21 Jan 2011

This Much I Know Is True - An interview with Alia

Well as I have been hinting for sometime both on here + Twitter, I have finally gone and interviewed someone for the blog. I'd been wanting to interview people after being inspired by the regular piece in the Observer Magazine called `This Much I Know`. I've got quite a list of people waiting to be interviewed - a steampunk author, a multimedia artist living in India, a single mum, a jewellery designer and.....a *mystery* man! Exciting right? Maybe it's just me.

Anyway the first interview is tonight with @AliaMcK who, I have to confess *is* one of my best buddies in real life. However, she is also multi-talented - being a writer, designer and (wedding) dress maker. She is a lover of trashy YA fiction and is Canadian but luckily for me, resides right here in London!

So, we are sitting on my navy l-shaped sofa in my sitting room and we have eaten muchos pizza! Ham + pineapple (her) and pepperoni (me). We are drinking coca-cola and presently we will have some ice cream. Rock and roll right! On with the interview - note, I sent Alia a list of possible questions earlier in the week so she could prepare a little!

Me: What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
Alia: Hmmm (looks thoughtful)...Drive like everyone else is crazy. My granddad gave me and my sister this advice when we were learning to drive. I think it applies to most things - shopping, eating etc. It's a maxim I try to live my life by! (laughs)

Me: If you wrote a personals ad, what would it say? (Alia is married)
Alia: Hah! Does your grout need cleaning? Then I'm your girl! (Alia loves cleaning grout) No, seriously, probably `Do you like the smell of bleach,visiting the recycling depo + rifling through the racks in 2nd hand stores? All of the above seeks same". (I tell her she'd probably end up with girl with that ad!)

Me: I know this is tough question but...what is your all time favourite book?
Alia: Easy, Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan. It's a scifi/noir blend detective fiction novel and I've read it 11 times - and each time I discover something new. The story is so layered, it's like the best trifle!

Me: Okay, so you write a lot. What do you `know` about writing? And you can take that anyway you want it to.....
Alia: (thinks, pauses, lies back on sofa) I know that no two people write the same way. What works for me doesn't neccessarily work for you. You have to find your own way of doing things.

Me: I think that makes sense, and it's kind of reassuring, that it's okay to have your own style, so why do you write?
Alia: Um...I've always written I guess, since I was about 7 or 8 and my sister and I used to put on plays for my parents' friends when they came round for dinner. I write because something intrigues me, I get an idea for something and I want to know what happens. It's like pulling a thread on a sweater and watching how it unravels.

Me: Curiosity is a good trait for a writer! I think I'm just nosy so, in that case, what are you working on now?!
Alia: I'm not exactly sure how to define it but I've been working on a YA fantasy novel for the last couple of years. It's a real work in progress and requiring a lot of procrastinating research. Other than that I've had an essay on justice in detective fiction published online here!

Me: I remember, that was really exciting. Following on from that, what really inspires you?
Alia: Anything really, I know that sounds kind of strange but what I mean is looking at something out of context, not isolating it but separating it from its associations and creating new associations. I've had ideas for corsets from trees, dresses in the grocery store and the idea for my w-i-p came from finding out that there were other options when Canada was named. So wikipedia helped a lot!

Me: Let's move away from writing a little, tell me about your dress designing, how did that start?
Alia: Well, it's kind of a family tradition - all the women in my family can sew, they always have. My grandmother + great-grandmother taught me how when I was around six and it just spiralled from there. Being a theatre major helped too, I had to learn costume design and be able to make things. Now I design evening dresses and wedding dresses and get referrals for these from my friends (smiles at me) 

Me: Aww! Right, lets do some fun questions to finish up! What gets you really excited?
Alia: My vegetable garden! I know it sounds geeky but I love it, it's a really good fit for me, I love growing things and the vegetables I've grown taste so much better than the store bought kind. I don't even have a proper veggie garden, I just grow things in plastic tubs on my patio, I've grown peas, potatoes, lettuce and butter nut squash even. Yummy!

Me: What most irritates you?
Alia:(frowns, looks irritated!) People who are wilfully oblivious

Me: If you were Prime Minister for the day, what would you do?
Alia: Hah, I would create two new laws. One being that all trains have to have more carriages - being at a minimum 12 carriages long. I would also make a law that all engineering on public services (digging up roads) have to finish projects on time, on budget and within the hours of 8pm-4am. Otherwise they get fined (looks smug, I point out it might be noisy) Okay, noisy stuff 8pm-11pm, rest of stuff 11pm-4am.

Me: And finally, what do you know to be true?
Alia: I know that in six months, it's not going to matter. What I mean is, what ever matters now, chances are, it won't in six months. I wish I'd known this when I was a teenager, I would have spent a lot less time stressing!

Me: Thank you! Hope that was okay, let's go have some ice cream and wear face masks!

If you're interested in reading Alia's blog, find it http://howdidilivewithoutit.blogspot.com/ and follow her on twitter @AliaMck

So that's it. First interview over. It's a little rough around the edges but I hope you liked it. I'll be asking everyone slightly different questions depending on who they are + what they do, but the main question is, what do they *know*, what have they learned. And it's just to introduce you to different people who are just like you and me and see how they go about their lives!

Please do comment - good or bad - and also let me know if you'd like an interview! Watch out for a photo essay tomorrow and a top 10 list of things that irritate me on sunday.

Thank you and goodnight,

Stupidgirl has left the building


  1. Great use of traditional blog format! there are many stories in the big city. tell us more. enjoyed hearing how you set the scene...pizza, soda (philly word for pop) and all. Keep it up!

  2. I <3 @AliaMck - and this is a lovely look into incredibly expansive mind! xoxo

  3. Thanks for the interview SG. And thanks Alia for the book reference: you mentioned this once before and I've been meaning to ask for the title again for ages.


  4. Thanks, glad you liked it. Glad you also found the book - it's so annoying when you can't remember a title. On another note, when are we meeting up to play Citadel again hmm?! Played Martian Flux tonight, loved it!! x

  5. Ooop sorry, Will - thanks so much for the compliment! It was really fun to do, I really need to prep for the next one, have been v. slow!

    Em - she's so fab isn't she!