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A. L. Bishop is a writer in Niagara Falls, ON whose work has been featured in The Writing Disorder, The Forge Literary Magazine, and Exile, the Literary Quarterly.

How it started

When I was about eight, I had stalled out on my first novel at page 42. After a fancy family wedding in the city, my second cousin, Polly, who worked in publishing, sat with me in her parents’ solarium and talked to me about my book. The next day, I pencilled in a character named Polly—the whole thing was in pencil, to be fair, stored in a floppy blue binder and hidden in a top-secret closet location—and finished off the manuscript at a fulsome 49 pages. A few years ago, Polly stumbled across my first story, published in Exile, the Literary Quarterly, and emailed to congratulate me.

I wrote my second novel in high school. This one was typed but still kept in a binder. Also, for context, it included an appendix of Teen Beat pin-ups of all the actors I thought should star in the movie version.

When I briefly studied screenwriting, a friend took me aside after my first crack at workshopping my feature screenplay and said, “Hey, so have you ever read Goodbye, Columbus?” like it was a general interest question, when, in fact, my screenplay was just Goodbye, Columbus with a female protagonist and he wasn’t sure how to break it to me, as I learned when I read it shortly thereafter.

In my early 20s, I started working nights on my next novel. When I admitted this to a friend, she referred to this hustle as my “laptop life” and when I finally let her read the finished draft, she told me that it was like reading a real book. My heart sang. I used excerpts of this manuscript to get accepted into an MFA program, though I didn’t end up going.

When I realized that I wasn’t going to do the MFA, I consoled myself by trying NaNoWriMo, except in March, which has one extra day, and by myself, while listening to the Super Furry Animals’ Songbook Vol. I on repeat. I queried this project, when it was finally done five years later. I got a lovely reply from an agent who wasn’t taking on new fiction clients but was sure it would be snapped up by someone else. No one else replied. But, if everything goes to plan, a much-truncated version will anchor my short story collection.

After no one took up that novel, I started the most recent one, this time under the brilliant mentorship of Miranda Hill through the Humber School for Writers. This one did get published, but not until I edited it down from an 80k novel to a 5k short story, under the luminous instruction of Rachel Thompson.

How it’s going

Now I’m at work on the aforementioned story collection, as well as a novel about a haunted artist’s retreat and a screenplay about the frenemies of Charlotte Brontë, but would still be nowhere without the generosity of teachers, fellow writers, and readers like you. Thankya for stopping by.


Interview with John Haggerty

Founding Editor of The Forge Literary Magazine, John Haggerty, kindly interviewed me in 2018. Read the interview.

rob mclennan's blog

That champion of emerging writers, rob mclennan, let me share the skinny on my writing day on his “my (small press) writing day” blog. Read it here.

Rock Lobster

by The B-52’s was named by Rolling Stone as one of the 500 greatest songs of all time. Radio stations that only play ’80s music pretend it wasn’t recorded in 1978. It’s seven minutes of surf music and cowbell with a litany of sea creatures making imaginary noises. Yet, behold. Probably one of my favourite moments in popular culture.

What’s yours?