Interview with Alison Padley-Woods

This series of Crimelines interview are coming to an end, and today I’m talking to

Alison Padley-Woods

Alison Padley-Woods Photo

[©2014 A. Padley-Woods]

Tell us how you got involved in the Crimelines project?

As a student at MMU I have been really lucky to get involved with the new Crimelines anthology that is being launched at the Manchester Children’s Book Festival this week. I am studying for a Creative Writing MA and specialising in children’s fiction, so this has been a great project to take part in and I am looking forward to reading my story ‘Honest Al’ at the John Rylands Library on Saturday. It was a challenge to write a story with a theme that is very different to anything I’ve written before and it is really interesting to see what a diverse range of stories are in the book. My story is very much inspired by two events in my childhood that I have rolled into one – with of course some added extras. Some of my school friends at the time would definitely recognise some threads of the story.


Was it your first time at writing a short story to be published?

Last year, as a second year student, we were given the chance to write a story for the MMU’s Timelines anthology. This was initially launched at the Manchester Literary Festival last October and my story ‘The Fall’ was set during the World War II at the amazing Tatton Park. This is close to where I live and not far from Manchester. It was used as a base to train paratroopers during the War and the history of the Park around that time is really interesting. The Fall tells the story of Ted, an evacuee from Manchester who unwittingly gets caught up in an adventure with the paratrooper. It was my first attempt at writing a short story and I really enjoyed it. It was illustrated by Harry Fryer, one of the art students at the University, who coincidentally grew up close to Tatton and so visited it frequently as a child. Last week, the book was re-launched at Ordsall Hall in Salford. This was my first visit to this fantastic Tudor building it was a great location for the event. It was also the setting for a ghost story, The Silver Spoons of Ordsall Hall that you can also find in the anthology.


What is it you enjoy most when writing short stories? What are the main difficulties?

I really like working within the tighter framework of the short story. That doesn’t mean that it is any easier, in fact it’s quite a challenge. The idea still has to be really strong, but it is crucial to focus on one event and the impact that this has on your main character, or characters. There is no room to include anything that isn’t completely necessary for your story to be told. I think that this is one of the main difficulties of writing a short story. You have to keep reminding yourself to stay focused and to keep the narrative moving. I know I have a tendency to want to include too much and you have to be quite strict with yourself. Even if you think a bit of description sounds great, or you get hooked on a particular element – if it’s not necessary, it has to be cut. Ouch!


Tell us a little bit about what’s ahead of you as a writer.

As a writer, my main aim right now is to finish my middle grade novel called Eleanora’s Falcon. This will be my final submission for my MA and I currently feel that I am living and breathing the fantasy journey along with my main character Eleanora. Like her I am hoping to make it to the end in the nick of time.


Thank you Alison for this lovely interview.

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