Alison Lock - Poet, Writer

'Like a gentle voice in your ear, these poems speak of love 
and life and pain and war with words so precisely-chosen 
they will make you tremble' - Laura Sheridan.

Blog: Of Words and Wings

The Next Big Thing

Posted on November 27, 2012 at 10:10 AM

Last week, Caroline Gill invited me to take part in The Next Big Thing. She is a poet who loves to explore the natural world. Her poetry chapbook, co-authored with John Dotson from the USA, is entitled The Holy Place.  It has recently been published by The Seventh Quarry Press. Do take a look at her site.


The Next Big Thing is a great way to network with fellow writers and to find out a bit more about what they're working on. The idea is fairly simple. You, the writer, answer a standard(ish) set of 10 questions on your blog one week then ask five other authors (whose work you like and who you think might be The Next Big Thing) to answer the same questions the next week.


And now for my answers to the question set on The Next Big Thing.


What is the title of your next book?

Above the Parapet.


Where did the idea for the book come from?

I have written many stories over a few years and some of them have been published already or have won prizes in competitions. I decided that I’d like to put some of them together in a collection. Fortunately, when I approached Ronnie, my publisher at Indigo Dreams, he thought that it was a good idea too.

What genre does your book fall under?

Short Stories/Literary Fiction


What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

The character of Mr Pitikus, the quirky inventor, would have to be played by Michael Gambon. A role that is both erratic and demands precision.

Benedict Cumberbatch could be the naïve, caring, ageless character of Gabriel in Above the Parapet. I feel that his sometimes cherubic face would express well the contortions of transmogrification.

Katy in ‘Bugs’ would be played by Caitlin Blackwood.  She is the young Amy Pond in Doctor Who and I believe she has the right qualities of curiosity, sadness, and of course, a wicked sense of humour.


What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

As the world is on a cusp, hovering between the all-too-familiar and the dystopian, the characters are sucked into a slipstream of ordinary events and unusual happenings.


Will your book be self published or published by an agency?

It will be published by Indigo Dreams Publishing in the New Year – they also published my first collection of poetry ‘A Slither of Air’ in 2011.


How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

Because of the nature of writing short stories it is difficult to assess how much time went into the first draft. I go along with Stephen King's analysis in his book 'On Writing'.  Finding stories is how I would describe the process, as if they are fossils that need digging up, gently revealing the edges and blowing away the sand - and that's just the first draft.  On the whole it has taken a year even though most of the stories were already written because there was so much re-writing and tweaking to be done.


What other books would you compare Above the Parapet to within the genre?

There are many brilliant short story collections on the market at the moment. Vanessa Gebbie’s first collection, Words From A Glass Bubble, is interesting because of the variety of stories within it. Cary’s Bray’s Sweet Home contains the elements of life within the home – the domestic intensity that I like to conjure up at times. Zoe Lambert’s The War Tour focuses in on her theme and evokes a sense of desolation and the fragmentation of lives after a war. In Above the Parapet I look at everyday lives and how the characters cope with changing circumstances and natural catastrophes.


Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Simply – I write because I am inspired by the world around me through the various lenses of poetry, novels, plays and films.


What else about the book might pique a reader’s interest?

The fantastical nature of the stories might appeal to some, the pinch of magical realism, or the dip into the future – but never sci-fi. To others it might be the understated domestic dilemnas.  I think they would appeal to a reader who is happy for the borders between the genres to be ever so slightly blurred.


I hope I have given you a flavour of 'Above the Parapet' and that you will look out for it in 2013.


Now it is time for me to pass on the baton and introduce you to my writer friends who will take part in The Next Big Thing on Wednesday December 5th.

Let me introduce to you:

Roselle Angwin writes poetry, novels, mentors and runs writing courses in beautiful locations.

Chrys Salt is a writer of poetry, plays, books, as well as featuring in and directing theatre performances.

Vivien Jones has a new book of short stories called White Poppies with Pewter Rose Press.

Catherine Macnamara is the author of The Divorced Lady's Companion to Italy.  She is a novelist and a short story writer.

I look forward to their answers to these questions.

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Reply Catherine McNamara
6:08 AM on November 28, 2012 
Great interview and look forward to taking part next week. Thanks for the invite and can't wait to read 'Above the Parapet', it sounds original and enticing! xcat
Reply valerie sirr
1:09 PM on December 19, 2012 
Hi Alison, Nice to be part of The Next Big Thing with you. Sounds like a great collection. I love that fossil idea. Keep digging!