Writer Of The Week: Alyson Hilbourne

Alyson Hilbourne

Fiction team’s Tracey talks pocket novels with Alyson Hilbourne. Alyson’s PN “Smugglers’ Secret” is in the shops now.


Tell us about your PN “Smugglers’ Secret”.

Smugglers’ Secret ” is a contemporary story set in a fictional Cornish village. I loved making up the state of the pub and village itself – so easy to do when you can google photographs of real places and mash them up. The story is both a romance and one with a bit of intrigue and, I hope, excitement.
How long have you been writing fiction?

Years and years!
What are your writing highlights so far?

I’ve won and been placed in various writing competitions. One highlight was winning a place at a writing conference in Iceland a few years ago. Writing a pocket novel was something I challenged myself to do so the first one I sold to “The People’s Friend” last year was also an achievement ,but each sale or success with a story raises a cheer even now.
Why do you enjoy writing PNs?

I’m not sure I enjoy it! I think of myself as a short story writer so I have to think in terms of each chapter being whole in itself and build up the word count slowly. Whilst I am a plotter for short stories, carefully working out where the story is going before I start, I begin pocket novels with a place (and time) and let the characters decide what is happening. It’s not a good way to write and I don’t recommend it!

“Smugglers’ Secret is in the shops now.

Who are your favourite authors?

I read a huge amount and all sorts. Long term reliable writers would be people like Kate Atkinson and Joanne Harris, but I’m very fond of historical fiction and have recently come across Lizzie Pook and Kate Quinn whose books I’ve enjoyed. Neil Gaiman, Eowwyn Ivey, John Boyne and Patrick Gale are all great writers in my opinion too.
What advice would you give would-be writers?

Do it. It’s so easy to procrastinate – making the beds or cleaning the windows first. And read widely in the genre you want to write in first and that includes The People’s Friend if you want to write pocket novels or short stories for them.
What are your future writing plans?

More of the same – short stories and pocket novels. I’m half way through a cozy crime pocket novel at the moment and am waiting for the characters to tell me where to go.


Tracey Steel

Having worked on a number of magazines over the years, Tracey has found her perfect place on The Friend as she’s obsessed with reading and never goes anywhere without a book! She reads all the PF stories with a mug of tea close by and usually a bit of strong cheese too!