I’m delighted to welcome Choc Lit debut author Alison May onto the blog to celebrate her forthcoming publishing debut, Much Ado About Sweet Nothing, which is out at the end of this month. I met Alison about a year a go on a writing course along with Laura E James and I am so pleased to see such talented writers reaching publication.
Dear Alison (aged 5),
I’m not really sure what to say to you at this age. Explaining why you are, sadly, never going to be a cowgirl would be sour grapes, and you’d probably ignore me anyway. Clearly, cowgirl and Wonder Woman are the only sensible career options, and who am I to claim to know better?
Oh - one thing I will tell you. Just ignore that reception class teacher who says you’re too little to be reading. You are all over that whole cat-sat-mat territory, and the delights of the Village with Three Corners books await. You will, I’m afraid, also have to read Peter and Jane but listen carefully to Mummy when she reads them with you though. Some of those comments about how Jane doesn’t have to make the tea and can help her daddy with the car if she wants, aren’t actually in the book. Mummy does tend to try to feminist-up the reception class reading matter. And, why not? Reading and feminism are habits that are going to stick with you - you might as well embrace them early on.
Will write again soon.
lots of love,
grown-up Alison xx
Dear Alison (aged 15),
Wow. 15. We’re a teenager. Ok, so I know I said I would write again soon, but ten years is sort of soon-ish, you know if you’re counting ‘soon’ in terms of the overall age of the universe.
Anyway, what’s new with you? GCSEs? Trust me. They’ll be fine, but you know that, don’t you? You know you’re good at exams. They’re basically just writing stuff with a ridiculous deadline, which is going to be a useful skill later anyway.
I do know, though, that you’re kind of lonely at the moment. Not all the time. You’ve got all sorts of friends and people around you, but sometimes. Those girls at school don’t want to be your friend anymore, do they? I should tell you that that’s ok, and that you don’t need them, but I think we both know that that isn’t how school works. So all I can tell you is that there’s not much longer. Sixth Form will start soon, and although the friends you have there won’t necessarily be your everyday bosom buddies for the rest of your life, they will be just what you need now, and they’re coming. They’re coming really soon. In the meantime, just stick your nose in a book and make it all go away.
And then, after sixth form, it’ll be university - what do you mean you don’t know if you’re going to go to university? So you don’t know what you want to do with your life. The cowgirling didn’t work out, and you’ve not come up with another idea yet? Well don’t panic. Go to university. I don’t want to give away too many spoilers, but one of the people you meet there really will change your life. Thinking of which, could you do me a tiny favour and stop telling people that you’re never getting married? We’re going to look kind of stupid on that point later,
lots of love,
Dear Alison (aged 25),
How’s the wedding planning going? Don’t look at me like that. I did warn you. He’s all right though, isn’t he? Once you’ve sorted his hair out a bit he’ll be a proper keeper.
Anyway, the whole wedding thing is very exciting and all, but I know that you are absolutely sick of talking about it, so let’s change the subject. Tell me about that little evening class you’ve just signed up for. Creative writing? Just a little evening class, just for a few months, a bit of a creative outlet, something a bit different from work? That’s what you’re saying about it, isn’t it?
Yeah, well that’s not how it’s going to pan out. It’s not just a little evening class. It’s a degree, a full six-year part time degree, and for most of that you’ll be working full-time. In fact, you’ll change career partway through for a more challenging, more time-consuming job, because you are, apparently, a bit of a masochist and you get bored far far too easily.
And then, you’ll jack in that perfectly good, perfectly interesting job to write a novel. It’s a good thing this new husband of yours is an understanding soul, because it’ll be ten years from starting this course to getting your first publishing contract. Ten years. Ten years ago, you were fifteen. It feels like a lifetime, doesn’t it?
But it’ll be worth it. It turns out you love writing. You love putting words into characters’ mouths. You love the eureka moment when you see a way through a knotty plot problem. You even love editing. When you write you can go anywhere you want, be anyone you want. You might even get to be a cowgirl one day after all.
Enjoy the ride,
About Alison May
Alison May was born and raised in North Yorkshire, but now lives in Worcester with one husband, no kids and no pets. There were goldfish once. That ended badly.
Alison has studied History at the University of York, and worked as a waitress, a shop assistant, a learning adviser, an advice centre manager, and a freelance trainer, before settling on ‘making up stories’ as an entirely acceptable grown-up career plan.
Alison is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, and won the Elizabeth Goudge Trophy in 2012. Alison’s debut novel, Much Ado About Sweet Nothing, is a contemporary romantic comedy, and is published by Choc Lit, under their digital first Choc Lit Lite imprint, in November 2013.
You can follow Alison on Twitter @MsAlisonMay, and find out more about her at www.alison-may.co.uk