Well, it’s a beautiful, sunny July evening here in Yorkshire so I think I will take my Friday Night Drinks outside with tonight’s guest, debut author….Gail Aldwin.
Gail, thank you for joining me for drinks this evening. First things first, what are you drinking?
A chilled glass of prosecco, please.
My favourite, I think I will have the same. If we weren’t here in my virtual beer garden tonight, but were meeting in real life, where would you be taking me for a night out?
I live in the county town of Dorchester, so I suggest we have a wander through the water meadows in the late afternoon sun then go to a local bar for a cocktail.
That sounds like the opening chapter of a Jilly Cooper novel, right up my street and perfect for this glorious weather! If you could invite two famous people, one male and one female, alive or dead, along on our night out, who would we be drinking with?
I like a good laugh so I’d be pleased to spend an evening with Richard E Grant (ever since he played Withnail in the 1987 film, I’ve been a fan.) And I’d also invite Caroline Aherne to make up the party. Such a shame she died young.
Both geniuses. I thought Richard was magnificent in Can You Ever Forgive Me? with Melissa McCarthy recently. If you haven’t seen it, you must give it a watch, it was so brilliant and she was a real surprise in it, after all her comedy roles.
So, now we’re settled, tell me what you are up to at the moment. What have you got going on? How and why did you start it and where do you want it to go?
My debut novel, The String Games was published by Victorina Press last month, and my debut poetry pamphlet adversaries/comrades was published in April, so I am flat out marketing and promoting both of these publications in order to reach readers. Alongside my independent writing, I’m also part of a collaborative comedy sketch writing group call 3-She. We’re taking a new show called Big Heads & Others to the Shaftesbury Fringe on 6 July.
That looks like an interesting show! What has been your proudest moment since you started writing and what has been your biggest challenge?
I wanted to take a photograph of my collection of short fiction Paisley Shirt on the shelf at my local library. However, when I got there the book was already on loan. It’s such a thrill to think of people reading my stories.
It was also announced this week that, The String Games has been longlisted in The People’s Book Prize. This is a national award that aims to find and promote new and undiscovered work. One of the the organisation’s aims is to support the complete eradication of illiteracy. This is something very important to me as, following years of working with parents and children to build their literacy skills, there is still a need in communities for further work. In this longlisting, I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect match: an opportunity to gain a wider readership for The String Games and support a cause close to my heart, so I am absolutely thrilled, as you can imagine.
The biggest challenge, of course, is finding ways to reach new readers, so I really appreciate your work as a book blogger, Julie.
Thank you, Gail, it is nice for the work we bloggers do to be recognised by authors. What is the one big thing you’d like to achieve in your chosen arena? Be as ambitious as you like, its just us talking after all!
I’d love to take a show to the Edinburgh Fringe. And then get the show on TV. And then get my own TV show …
Modest ambitions – I love it! What are you currently working on that you are really excited about?
I’m working on a new novel called This Much I Know, which has a six-year-old narrator called Mikey Griffiths. Set in suburban London, Mikey is friendly with his neighbour called Leonard and he can’t understand why a vigilante group would terrorise an old man. Mikey decides he is the best person to show Leonard isn’t a threat to anyone. It’s fun working on a story using the restricted viewpoint of a child – and quite challenging at the same time.
I love to travel, and I’m currently drawing up a bucket list of things I’d like to do in the future. Where is your favourite place that you’ve been and what do you have at the top of your bucket list?
This year I fulfilled an ambition I’d held for at least eight years. I spent the whole of January in Guatemala trying to learn Spanish. By the end of my time in the city of Antigua, I could use four different tenses, but every single sentence I rehearsed in my head before making an utterance. It would take considerably more time to become fluent in Spanish than I had imagined. Another burning ambition is to work in a developing country with Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO). I’d love to share my skills with learners and understand what it’s like to integrate into the workplace in a different country and culture.
Wow, that is a different twist on the bucket list entries I usually have. Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself that people might not know about you.
My first husband was twenty years older than me. (The marriage didn’t last very long!)
Books are my big passion and central to my blog and I’m always looking for recommendations. What one book would you give me and recommend as a ‘must-read’?
Love by Hanne Ørstavik (translated from Norwegian by Martin Aitken). This is an extraordinary novel that explores the loneliness experienced by a mother and her nine-year-old son.
Love is the story of Vibeke and Jon, a mother and son who have just moved to a small place in the north of Norway. It’s the day before Jon’s birthday, and a travelling carnival has come to the village. Jon goes out to sell lottery tickets for his sports club, and Vibeke is going to the library. From here on we follow the two individuals on their separate journeys through a cold winter’s night – while a sense of uneasiness grows.
I will add it to the TBR. So, we’ve been drinking all evening. What is your failsafe plan to avoid a hangover and your go-to cure if you do end up with one?
Hangovers are an occupational hazard for any little book problem drinker. I usually eat apples if I end up with one.
I have not heard of that as a cure before, I will add it to list. After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?
A good walk on a windswept beach is an absolute must.
Perfect. Thank you so much for joining me, Gail, it has been a fascinating evening, and good luck with your show tomorrow.
Gail’s book, The String Games, is out now and you can buy a copy here. Jacquelyn Mitchard, bestselling author of The Deep End of the Ocean says of the book ‘Gail Aldwin’s The String Games takes hold of the reader and the juncture of the head and the heart and simply does not let go. With courage and tenderness, and an unblinking eye, Gail Aldwin explores the ways in which the loss of a child explodes a family. Treat yourself and read this one.’
When four-year-old Josh is abducted and murdered during a family holiday in France, Nim, aged ten, becomes an only child. To cope with the tragedy, Nim reinvents herself but continues to carry a burden of unresolved grief. As an adult she returns to France determined to find out more about the circumstances of Josh’s death. How will she deal with this new information and what are the implications for her future?
Settled in Dorset since 2006, Gail Aldwin has lived in Australia, Papua New Guinea and Spain. Her short fiction collection Paisley Shirt was longlisted in the best short story category of the Saboteur Awards 2018. She co-writes comedy sketches and short plays which have been performed in Brighton, Salisbury and Bridport. Winner of the Bournemouth National Poetry Day competition 2016, Gail’s poetry is included in the poetry trail at Beaumont Park, Huddersfield and can be found at Flaghead Chine Seaside Garden, Poole. Her first poetry pamphlet adversaries/comrades is based on the theme of siblings and is published by The Student Wordsmith in 2019. Gail’s debut novel The String Games is published with Victorina Press and has received outstanding reviews. As chair of the Dorset Writers’ Network, Gail works with the steering group to inspire writers and connect creative communities. She also supports undergraduates on the Creative Writing BA (Hons) at Art University Bournemouth as a visiting tutor.
If would like to support Gail by voting for The String Games in The People’s Book Prize, you can do so by following this link.
Next week, I will be spending my evening, literally, with Kim Nash, author and social media manager at Bookouture, as we both attend the Romantic Novelists’ Association conference in Lancaster, so make sure you join us.