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A Coast Lines conversation

A Q&A with Memorial's book club featured author Allison Graves

Campus and Community

By Janet Harron

Memorial University doctoral student Allison Graves (MA’17) is the author of Soft Serve, a collection of short stories.

Her fiction won Room magazine’s annual fiction contest and the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts and Letters Award.

Originally from Ontario, she is the current fiction editor of Riddle Fence. She likes to play drums and climb Signal Hill.

Soft Serve is the current Coast Lines Book Club selection for January and February 2024.

JH: Where did your interest in writing come from? When did it begin?

AG: I was actually just on vacation with my parents and my mom was telling me about stories I used to write as a small child, so I guess I started writing early.

photo of Allison Graves - a white woman in her mid 20s with long red hair and a blue jacket
Allison Graves
Photo: submitted

But I took a fiction workshop in my undergrad at Dalhousie and that really inspired me to give it a real shot when I moved to St. John’s in 2014.

JH: How has your education at Memorial University informed your world view?

AG: Oh, I mean it’s definitely been like a backbone for my life in town.

I think it was very informative in allowing me to meet people I admired and respected early on in my living here.

And now, while I’m working on my PhD, I just feel so thankful that there’s a place where I can write both creatively and academically and feel supported and encouraged.

I really would never have been able to write this collection if I didn’t have the support I did at Memorial.

JH: What takeaway do you hope stays with readers of Soft Serve?

AG: I hope readers have fun with the book!

I wanted to comment on weird absurdities of the everyday and I hope that comes through when reading it.

Hopefully, there’s some relationships in there that people can understand and relate to and some spaces in both Ontario and Newfoundland that feel familiar and special to people.

The words Coast Lines: Memorial University Book Club are written in yellow and white text over a pink and yellow background

JH: What is your Newfoundland and Labrador hidden gem?

AG: Haha, I mean it’s not so hidden, but I climb Signal Hill every day and have for years. I genuinely feel pretty strange if I go a day without doing it.

I would say that’s probably where I do all my best thinking which eventually sometimes turns into writing.

Coast Lines Book Club

Allison Graves will appear with Donna Morrissey (BSW’92, author of Rage the Night) at Coast Lines and Coffee on Sunday, March 24, at the Emera Innovation Exchange, Signal Hill Campus, in a discussion moderated by Angela Antle (BA’91, PhD candidate).

Register for this special event here.

Copies of Soft Serve are available through Memorial University’s Bookstore.

Established in 2020, the Coast Lines Book Club encourages the university community and friends to connect through a common love of reading and interest in the Newfoundland and Labrador literary landscape.

All of the book club’s featured titles are either written by alumni and/or faculty or have a strong connection to Memorial University.

Visit the website for more information on Coast Lines and how to join.

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