Monday, September 5, 2011

INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR, GREGORY G. ALLEN


INTERVIEW WITH GREGORY G. ALLEN, AUTHOR OF:
"WELL WITH MY SOUL"

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(1) After reading your bio it's discovered that your creativity began at a very early age, 5 years old, and progressed rapidly. Do you think your imagination and love for writing made you a bit smarter than most kids your age?

I’m not sure I would equate my creative background to smarts. J (As a matter of fact, in the 4th grade I received an “F” in science and my mother said I could not go back on the stage until I got that grade up.) So perhaps my love of the arts was a great incentive! Honestly, I never thought that other kids my age couldn’t write a script and direct the neighborhood in a backyard show or write a musical at the age of 14 and have a local children’s theater company produce it. It was just something I did and I found that I loved writing dialogue and giving voice to quirky characters. I assumed everyone could probably be doing it at the time.

(2) You have been extremely active throughout your life even doing a stint as a Teenage Mutant Ninja turtle! How in the world did you get that gig and which one were you?

I moved to NYC in the late 80s to be an actor. Like most actors, you go to every audition you could get in to. I was working with a children’s theater company in New Jersey when that director was casting for the Turtle tour. Like others in her company: we were in the right place at the right time. I toured for two years all over the US, Canada…and even Guam donning that huge (stinky) costume of Michelangelo or Leonardo and playing every theme park, state fair, and Mall stage court you can imagine. The great part was, I would also sometimes switch and play the evil Shredder (which meant using my voice instead of the taped voice of the turtle as well as getting to wear a much cooler costume).

(3) You've done a lot of work for different commercials, plays, and other projects can you tell us about some of those?

Sometime in the early 90s, I had the desire to write the next great Broadway musical (which by the way…didn’t happen). But I did get a chance to write some children’s musicals that were performed as tours as well as some jingles for live industrial commercials where large named companies would have performers do a song that would lead into a corporate meeting. I was accepted into the BMI Musical Theatre Workshop where I met some wonderful composers and lyricists and I teamed up with several people to write different projects. There I met Stephen Kitsakos who was another composer/lyricist. We formed a unique collaboration where both of us would write both music and lyrics for a show and wrote a musical that dealt with racial tensions in the south in the 60s called Invisible Fences. In most writing teams, one person does each part – but we found we made a great team where we did both and I would write the book to the musical. I think writing plays and musicals really aided me when I decided to start down the road of writing short stories and novels. I was used to creating an arc for a stage play, writing dialogue for characters, and creating dramatic situations which ended up being a great building block for books. A wonderful mentor helped me hone in on narrative and choosing a point of view to tell a story from – and I was off! She actually was the one that suggested Well With My Soul be told in first person. Originally, I wrote it as a play. But I felt there was so much more to tell that it grew into a novel. And then I decided to tell it from the perspective of both brothers with different chapters being in each of their voices. And now I LOVE to write in first person.

(4) If you were ever made to choose just one thing you could do for the rest of your life, which one of your many talents would you fall back on?

That is really tough, Kitty. I believe I am a story teller and I LOVE to do just that. Either as an actor, a director overseeing an entire show, or writing an original – I feel my job is to convey a story to an audience (reader) in a fresh way. So if I cheat and say ‘tell stories’, does that allow me the opportunity to do any of those? J

(5) Tell us about some of the books you've written and what first inspired you to write them.

I am inspired by so many different things when I write. It can be a dream, a person I may see on some of my travels (as I love to go on cruises to other countries), or an event I may have heard about. Some of my short stories have been influenced by different family members – and one was influenced by a friend saying he thought someone was in his statement room once on a cruise ship. (That became The Business Trip which is a quick read on my website.) Proud Pants was certainly inspired by my older brother who died at the age of 34 when I was 29. I wrote it first as a short story (a love letter to my mom who was his stepmom) and then it grew into a novelette – and I changed it to first person, attempting to get inside of his head and tell it from his point of view. Well With My Soul has so many aspects of different parts of my life (my religious upbringing, moving to New York City to be a performer) as well as an attempt to give voice to self inflicted homophobia. We read of people in newspapers who are caught in precarious situations where closeted men are ‘outted’ – many of which are very prominent people. I wanted to reveal a story that came before that moment and share what some may go through and how choices made affect so many around you. A true family drama story, but one of hope and undying love as well. I have another novel out in 2012 that actually was inspired by some of my travels and a horror story I read (and that allows me to go into the world of women’s fiction with a female protagonist). So you might say I try to take inspiration from all over as well as write in many genres.

(6) What can you tell us about your family and what kind of influence if any they had on your creativity?

I have an amazing family. My parents always taught me I could accomplish whatever I set my mind to. My mother has spent a lifetime working in early childhood development and my father (before he passed away) was a salesman for all of his life; and could sell anything to anyone. (If only he were here now to market my book!) My sister is an amazing singer who can be heard singing all around the Dallas, TX Metroplex and I have a younger brother serving in the US Army. (Currently on his 2nd tour of duty) As I mentioned before, my older half brother who passed away absolutely inspired me because I felt he had a wasted life as an addict and as someone who wouldn’t try anything in his life. So in a way, it’s because of him that I became an over achiever who wanted to do as much as I possibly could. (If you read Proud Pants…you will get an understanding of what I mean with that.)

(7) When relaxing what is the one thing you enjoy doing the most?

I love to be out on the water on a cruise ship with a wonderful, enthralling book in my hands. (Or on my kindle so I don’t have to pack numerous books for a trip.)

(8) What is your one big time dream, a goal that you'd love to accomplish that you haven't done yet?

If you would have asked the younger Gregory, it was always to be in a Broadway show. Now I’m happy to just see as many of those as I can. I think I would really be honored to someday see one of my books turned into a movie: to see how a director would tell the story through another medium. But for now, I’m just thrilled to be getting my words on paper and hearing back from readers how those stories affect them.

(9) Who are some of the people that have influenced you most in life?

As mentioned, I have an amazing family and I’ve had some truly wonderful teachers and mentors who encouraged and influenced decisions I would make. As far as writing – it was after reading Running With Scissors by Augusten Burroughs that I thought “I really want to do that.”

(10) What advice would you give to other aspiring authors, artists, and musicians?

I know this will sound so cliché, but don’t give up. Just because a door closes to you, you don’t get a role in a certain show, numerous agents and editors reject your work…keep going for it! Find a way to make that dream happen. Too many times people wait for someone to make it happen for them. To be discovered. But no one can discover someone that is not out there making themselves heard. The past years have seen such an influx of ‘the indie’ in filmmaking, music, and now – even writing and publishing. If you have the drive within you to make it happen – then do it! Oh…and always ask. You’d be surprised how much you can get from people by asking. You might just get that perfect testimonial from the biggest name out there just by reaching out to them.



FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT GREGORY G. ALLEN AND HIS WORKS VISIT HIS SITES:

www.ggallen.net

http://www.facebook.com/author.gregory.g.allen


Thank you so much Gregory for doing this interview!


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