Praise for Twisted Tales Events

'In the past few years Twisted Tales has become a major force in the promotion and appreciation of horror fiction. As well as putting on author readings and signings at bookshops it has expanded into organising larger events, bringing authors and critics together for discussions of the field. I've been involved in quite a few of both and have found them hugely enjoyable and stimulating - I believe the audiences did as well. May Twisted Tales continue to grow and prosper! If you love the field, support them! I do.' - Ramsey Campbell

‘Twisted Tales consistently produce well-organised events for writers and readers of horror. What really distinguishes Twisted Tales for me is the intelligent themes and investigations they pursue, and the high quality of the discussions they always stimulate. As an author I've been invited to three of their events and have been pleasantly startled, to near shocked, by the attendance levels - two out of three were even sold out. I salute anyone who contributes so much to the literary and cultural life of horror fiction.’- Adam Nevill

'Twisted Tales events are wonderful... a great way of promoting 21st century horror fiction. Supported by Waterstone's Liverpool One and really well organised, Twisted Tales brings together established names in the genre as well as new voices and of course readers. Looking forward to much more to come...' - Alison J. Littlewood

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Alison J. Littlewood interviewed by David McWilliam

Alison J. Littlewood is a writer of dark fantasy and horror fiction. Her short stories have appeared in issues 7 and 16 of Black Static and will appear in issue 11 of sister magazine Crimewave. She recently contributed to the charity anthology Never Again, edited by Allyson Bird and Joel Lane. Other publication credits include the anthologies Read by Dawn Volume 3, Festive Fear II and Midnight Lullabies, as well as magazines Ballista, Murky Depths, Dark Horizons and Not One of Us. Her life writing has appeared in The Guardian. Alison is currently seeking a publisher for her first novel, A Cold Season. Her website is at

DM: What made you want to write horror fiction? What do you consider to be its attractions over other genres and mainstream fiction?
AL: At first, I didn’t consciously choose to write horror. I wasn’t even a huge horror fan when I was younger, though I enjoyed the occasional Stephen King or James Herbert. My early reading was pretty eclectic – I’d read anything (or everything). I just loved books and devoured whatever came within reach.

When I started writing, though, I found myself focusing more and more on genre fiction. Those were simply the ideas that came to me. They were the ones that made my fingers tingle. William Faulkner said, ‘I never know what I think about something until I read what I've written on it’. I get that completely. I discovered what I love most in literature through writing, and it’s completely changed my reading habits. The last couple of times I picked up a mainstream book I ended up thinking, ‘what’s the point?’

Ultimately, I’m drawn to horror because it looks at issues that are deeply ingrained in me. As a genre, it isn’t just about giving people a scare. Horror is concerned with the mysteries in life and death – the things we can’t understand, or solve, or ever be entirely reconciled to. Not to mention the fact that I’m a born worrier. When you’re always thinking of what’s the worst that can happen, I guess that will come out in your fiction!

DM: Which writers influenced your early work and how, if at all, have your influences changed throughout your career?
AL: I guess with any writer you learn by a process akin to osmosis. Even if it’s the nuts and bolts of grammar and spelling – I don’t consider anything I’ve read to have been a waste. I still have huge admiration for Stephen King, not only for the ease with which his characters draw you along but because some of his metaphors are wonderful – they act like a good prod with a sharp stick! I also adore Neil Gaiman’s novels. He builds such mythical richness into his work that it resonates incredibly deeply.

Among the newer voices in horror, I enjoy Sarah Langan’s novels – they’re dark, and gritty, and chilling. I also like Nate Kenyon and Joe Hill. On this side of the pond we have amazing writers like Graham Joyce – The Tooth Fairy is wonderful - Tim Lebbon, Sarah Pinborough, Conrad Williams and Christopher Fowler.

Not really an influence as such, but I also have a secret penchant for Derek Landy’s Skulduggery books. A wisecracking skeleton detective – what’s not to love?! Rupert Degas’s audio versions are brilliant for a long drive.

DM: In light of you placing a story with Crimewave, are you interested in the intersections between crime and horror? What crime fiction do you consider to be an influence on your work?
AL: Genres often bleed into each other and crime/horror are easy bedfellows in that both can look at the dark side of human nature. My story in Crimewave is right on the boundary between the two - the prison setting and characters lend themselves to crime fiction, but the plot and resolution stray more into the supernatural and mysterious. I’ve come at it more from a horror angle, I guess, although this is the ‘ghost’ issue of Crimewave and the magazine does seem to favour stories in that kind of borderland.

I do read some crime fiction, though not so much as horror. I tend to prefer novels which have other-worldly forces at work! I do admire the sometimes complex plotting and intricate interlacing of events to be found in crime. Recently I enjoyed Blacklands by Belinda Bauer – an unusual one which has a child protagonist becoming involved with a serial killer.

DM: Could you tell me about your first novel, A Cold Season? What have been your experiences when trying to find a publisher for it?
AL: A Cold Season is a tale of Faustian pacts against a background of isolation and broken families. It looks at just how far a mother would go to protect her child, and the psychology of faith. Oh, and it has snow – lots of snow.

My experiences of trying to find a publisher are few and narrow at the moment! I wrote it during the really cold spell we had last winter (appropriately enough) and didn’t finish the editing process until about September. I’ve only submitted it to one agent so far, but I’m starting to think about submitting direct to publishers, probably starting in the New Year. Subbing short fiction to the independent presses is a good way to gain awareness of the markets and I met some great people at Fantasycon so I will start with people I know. It would be nice if it found a home during another snowy spell! In the meantime, I’ve started writing the next one…

DM: Which leads neatly to my final question: what are your plans for 2011? Could you give our readers an insight into what your second novel will be about?
AL: The new novel is set partly in a small town, partly in London, though a London that is peopled with angels and demons as well as humans. It’s about divided loyalties, and what you do when you really have become your own worst enemy. At least, I hope that’s what it’s going to be about. It probably won’t be fixed in my own mind until after I’ve written it (it’s that William Faulkner thing again!).

There are so many things I’d like to do next year, time permitting. I want to finish drafting the novel, and then dedicate some time to short stories again. No doubt there’ll be a post-novel slump when I wonder where on earth that big project has gone that has been occupying my days...but short stories are pretty much pure fun, and it’d be good to let my imagination fly off in different directions for a while. I’d also like to start thinking about a collection, and I want to do something thematically linked, so that will mean producing some new material.

Then it’ll be time to go back and edit the current novel, and maybe think about the next one...

1 comment:

  1. Great interview, Alison! And best of luck with A Cold Season! Keep rockin'!


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