For Books’ Sake Talks To: Alison Moore

6th Nov 2012


We recently caught up with Moore, keen to find out how life has changed since the Man Booker nomination.

“Before the announcement, I was either looking after my little boy or I was quietly getting on with my writing,” explains Moore. “After the shortlisting, there was suddenly a lot interest from the media.”

She lists an impressive list of opportunities that have come about as a result of the nomination, including articles for The Financial Times, The Guardian and New York’s Newsweek, and many appearances at literary festivals across the country. It’s all great stuff,” she concludes.

The Man Booker was praised this year for recognising the great works coming of out independent publishers, and Moore has nothing but compliments for Salt and all the hard work they put in to publishing her novel.

“[They] have been wonderful to work with,” says Moore. “They put total trust in Nicholas Royle, their Commissioning Editor for Fiction, taking me on as a relative unknown with a first novel. They allow me artistic freedom and take great care over production quality.”

When we discuss the scenes from The Lighthousewhich are implied but not explicitly shown, it is clear that ambiguity is an important part of the reader experience for Moore.

“To my mind, there’s a very definite ending towards which elements of the narrative point, although, the scene not being shown, other readings are possible,” she replies, when asked about the infamous shock ending.

“This is partly so that the reader’s imagination can get busy, partly because our horrible feeling that we know what happens but not really knowing mirrors Carl’s experience, and partly because it echoes other parts of the text.”

“The slight openness is part of the point,” she adds.

Moore is quick to correct any notion that the unsympathetic female characters in The Lighthouse are any stronger than the men.

I think the men and women alike go around damaging one another and themselves even when they don’t mean to,” she replies, arguing that all characters “fail to connect in any healthy way and seem increasingly unlikely to escape.”

“I’m not trying to make a point about men or women or humanity,” she says. “I just got inside the story and looked around and that’s what I saw.”

In addition to writing novels, Moore has also written several short stories, including Static, which was short-listed for the 2009 Manchester Fiction Prize.

In 2013 Salt will be publishing Moore’s first short story collection, a project perhaps only likely to be undertaken by independent presses in the present climate. So which medium is Moore most comfortable with?

I write whatever the story is,” she replies. “So I don’t think I find one easier than the other – a novel just takes longer!”

Both The Lighthouse and Moore’s short stories have verged on the darker side of fiction, often capturing a sense of loss and incompleteness, and Moore admits in both reading and writing these are the stories she is most likely to connect with.

“It’s true, even when I write what are essentially love stories they are bittersweet, they have a little downturn somewhere,” she says.

This preference for a darker side of fiction is also present in her choice of children’s book, citing Roald Dahl and The Hobbit as the next books she plans to read to her son.

I never did get around to reading Harry Potter, even though plenty of grown-ups were reading it and recommending it. So that’s another one I can enjoy with my son when he’s older,” she adds.

The Lighthouse is published by Salt Publishing and is available from Amazon or your local indie bookshop.

Sarah Chapman

ed. Cariad Martin