Midge loves riddles, his cat, Twitch, and ‒ most of all ‒ stories. Especially because he’s grown up being read to by his sister Alice, a brilliant writer.
When Alice goes missing and a talking cat turns up in her bedroom, Midge searches Alice’s stories for a clue. Soon he discovers that her secret book, The Museum of Unfinished Stories, is much more than just a story. In fact, he finds two of its characters wandering around town.
But every tale has its villains ‒ and with them leaping off the page, Midge, Gypsy and Piper must use all their wits and cunning to work out how the story ends and find Alice. If they fail, a more sinister finale threatens them all . . .
A rich and twisting tale of magic, riddles and talking cats, from a classic author.
10 Random Things About The Other Alice
1. I chose the name Alice because of its associations with madness and dreaming. When Midge is searching for Alice in town he goes through a small cut through in the town called Mad Alice Lane. I lifted this directly from an alley I saw in York. I’m always making notes of interesting place names; sometimes I use them as they are or adapt them.
2. Alice’s relationship with her brother Midge is heavily inspired with my own relationship with my sisters. Like Alice and Midge they have a different father to me, and with me being the youngest they were forever reading to me and making up stories to keep me entertained. Some of the strange things Alice does – like asking to be shut in the boot of her mum’s car when researching a story about a kidnap – are things I’ve also done for my stories.
3. ‘The Summoning’, a historic ritual where effigies, or ‘likenesses’ are made to magically summon a person living or dead, is one I invented. However, I got the idea from the village of Orsett near where I live. Every year, many of the houses display stuffed straw figures outside. It’s kind of unsettling – I’m still not sure of the workings behind it.
4. There are references to Sleeping Beauty pricking her finger on the spindle of the spinning wheel and falling under a curse, due to Alice’s own belief that she is cursed. During the writing of this book I often listened to ‘You’ll be Mine’ by The Pierces which mentions spinning wheels. Midge’s surname is ‘Pierce’ as a tribute to the song. The video is beautiful; magical and a bit witchy. Just my thing! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kzv6MsV68kQ
5. The two cats, Tabitha and Twitch, are based on my cats Pepper and Marmite. I’ve always had a little fantasy about Pepper secretly being a witch in disguise and knowing everything that’s being said. Marmite is bit lacking in intelligence and extremely twitchy. They don’t get along very well…
6. The names of the unfinished stories within Alice’s story and some of the authors are meaningful to me, such as ‘Three Sisters’ (my sisters and I); ‘The Witch in the Bottle’ (something I’m currently working on) and The Tale of Spinney Wicket (a place invented by me in my previous novel, One Wish). I’ve also used my sister’s and niece’s initials.
7. Midge’s favourite sweets are rhubarb and custards. I’m also very fond of them (not as much as chocolate)! I’m giving away a large jar of them at the launch party for The Other Alice, to the person who correctly guesses the number of sweets in the jar.
8. The five legged stag is inspired by a statue in Dorset. It stands on an arch on the estate of Charborough House, and local talk will have you believe the fifth ‘leg’ was added in for the owner of the estate who liked to view the statue from his favourite spot in the house, but was bothered by the fact only three legs were visible. Having looked into this I was somewhat disappointed to learn that the extra leg is merely a tree stump to add support. Nevertheless it’s a great bit of local folklore and story fodder, and also features in a mini sequel I’m working on for the Winter Magic anthology.
9. The paper cut chapter head illustrations featured in the book are mine, although they’ve been inverted. The originals are black text on white paper and if you look closely you can see it is the story itself, although from an earlier draft of the manuscript to tie in with the ‘unfinished’ theme of the novel.
10. The idea for The Museum of Unfinished Stories came from hearing about the Museum of Broken Relationships in Croatia (brokenships.com) which exhibits items left over from former lovers including letters and even axes used to chop up each other’s furniture! I’m hugely intrigued by it and would love to visit someday. At the same time I imagine I’d feel quite sad, thinking of all these love stories that had come to an end, or perhaps ended without closure. It got me thinking about unfinished stories in general, and that’s when the idea for Alice’s story hit me.