“What’s mine, I keep.”
Lily’s dreams of a better life for her family are shattered when her teenage daughter refuses to give up her illegitimate child. It doesn’t help that Lily’s husband, Jack, takes their daughter’s side.
Taking refuge in her work at a law firm in the City, Lily’s growing feelings for her married boss soon provides a dangerous distraction.
Will Lily be able to resist temptation? Or will the decisions made by these ordinary people lead them down an extraordinary path that could destroy them all?
– When and where do you prefer to write?
Over the years, I’ve trained myself to write wherever and whenever I can. At first, I was a young mum, juggling home, family and work, so I often got up very early to get in an hour of writing before the children woke up. I also used to travel a lot with my day job as a professional fundraiser, so I’d write on trains, in hotel rooms, in the car, whenever I had an odd few minutes to do so.
Today, I’m semi-retired and we have an empty nest. I’m very lucky that I have a lovely office looking out over the garden and I can spend all day in there writing.
As I write this, I’m in the dining room of a Victorian mansion called Northmoor House on the edge of Exmoor where I’m helping to run a writing retreat for Imagine Creative Writing. This is our fourth retreat here and I’ve set up my lap-top in my usual spot at a table in the large bay window, with a view of the woodlands around the house. I always get a lot of writing done here!
– Do you have a certain ritual?
I try to read through some of my previous day’s work to get back into the swing of things. I quite like having the radio on in the background – for some reason that helps me concentrate.
– Is there a drink of some food that keeps you company while you write?
I always have a cup of peppermint tea by my side (always hot now that I use a vacuum travel mug.
– What is your favourite book?
Oh my word, I can’t possibly choose! I have thousands of books – both physical and ebooks – and my favourite often depends of my mood or what I’m working on at the time. I do have one book that I credit with inspiring me to become a writer. It’s The Green Bronze Mirror by Lynne Ellison. She wrote it when she was a teenager and I first read it when I was fourteen. It’s a cracking time-travel adventure where the heroine ends up in Ancient Rome. I remember thinking that if she could write such a good book at such a young age, then I should have a go as well. Sadly, none of my early efforts were worth keeping, let alone publishing, but that book definitely set me on the path to becoming a writer.
– Do you consider writing a different genre in the future?
Yes, I’m willing to try most things. I already write contemporary romance and YA time-travel adventures (thank you, Lynne Ellison!), and my latest book, MINE, is a novel based on events in my family in the late 1960s. It’s best described as domestic noir. I’d like to try writing a psychological thriller one day. I’m also playing with an idea about a future world that I’d like to develop into a book. Having said that, I do enjoy contemporary romance and the time-travel stories, so I will carry on with those as well.
– Do you sometimes base your characters on people you know?
I think every author does. Sometimes, you just use a physical feature or tic, or a gesture or way of speaking. I think most of my characters have been an amalgamation of features from various people.
In MINE, it’s different, because the family members in the story are all based on my own relatives. I’m interested in hearing what my cousins think about the book, because I’m aware that my versions of the people involved may differ from theirs. We all see people and events from different perspectives, so their views may be quite different to mine.
– Do you take a notebook everywhere in order to write down ideas that pop up?
Definitely! I have notebooks in my handbag, on my desk and beside my bed. If for any reason I’m stuck with an idea and no notebook handy, I’ll make notes on my phone. It’s so easy to come up with the perfect word or phrase and promptly forget it if you haven’t been able to write it down straight away.
– Which genre do you not like at all?
Because I’m such a coward, I shy away from horror stories. I’m also not fond of anything that’s too bleak. I think, even in the darkest times, we need to find a spark of humour and hope to help keep us going. Although the themes for MINE are quite dark, there are a lot of light moments that I hope will make my readers laugh out loud.
– If you had the chance to co-write a book. Whom would it be with?
That’s a really tough question. I admire so many writers, both living and dead. I’d love to see the creative processes of other writers but I’m not sure who would put up with me as a co-writer! I do work as a freelance editor for some writers, but my aim there to is preserve that writer’s unique voice and help them make their book the best it can be. I definitely don’t co-write with them!
If I had to make a choice, I think I’d like to co-write something with Daphne du Maurier. One of her last books was Rule Britannia which was written in the early 1970s. In it, she imagined a world where Britain chose to leave the EU and ended up being occupied and ruled by the US. I’d love to know what she’d write in today’s world.
– If you should travel to a foreign country to do research, which one would you chose and why?
I’ve been very lucky and travelled a lot over the years and I have featured some of those places in my writing. I was due to go to St Lucia in 2020. I’m working on a story set there, so maybe I’ll get there next year to do the research.
I’m also keen to spend some time in Puglia, Italy, to work on an idea I have for a series of stories based around that area. In an ideal world, I’d rent a house and spend a few months there. In the meantime, I’d better start learning Italian!
Thank you, Alison Knight and Rachel’s Random Resources
About the author
Alison has been a legal executive, a registered childminder, a professional fund-raiser and a teacher. She has travelled the world – from spending a year as an exchange student in the US in the 1970s and trekking the Great Wall of China to celebrate her fortieth year and lots of other interesting places in between.
In her mid-forties Alison went to university part-time and gained a first-class degree in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University and an MA in the same subject from Oxford Brookes University, both while still working full-time. Her first book was published a year after she completed her master’s degree.
Mine is a domestic drama set in 1960s London based on real events in her family. She is the only person who can tell this particular story. Exploring themes of class, ambition and sexual politics, Mine shows how ordinary people can make choices that lead them into extraordinary situations.
Alison teaches creative and life-writing, runs workshops and retreats with Imagine Creative Writing Workshops(www.imaginecreativewriting.co.uk) as well as working as a freelance editor. She is a member of the Society of Authors and the Romantic Novelists’ Association.
She lives in Somerset, within sight of Glastonbury Tor.