I have to start with a confession. Lesley Collison isn’t my real name. It’s a writing byline, taken from my grandmother’s middle names. Why don’t I use my own name? It’s simple – I see my writing as an escape from my day job. Not that there’s anything wrong with my job! But I like that my work life and my me-time are completely separate.
I’ve always written since I could first hold a pencil, but I think of myself as a plain writer, maybe even a lazy writer, because I don’t include lots of lovely descriptive passages – I’m not very good at that and want to get better. And I write quite compact stories set in the kind of local community we all know. It’s easy to think yourself into a scenario that’s basically quite familiar. Doesn’t need much in the way of research!
But I envy a creative writer like Alison Carter. Her short stories are spectacular. She thinks on such a grand scale. She has the ability to transport the reader into a different time and place purely through her rich descriptions. And she comes up with such unusual settings. Now that must take a lot of research. She obviously works much harder at it than I do!
I’m not especially prolific. I have a notebook with loads of half-baked ideas in it, but finding the time to develop them properly is a challenge. It’s another reason I’d describe myself as lazy. If I want to call myself a writer I should be up at the crack of dawn every day to write at least something!
Having said that, I’m always thinking about my next story and piecing it together in my head. I was forever in trouble at school for daydreaming and I haven’t changed. Once I have enough to get started, I’ll get out my laptop and start to plot it out properly. So far they’ve been serials for The People’s Friend rather than short stories, because I like the busy-ness of a serial, the cast of characters telling their individual tales and yet all being connected. That’s my favourite bit of writing: creating the characters. They always come first when I have a new idea. I can picture them, hear them, sense their personalities and quirks, just as if they’re real people, real friends. I hope readers feel that way about them, too.