Thursday, May 18, 2023

Introducing Alice Fowler, and her short story collection, 'The Truth Has Arms And Legs'

The Woking Writers’ Collective is delighted to welcome Alice Fowler to the fold. Alice is an award-winning writer of short stories and longer fiction. 

Alice won the Historical Writers’ Association short story competition in 2020 and the Wells Festival of Literature short story prize in 2021. Other stories have been short- and long-listed in prizes and printed in anthologies. Her historical novel was longlisted for the 2021 Stylist Feminist Fiction Prize.

Alice has a degree in Human Sciences from Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford and worked as a national print journalist until 2006.

She lives with her husband and teenage sons in nearby Guildford and loves theatre, tennis and walking in the Surrey Hills.

You can visit Alice Fowler's website @

Twitter: @alicefwrites

Points of sale: Waterstones and Amazon


The Truth Has Arms And Legs

About the book:

Delve into a world of change and reinvention. Where relationships are as delicate as turtle eggs and just as easily smashed.

This poignant short story collection explores pivotal moments that transform our lives. Jenny, whose life is defined by small disasters, discovers a more generous version of herself. A traveller girl might just win her race and alter her life’s course. A widow cut off in a riverside backwater opens her heart to a stranger.

In this captivating collection, readers will be moved by the raw vulnerability of human connection and the resilience that enables us to thrive and grow. In change, Alice Fowler’s characters find the ability to be truly free.

The Truth Has Arms And Legs will be published by Fly On The Wall Press on 14 July.


Brief Interview

When did you start writing your new book?

I started writing short stories around 2017, a couple of years after I moved to Guildford. At that point, my sons were still quite young. I’d been trying to write a historical novel for some time and was stuck. I’d say that as a writer, I was ‘blocked’. What changed all that was discovering various Creative Writing classes in Guildford. I attended the class run by Ruth Brandt (a successful Woking writer) at the Surrey Adult Learning Centre. Then I went to Stella Stocker’s long-running class at the Guildford Institute. I put the novel in a drawer (where it still lies!) and began writing shorter pieces for pleasure and reading out at the classes. My confidence grew thanks to the helpful feedback I received and listening and responding to other people’s work. I became aware of writing competitions through Twitter and started sending my stories off just to see how they got on! 

What was the inspiration behind the book?

I take inspiration for my stories from tiny details all the time. Writers are continuously gathering ideas, even when we don’t realise it. I certainly find the setting is very important for short stories. One of my stories begins on a stretch of downland inspired by Merrow Downs in Guildford. Another story, ‘The Race’, came about through my interest in local history. I read a local news feature about the gipsy encampment at the Hurtwood in the Surrey Hills during the 1920s. The uneasy relationship between local residents and the gipsies (as they were referred to at that time) helped me find the ‘voice’ for that story. 

Can you describe your route to publication from concept to completed novel?  

My route to publication has come through entering competitions. I sent my first story to the Harper’s Bazaar short story competition in 2018. It was shortlisted. The following year I entered again and again was shortlisted. At the time, I wasn’t yet on social media and didn’t realise that any short- or long-listing is a big achievement. I just shrugged and thought, oh well, I didn’t win! Joining Twitter was a turning point for me. It has a lively and supportive writers’ community and helped open my eyes to the many competitions out there.  My story, ‘The Race,’ won the Historical Writers’ Association short story prize in 2020, and another story in my collection won the Wells Festival prize the following year. Of course, there were setbacks too, but I certainly received enough encouragement to keep going. By the summer of 2022, I felt I had written enough stories to form a collection. I submitted them to Fly on The Wall Press, an indie press with a good reputation based in Manchester. I couldn’t have been happier when The Truth Has Arms And Legs was accepted for publication. 

What ideas do you have for any future books? 

While working on my short stories, I’ve also been writing another historical novel, ‘The Awakening of Lily Ash’. It’s loosely inspired by two real-life characters who lived in Victorian Guildford. Early chapters were longlisted in the Stylist magazine Feminist Fiction Prize, and it’s received some great feedback. My next task is to finish editing and then submit the novel to agents. Of course, I’ll keep writing short fiction as well. 

Which publishing services (if any) would you recommend? 

I would certainly recommend Fly On The Wall Press, run by Isabelle Kenyon. As well as being an excellent editor, Isabelle offers a lot of marketing support to her writers, which is invaluable. 

There are many other ways to get published, which I have yet to explore. For example, my writing buddy, the historical writer Joanna Foat, recently self-published her novel very successfully. It seems to me the main thing is to get your work out there and being read. That can be through open mics, literary journals, competitions, online, as well as in print. As writers, we’re always finding new, exciting ways to get our work to readers.

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