To complement my daily blog interviews I recently started a series of Author Spotlights and today’s, the fourteenth, is of Gregory Allen. You can read the others here.
Born and raised in Texas, but moved north to become an official ‘Yankee’ for the past 24 years – Gregory G. Allen has had short stories and poetry published in over half a dozen journals including Loch Raven Review and Off the Rocks 14. He is a blog and article contributor to several websites and has written over ten musicals that he has served as book writer and/or composer/lyricists produced for the stage. Proud Pants: An Unconventional Memoir about the life of his older brother’s fight with addiction and eventual death is available digitally and has garnered many wonderful reviews for Allen’s nontraditional way of telling a story through the mind of his dying brother. Allen has been in the entertainment business for over twenty years as an actor, director, writer, and producer and studied at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy and as a composer in the BMI Musical Theatre Workshop. He’s been the recipient of musical grants from BMI, ASCAP and the Watershed Foundation, and his musical River Divine won a Best Score award in New York’s TheatreWeek magazine back in the 90s. He spent six years as the Artistic Director of a theatre company in New Jersey and currently manages an arts center on a college campus.
And now from the author himself:
I have always loved to write since I was a child. I used to write stories and plays and direct the neighborhood kids in my original works. Who knew that would lead to a career in the arts so many years later? I love to write stories that have some sort of twist or do not give the reader (or audience for stage shows) what they expect. These are also the types of creative arts I’m drawn to. When Hollywood decides to change the ending of a movie to ‘please’ the audience, I always wince wishing they would allow the piece to be seen in the manner it was intended by the writers / directors. I think its part of the reason I do not want to be considered a certain genre writer that must write in any type of formula. My short story pieces have all been of different genres and even my longer stories have done the same. Proud Pants was a non-fiction memoir that I wrote about my brother. They are his stories, but I’m putting the words/thoughts into his mind in my attempt to make sense of his life. My novel Well with My Soul out in October, 2011 is a novel dealing with family dynamics, addiction, religion and sexuality. And the story does not necessarily go where most readers will think it is leading them. My stage musical, Invisible Fences, was a piece that dealt with racial tensions in the 1960s and included a bi-racial love story that was considered very taboo in the U.S. South during that time. My novel Patchwork of Me (that will be out in 2012) allows me to get into the women’s literature genre writing in the first person voice of a female protagonist with drips of a mystery thrown in.
About five years ago when I decided I wanted to really give writing a real go at it, I knew I needed to work hard to get my name out there. So I started with any online places I could submit my work to in order for others to see it. That was followed by a blog that I started a year ago and blogging is a way for me to not only connect with people, but continue to have a writing voice heard as I discuss many different topics. From reviews of shows, to weight loss, to politics and pop culture – I like to give my thoughts on what is happening in the world. Social media has knocked down that invisible wall that stood between authors and their readers and I have enjoyed being able to follow and speak online to several authors that I’ve long admired. It has also opened up a new world for me to meet amazing people (some that are other writers) that are carving out their own niche in the world of the internet.
While writers are taught to ‘write what they know’, I like to expand my mind and study other things to write about. I love to travel and I enjoy using those travels to set my stories in varied places – adding interest for readers who like to escape into a book and be transported to other places. I find the research when working on a novel to be an integral part of my work and something I greatly enjoy. It allows me (much as when I’ve acted in a show) to take on a different persona and give my characters jobs and life experiences that I would never have. And when a story that I’ve worked on for months and months comes to an ending point – I am sad to leave those characters, but know I will move on to another time and place full of other interesting people. I hope readers find them just as enjoyable to read about as I do writing them.
The blog interviews will return as normal tomorrow with mystery author and fellow spotlighter Anne White – the one hundred and forty-first of my blog interviews – and Gregory’s interview is scheduled for Wednesday 2nd November, no.175. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate the authors further. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me. You can also read / download my eBooks here.