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Interview with Alison Gardiner

The love of my life is a thin-nibbed gel pen. It lifts my mood as words flow from it and fill a page, ideas untangling out of a scramble of spidery bright-blue lines. For edits I love purple gel pens; modified words stand out; the colour is rich and calming. Red is too harsh; every corrected word seems to admonish me. For signing books, I’ve discovered that children love snake-green. My tiny pencil case is always stocked with 4 gels: snake-green, black, purple and silver; choice, but I know which they’ll pick.


Notebooks appeal to my heart, not the logical part of my brain, so I buy ones which are pretty, quirky and look fantastic. A4, A5, tiny, practical or not very; I don’t care as long as I love their cover.  Yet when I come to writing, I hate to spoil them with early scribbles so generally use my children’s cast off school notebooks to kick off a story. Thus my collection of lovely ones enlarges relentlessly; I am the Imelda of notebooks.


My other stationary weakness is multi-coloured A4 ring binder files. I love to have rows of them neatly labelled, their colours reflecting how I feel about the enclosed book/project. Love stories files are red; the Eridor series is blue, possibly as in ‘sky thinking’; business is black; school talks green; blogs in craft paper. Each are stuffed with my other weakness, A4 punch pockets, containing ideas, outlines, synopses, underground fortress floor plans, characters, spells, my terrible line drawings of invented fantastical creatures.

It’s so pleasurable to see them lined up in rows awaiting the moment when I open them, re-unite with the story and, carried by it, sail away on a mental voyage as far as my imagination will take me. Writing fantasy, where almost anything can happen and frequently does, having control of my equipment is vital; I need some grounding! Correct writing tools are like a mental trampoline: if I’m working with something terrific, my brain can aspire to great heights (belly-flops being an occupational hazard).

Alchemy - CopyI’m author of fantasy novels for ages 9-12, winner of the 2017 Dorset GP Creative Writing Competition. The Serpent Eridor and Alchemy are out; book 3 of the Eridor series, The Goblin’s Curse, is due out in early 2010 via Matador. A complimentary Eridor KS2/KS3 teachers’ resource pack, supports my beloved school visits.

Hunting for an agent felt like looking for a chink in the Great Wall of China so I decided to self-publish; a steep learning curve in creating a website, honing speaking skills, running finances. Feedback sustains me: Alchemy was described as ‘a superb slice of teen fiction’ by Book Monthly; it was a Wishing Shelf Book Awards Red Ribbon winner and SCBWI Slush Pile Challenge winner. Chris Awdry, author of Thomas the Tank Engine series, wrote of The Serpent of Eridor ‘a page-turning adventure. Dialogue and action crackle along…’

I’m also a doctor (GP), mother of four and weekly voice performer, also monthly guest presenter, on Litopia Pop-Up Submissions literary program which streams on Facebook, YouTube and Twitch. It was fabulous to be part of the backstage crew when speaking at the SCBWI 2017 Conference and 2018 Gibraltar Literary Festival; interesting to be on the other side of the presenting fence. I’m proud to be a SCBWI member; we all need mutual support and friendship; there’s nothing more valuable.

My books, life, gallery and cat can found on my website or @alisongardiner1 on Twitter. Please do connect with me; I love to hear from other readers and writers.

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