Has your world ever spun in a different direction? Ali Williams catches us up
with some of the changes she recently experienced.
Well, we’re nearly at the midpoint of 2018, and I can’t believe how much my life has changed in the last 12 months. My world is still full of books and reading and writing, but the direction’s changed somewhat.
I have a habit of taking on too much, or an awful lot, and work myself into the ground, so in some ways this column has been the perfect opportunity to stop and take note of what I’ve done and what I’ve got coming up.
Also, it’s been so encouraging to see what I’ve accomplished this year, and to realise that nothing’s too big for me to face.
I suppose when we think of our world, that starts with home, and I love my home. Haywards Heath is a small town nestled on the outskirts of the South Downs National Park, and around this time of
year it’s super pretty.
I grew up in Croydon which, though vibrant and multicultural, is fairly built up, so the peace and quiet of this town, combined with the greenery that’s pretty much everywhere, makes it a relative haven. There are open parks that are perfect for walks on a hot summer’s day, and the town itself is full of places to eat and quirky little shops that are lovely to potter around.
During the week, though, I’m predominantly in Brighton. I spent my childhood summers with my grandparents in Brighton, running along the promenade, learning to swim in the sea, and devouring all the ice cream I could get my hands on. Now, all these years later, I work for one of the city’s universities and am a two minute walk from the pier.
It’s an amazing city to work in; there are restaurants on every corner which cater to every cuisine imaginable, there are theatres that West End shows from London come to on tour, and it’s a city that’s proud of its LGBTQ heritage.
Plus, it’s full of the most amazing people.
They’re friendly and engaging and will smile at you in the street, even though they have no idea who you are; and I’ve made incredible friends here.
The Witchez Restaurant, where the food is amazing and they dressed the entire place in bunting and fairy lights for my birthday.
And it’s because of moving here to work, that my most exciting (and terrifying) adventure yet started. My PhD.
I talk about it a hell of a lot, so apologies to those of you who have heard me raving about it before, but I’m currently studying towards a doctorate in literature and creative writing, focused on the introverted heroine in Mills & Boon Modern novels as a feminist figure.
Half of my finished output will take the form of a fifty thousand word thesis, where I’ll analysis examples of: the introverted heroine out of her comfort zone; the introverted heroine as guardian; and the introverted heroine as a foil to her outgoing female relation. I’ll also look at the idea of binary opposites, and how society attempts to guide us towards a dualistic approach to women.
And then, almost as an antithesis to the academic work, I’ll be writing a fifty thousand word category romance novel, with an introverted heroine at its heart.
Of course, that’s not all I’m working on. Inspired in part by the South Downs National Park, and in part by local legends and folk tales, I’m currently researching and planning out a five book paranormal romance series based around the legend of the Wild Hunt, that I’m calling #TheFreedHunt.
There’s an Ancient King of the Britons, a blacksmith heroine who’s the reincarnation of a dragon, a Black British librarian heroine who falls in love with one of Boudica’s daughters, and many more. The entire cast is so vibrant in my head that I’m falling over myself to get my Ancient Briton/Romance knowledge up to scratch before I start writing.
And finally, of course, there’s Into the Stacks: The Bookcast.
For the last two decades, I’ve been swapping letters with one of my best friends. Letters, emails, four hour phonecalls, WhatsApp messages and even a floppy disk once, when we suspected our siblings of trying to crack our correspondence. We talked about everything, but mainly book baes (oh Fanon!Draco) and speculative fiction.
So in April we launched a podcast which is essentially the two of us nerding out, talking about books that we love and saying hello to Steve, the FBI agent that we suspect has been spying on us for all these years. Because teenage girl correspondence is of international importance.
When this piece goes live my co-host Cat Curtis will have been living across an ocean from me for
nearly a fortnight, and we’ll be gearing up to record an episode about alternate versions of London, but it means more to me than that. It’s friendship personified. We find each other incredibly funny – even if no one else does – and it amazes me that we can talk across oceans, without a hitch.
So that’s what’s going on in my world. I’d love to hear about what it is that you’ve been up to, where you live and the projects that you’re working on!
Ali Williams is a romance editor, academic and writer, and one of the hosts of Into the Stacks: The Bookcast, a podcast about speculative fiction. For more information about Ali, check out her website and follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Have you had a big change in your life? Has your writing been inspired by nature or the places you have lived? Or are you simply a fan of Into The Stacks?
Tell us in the comments or join the #MyWorld discussion on our Social Media.