Five Minutes with Alison Gibbs

alison gibbs 1. Where do you get most of your writing done?


Almost exclusively in my home office although I do scribble in my notebook on buses and problem-solve in bed at 5am.

2. Internet on or off while you’re writing?

On ― but not up on screen. I like knowing it's there and use it to check my facts ― ie. does Bulladelah have an IGA?

3. Which book/poem do you wish you’d written?

I'm starting to think that any damned book would do! I'll nominate The Transit of Venus by Shirley Hazzard. I'd also like to have her life, writing on her terrace overlooking the Bay of Naples and lunching with Graham Greene.

4. Which book are you constantly lending your friends? 

Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates and my large stack of Anita Brookner novels. I'm always trying (and failing) to convert people to the cult of Anita.

5. Which fictional character do you think you're most romantically compatible with?

Striking off all the cads, snobs, bores and introspective pains in the neck, I'm left with Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird ― yes, he'll do!

6. Best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?

Stop trying to sound like a writer and think: what would that really feel like, look like, sound like? ― paraphrasing Brenda Ueland, 1938

7. If you could only read and re-read one book for the rest of your life, which one would it be?

Anita Brookner again, for the enduring pleasure of her lucid and exquisite prose. All her books have the same plot but I never tire of them. If I can only have one, I'll take Brief Lives.

8. What are you working on at the moment?

I normally have a couple of stories on the go and I'd like to say I'm working on my novel. To be honest, however, at this moment I'm earning my living writing a fundraising appeal on the plight of women in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

And if you dare to share, we'd love to see a pic of your writing space...  

alison gibbs work space