1. When did you start writing?
I can’t really remember a time when I didn’t. I always loved reading as a child and I think my curiosity about the written word stems from that. I remember writing a terrible story at school about a man who was ship wrecked on a desert island. It turned into a horrible island romance but I was only eight so my teacher thought it was hilarious.
2. Who is your favourite author?
There are too many to list. In terms of authors whose books I couldn’t live without, I would say Jane Austen, J K Rowling, E M Forster, Kazuo Ishiguro and Daphne Du Maurier. They are all amazing writers and hugely influential. My bookshelf is quite varied; I try not to limit myself to certain genres or certain authors all the time because if you set boundaries about what you read, you end up restricting what you can write. It’s good to have an idea about what you like and what you don’t like, but I think it’s also important to understand why.
3. Did you always want to be a writer?
I always loved the idea of being a writer, but I didn’t allow myself to consider it as a real possibility until I had my first article published in The Vegan last year. I still find it difficult to call myself a writer – somehow it feels like a title I don’t deserve. I’m working on that.
4. Where do you look for inspiration and ideas?
Sometimes, ideas just find me although I’m aware from talking to other writers that this isn’t very common and can’t be relied on. I can find inspiration almost anywhere-on a bus, in a bar, walking the dog, in a hospital waiting room, sat at home, on the train, in a coffee shop. Complete strangers are an endless source of inspiration; I really enjoy overhearing the end of a conversation and then going back and trying to fill in the blanks. It also helps that my family are a little bit nuts.
5. Will books be superseded and replaced by e-readers?
I hope not. I do have an e-reader and I wouldn’t be without it. It’s lighter to carry and it’s easier to preserve – I hate to see books get damaged from being crammed inside my bag. That said, there is no better smell than that of old books and no nicer way to spend a day than searching for treasure in a book shop.
6. When do you write?
A better question would be ‘when don’t I write?’ I write all the time. I have a notebook with me wherever I go and I’ll scribble when I’m in front of the TV or waiting for an appointment. I love writing on the train, I’ll write before I go to sleep and when I wake up. I have been known to write whilst asleep which was interesting and a little scary.
7. Who has been your biggest inspiration?
My Nanna was a huge inspiration. She was a brave lady with a big heart and a fighting attitude. Even though she was in a great deal of pain for most of my childhood, I don’t remember her complaining. I only remember feeling very loved and laughing a lot. I also had a terrific English teacher from the age of fourteen until I left school at the age of eighteen. She was always encouraging and always kind. She taught me that words on the page can take you anywhere you want to go.
8. Where did you get the inspiration for Part of the Furniture?
I think most writers will ask themselves ‘what if’ a thousand times a day and I’m no different. I read a news article about a woman who had been unwell and had stayed on her sofa for such a long time that her stomach grew around her television remote control, so that it effectively became part of her. Something about it unnerved me. I started asking myself ‘what if’ and Part of the Furniture was the result.
9. What projects are you currently working on?
The biggest project is a children’s book which I’ve been working on for almost two years. I completed the second draft in April but there’s still a lot of work to be done. I have an idea for a second novel which is in the very early planning stages and there are a few short stories floating around my head that have yet to be committed to paper. I love having several projects on the go; it’s more demanding and I find it helps me stay focused.
10. What do you love most about writing?
The possibilities are infinite. You could give a hundred writers the same opening sentence and you would get back a hundred stories that were completely different. I love the idea that one story in somebody else’s hands can evolve into a very different thing because writing is so intimate. It’s really an extension of you, and your writing is informed by who you are and what you’ve been through, every high and every low. You can’t help but put yourself onto the page to a certain extent.
11. Where else can we read your work?
You’ll be able to read everything on my website which is currently under construction. I’ll be featuring some of my published pieces there as well as some online exclusives and there’ll also be a blog and a section devoted to some of my favourite books. A good friend of mine has designed the site and is in the process of building it. It looks fantastic and I will keep everyone updated on the site’s progress via my Twitter feed which is @Alison_V_King.
12. Finally, do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Dare to be different. Harry Potter works because it’s J K Rowling telling us the story in her unique voice. The same applies to Jane Austen with Pride and Prejudice, Stephen King with Under the Dome or F Scott Fitzgerald with The Great Gatsby. Every author has their own voice; you can only ever be a second rate mimic of someone else but if you develop your own style and commit to your own voice, you can be a first rate version of yourself. Nobody can tell your story better than you.