We are excited to introduce you to Alexandra Stephens, the author of ‘Mrs Riggbie’ in Slinkies 2023. Alexandra’s story is not one to miss for Beatles fans. In this interview, Alexandra discusses her writing influences, writing habits and future writing aspirations. Read her story ‘Mrs Riggbie’ in Slinkies 2023, out December 1st! Pre-order your copy for $19.99 to read ‘Mrs Riggbie’ and other short stories. Join us for the highly anticipated Slinkies 2023 Book Party on October 26th!
Alexandra is undoubtedly in love with books—whether that’s reading them or bringing them to life. She lives in Wattle Grove and is studying a Bachelor of Communication (Writing and Publishing) at UTS. Mrs Riggbie is Alexandra’s first published work and was inspired by Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway and Eleanor Rigby (yes, she is a Beatles fan).
Can you share a little about your background and how it influences your writing?
My family is a big part of why I have wanted to write and are who encouraged me to follow my dream of becoming a published writer. I grew up in a single-parent household with a mother who only wanted me to do what made me happy (so long as I still had some way to keep a roof over my head) and a family that loves to read books. I also come from quite a creative family – from painting, drawing, and playing musical instruments to embroidery, carpentry and stained glass designs. So, they are always supportive of my writing. They have influenced so much of who I am and how I see the world, so I really owe everything to them. It is why I chose to have their surname as my pen name.
What type of readers do you think will connect most with your story?
Definitely readers who are big Beatles fans – there are lots of little references aside from ‘Eleanor Rigby’ scattered throughout my piece, which I think they will enjoy. Also, I think it could connect with a wide variety of readers. A lot of people experience loneliness at various times throughout their lives or have lost someone who meant the world to them. I think, as well, that over the last few years, we have all been more acquainted with loneliness and loss, despite being told that we are more connected than ever before because of technology. So, I think ‘Mrs Riggbie’ will resonate with many readers.
Are there authors or other writing that have influenced your writing style or themes?
‘Mrs Riggbie’ is a blend of two other texts – ‘Mrs Dalloway’ by Virginia Woolf and ‘Eleanor Rigby’ by the Beatles. I used Virginia Woolf’s style, structure and voice to rewrite the opening of ‘Mrs Dalloway’ line-by-line, incorporating the song lyrics to construct the narrative. I also changed the characters from ‘Mrs Dalloway’ to characters in ‘Eleanor Rigby’ and other Beatles songs. The themes, interestingly, overlapped between the two texts, and I gradually came to realise that these two invisible, lonely women were more alike than I imagined. Both held up this polite, content and kind facade, but no one really saw them or knew how they were really feeling.
Do you have any writing rituals or habits when writing?
I like to have a bit of music playing when I’m writing with a nice cup of tea or coffee, depending on the hour. I also sometimes alternate between typing on my laptop and handwriting with a pen and notebook. And even though my friends make fun of me for it, I insist on taking a small notebook and pen with me wherever I go, as you never know when it might come in handy.
Is there a specific direction you would like to take your writing in the future?
Hopefully, future me will have my books published by a traditional or independent publishing house, and I will be one of their regular authors. For now, while I’m still at university, I would be happy to have other short pieces published in literary journals, magazines or through competitions like Slinkies.