Thursday, 9 February 2017

Author Interview - Lou Allison

What's your name? 

Lou or Lulu Allison

What's the title of your forthcoming book? 

Twice the Speed of Dark. 

Describe the book in under 100 words: 

A mother and daughter circle each other, bonded by love, separated by fatal violence. Dismayed by indifference in the news to people who die in distant war and terror, Anna writes portraits of the victims, to try and understand the real impact of their deaths. Her own life is suppressed, restrained by grief. It is only in this vigil, this act of love for strangers, that she allows herself an emotional connection to the world. Her daughter, killed by a violent boyfriend, tells her own story from the perplexing realms of death, reclaiming herself from the evisceration of coercive violence.

Describe the book in under 10 words: 

The traits that unite us and the violence that separates.

What is your favourite book and why? 

Life and Fate by Vassily Grossman, because it perfectly captures the wondrous beauty and the diabolical failure of the human creature.

Who is your favourite author and why? 

Arghhh….lots of books by lots of authors and lots of reasons to love them make this more or less impossible. The distilled answer, by finding an author who rarely disappoints, doesn’t necessarily include those books that have caused real rapture or life-changing reads. But though his books have not driven me wild with reader-zeal like Life and Fate did, or The Emperor’s Babe, (Bernadine Evaristo) I’d never not read an Ian McEwan book.

Name a book that you wish you'd written and why? 

I am an atheist, but I wish I had written the bible because I would’ve made it a lot more sensible. I don’t mean the narratives - some of them really are quite splendidly bonkers (that one about Noah getting drunk, with no trousers on… I kid you not) I’d leave them untouched. But the judgements and demands, the narrowing and exclusions, the misogyny and homophobia. We collectively could’ve done without a whole load of that stuff.

Describe a typical writing day for you - where you do it, when you do it, what aids you use, what music you listen to etc. 

I write in our living room, as I live in a small house with my family. I sigh with gratitude when everyone else trots off to college or work, make a coffee, play a game of patience to absorb the silence, then start. I take breaks to dance to the Melvins when I’m getting stale, or stare at the sky or the corner of the ceiling. Sometimes I am troubled by the feeling that I can’t see the whole thing at once and that can be a barrier. At those times I move to the dining table and write notes and scribbles and arrows and random thoughts on big pieces of paper. If possible I have no music on unless the boys next door are practising their instruments. I tend not to write for long periods of time as work and lack of dedicated space pretty much break up the day. I believe in walking and not thinking too. The parts of my mind that I can’t overhear need a bit of peace and quiet sometimes, without me constantly prodding for an update. I see it this way: the part of my mind where I can talk to myself is only the front office. The back office, or workshop, is where the useful stuff happens, but you can’t hear or see it. Sometimes, the speaking mind can get in the way like an over-zealous office manager. If the work is not appearing, it won’t necessarily appear faster because the office manager keeps checking on progress. The workshop is happy to do overtime, the manager should just read a book or go home and go to bed even. Let them get on with it.

What's your biggest frustration as a writer? 

The boys next door sometimes, though they are perfectly lovely and as entitled to their passions as me… Plus I was a drummer once. Having to work as a cleaner. I deliberately never chose greedy work that would take my time. The demands on me that came from doing art and more recently writing, are big enough to take all my headspace. But it is a bore to have my time fragmented.

How do people find out more about you?

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