Collecting Stories by Alison Lock

Posted: November 9, 2012 in Friday Guest
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Photograph by William Farr

Several of my short stories have already been published and some have been prize winners, so I figured that I already had a head start when it came to deciding which ones should be in my first collection. All I had to do was to take my best stories and fit a few others around them and I would have a collection. Easier said than done!

I read other contemporary collections for my research and I found that they often have themes running through them – some are intense and domestic, others are focused on particular human experiences: relationships, childhood, war. Zoe Lambert’s The War Tour, Sarah Hall’s The Beautiful Indifference, A L Kennedy’s What Becomes, and Vanessa Gebbie’s first collection Words from a Glass Bubble all wonderful collections with individual approaches and unique ways of writing a short story. The more I read, the more fascinated I became.

Although my own stories come under the genre of literary fiction they are set at different times and places. Once I’d re-read them and put them in some kind of order I realised that there were definite themes that ran through them, often things that I feel strongly about: social justice, equality, fairness − but in particular that curious ability we humans have that makes us able to ignore the big things, like climate change, and remain firmly focused on our intimate daily lives. I’m not saying that I’m any different and in some ways, as a writer, you could argue that I am an observer, a mere bystander. It’s easy to feel that as individuals we are powerless.

Some of my stories are set in a world after or during an apocalyptic happening which can make them sound pretty serious but this is fiction and there is still fun to be had even in a dystopian world. People do cross over the borders. They have quirky and fallible characteristics and some are not without a sense of humour. Funny things do happen.

I chose twenty stories, give or take a couple, and then I began the process of analysing, re-writing and drafting new copies. This was the real hard work. The problem with re-writing is that I can easily run away with the characters and end up with a different story – not the point at all. There has to be a moment when I say: enough, it’s time to stop. I do love short stories but I do have to keep coming back to the point that that is what they are: short.


Alison was a winner of the 2010 Indigo Dreams Poetry Collection Competition and her collection, A Slither of Air, was published the following year. Her poems have been published is several magazines and anthologies including Soul Feathers Macmillan anthology. This year she read at the Penzance Literary Festival and was Poet-in-Residence for the Holmfirth Arts Festival 2012.

Alison also writes short stories. She has won 1st prize in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly short story competition and has received an honorable mention in the Momaya Awards 2012. She is presently working on a collection of short stories, Above the Parapet, to be published in 2013. She has an MA in Literature Studies and Creative Writing.

Above the Parapet will be available from Indigo Dreams Bookshop, Amazon, and all good bookshops. Do look out for posts on Alison’s website.

  1. Catherine says:

    Great post Alison and I look forward to reading Above the Parapet – and working together on promotion next year. I agree it’s hard and confusing work assembling a collection. And very difficult to know when to leave it all alone. Good luck and hope to see you soon!

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