, I also knew where and how it would end, but I didn’t know exactly what would happen in between, so I could take that journey with my protagonists. Exciting ideas often come when not actually writing – in the shower or walking or driving. It’s exciting when you realise you know your fictional world well enough to inhabit it, to walk around it as if it were the set of a soap opera. It’s also exciting to read something back and find you believe in these characters – they have achieved full flesh and could live independently of you. The Lighthouse was essentially written in two or three drafts but then read countless times with endless little revisions made until the final manuscript was relinquished to be printed.
As you are an East Midlands author I wondered if the region affects your writing, perhaps by giving it a ‘sense of place,’ or a particular voice or identity, in any way. Or is this not a great factor in your writing?
I am conscious of having characters who live by the sea as well as characters who hanker after the sea and yet live about as far from the coast as they could in England. I have set short stories in the Derbyshire Peak District and in Leicestershire woodland, and I’ve used the flooded quarries of which we have quite a number. Even though I’m rarely explicit about where a story is set, the East Midlands landscape does crop up repeatedly in my fiction. Also, a former DH Lawrence enthusiast has appeared in a story of mine.
Who, if anyone, has had the biggest influence on your writing and why?
My agent and editor Nicholas Royle, whom I met at just the right moment and who has encouraged and championed me ever since.
What are you working on at the moment? What are you hoping for next in your writing career?
I’m working on my second novel, so most of my hopes are tied up in that, that it works as a story and that it finds a good home. My debut collection, The Pre-War House and Other Stories, was published on 15 May.
The East Midlands Book Award winner will be announced at the Award Ceremony at Barnsdale Lodge on the 20th June as part of Oakham Festival. You can download the full festival brochure here.
Interested in reviewing the EMBA 2013 shortlist? with the opportunity to have your review published on the Writing East Midlands website?
All reviewers will be entered in to a prize draw to receive two tickets to attend the prestigious award ceremony at Barnsdale Lodge in Oakham on 20 June as well as copies of the entire shortlist . Find out more here.