My Name is Alice & This is My Story
Being an only child until age 9 made me a storyteller.
I had my imagination, and I spent loads of time there. I also had my grandmother, and she did two amazing things for me. She told me stories of her own, and she listened to mine. I’d sit at the table in her warm kitchen, fragrant with baking, and kick my toes back and forth under my chair because my feet didn’t yet touch the floor. All the while I’d talk, and Grandma would listen with a twinkle in her eye behind her rimless glasses. Because of Grandma, I love to tell stories.
In the eighth grade, I had a teacher named Mrs. Mahon.
I was a troublesome student, restless and way too talkative. Then a writing project was assigned that really interested me. I wrote several pages without a restless moment in any of them. The day Mrs. Mahon handed back the graded papers, she dropped mine on my desk as she passed by and said, “You know how to write, girl.” I was sure there had to be some truth in that because Mrs. Mahon wouldn’t have given a compliment to bad-student me unless she meant it. At last, I had something I loved to do that I was good at doing.
Still, it was decades later before I seriously talked about my dream to anybody but myself.
My husband Jonathan asked me a question that changed my life. “If you could do anything at all, what would it be?” I couldn’t respond right away because the answer meant too much to me. I was afraid that if I spoke the words out loud they would shatter in the air, and my dream would shatter with them. Finally I said, “If I could do anything at all, I’d be a writer.”
Those words didn’t shatter the dream, and everything I’ve done since has been about pursuing them.
That pursuit included many years in the publishing business as a book editor, a literary agent and a workshop leader. All of that has led me to where I am today, writing full-time at last and absolutely loving it.
Q: How has your personal life contributed to your writing?
A: I write about relationships between men and women, and my own relationship with my husband has a big impact on that. Jonathan and I have been together more than forty years. We’ve been through ups and downs, troubles and triumphs. We haven’t yet been threatened by murderous villains, like the characters in my stories, but we’ve been through a lot. I’ve learned how it feels to be in love and have that love challenged, then struggle against scary odds to keep love alive and thriving. The relationships in my stories are all about those feelings.
Q: What do you love most about writing?
A: I love to fall into a story and submerge myself in it. I remember my first experience of doing that. I started writing a story at one o’clock in the afternoon. The next time I looked at the clock, it was four, and I’d felt no time passing in between. I’d gone so deep into the world of the story that my real-life world around me had disappeared. From then on, I was hooked. I couldn’t wait to tumble into a story again. I hope my readers have the same experience, of falling into the story, when they read what I write.
Q: After a long career in the publishing business as a book editor and literary agent and having several books published in that traditional world, why have you turned to self-publishing?
A: First of all, we call what we do Independent or Indie Publishing now. And I have to credit other writers for leading me to it. I heard story after story of how much more they enjoyed their writing career experience after they shifted from traditional publishing to indie publishing. They felt more in control of their work and what happened to it.
They hired professional editing help, as I’ve done, to make their work the best it could be, But, after that, they were no longer at the mercy of the thumbs-up/thumbs-down, too often arbitrary tyranny that publishing house judgments can be. Those authors were finally writing what they truly wanted to write and doing well at it. The leap had been a scary one for them, as it is for me. But isn’t that how you get to the most rewarding places in life? By being brave and taking a scary leap?
Q: Now that you are writing full-time, will you stop teaching workshops?
A: My first career was as a schoolteacher, and it’s always been in my blood to pass on what I know to others. It may turn out to be true that I simply can’t stop teaching. The teaching I do in the future will take two directions. For many years, I’ve been leading workshops for authors about how to write and get that writing published. The subject of those workshops will shift to how to get their writing published independently, like I’m doing. My totally new teaching direction will be workshops for readers. I want to share with readers an experience of the fun it is to make up stories. To give them a taste of the joy of storytelling that will whet their appetites for reading more – and maybe for creating stories of their own. That is a gift I would love to give to everybody.