Sunday, November 18, 2012


Today on Novels On The Run, I would like to welcome Australian author and poet, Alison Croggon to the blog. She was kind enough to answer my  Q & A's. Without further ado, here is the interview.



Michelle:   Could you please give me 10 Words that describe Alison Croggon the Poet.

Alison:  Gosh. I’m a lyric poet, which means that I’m really a frustrated singer. I like these words, from George Szirtes: “passion, intelligence and an intense moral honesty”. And playful, I hope. I like play.

Michelle:   Could you please give me 10 Words that describe Alison Croggon the author of fantasy fiction, if there is a difference?

Alison:  I hope the same words apply! But fantasy is longer, and involves story telling. Primarily, I hope to write beautiful stories, that will mean something to the people who read them. And perhaps make them cry (in a good way).

Michelle:   You are the acclaimed author of the fantasy quartet , The Books of Pellinor. For the YA readers and adults in the book world who may not have heard of this series, what is your non book blurb spiel you would in a paragraph say to a group of teenagers to convince them to read this series.

Alison:  Pellinor is my take on trad epic fantasy: the war between the Dark and the Light. It’s one story, across four volumes, which follows the adventures of Maerad, a damaged young girl who comes into her powers and who turns out to be crucial in the conflict against the Dark. It’s really a story about growing up in a threatened world, about discovering what friendship and love can mean, and how joy and sorrow are both deeply entwined. It has some big scenes – war and siege and terror and various battles – and of course, a lot of magic. I really enjoyed inventing a complex world, which traversed many different cultures and languages. I have the map on my desk right now, because I’m writing a prequel, and I’m sometimes a bit surprised I made it all up! Pellinor fans have told me they love it because the characters and the world are very real.

Michelle:   Do other genres of fiction interest you in YA to write about? What was the last YA book you read and couldn’t put down?

Alison:  Probably the last was Alan Garner’s new book, Boneland, which is the sequel to his two earlier books, The Weirdstone of Brisingamen and The Moon of Gomrath, which I loved as a child. I found Boneland astonishing, beautiful and strange, but I’m not sure if it’s really a YA book! I’m an extremely omniverous reader, I’ll read almost anything. Another I enjoyed enormously recently was the NT writer Barry Jonsberg’s Being There, a very delicate and moving story about the relationship between a young girl and an old woman and the power of imagination.

Michelle:  Where were you, and what were you doing when the idea for Black Spring came to mind?

Alison:  I wish I could remember. It just popped into my head at some point, and then a little later I wrote the first three chapters and thought, well, that might make a book!

Michelle:  You are a highly respected poet having won the Anne Elder and Dame Mary Gilmore prizes for your book of poems, ‘This is the Stone.’ You write in many genres including criticism, theatre and prose and travel overseas to read your poetry.

With poetry, how does your mind choose something to write a poem about? The last poem you wrote, what were you doing when the idea came to you and you thought it should become a poem? I get intrigued with this art and its rules. I personally can wrap my head around Slam poetry. I have been quite enjoying it after being introduced to it through Colleen Hoovers, Slammed series ( YA genre) . I can write a book review using it, but to do what you do, I don’t think my brain is big enough or geared that way.

Alison:  Poems for me just occur. They always begin with a line and a rhythm, as if I’m hearing a kind of music in my head, and then it’s just about following that music until at some point it stops. Sometimes they just come line by line – I remember one happened while I was doing the washing up, and I had to keep interrupting it to write it down. Then I’ll read the poem through and try to work out what it is. I don’t think it’s about having a brain “big enough”. People are taught to read poetry as if it’s a kind of exam. It puts people off it, because they feel as if they somehow fail it. I hated it when I was taught poetry at school for that reason, although I read it all the time at home. You don’t have to “understand” what a poem is “saying”, so much as to feel what the poem is. Like music.

Michelle:  Black Spring is a dark gothic tale inspired by Wuthering Heights, this is your latest release YA book of fiction. You have written for theatre , books of poems and novels, are you drawn more to the darker side in writing or could you see yourself in the future writing a movie manuscript for a comedy or a lighter work of fiction?

Alison:  I think all my impulses to comedy come out on twitter. I am always making bad jokes! I suppose most of my writing emerges out of some feeling of emotional urgency, so there is usually a sense of darkness. Black Spring is rather darker than some of my other work, because of the nature of the story. In the Pellinor books there is a balance of comic lightness.

Michelle: Which author alive or dead would be a highlight of your career to meet, and why? 

Alison:  I would like to have dinner with Anton Chekhov, the playwright. I read his letters and fell in love with him. A lot of writers might be disappointing to meet, but he is funny and fascinating and, when he was a young man, rather dashing.

Michelle: What is one thing Alison Croggon would LOVE to do that does not involve reading or writing?

Alison:  I guess it’s a sign I need a holiday: the first thing that popped into my head is two weeks in a luxury hotel, with absolutely no plans and no deadlines. Perhaps in Paris, so I could get lost wandering the streets. Oh well. I suppose a girl can dream.

Michelle:  What is one lesson you have learnt from the publishing world?

Alison:  That making books is an enormous amount of work! I am always amazed at how much labour goes into a novel: not just my writing it, I mean, but the labour of the editors and designers. The book you end up reading with is the result of the hard work of a lot of people.

Thankyou Alison for your time, have a great day. 


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