Alice dreamt of being a winning Wimbledon, but sadly this wasn’t to be when she was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis aged 18 and she hasn’t picked up a racket since. Lost and scared, a friend encouraged her to write about her personal experience and she did. Alice wrote her first book called ‘A Will To Win’ which has been republished as ‘Another Alice’ Alice has written eight books since both non-fiction and fiction. Alice’s most recent book ‘One Step Closer To You’ won Best Romantic Read 2014 at the RNA’s.
- For the readers of the website, who are unfamiliar with your books, can you tell us about yourself and how you got into writing.
I never thought I’d be a writer. To my friends and family I was always ‘Alice, the tennis player’. Tennis had been my childhood passion, and aged 18 I was ranked amongst the top 10 juniors in the country. However, overnight, my dreams of winning Wimbledon were shattered when I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). I have never picked up a racket since, a sadness that will always be with me. In my early 20s I didn’t have a clue what my future held except for pain and grieving my old life. It wasn’t until a family friend suggested I write my story about my tennis and RA that I began to feel hope again. I loved writing; I’d always written a diary from the age of 10 and I’d written the drama plays at school, so just loved the creative side. It was also very therapeutic making sense as to why bad things in life happen. My autobiography, Another Alice, was published in 1999, and that was the beginning of a new career, a new path.
- Your books tackle quite sensitive issues such as abuse, disability and addictions. What’s been your hardest book to write?
Yes, I love romance and comedy and all my books are love stories, but I am definitely drawn to writing about things I have experienced too, such as disability. I think drama is when challenging things happen to people, so I want to give my protagonist as many obstacles as possible! The hardest book to write – probably, By My Side. It took many drafts to get it right. It’s a tough book to sell too – I think that the subject of spinal cord injury, the idea that life can change in just one moment, is possibly frightening for many readers. Yet, it’s one of my most uplifting novels, which really celebrates triumph over adversity and how people can change direction even on the darkest path in life. It also has the cutest dog in it called Ticket.
- What authors do you admire?
Jane Austen, David Nicholls, Khaled Hosseini and it’s the biggest compliment when people compare my work to Jojo Moyes.
- If you were starting your writing journey again, is there anything you would do differently?
Yes, I’d be much more outspoken about the covers and not nearly so accepting of decisions that are made about my career. One or two of my covers have been truly awful and have made readers positively not want to buy the book. I would have liked the confidence I have now, back then, to challenge agents and publishers. It’s important to have faith in your own decisions and vision.
- Do you have favourite literary hero/heroine?
Elizabeth Bennett – love her strength of character, her loyalty and courage.
- What book did you read that made to decide to become an author?
There wasn’t really a book that made me decide to be an author – it was more my circumstances, as mentioned, but I do remember loving books as a child. My father used to read Daphne Du Maurier to me on holiday and I recall being completely entranced by ‘Rebecca’ and ‘My Cousin Rachel’.
- What’s been the highlight of your career?
When my dog walking romantic comedy, ‘Monday to Friday Man’, inspired by my own dog, Mr Darcy, knocked ’50 Shades of Grey’ off the Kindle No.1 spot – so exciting, I couldn’t sleep…
- What piece of advice would you offer to aspiring writers?
Don’t be put off by people saying how tough the market is and how difficult everything is – someone has to be published so why not you. Don’t give up, have faith in yourself.
- If you were stranded on a desert island, what three books would you bring with you to occupy your time?
‘Gone With The Wind’ (because I’ve never read it so it’s about time I did!), ‘Pride and Prejudice’, and ‘A Fine Balance’ by Rohinton Mistry. But, seriously, I hope I’d never be stranded on a desert island – I am completely unpractical, just like my father… I wouldn’t know how to survive.
- When sitting down to write, what one item do you need beside you?
A cup of strong coffee (or a glass of wine in the evening).
- What is your favourite book of all time?
I don’t think a book has ever moved me as much as ‘The Kite Runner’. I remember tears streaming down my face on the last page.
- And finally Alice, do you have any exciting new projects on the horizon?
Yes, I have a novel coming out next summer with all the usual Alice Peterson themes of disability, love, romance – a story that will hopefully make the reader laugh and cry. It’s also half set in a beautiful location in Cornwall. So now I have to think up a new idea… any ideas welcome!