Your favourite books of 2012?

2012 was the year that I took the plunge and self-published by own debut novel Housewife with a Half-Life as A.B. Wells as well as some small short collections as Alison Wells. I’m looking forward to submitting my literary books as Alison Wells to agents in 2013.

But as well as writing I’ve enjoyed making more time to read this year. I’m in a book club and I’ve followed up many recommendations from others on the books they have enjoyed throughout the year including great finds from lesser known authors too.

Among my very favourite books this year have been:

  • the fabulous City of Bohane by Kevin Barry. Amazing language, every line a joy.
  • the China Factory – a short story collection by Mary Costello. Mary writes like the greats like William Trevor and John Banville, small touches of cleverness, instinct and sharp observation.
  • Middlesex by Jeffrey Euginedes (a recommendation I’m happy to have followed up. This was a big, accomplished, endlessly interesting and well written novel.
  • The Cowards Tale by Vanessa Gebbie. I loved this beautifully written book that was part fascinating vignettes on the story of individual townspeople affected by an old tragedy but also gave a broad sweep over the whole town and the power of storytelling and the storyteller.

In non-fiction I’m reading the excellent The Story of Modern Art by Norbert Lynton.

I’ve also really enjoyed The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell, Hawthorn and Child by Keith Ridgway, Painting by Numbers by Tom Gillespie and Red Ribbons by Louise Phillips.

I’ve just started The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey, it’s poetic and enchanting and I’m already in love with it.

I’m really excited in particular about the prospect of reading these books currently tottering on my bedside locker

  • Bloodmining by Laura Wilkinson
  • I capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
  • The Whirlpool by Jane Urquart (one of my absolutely favourite authors)
  • The Ilustrated Man by Ray Bradbury (another of my absolutely favourite authors)
  • The Big Music by Kirsty Gunn (an intriguing novel of music, something like we’ve never read before. (I saw an interview about this on the Culture Show).

Others still on the way due to a book voucher or on Kindle are Marc Nash’s Time after Time, Tania Hershman’s My Mother was an Upright Piano (flash fiction), Carys Bray’s Sweet Home (short stories), The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce (heard so many recommendations about this!), From this moment on by Colette Caddle, Florence and Giles by John Harding (a girl speaks in her own made up language).

What are the books that have moved and thrilled you this year? What can you recommend, what did not live up to expectations? Have you discovered someone from below the hype radar whose books changed your life or fascinated you for several well spent hours?

50% off a Housewife

My novel Housewife with a Half-Life is available in a variety of formats for all e-readers over at Smashwords and you can get 50% off with this coupon code: AL24Z.


Original and imaginative… glorious scientific allusions and illusions in a fast-paced and sparkling tale…a nuclear fusion of a novel..Move over H.G., A.B. Wells has written the time-travelling tale for the 21st century!

Tania Hershman, author of The White Road and Other Stories.

A Housewife’s answer to the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy! In this lively space comedy Susan Strong is a suburban housewife who is literally disintegrating. When Fairly Dave, a kilt-sporting spaceman arrives through the shower head to warn her, she knows things are serious. When she and her precocious four year old twins, Pluto and Rufus, get sucked through Chilled Foods into another universe it gets even messier. Where household appliances are alive and dangerous, Geezers have Entropy Hoovers and the Spinner’s Cataclysmic converter could rip reality apart, Susan Strong is all that’s holding the world together.

In this madcap, feel-good adventure, Susan and Fairly Dave travel alternate universes to find Susan’s many selves, dodge the Geezers and defeat evil memory bankers. From dystopian landscapes and chicken dinners, to Las Vegas and bubble universes, can Susan Strong reintegrate her bits and will it be enough to save us all?




If you like your books in print buy it at The Book Depository or I’ll send you a signed copy.

Next Big Thing: The Exhibit of Held Breaths

I was tagged to join in The Next Big Thing, by the lovely Niamh Boyce, I first met Niamh at the Hennessy Awards in 2010 and later at the WOW awards in Galway when we were both shortlisted. Niamh won the Hennessy Awards for new Irish writing in 2012 and her novel The Herbalist will be published by Penguin in 2013 and I’m really looking forward to reading it.

