Alison Moore: Novelist, Short Story Writer & Man Booker 2012 Shortlistee

This is a new take on the Litro Q&A, now called the Proust Seat, with a set of never-before-asked questions.

Alison MooreAlison Moore is a novelist and short story writer. Her debut novel The Lighthouse (Salt Publishing), which we reviewed, has been longlisted for the 2012 Man Booker Prize. She also recently appeared on an episode of Litro Lab, in which she talked about why she loves Sherwood Anderson’s short story “Adventure”.

What is your earliest childhood memory?
I was nearly two and it was Christmas. We were visiting my dad’s side of the family at my grandad’s flat in Sheffield. I was sitting on his bed—our coats were in the bedroom—and a teddy bear I’d been given as a present was in its box in the corner of the room. I was fascinated and a bit freaked out by it being behind the cellophane window. Susan teddy now belongs to my son.

What is the first book you ever loved? Why?
Enid Blyton’s Shadow the Sheepdog was quite a special one because it’s the first “big” book I read all by myself. It was a bright yellow hardback and I remember feeling quite attached to it.

If you could be any literary character, who would you be? Why?
Moon-Face. Of all the characters who get to go up the Faraway Tree, I always liked him the best. Also, he has a round home and the slippery slip.

What do you do when you’re not reading or writing?
I mostly do three-year-old boy things. I like walking and swimming, theatre and films.

What is the worst job you’ve ever had?
I had a job mopping interminable corridors. I think I found it quite relaxing in a way, but I only did it for three weeks.

What is your attitude towards money?
I think it’s more important to enjoy your work than to earn a lot, but a reasonable salary means that I like where I live, I don’t have to sell something when a bill comes in, and I can travel—and travelling is very good for writing. Beyond that, I don’t have an expensive lifestyle—I’ll probably be driving my secondhand, twelve-year-old Nissan Micra until it falls apart.

What has been the most formative place in your life and how has it changed you?
Let’s say my first classroom at infant school. It was the first time I’d been apart from my twin sister and I had to get used to being just me rather than one of the twins. 

What is the most important piece of life advice you would give a young person?
I’m sure it ought to be something positive and wise, but in truth I love the things you really find yourself saying, like “Don’t ride your bike on the sofa”. Another one, overheard at Toddlers, is “You musn’t measure anyone who doesn’t want to be measured”. One from my grandma, whose uncle lost the sight in one eye in childhood, is “Beware of garden forks”.

If you could have a superpower, what would it be?
It’s got to be flying—invisible flying so as not to attract attention. 

What’s next for you (work- and life-wise)?
Cracking on with my second novel. I’m off to the south of France for a week, for a family holiday. When I get back, I’m involved in the launch of Nottingham’s inaugural Festival of Words, and at the end of September I’ll be reading at a Nightjar Press/Salt Publishing event [a live reading of Gothic stories] as part of Didsbury Arts Festival in Manchester.

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