Alison McQueen


The Big Question

Fortunately, I don’t get out much. I’m not big on socialising, except with people who I know and like. Other than that, I am pretty much a recluse, preferring nothing better than to lock myself away in complete solitude. The annual festive season can be a bit tricky, particularly those unavoidable occasions when I am dragged along as the reluctant spouse. The moment I most dread is the invariable opening question from an unimaginative stranger: What Do You Do? In years gone by, I used to tell the truth. Not any more.

I cannot begin to describe the purgatory of having to listen to people who insist on telling me their brilliant idea for the book they are (never) going to write, or to be interrogated about what I am currently writing. One woman pinned me down for a forty minutes, barely coming up for air. The only way I could deal with her was to tune out. Then she started asking me questions, on and on, until the final straw came (referring to the manuscript I was working on)… What’s it about? This is the worst question you can possibly ask an author. Trust me. I know.

On the upside, I am much better at social gatherings now that I have learned to keep my mouth shut. If pressed, I usually say I’m a housewife, which tends to send most people running for the hills. Not that I’m disparaging housewives at all. I once wrote a whole series of novels about a housewife and they were very popular indeed, but that’s another story.