Killing Hapless Ally is a tale of an individual grappling for sanity and identity; a black comedy in which we discover how Alison, its curious protagonist, conceived in childhood an alter ego called ‘Hapless Ally’ in order to present a different, more palatable version of herself to her family and to the world beyond. Ominously, the alter ego began to develop autonomy. You learn how Alison had to deal with that: she had a lot of help from a varied catalogue of imaginary friends! The book is about serious matters: fear, confusion, dark days of depression and breakdowns. It carries with it a timely message to anyone poleaxed by depression and associated problems – or any reader interested in the windings of such things. You can, like Alison, survive and prevail. Ah, but how would you do it? If you had to – to survive – would you kill for it? Now that is an interesting question.
And so I sat Anna on the metaphorical interview chair, handed her a metaphorical cup of tea, and began the interview.
When did you start writing?
I'd self published a kitchen diary and a collection of short stories a few years ago and I've also done freelance journalism, been a blogger and guest blogger. As for my novel, well I started writing that in June 2014 and by May the following year it had found a publisher, the wonderful indie, Patrician Press. I'm also published in 'The Emma Press Anthology of the Sea' next year and I'm working on various things now: a YA, the next novel, a poetry pamphlet and a chapter book. (I know that sounds a bit mad.)
3 things (not including paper, computer, pens) would you like to facilitate a good days writing?
Big mug of tea.
Ideally, the kids need to be out BUT in fact I often wear earplugs!
Self-belief - can I have that? You know - ditching that little voice saying, 'You - YOU write a book - evil laugh...'
Do you write to a schedule, eg every day or three times a week, set times, etc or do you write as and when the mood strikes?
Well, I've got three young boys, I run a business...it's when I can!
Is writing your main source of income, I read lots of articles saying writers make no money, and my readers asked this question a lot! Can you survive on book writing alone? if not, what else do you do?
The general maxim is that you need to write ten books to make it your main income, I gather! Some do it on fewer books, I know, but very few people do it without the day job. I'm a secondary English teacher, but generally I'm running my own business teaching students in small groups or one to one. It is hectic.
What are your favourite biscuits?
Jaffa cakes. (we have been down this controversial road before...)
Tea or Coffee?
Coffee first thing; tea at all other times.
Where do you do most of your writing?
At the kitchen table or in my little office. On occasion I've hidden in the shed. And it's not even a posh shed. (it seems many writers favour a shed, I know Joanne Harris has one, it is a most adventurous shed too)
Do you use social media (facebook, twitter, instagram etc) to engage with your audience, do you think it helps sales and do you find it fun or a chore?
I use twitter and I love it. I think using social media is essential. Right now, I'm building my profile. I feel a bit embarrassed; a bit exposed. But it has to be done. If I don't believe in my book and get it out there, why should others? I know from other writers - agented or unagented - that you have to put yourself out there and, yes, social media is a key part of that. Twitter's the best for engagement.
If you could genetically cross an animal with a fruit or vegetable what would you choose and why? I'm currently keen on a Squirrel Leek - purely so I could shout 'oh no, a squirrel leek!' if I saw one ..
Ooh, bit unexpected. How about a hedgehog with a rosy apple? Not very succinct. But we could call it a hedgeapple and it would be pinky-red, spiky, but very wholesome and appealing. (cute! I like this plan)
If money was no object what would you buy your favourite person for Christmas?
I would have a shepherd's hut craned into our garden and furnish it with bookshelves, rugs, a woodburner and a Roberts radio. That would be for my husband.(Lovely - when you become rich please get me one too!)
Huge thanks for answering my often off the wall questions. Good luck with you future projects. Killing Hapless Ally is out in February.