Writer Of The Week: Alison Haylock

writer of the week

Fiction Ed Lucy meets Writer Of The Week Alison Haylock.

Alison’s fun short story, “What Does Granny Say?”, appears in this week’s issue of “The People’s Friend”.

How did you get started as a writer?

I have always written stories, for as long as I can remember.

When I was very small, I used to tell myself stories in bed at night before I fell asleep. It was only when I went into hospital aged 6 to have my tonsils out that the girl in the next bed complained that I was keeping her awake, whispering, and I realised that I was saying these out loud!

I make up stories all the time. Often just from listening to conversations going on around me — in shopping centres, on buses or trains. 

I invent characters and events based on what I hear.

Who, or what, was the inspiration for “What Does Granny Say?”

Family is very important to me — I have a husband, five children and a step-daughter.

I did not have a very good relationship with my own grandmother. When I was a young Mum, I used to imagine what it would be like to have an older relative to consult.

Now that my children are grown up and I have grandchildren of my own, I hope I can be not only a granny to them but a wise friend, too.

There’s lovely, gentle humour in this story. Do you enjoy reading humorous fiction?

I love reading literature and stories that make me laugh out loud. One of my favourite books is “The Wimbledon Poisoner” by Nigel Williams.

My family has been a big influence on everything that I write, because I can imagine the people I know so well in different situations and environments. And I can write convincingly about being a wife and a mother.

Also, as a teacher I enjoy the company of teenagers, and sometimes writing stories that might appeal to them.

What are you writing at the moment?

In between work and home, I am writing my third novel.

It’s set in 1941 in occupied France, and is about the lady doctor of a small rural town in the Dordogne, and her experiences of living under German rule and how this affects her life and family.

I became interested in this topic after researching for a serial I wrote recently. It was about two families living on the south coast of Britain and their experiences of war leading up to the evacuation of Dunkirk.

I thoroughly enjoy discovering details about life for ordinary people so long ago. As part of this, I have become aware of the Andrews Sisters.

Now, when I’m writing, I have their unique blend of close harmony and big band music playing in the background.

What are your writing goals?

My goals are to keep writing, and for people to keep enjoying what I write.

I have a video running through my head as I am writing. It shows me all my characters, and I can see and hear them as I set down their stories.

I would love my latest novel to be turned into a film or a TV series, but that’s a pretty distant goal!

Notebook and pencil, or laptop? Kitchen table, or study? Blank wall, or inspiring view?

I usually write on a PC, but I keep a notebook in my handbag so that I can jot down any ideas that come to me while I’m out and about, or any snippets of conversation I overhear.

Over the years I have found that, although you think you will remember these things when you get home, you never do. Always write them down!

And a P.S. – What’s your top tip for an aspiring Writer Of The Week?

If I had to give one tip to aspiring writers, it would be to study the market you’re writing for and to take advice from the editors.

In my experience, editors want to use your work if they possibly can, and most of them will give you tips on how to write for their magazines.

The other thing I would stress is even more important — don’t give up! Keep writing!

For more from our Writer Of The Week series, click the tag below.

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Lucy Crichton

Fiction Editor Lucy is always on the look-out for the very best short stories, poems and pocket novels. As well as sourcing enjoyable content, she enjoys working with our established contributors, encouraging new talent, and celebrating 155 years of 'Friend' fiction!