Introducing Alison R Reed - Walsall Writers` Circle
11th March 2019
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Alison R Reed’s passion for writing began when she heard a tale about a Dudley Castle cannon that had been let off during some high jinx. This led to a flight of fancy that quickly developed into a character and a vague plot for a story, but because of family and work commitments and moving back to the Midlands, it had to be put to one side but it was always there in the back of her mind waiting to be written.    Soon after arriving in the Walsall area, she saw a small advertisement in a local paper for Walsall Writers’ Circle. She joined and attended for several months before plucking up the courage to read aloud the beginning of a novel. The group was very encouraging so she enrolled on an online creative writing course and took a proofreading course.   When the Secretary was affected by bad health, Alison volunteered to help out and a year or so later became the Secretary, a post she was to occupy for another 16 years. She was very excited when the Circle was one of several groups and/or writers approached to research a book about Walsall for a series of local history books being produced by a joint Francis Frith and Ottakars project. Unfortunately, the Circle missed out, but Francis Frith hadn’t been able to find anyone to take on the Sutton Coldfield book so, as Alison has grown up there, she jumped at the chance. The book, ‘Sutton Coldfield, a history and celebration’ was launched in the November of 2005 with a book signing in Ottakars (now Waterstones) in Sutton Coldfield.   Feeling increasingly confident, she compiled a book for her family using letters that her parents had written at the end of WW2 and when BBC Radio 4 were asking for letters and diaries from that period for their ‘Writing the Century’ true life dramas, she sent them some. They were accepted and five 15 minute plays were broadcast in January 2009.    Whilst working as a school office administrator, she was given the chance to research and write the history of a local school which was celebrating its centenary. The resulting book (which included photos and memories of past pupils from as early as the 1930s up to date as well as photos of the old school prior to its demolition) was printed in 2011.    Alison was asked to produce a poetry anthology for the same local primary school, and to help the pupils understand the process of producing a book, she ran an assembly for 240 children with ages ranging from 8 to 11. The anthology was a success so another one was compiled the following year, along with a small book of short stories written by two Gifted and Talented year 5 pupils. A year or so later during National Storytelling Week when she was working in a different school, she presented Sixth Form assemblies on writing.   In 2012, Walsall Writers’ Circle held a non-fiction competition entitled ‘our early school days’ the entries from which Alison turned into their first anthology, ‘Satchels, Inkwells and Milk Monitors’. This was sent off to Writing Magazine’s Writers’ Circle Anthology competition and the Circle was thrilled to discover that it had been placed in the top four nationally: ‘A simple idea, well produced.’ This led to her overseeing two more anthologies, ‘Winter Festivals’ in 2014 and ’50 Years of Walsall Writers’ Circle’ in 2016.   Whilst this was going on, Alison was producing her own work, and a book of short stories entitled ‘Winter Shorts’ appeared on Amazon in 2014, followed a year later by a Regency adventure, ‘A Key for Hannah’, written under the pen name Marianna Bell. Set in the Welsh Marches and the Black Country, this was the story that finally emerged from that first idea but which doesn’t actually include the original inspiration of Dudley Castle’s cannon! Alison’s latest book ‘Virus! A technothriller’ (pen name Michael N Allison) appeared in 2017 and was a finalist in the ebook novel category of the international Next Generation Indie Book Award competition.   She is also a poet, and has had poems accepted by Walsall’s Poet Laureate (2014), Donovan Campbell, aka Peace the Poet for his ‘100 Walsall Poems’ blog, and ‘Diverse Verse 3’ and ‘Cockatiels and Bold Women’ Charity anthologies. She frequently reads her work at Open Mic events.   Currently, she is working on her third novel, writing poetry, helping out as a volunteer proofreader for the North Aldridge Neighbourhood Watch magazine, and as an active Committee member of Walsall Writers’ Circle runs occasional workshops.        If you are interested in writing and would like to come along to the Circle you will be very warmly welcomed at The Hub, Walsall College, on 2nd Thursday of every month at 7.30 – 9.30 pm. £2 for visitors. The Circle is for anyone with an interest in writing, whether published or unpublished, experienced or just starting out.    The programme:   14th March – a discussion about non-fiction writing which will include advice and suggestions from published non-fiction writers 11th April – Feedback evening led by Dawn Birch-Tutt 9th May – Dr Paul McDonald on short/flash fiction. Hand in memoir competition entries on the theme ‘Where were you when…’ 13th June – developing character through dialogue led by Alison R Reed 11th July – AGM followed by the results and reading of the memoir competition.   Just come along, or find further information at Email:    




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