AUTHOR INTERVIEW – Arleen Alleman
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INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR
What initially got you interested in writing?
I was born in Bolton, Lancashire, England, but my parents moved us to the U.S. when I was very small. I spent my childhood in Concord, NH and then moved out west as a teenager. As a child, I can’t remember a time when I did not read books, from Dr. Seuss to The Bobbsey Twins and Nancy Drew. In the fourth grade I ironically won a school essay contest on the topic of “Why I am glad to be an American.” Ironically, that was the year I became a naturalized citizen.
I began reading “grown up” fiction at an early age. I remember sitting in the back yard tree house at about the age of thirteen with a volume of E.A. Poe’s work and falling in love with the idea of writing novels. In high school I decided I wanted to be a journalist, but my life did not go in that direction, exactly. For more than twenty years, I wrote extensively on decidedly non-fiction topics as a GAO analyst preparing reports for the U.S. Congress. This was a lot like investigative reporting, but even then I did not become an author. I never gave up the dream of writing a novel someday, and I guess I am now living that dream.
How did you decide to make the move into becoming a published author?
I write because I love fiction and I am fascinated with the process, particularly with how the imagination works almost automatically to bring out the stories. I love fiction so much that I want to be a part of the literary world. Many authors say they write because they have to, but I can’t say that for myself. It is a challenge and something I know I could spend the rest of my life working at and improving, and it is great fun.
In 2008 my husband and were taking cruises. We fell in love with this vacation mode after retiring. One day on board the ship, I told my husband I had decided to give the writing a try—finally. I thought I could use the cruise ship backdrop and my government and other life experiences to begin. That is what I did with the first two books in the series, Currents Deep and Deadly and Currents of Vengeance. In these stories, the characters are immersed in cruise ship crime and murder/mystery with a GAO/FBI effort to solve the crimes and enhance passenger safety, all amid stories of family issues and personal growth. The fifth novel is also set on a ship this time in Australia. The sixth and final book, Currents of Sin takes place in Las Vegas. Other books in the series also are set on land: Current Assets in Florida and Alternate Currents in Seattle.
What do you want readers to take away from reading your works?
Foremost, I want readers to be entertained. Fiction should be an escape from reality. However, I also try to present some science, geography, and history tidbits that might be educational for some. I also hope the stories will challenge readers to think about the world in slightly different ways. That is what I like to get out of reading novels myself.
Readers have said they enjoy the fast-paced writing style and become swept up in the story. They tell me there is an “intelligence” about the stories mixed in with the fiction that they like. I couldn’t ask for more than that. Some have liked the travel parts with descriptions of the seaports along the way, others not so much. Right or wrong, I know I was influenced by readers’ comments in developing subsequent books.
What do you find most rewarding about writing?
Frankly, the most rewarding thing for me is the existence of the books themselves. It feels as if they are a legacy of sorts. I’ve also found that creating the characters and plots, then reworking them over many months is very challenging so completing that process is also rewarding. I guess I also would like to think that a reader can gain some insight about themselves and the world from the reading. After all, isn’t that the point of reading?
What do you find most challenging about writing?
Because I am writing a series I want each story to be unique. I don’t want to tell the same basic story over and over. I understand how difficult it is to formulate unique experiences for the same characters. This takes a lot of imagination and creativity, and it is a struggle as well as being fun. Of course, the publishing and marketing aspects of writing are enormously difficult and not nearly as fun as the creative process.
What advice would you give to people wanting to enter the field?
Writing books is a highly competitive endeavor. Self-publishing has opened the field to virtually anyone who wants to write. Each author must decide their goal. Some are content to write one book that is mostly marketed to friends and family, while others want to create a commercial success. The latter, is extremely difficult to achieve because of the sheer number of very good books published each year. I would caution new authors against entering the field thinking they will make a lot of money. If they are lucky and that happens, it is marvelous, but realistically it is unlikely. They should write because they are driven to do so and/or achieve personal satisfaction from the effort. To have any chance at commercial success an author must develop a comprehensive marketing plan then take the time and spend the money to implement it.
Is there anything else besides writing you think people would find interesting about you?
I guess my diversity of interests generates the most comments from people I meet. I seem to be a 50-50 right-left brain thinker. I think this causes me to be a generalist. There are many of us, of course. I’m a scientist at heart and I’m extremely pragmatic; a humanist similar to my protagonist Darcy Farthing. However, I’ve also spent forty years studying the origin and evolution of religion and the Bible.
My career with the U.S. Government Accountability Office provided me with the opportunity to learn about a wide array of subjects ranging from elder care and endangered species to military satellite systems and postal service operations. On the other hand, I taught at a finishing school and then worked as a fashion model. I took acting and singing classes, and composed and copyrighted a number of songs. I spent seven years sculpting and marketing silver jewelry, and owned a small home décor shop. Writing novels is another endeavor, and I’m not sure what will come next.
What are the best ways to connect with you, or find out more about your work?
My web site http://www.arleenalleman.com has a contact button anyone can use to communicate with me. I welcome readers to ask questions or give me comments. Of course, the best thing a reader can do for an author is to put a few sentences of review on one of the booksellers web sites.
Publisher’s bookstore http://bookstore.xlibris.com/AdvancedSearch/Default.aspx?SearchTerm=arleen+alleman
Also, readers “talk” to me through
Twitter @aallemanwrites https://twitter.com/aallemanwrites
And On Facebook Arleen Alleman timeline and my book page, Currents Deep and Deadly
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Arleen Alleman is a former analyst with the U.S. Government Accountability Office where she wrote extensively on many topics ranging from satellite systems to endangered species. She has a science education and worked as a fashion model, insurance adjuster, jewelry designer, and proprietor of a home décor shop. Her interests include reading, health and fitness, world religions, and travel. Her world travels supply authentic backdrops for her stories. Born in England and raised in New Hampshire and Nevada, she now lives in Florida with her husband, Tim. She is the author of the Darcy Farthing adventure series.