Today’s spotlight is on the amazing Marian Allen! I asked her a few questions, and she had a few answers. See what she has to say about her journey, her mentors, and her latest work!
1. How/why did you first start writing, and what made you decide to seek publishing?
I’ve been making up stories ever since I can remember. My first attempt at story was as part of a vocabulary exercise in sixth grade. This was long before the Young Writers program, but our spelling and vocabulary book included a small story with lesson, using the vocabulary words. One of our assignments, of course, was to use our vocabulary words in sentences, so I used them in my own story. The teacher praised my attempt, and I was hooked! Why did I decide to seek publishing? If you love to write, you write; if you love to eat, you publish. No, seriously, publishing just seemed logical: I’m going to write, regardless; if people are willing to pay me to do so, how cool is that?
2. Who are your idols/mentors (writing or non-writing)?
Flannery O’Conner and Henry James, for blowing my mind with the layers and resonances they’re able to put, powerfully but transparently, into their writing. James Michener and J. K. Rowling, for being both fantastically successful (as entertainers and as money-makers) and fantastically humble and generous. Every publisher I’ve ever had, for dedicating so much money, time, energy, and health to the production of literature. Most of the people I’ve ever known, for getting up and facing each day in spite of the many discouragements, disappointments, and obstacles Life casually tosses at them.
3. Where do you get your ideas? Have you ever had an idea make a 180 in the middle of pursuing it?
Ideas are thick on the ground. EVERYTHING is about writing, so everything is the seed of an idea. The hard part is deciding what the idea should best become. And, yes, I have had the 180 happen. When I began “Millefleurs”, a story in the Southern Indiana Writers’ anthology 2000 TALES, reprinted in my collection TURTLE FEATHERS, I thought it would be a sweet and tender love story of a young woman and a humanized unicorn. Didn’t turn out that way. The unicorn turned out to be a serial killer on the prowl.
4. Tell me about your latest book (and the inspiration for the cover).
SIDESHOW IN THE CENTER RING is set in the near future. A comedienne, born on the wrong side of the tracks, has made it rich, but has the goal of being accepted as an equal by the members of Earth’s most exclusive social clique. Her chances seem ruined when a cosmetic disaster turns her skin a patchwork of tones, but she turns it to advantage and is a bigger star than ever. When she’s invited to go with the exclusive group to a planet where slavery is legal, she goes reluctantly, and has to face the price she’ll have to pay to get what she’s certain she wants.
5. Do you have any advice for anyone who wants to get their work into the world?
Write first, worry about publication later. Learn the basics of grammar, spelling, punctuation, and diction. Other people won’t do this for you, and many readers won’t forgive you for being weak on these basic techniques. Read writing that’s generally agreed to be well done. Some writing is competent and some writing is so powerful it blows your mind. Which would you rather write? Decide, and study, and try to do the same. THEN think about publishing.
Oh, and don’t give up!
If you like what Marian has to say, you can find her on Facebook here, her website and blog here, oh, and her latest book here! SIDESHOW IN THE CENTER RING is available at Amazon for Kindle and the print version is coming soon.