Alison McQueen


An Uncommonly Delightful Week

Posted: March 30th, 2012

It has been an uncommonly delightful week, not just in terms of the glorious weather, but rather from the wonderful people I have met at The Guardian Open Weekendand at the Oxford Literature Festival. Continue Reading »

Sunday Times Oxford Literary Festival

Posted: March 28th, 2012

I have always loved Oxford and spent a great deal of time there when I was a teenager, so the invitation to speak at Christ Church was a no brainer. Yet the subject matter – Empire in 21st Century Fiction – seems insanely huge. So huge in fact, that I have done no preparation for it at all. My specialist area of Empire is that slice of Indian history that saw the fall of what became known as the Raj. And the more I learn about it, the less I realise I know, and I have been studying the subject for as long as I can remember.  Continue Reading »

Novel Readers Are Nicer People

Posted: March 20th, 2012

An excellent article in the New York Times unveils evidence of something I have long suspected: people who frequently read fiction are better able to understand other people, empathize with them and see the world from their perspective. Continue Reading »

Short Story

Posted: March 16th, 2012

Short stories are a devilishly difficult form, particularly when there is a brief to adhere to. This one had to be less than a thousand words, with a contemporary setting, and nothing dark or depressing. There was also the issue of a fast deadline, so no shilly-shallying. Pick up a pencil and get on with it. The story appeared a week or so later in the Sunday Express magazine, and had been further cut by the editor in order to fit it on the page. It took me at least a fortnight to pluck up the courage to read it, knowing that it could (and should) have been so much better. Continue Reading »

The Fine Art of Procrastination

Posted: March 5th, 2012

Monday morning. The elder of my two daughters is supposed to be working on her dissertation. I am supposed to be working on my novel. We are both knee deep in piles of research, although hers seems to be centred around finding amusing things to watch on the internet. I like to think that I am old enough to rise above the temptation of yet another distraction, but there was no resisting the gem she dangled in front of me today – Marcel The Shell With Shoes On. Continue Reading »