Alison is a freelance writer, editor, teacher and author; a very busy lady. The Scribbler is most fortunate to have her as our guest this week. She has kindly agreed to participate in a 4Q Interview as well as sharing a brief excerpt from her soon to be published novel - Making it Home.
Alison DeLory is a writer, editor, and teacher living in Halifax, currently working at the University of King’s College. She has been writing stories for newspapers, magazines, and digital platforms for 20 years. She’s also written two children’s chapter books and contributed to several anthologies. Making it Home is her first novel.
4Q: I'm impressed with all your writing accomplishments. Not only with your novels, but the multiple articles you’ve written on a variety of subjects. Tell us about this facet of your writing career first Alison, as a freelance writer.
AD: I enjoy lots of styles of writing, as long as I’m telling stories. I trained as a journalist and cut my teeth at the Medical Post, where I got serious about interviewing and reporting. From there I branched out to lots of magazines and newspapers, including Chatelaine and The Globe and Mail. When digital publishing took off I transitioned to writing for on-line publications and writing website copy, etc. I actually have more writing experience in non-fiction genres, but I enjoy both.
4Q: Now, tell us about your novels.
AD: I took a creative writing course in 2008 when I first moved back from Toronto to Halifax. A class assignment was to write the opening scene of a children’s book. My own kids were four and seven at the time, so I wrote down a story I’d been telling them at bedtime about two kids who had a giant cardboard box they could transform into various modes of transportation (rocket ship, submarine). It was such fun and so well received it inspired my Lunar Lifter and Scotia Sinker, my first two books.
Then I dabbled in other things: poetry, academic writing, blogging, creative non-fiction (essays and memoir) and in 2015 was taking an on-line fiction course through the University of Iowa. For a class assignment I wrote about a mass beaching of whales in Cape Breton, and became interested in the community that flocked to the beach to push them back out into the North Atlantic. This ended up being the opening to my first novel, Making it Home, which comes out in June. The surprising thing is that I ended up weaving a whole second story line into Making it Home about a family fleeing the war in Syria. I did not see that coming! Sometimes stories just find me.
4Q: Please share a childhood memory or anecdote.
AD: In grade nine on Friday afternoons we were given a prompt and asked to write half-a-page in response. My classmates used to struggle but I loved the exercise and would typically be amongst the first in the class to finish. I see now that I was showing signs of having interest in, and aptitude for, storytelling. I’ve also always loved to read. But no one ever suggested writing as a career to me and that’s puzzling. I had to decide for myself that this was something I wanted to do and would become good at…and then I put in the thousands of hours of practice required. So, if I were giving advice to an aspiring writer, I’d say look within yourself for the motivation.
4Q: Please tell us about your writing habits. Do you have a favorite spot that you feel most creative? With music or total silence?
AD: I don’t have the luxury of writing only from a favourite spot. I write on my laptop wherever I can. This might be the library or a coffee shop, my home office or my back deck. But it’s also been in a weird assortment of other places: in Access Nova Scotia while my son wrote his beginner’s exam, in the rec centre while my kids took swimming lessons, or on airplanes. I work full-time right now and have several volunteer roles, so my writing is often squeezed into the margins of my life.
4Q: Anything else you’d like to add?
AD: Only that writing has enriched my life immeasurably. I’ve interviewed such interesting people. I’ve learned about other cultures and my own. I’ve thought deeply about language and word choice. I’ve paid attention to smells and sounds in much more observant and enriching ways. I’ve struggled to try to think from another person’s perspective and that’s made me more empathetic. I’ve taught writing which has deepened my understanding of it as a skill and an art. Writing has been hard work but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
An Excerpt from Making it Home.
(Copyright is owned by the author. Used with permission)
“That marker over there is for Grace Libbus. Grace was born and died on the same day, March 20, 2007. That would have been a Tuesday, Tinker. Born on a Tuesday, died on a Tuesday. The same Tuesday. Tuesday’s child is full of Grace, just like her name.”
Tinker remembered Grace’s passing well. She’d been Bob and Elsie’s granddaughter, but so briefly, suffocated when her umbilical cord wrapped around her neck during delivery. She would have been Catriona’s younger sister.
“That so? How about me? I was born in 1941 on April 10,” Tinker said.
Roger crouched down and started peering at a patch of clover growing near Russell’s grave. “Thursday.”
This one Tinker knew to be true. He remembered his mother telling him he was born on Holy Thursday after evening mass and how she’d missed observing Good Friday that year but was back in church for Sunday’s Easter celebrations.
“Thursday’s child has far to go,” Roger said.
Tinker let that comment hang in the dank late-afternoon air. He’d never journeyed much beyond Cape Breton up to this point in his life and didn’t expect it to happen in the future. He’d gone almost nowhere and it suited him fine.
“Put out your hand, Tinker Gordon.” He did as Roger told him. Roger pressed something almost weightless into his palm then folded Tinker’s fingers over it before he could see what it was. Then he swiftly turned and walked away.
Tinker watched him walk out of the graveyard, past the church, and down the shoulder of the country road. They were three or four kilometres from Roger’s house and though it was only 4:30, the mid-November sky was already darkening, but Tinker knew better than to offer him a drive. When he opened his palm he discovered a four-leaf clover
Thank you, Alison, for being our guest this week.
Read an advanced review of Alison’s novel – Making it Home - from the Miramichi Reader HERE
For those readers that would like to know more about Alison and her writing, please follow these links.
Linkedin: Alison DeLory