Friday 11 May 2018

Author Spotlight ~ Gail Aldwin

It is with great pleasure that I introduce the author in my spotlight

Gail Aldwin

Hi Gail, welcome to Jaffareadstoo and thank you for spending time with us today..

I’m delighted to join you on Jaffa Reads Too. My name is Gail Aldwin and I am the author of Paisley Shirt a collection of short fiction. In April, I was delighted to find Paisley Shirt had been longlisted in the Best Short Story category of the Saboteur Awards. These annual awards are designed to highlight small-scale literature so I’m delighted my collection has achieved this recognition. Although working on a collection involves considerable independent work, today I’d like to share with you my experience of working collaboratively.

Although writing is perceived to be an isolated occupation, writers frequently seek collaborative support from others through membership of writing groups. Here stories are shared and critiqued to support redrafting. Some writers have critique partners who exchange manuscripts for feedback and comment. There are also online possibilities to find beta readers to support the development of writing. While these are examples of how collaboration can support the individual writer, I’ve gone a step further and have sought to work with others on co-written projects.

I’m part of a collaboration working on a 90-minute screenplay called The F Word. This tells the story of a woman who takes her friends on a foraging experience to celebrate her fiftieth birthday. You can imagine things don’t work out as the birthday girl expects with all sorts of shenanigans taking place. In working on this script alongside four other women writers, I have learnt so much about different approaches to writing. We had to do a lot of work on the backstories of the characters in order to be competent at writing in a consistent voice. Likewise, detailed plotting was necessary to ensure no one veered from the agreed story line when it came to divvying up the writing tasks. So, although sections of the screenplay are written individually, the product is developed through collaboration. 

As an offspring from the screenwriting group, three of us started a collaborative group working on comedy shorts. I am the least experienced in writing comedy and I learnt so much from my partners in how to set up humour. We have enjoyed success with Killer Ladybugs, a short play which applies Trump’s America-First policies to a loveliness of ladybirds. Cast Iron Acts in Brighton staged this last year. We continue to work together to develop sufficient material for a short play night. We are lucky in Dorset to have organisations willing to support emerging writers so we are confident this will happen at some point in the future.

In terms of Paisley Shirt my collection of short fiction published by Chapeltown Books, it has been in the promotion and marketing of this book that collaboration occurs. As Chapeltown Books is a small, independent publisher there is an expectation that authors will help to sell the books. Through a closed group on Facebook, I am in contact with other Chapeltown authors where we share tips and advice for marketing our work. There are currently eight collections in the series of ‘little square books’ which all have the same border design and title font but different cover images. It is great to have Paisley Shirt in the company of other collections including the vividly written Brightly Coloured Horses by Mandy Huggins and Potpourri’s glimpses of life by Anusha VR. Other collections such as Badlands by Alyson Faye send terror shooting through the veins and From Light to Dark and Back Again by Allison Symes has you absorbed. But, if you’re interested in a life affirming collection of short fiction, Paisley Shirt is the book for you. It contains twenty-seven fascinating stories that reveal the extraordinary nature of people and places.

Twitter  @gailaldwin

Gail’s new collection of short fiction Paisley Shirt is available here or you can order it from any good bookshop.

My thanks to Gail for being the author in my spotlight today. It's been great to share this fascinating guest post.

To find out more about Gail please visit her blog or connect on social media.


  1. Thank you so much Gail for including Badlands in your interview, really appreciate it- great interview content too- interesting to read about your collaborative work.

    1. Thanks for visiting, Alyson. Lovely to 'see ' you again:)

  2. Thank you for mentioning Brightly Coloured Horses, Gail :-) Great to read about your screenwriting too!

    1. Hi Miss McFish, thanks for visiting Jaffareadstoo.

  3. I was extremely interested to hear about how you are working with the four other writers on the screen play, The F Word. It sounds like a wonderful learning experience.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Jim. Much appreciated.


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