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Author Interview with Annalisa Crawford

In our Author Interview with Annalisa Crawford we discover the inspiration Cornwall has provided for her latest story

Tell us a little about yourself

I’ve always been a writer – scribbling stories when I should have been doing Maths homework, or revising for GCSE Physics (oops!). My first short story, Tasting the Grass, was published in 1994 and I earned a whole £10 for it. My latest novel, Small Forgotten Moments, was published last year and recently released as a hardback.

I juggle writing with my career as a fitness instructor – two jobs which work perfectly together. One gives my brain a workout, the other my body. And, of course, my muse – my beautiful dog Artoo – needs regular walking and attention, or he casts a spell of writers block on me.

  • Oh there are so many, I'm not sure where to start. Pride & Prejudice is the novel I've read the most - I went through a phase of reading it once a year and own three copies. The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender is one that's stuck with me since I read it. But most recently, The Midnight Library by Matt Haig was fantastic.

  • The same as I have every day - is that boring? Porridge oats, sultanas, mixed seeds, and cold milk. I let it all soak together while I drink my large mug of tea - it's delicious, filling, and sets me up for whatever is coming next.

  • I never pay attention to genre when I see a new book. If it's got an interesting title or a stunning cover, I'm attracted to it. If it's written by Margaret Atwood or Matt Haig, or published by Salt, that's a bonus.

  • Slightly too large to have a nice selection in the sale aisle.

  • Because I can't not write. The characters are in my head whether I put them down on paper or not, so I might as well go with the flow. I want to know what makes people tick, why some people are sad or lonely or confused. I put a lot of myself into my work, so I think I'm just trying to work out what makes me tick. And if I can entertain readers along the way, even better!

  • I enjoyed the creative side. I disliked the literary criticism. We read the most wonderful novels from The Color Purple to The Good Solider to Great Expectations. I devoured them but forgot I had to write about them afterwards. I have always hated the question: why did the author do x? Literature was written to be savoured not torn apart.

  • The beach at Seaton inspired Small Forgotten Moments. Over several dog walks, during the 2020-2021 lost years, I imagined my main character staring out at the horizon and could hear the sounds of her childhood, but she felt remote and I had to know why.

  • My characters aren't as black-and-white as that, so I don't think I'd be either. I could give myself heroic moments but they'd have to be followed by episodes of villainy.

  • My first drafts are written by hand, curled up on the sofa in front of the TV, or in the garden. Occasionally in a coffee shop. By the time I get to second draft (and beyond, way beyond) I'll be at my desk in a small room which once housed one of my sons.

  • The sky. The expanse of sky is a recurring motif in my writing - the way it's unbound and has such amazing variations. It's an evocative, living thing. The short story which one me third place in the Costa Short Story Award was written after I'd witnessed three or four different storms converge in the sky above Lusty Glaze beach.

  • I write in a truly convoluted way - I'm never entirely sure of the story I'm trying to tell. I could have woken up with a sentence in my head or a character who keeps tugging at my sleeve. And it's up to me to figure out what's going on. The best thing about writing, for me, is the ah-ha moment when everything clicks and I finally know what I'm trying to say.

  • For a long time, and especially when I was writing short stories, I didn't place the action in any specific location. Slowly I can around to the idea and Cornwall was obvious because I know it so well. I've set stories in my home town, and Small Forgotten Moments is set in Seaton. I wanted to chose areas which are less well preserved in fiction and really explore what those areas mean to people.

  • Small Forgotten Moments was inspired, in part, by walking into a portrait gallery and feeling all the eyes in the room watching me, all the painted eyes, that is. I wondered what I'd do if they started to move, or to escape their canvas and actually follow me.

  • Okay, so all of a sudden I can't remember a single cartoon series, let alone the characters. The only one coming to mind is Jamie from Jamie and the Magic Torch - he went on extraordinary adventures through the hole is magic torch makes in his bedroom floor. Or something like that.

  • My kids would say chicken, chips, and gravy which is why my husband does most of the cooking. I'd say omelette (which I only make for me) - I went though a stage of eating so many it inspired a short story entitled Omelette!

  • I wanted to be a writer before I even knew it was a job that real people did. The first story I remember writing was about a golden horse and I was seven. I also have a memory of retelling Snow White and Rose Red, but it's possible I just copied the story word for word.

  • Do it. Don't be scared. There's no right or wrong way. Embrace rejection, it's how we learn to distance ourselves from our work: you are not being rejection, your story just hasn't found the right home.

  • My muse, Artoo, is a Huntaway/Collie cross - a riot of noise and mayhem we've had since he was a puppy. Eight years on and I'm still waiting for him to calm down. He's always at my side - I think he must have learned to love the sound of keys tapping away. He's a talkative dog and can definitely make himself understood. He's quite good at mimicking me too...

  • I'm a little bit obsessed with giraffes. They're so bizarre, aren't they? And yet, so cute.

  • I've recently discovered Classic FM. I have very little knowledge of classical music, but I'm slowly learning to recognise the pieces they play the most. It's wonderful to have on in the background. In the past, I played one album over and over while writing quite a gritty story - consequently, I can't listen to it now because it makes me sad.

  • https://www.annalisacrawford.com/
  • https://www.facebook.com/annalisacrawford.author
  • https://twitter.com/AnnalisaCrawf
  • https://www.instagram.com/annalisa_crawford/