How exciting is this? Week three of The Reading Closet’s Meet the Debut author series, and today I am totally thrilled to welcome Alison Stockham, whose debut novel The Cuckoo sister is due to be published by Boldwood Books on the 1st of February in paperback, hardback, e-book and audiobook format, read by Imogen church. You can pre-order your copies here >>> https://www.waterstones.com/books/search/term/the+cuckoo+sister
So here we are, welcome Alison, I hope that you’re well!
I am so excited about the release of The cuckoo Sister, your thrilling debut. In your own words, pleasee could you briefly introduce yourself and your debut novel.
I’m Alison Stockham, I live in Cambridge with my husband, daughters and our cat. I work for the Cambridge Literary Festival as their events coordinator and my debut novel, The Cuckoo Sister is about motherhood, identity and sibling rivalry. It is out on the 1st February 2023 in e book, audio, paperback and hardback.
I love anything to do with motherhood and sibling rivalry, my favourite book is The Push and it sounds like it has similar ingredients to The Cuckoo sister, did I say I’m excited to read it already?! Could you share with us what is, or would be the tagline for The Cuckoo Sister’s please?
You want the best for your sister, but what if she wants your children?
Oooh, I have ALL the chills! That’s a great tagline, love it! Why did you decide to write a psychological thriller for your debut?
I didn’t! When I wrote the story, I wasn’t really sure what genre it was, it was just the story I wanted to tell. When it was finished, I looked at it and then thought “where does this sit in the market?” which business-wise may not have been the best approach! But I wanted to tell the story and I knew it would fit somewhere.
That’s becoming a popular theme in this series so far, the story guides the writer, and whether it turns into a thriller, romance or historical fiction, it doesn’t matter! I HAVE to ask, if you could choose an actor to play your main character, who would it be?
I really struggle with casting! My background before I moved into the literary world, was film and tv production and I know that casting is absolutely a skill, and I am not sure I have it! If pushed, then maybe Romola Garai for Maggie and Jessica Brown Findlay for Rose.
Sounds like great picks indeed! I am guessing that noone has read your book as much as you have, so, that being said, do you have a favourite quote from your novel? If so, what is it?
I feel I shouldn’t have favourites but I do! It’s “Rose had all of the charm. People generally fell at her feet and she had to do very little other than be herself. It was wonderful to watch. People melted in front of her as though they were butter and Rose a warmed knife. She rarely had to be sharp. No one needed her to be”
That’s such a great quote! atmospheric, haunting and such a perfect pick! The date of The Cuckoo Sister publication is fast approaching. When your debut does finally land in the hands of readers, if anything, what would you like them to take away from your novel?
The idea that very little in life is truly black and white and most situations, people and emotions have far more nuance and complexity.
A great piece of advice right there! Being a debut author, there must be so many highs and lows during your journey to publication, but, focusing on the positive, what has been the highlight of being a debut author for you so far?
Being able to tell my inner 8 year-old, who wanted to be an author, that it’s really going to happen! That and all the other fantastic writers I have met. They are the most wonderful and mutually supportive group of people. It’s fantastic to be a part of.
I love that, I bet 8-year-old you would be so proud! You have shared your highlight of being a debut author so far, but what are you most looking forward to on your debut journey?
Giving a copy of my actual book to my Mum and Dad! I have always done slightly unusual jobs from script editor in film to production manager in documentary production to now being an author and they have never tried to talk me out of it and have supported me all the way.
That sounds like the perfect way to celebrate your debut. It’s really easy to look upon your journey in hindsight, but if you could give your year ago author-self one piece of advice, what would it be?
Persist. When I signed with my agent, Marianne Gunn O Connor, I bought myself a Wear and Resist necklace of that word. I plan to wear it at my launch event! Getting to publication is a long slog of writing, edits, submissions, rejections and getting up and keeping going. I knew I was going to need to channel my resilience and just believe that it would happen if I showed up and did the work. Keep learning, keep writing, keep going.
That’s great advice, and it’s great that you are cheering yourself along, however you’re doing it! You’ve previously mentioned author friends, they have supported you through your writing and debut journey. On the subject of authors, are there any who inspire you?
So many! I would love Margaret Atwood’s career as she has written so many varied books and I would love to try out other genres as well as thrillers. Michelle Paver, who creates such amazing atmosphere in her novels. Liane Moriarty whose books are a masterclass in page turning stories. Rose Tremain, Ben Okri, Maggie O Farrell, Kate Grenville, Angela Carter, Patrick Gale, John Steinbeck, Hilary Mantel… I could go on! I love to read!
I agree, there are so many great authors on your list, such a great variety of names and genres! Okay, that’s all I have for the questions, thank you SO much taking the time to be involved in the Debut 2023 blog series. I have loved all your answers, but before we finish, I have five flash questions which I would love to know the answers to! Here goes – five in five:
Tea or coffee? Both – I live on caffeine. Tea first and last thing, coffee in the middle.
Sweet or savoury? I have a sweet tooth, but my downfall is cheese, so I guess savoury.
Morning worm or night own? Night owl – my kids will tell you I am NOT a morning person. I have to force myself to bed at a sensible hour and mornings I am not really with it much before 10. Just butting in here to say, SAME!!
Standalone or book series? Standalone for now, but I’m not against a series if the right idea comes to me.
Are you a plotter or a panster? I’m a plotter but although I have the story mapped out before I start writing, I am also open to the characters going off on their own tangents as I get to know them which often happens.
And that’s a wrap, make sure to follow Alison on Twitter and pre-order her book, it sounds absolutely FABULOUS!!