The Three Rs: Alison Moore

August 24, 2012 § 1 Comment

Alison Moore’s short stories have appeared in various magazines and anthologies including Best British Short Stories 2011. Her first novel, The Lighthouse (Salt), has been longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2012. Born in Manchester in 1971, Alison lives near Nottingham with her husband Dan and son Arthur.

When did you first know you wanted to write books?

I can’t really remember not wanting to write books. I used to collect ideas on scraps of paper in a box under my bed. I wrote my first novel (‘secretly’ on an incredibly noisy typewriter) around the time I went to university – it wasn’t very good and I didn’t even keep it but it was good practice.

What does your day look like while you’re writing a book?

My days are shaped by my three-year-old, with writing fitted into the gaps. So I get up with Arthur sometime after 6 or 7. I can do emails/admin here and there but I only get down to writing when Grandma’s looking after him or when he’s asleep, at which point I write until around midnight.

Do you type or write?

I type – and scribble notes when I’m not at my computer.

What do you read while you’re writing?

I don’t read any differently when I’m writing – I read novels, short stories, sometimes non-fiction, usually about writers or writing…

What have you read recently that you really loved?

I only recently got around to reading Thomas Mann’s Death in Venice, which was wonderful. I thoroughly enjoyed Lionel Shriver’s So Much For That. Joseph Roth’s The Legend of the Holy Drinker was recommended to me and I read it in one sitting. And I’ve been reading Will Self’s Umbrella, which I think is absolutely beautiful.

What are your all-time favourites?

I have a strong attachment to Nineteen Eighty-Four. I used to go to the school library and read it whenever I had a break. And Anna Karenin(a), which I read at around the same time. A much-loved hardback of Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind found in a secondhand bookshop when I was 18. Günter Grass’s Cat and Mouse, another favourite find. Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five. Graham Swift’s Waterland. Ian McEwan: The Comfort of Strangers, The Innocent. Muriel Spark’s The Driver’s Seat. And Flannery O’Connor’s fine short stories.

You can either write or read for the rest of your life – but not both. Which do you choose?

I’d have to read. I don’t suppose there’d seem much point writing if I didn’t read.

What’s your third R, and why?

Arthur, my three-year-old, because in any given hour of the day I’m going to be either reading, writing or Arthuring. Without Arthur, I’d probably still be filling my free time with evening classes, voluntary work, going out, which was all good stuff, but having Arthur made me stop and start again and now I write instead.


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