the writer is a lonely hunter

writing by Gail Aldwin and other Dorset writers

What’s in a name?

My maiden name is Chappell. My Dad thought we were descended from those who fled France during the revolution but it is more likely we have Huguenot ancestry. I hated my family name from the first time a classmate shouted, ‘What’s the time, Chappell? Or has your clock gone wrong?’

I was delighted to shed my family name upon marriage. I met my first husband in Tenant Creek, a town in Outback Australia. He persuaded me to travel with him to Cairns where we applied for a twenty-four hour marriage licence. My horrified parents couldn’t understand the urgency but a whirlwind romance is terribly exciting.

Four years later and back in the UK we fell out of love. But, I liked the sound of my name, Gail Marshall, so much I continued to use it for another five years. Upon marrying David, he obviously didn’t want me to carry on using that name, but I was mortified by the prospect of adopting his. I was a primary school teacher by then and anticipating being called Mrs Aldwinckle all day long filled me with dread. So, I chopped off my husband’s ‘winckle’ or rather his ‘ckle’ to become Gail Aldwin.

It is an irony to now find myself back in the Chapel fold. The publisher of Paisley Shirt (my collection of short fiction) is called Chapeltown Books. To reconnect with my family name under these circumstances is a surprise and delight.

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What I remember, a new anthology by EVB press

51l8IL14LYL._AA160_I’ve a story in a new anthology titled What I Remember published by EVB Press. In The Game, I use 500 words to tell the events of an abusive weekend through backwards chronology. I became interested in Everyday Victim Blaming when I heard Louise Pennington talking about the campaign  on Radio 4. The organisation reviews media coverage of violence against women and children, and identifies where news reports have overt victim blaming content. Incidents include the rape girls who are so drunk that they cannot stand up, yet men claim sex is consensual. Media coverage offers excuses to support the abuser rather than showing compassion for the victim.

Other writers who have stories in the anthology include Cath Bore, Carol Fenlon and Mandy Huggins.

Click here to purchase a copy of the anthology – all proceeds support the organisation.

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How to find a pen name

At one particularly difficult writing group meeting, when I yet again presented the synopsis of my novel for discussion, a fellow writer told me that it wasn’t worth bothering with a synopsis, as I was too old to be published! Although I am probably one of the youngest members of the group, there is a grain of truth in the comment. Many of the debut novelists that I follow, some now into their second or third book, do have youth on their side. This got me thinking.

Chuck Palahniuk’s advice, which I’ve written about here, suggests getting an author photograph taken while young, and reuse it frequently. Not that I am young or that I’ve done anything about this, but the idea remains. Another problem is my name. Many first names are indicative of the timeframe of birth and although Gail was never a particularly popular name, it does have echoes of the 1960s. Indeed, when I checked this out, I found that Gail was the 94th most popular name in America in 1961.  If you click on the screenshot that follows and insert the information required, you can find out what your name would be today, according to the ranking of popularity for your year of birth.

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