The Next Big Thing consists of a series of questions about the writter/bloggers next project. I am a polygamist when it comes to projects so I’m going to talk about the book after the one that’s cooked but resting. This newer project is at first draft stage.

What is the working title of your book?

The Exhibit of Held Breaths

Where did the idea come from for the book?
I have several notebooks, one of them is covered with a beautiful textured cover made in felt and silks by my sister. It’s my book of beautiful things. One day I jotted a few lines about a man revisiting a museum gallery and it just kept going into a short story of about 5000 words, all about a strange exhibit. This exhibit begins to take on an almost religious significance and exerts a strong influence over the townspeople and the exhibit’s creator. The short story covered a whole timepan in the curator’s family life and it was quite easy to extrapolate it into a longer work. The strange thing with this book is how I can see it all very clearly, the museum gallery, the exhibition room, the town. The novel feels like it’s already there and I’m uncovering it.
What genre does your book fall under?
The poetic and spellbinding genre.
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Oh perhaps Euan McGregor for the curator, Helena Boham Carter for his artist lover and Tilda Swanson for the wife.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

An unusual exhibit transforms the life of it’s curator and exerts a compelling force over the inhabitants of a town.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I wrote a chunk of it in Nanowrimo (novel writing month)  in November 2011 and another chunk at a retreat in Cill Rialaig in July. I’ve been working on other stuff in between but am close to having a first draft finished now.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I really can’t think of anything.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I have a degree in Psychology and I am absolutely fascinated in belief structures and how people give significance to objects and how phenomenon like mass hysteria can occur. I wanted to explore how an object can become so powerful that it affects the decisions people make in life and make them do things out of character. i also wanted to look at art and how people’s perceptions of art and the art itself interact. Can Art ever have a separate value from the observer?

When and how will it be published?
I’ll send it out to literary agents next year, what happens after that all depends.
One of the criteria of the Next Big Thing is to link to other authors. This meme has been on the go for so long that there are few people left that have not already been included so instead I’m adding some links to my fav debut authors whose books I’ve read this year or am about to. 

Tom Gillespie (Painting by Numbers, psychological thriller)
Mary Costello (The China Factory, short story collection)

Rebecca Emin (When Dreams come True, children’s)

Sally Harris (Diary of a Penguin Napper, children’s)

Louise M. Phillips (Red Ribbons, crime)
Ruth Long (The Treachery of Beautiful Things, YA, fantasy)
Nichole Bernier (The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D, fiction)

Deck the Halls: short story collection

Deck the Halls: Festive tales of fear and cheer is the latest offering from eMergent Publishing. These are speculative fiction tales with a festive theme. My story ‘Unfolding‘ is included which looks at what happens when a mother interferes in the pre-determined destiny of her child.

Buy a copy:
 Directly from eMergent Publishing here.


Touched Rowena Specht-Whyte
Drench the School Benjamin Solah
Coming Home Rebecca Dobbie
While You Were Out Sam Adamson
Twenty-Five Rebecca Emin
A Jolly Pair Christopher Chartrand
Gays and Commies Graham Storrs
A Better Fit Jen Brubacher
Salvation Nicole R Murphy
A Troll for Christmas Jo Hart
Modraniht Kate Sherrod
Bosch’s Book of Trolls Susan May James
‘Til Death Do Us Part Emma Kerry
High Holidays Dale Challener Roe
The Headless Shadow Jonathan Crossfield
End of a Tradition Paul Servini
Weatherboy Nik Perring
Not a Whisper Lily Mulholland
Lords of the Dance Janette Dalgliesh
Through Frosted Glass Laura Meyer
Midsummer’s Eve Stacey Larner Yuletide Treasure Rob Diaz II
Broken Angel Jodi Cleghorn
A Golden Treasure Chia Evers
Fast Away Jim Bronyaur
Apprentices to Time Icy Sedgwick
Unfolding Alison Wells
Egg-Ceptional PJ Kaiser
Hail the New Trevor Belshaw
Perfect Light Dan Powell
Softly Sing the Stars Steve Cameron
Through Wind and Weather David McDonald