Alison was born and grew up in Kirkwall and lived and worked sooth for many years, first in Aberdeen, then in Glasgow. With the WEA she ran adult education classes in Castlemilk, including a Writers’ Workshop. After that she established the Counselling & Group Work Services in the Centre for Women’s Health. Now home for good, she is particularly interested in exploring ways of writing about Orkney, using Orcadian.
Her first novel, Demo, follows a sixteen year old Glasgow girl caught up in the demonstrations against the Iraq war. It was shortlisted for the Saltire Best First Book Award. She’s had stories commissioned and broadcast on BBC Radio Four and published in a variety of anthologies, including Stolen Stories, Forest Publications; 21 Revolutions, Glasgow Women’s Library; Between Islands, An Lanntair; Reel to Rattling Reel, Cranachan. ‘One Story Only’ was chosen as Scotland’s entry for a PEN International competition. Her poetry has appeared in Writing Women, Fresh Oceans, Stramullion; Archipelagos, University of Edinburgh; Orkney Stoor, Abersee Press.
Various newspapers, including The Herald, Sunday Herald, Scottish Review of Books, commissioned book reviews. And she has had essays published in Speak for Yourself and Turangawaewae, Beuy, both Abersee Press.
Her return to Orkney coincided with her appointment in 2012 as Scottish Book Trust Reader in Residence in Orkney Library & Archive (OLA). She continued her close working relationship with OLA when she became Scottish PEN’s leader of the Many Voices project here, which led directly to Orkney Voices Writing Group. She was also appointed by Open Book to set up and run the pilot Further Afield Shared Reading and Creative Writing group with OLA.
At the end of her Residency in 2013, Alison joined the GMBF board and has worked with fellow members since to promote literature and writing in Orkney. She compiled and edited That Bright Lifting Tide. An anthology of writing from Orkney Voices, Gousters, Glims and Veerie-orums https://georgemackaybrownfellowship.com/gmb-centenary-2021/centenary-publication/ was published on the 16 October 2021 to mark GMB’s centenary.
(Photo of Alison by Kirsteen Cameron)