Friday, 31 January 2014

An Interview with Myself.

                                                          Duxbury In Chorley

                       For Trifecta

What is your name?

Ally Atherton is actually my pen name and it is also the name of my Great Grandfather. I have always felt a big connection to him and I knew immediately that I had to steal his name! My real name is quite boring but also already being used by quite a few Authors and poets.

A little more?

Ok, I have wanted to be a writer since I was about 6 or 7 and knee high. To be honest I'm still a short arse. I remember my first stories were about a private detective called Smokey the Badger and I can still remember what he looks like! I really must bring him back one of these days! I have spent the last 20 years or so working as a nurse but I have recently quit. Probably something to do with the fact that as a nurse I always felt like a square peg in a round hole, plus as a male nurse I have been nagged from day one, sadly. I may have to go back into nursing in the next few months if I can't find anything else, but on my terms. Probably as an agency nurse so I can work around my writing, not the other way round.

I live in Chorley in Lancashire but was born a few miles away in Wigan, in the north west of England, land of pies and rugby league. But I am a big football fan and divide my loyalties between Wigan Athletic and Manchester United. I didn't have the greatest of childhoods and was a victim of severe bullying. To this day I don't know why it happened. All I can think of is that I was always incredibly shy and thin as a kid and a teenager and I guess that's why it all started.

If anybody out there has a child that is being bullied, an important piece of advice. DON'T, just DON'T just tell your child to hit them back. That's lazy parenting. Please just listen to them and find a way to support them. Not all children have to courage or the strength or the height to hit back.

On a positive note, I'm still breathing and I think the bullying was the main reason I escaped into writing. But also is the main thing that spurs me on. The only way I see myself being able to hit back now after all these years is by achieving my dream.

Describe your writing style in three words.

I hope my writing style is original and imaginative and quirky. Just like I prefer my women ;)

How long have you been writing online?

For the last few years I have been mainly posting book reviews online and before that I had a handful of poems published in various sites, mainly Snakeskin, a British poetry website. But this year I am using my blog, Shadows and Tall Trees, to chart my progress as a writer as well as other stuff like this and Author Interviews etc.

Which, if any, writing challenges do you participate in?

This year I am hoping to take part in a few writing challenges as I aim to improve as a writer and to take the next steps towards (hopefully) publication of some form or another. I am hoping to be a regular Trifecta submitter and I also take part in Friday Phrases or Friday Fiction on Twitter every Friday. That's great if you are on Twitter. I have also taken part in NaNoWriMo a few times.

Describe one way in which you could improve your writing?

I believe that the only way to improve is to write, regularly every day a set amount of words. Also reading is the writer's equivalent of doing a diploma or a degree, so reading is essential. Also personally this year I am hoping to try my hand at various genres so that I can work out (hopefully) what I am good at and what I enjoy writing. At the moment most of my ideas are of the Science Fiction/ Twisty/ Twilight Zone variety but who knows what could happen. I could end up being an erotica writer!

What is the best writing advice you have ever been given?

I'm sure I have been given lots of great advice over the years but I can't remember most of it and they appear to have fallen down a plug hole in my memory. I have also been told (on more than one occasion) that my writing is just a hobby, this never fails to annoy me. For me, my dream of being a full time writer is not a hobby. You can't compare writing to collecting stamps or building toy aeroplanes. But I like Stephen King's advice in 'On Writing'. His advice is to be unsociable and that anyone that is serious of being a published author must be prepared to be unsociable in order to succeed.

Who is your favourite Author?

I have always been a big Fan of Stephen King and spent my teenage years avidly reading his books. But these days I make it my business to read everything, thinking (hoping) that it will make me a better writer. I read anything from the classics to thrillers to Science Fiction to Chick Lit! Yes, even Chick Lit! I must admit I'm not really a big fan of thrillers though unless they are original. For me there are only so many times you can read a book where a murderer is on the loose and being hunted down by a top notch private detective. If you want to read a good thriller, maybe read 'Stop Me' by Richard J Parker?

He's a great young Author at the moment and I also am a fan of Susan Hill and Peter May.

How do you make time to write?

You just have to. If you are serious about your writing it's as simple as that. You just have to. Sometimes you will be on fire and you will feel the Muse clinging to your back and screaming in your ear. But sometimes writing will be as painful as pulling each of your fingernails out one by one. I try to write a set number of words every day, no matter what. And if it's crap, it's crap! It's better than sitting in front of the TV like a zombie.

Give us one word we should consider as a prompt?


Direct us to one blog post of yours that we shouldn't miss reading.

Maybe one of my short pieces of Flash Fiction. Graveside Manner.

Finally my own questions

What are your future writing plans?

Well Ally, thanks for asking :) I am working on my first collection of short stories, my first novel and maybe some blog projects including a some blog serials and perhaps a blog novel. I also want to continue to take part in some blog challenges and do more Author Interviews but maybe also some young artist interviews, not specifically of the writing kind. I also want to carry on doing some book reviews.

If anybody can think of any ideas for my blog, please feel free to contact me at Shadows and Tall Trees or email me at

I can also often be found on Twitter as @AllyAtherton

I want to thank myself for taking the time to be interviewed by myself and just to say what a pleasure it has been. And what a nice guy too ;)

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