Saturday, May 21

Short story writer and novelist Ali Smith

Extract from an interview with Ali Smith by Northings, an arts journal based in the Highlands of Scotland:

N: Your fiction seems very preoccupied with narrative voices?

AS: Yes, that is the whole point of fiction for me, and I don’t know that you can have a story that doesn’t have a voice. Once you have found the voice you have the story to a large extent, and for me it is usually more than one voice.

N: What about structure – how do you deal with that in the quite complex narratives of your novels?

AS: For me it comes before the novel, like an overarching framework – you have no idea where the novel will go within that, but at least you have the structure. Once you are into that process it is a blind – and a blinding! – process to some extent, and you really have to give into that and see where it takes you.

N: So that structural framework is malleable rather than a rigid one?

AS: It’s not rigid, no, and sometimes I wish it was more so! At the same time, you know that whatever it was that sent you on that overarching arc in the first place will probably take you through.

N: Is there a continuous editing process at work as you build up the narrative?

AS: There is for me. That is really how I do it. You write something blindly and then you look at it and see what it is you have, and work on it and try to work out where it might want to go, and the next thing is a continuation of that, and you build it up that way. Or I do, at any rate.

(Source - read full interview here).

Ali Smith was born in Inverness and is now based in Cambridge.  Her novels include Hotel World, winner of the Encore Award, and The Accidental, shortlisted for the Man Booker award and the Orange Prize for Fiction. Her collections of short stories include The Whole Story and Other Stories and The First Person and Other Stories (see review).