After leaving Oxford she worked as a buyer for an independent chain of record stores based in Exeter, and then as a bookseller in London. Her first published story appeared in the British Fantasy Society journal Dark Horizons in 2002. She lived in the Taw Valley area of North Devon but now lives on Isle of Bute.
Her column "Nina Allan's Time Pieces" appears in Interzone.
Nina Allan's stories have appeared in various publications and six "Best of" collections:
The story The Silver Wind originally appeared in issue 233 of Interzone in 2011. It was reprinted in The Silver Wind and The Year’s Best Fantasy and Science Fiction 2012 edited by Rich Horton Prime Books. It was also short-listed for BSFA Awards for (short fiction) 2012.
She has said that all her short fiction to date has been, "a kind of apprenticeship in novel-writing". Her first novel is The Race, which uses the town of Hastings for its landscape, where she was living for most of the time she was writing it.
A Thread of Truth, Eibonvale Press (2007), ISBN 978-0955526800 Contains the stories "Amethyst", "Ryman's Suitcase", "Bird Songs at Eventide", "Queen South", "The Vicar with Seven Rigs", "Heroes", "Terminus" and "A Thread of Truth".
The Silver Wind, Eibonvale Press (2011), ISBN 978-1908125057 Contains the stories "Time's Chariot", "My Brother's Keeper", "The Silver Wind", "Rewind" and "Timelines: An Afterword". "Darkroom" added as the opening story, "Chambre noire", in the French edition of the collection, Complications. The Spanish edition, Máquinas del TiempoISBN 978-8493937997 keeps the original contents.
Microcosmos (Imaginings 5), NewCon Press (2013), ISBN 978-1907069475 Contains the stories Microcosmos, The Phoney War, Chaconne, A. H., Orinoco, Flying in the Face of God and Higher Up.
Stardust: The Ruby Castle Stories, PS Publishing (2013), ISBN 978-1848636149 Contains the stories "B-Side", "The Lammas Worm", "The Gateway", "Laburnums", "Stardust", "Wreck of the Julia" and the poem "Red Queen". The stories Angelus, Flying in the Face of God and Stardust are connected as they all involve a Russian astrophysicist called Valery Kushnev. Re-issued as Ruby, Titan Books (2020).
Allan's story Darkroom appeared in Subtle Edens: An Anthology of Slipstream Fiction edited by Allen Ashley Elastic Press in 2008. In a review of the collection Andy Hedgecock wrote that Nina Allan is developing into, "one of the finest stylists of modern genre fiction." He went on to say that very few writers had her talent to uncover, "the strange within the ordinary with such clarity and precision."
Paul Kincaid in reviewing The Silver Wind asks when a series of stories can turn into a novel. He wrote that this was when, "the congeries of stories tell us more than any individual stories can." He suggests that this has been achieved and outlines the links between the stories before concluding that the sum of the parts is greater than the individual stories. One of the links is the viewpoint character Martin who appears in different parallel realities. Sofia Samatar however in her review questioned whether or not there is a danger in Allan's experiment of the emotional force being, "more likely to be lost than gained in the leaps between parallel realities."
In Peter Tennant's 2014 review of The Race he wrote that this was "one of the finest books" he had read that year, but also wrote that he did not know what it was about and could "only hazard guesses." Although a novel, it is, "four self-contained sections that form a greater whole."Sofia Samatar agrees that "The Race guards its secrets." She writes that, this is "a distancing novel about drawing in, a science fiction novel aware of its own artifice, a literary fiction impatient with mimesis."
In Stuart Conover’s 2017 review of The Rift he stated "There are a lot of fun concepts here and a fully crafted alien world which could easily have a completely separate tale told in. Actually, I'd love to Nina revisit this world without even mentioning Selena, Julie, or the events from this book and just have it as connective tissue."
^Conover, Stuart (6 August 2017). "Book Review: 'The Rift' By Nina Allan". ScienceFiction.com. Retrieved 2017-08-06.
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