Friday, February 26, 2010

Fresh Voices: Interview with Sarah Allen

"we do not believe in ourselves until someone reveals that deep inside us is valuable, worth listening to, worthy of our trust, sacred to our touch. once we believe in ourselves we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight or any experience that reveals the human spirit." - E.E. Cummings

Welcome to the second edition of Fresh Voices. We are delighted to share with you the fresh, joyful, and inspiring voice of Sarah Allen.
1. What is your ultimate writing goal?

My first goal is to be published, but I feel like that’s only the beginning. I think it would be amazing to win all kinds of awards, make the New York Times best seller list, etc. As far-fetched and idealistic as that sounds, I think every writer wants that for themselves. I love hearing what people have to think about my work, so having any kind of following to communicate with would be amazing. I also am interested in working with all kinds of genres, so although I will mostly be working in novel form, I’ve been sending out poetry, short stories and essays, and the plan for my next big project is screenplay. In the future I may even try lyrics. But, you know, first things first…I need to actually finish my book for it to be published.

2. Why do you write?

I feel like if I didn’t write, I wouldn’t be me. It seems so natural that writing is what I do. Great art has a huge impact on me, and I would love to work and hone my craft enough to be able to influence someone in the same way.

3. Your blog writing has an effervescence to it. Have you worked to achieve
that voice or is it just a natural style for you?

Thank you very much! I definitely have to say that if my writing as any effervescence to it, it is just the way I write. That word so accurately describes the way I am and my outlook on life that I don’t think I would be able to take it out of my writing. If I got it from anywhere, I got it from my mother; she is one of the most passionate, lively, interested people I know.

4. Who are your favorite authors and why do you like them?

This question is impossible to answer completely, of course, but here are a few writers who I think have directly influenced my writing style.

Connie Willis: I have never written any speculative fiction, as of yet, but Connie Willis’ personable, human, somewhat humorous tone is one that I enjoy immensely and try to use in a lot of my work. If you haven’t read her book ‘Bellwether’, you’re missing out.

Jane Austen: I don’t think I match her so much in tone as in interest and story. I don’t usually write grand, sweeping plots, so much as intimate stories about relationships. Like Jane.

Ernest Hemingway: I really like Hemingway’s distant, journalistic style. I think my style may be a little more personal than his, but his almost apathetic tone is really effective at least for me, and has definitely pulled me in that direction. Which I think is a good thing, considering I have a tendency towards over-sentimentality.

Neil Simon: I have been involved in theater my whole life, and the majority of the good monologues I’ve used for auditions, classes, etc, have come from him. I think we are very similar in story and tone, and when I write script, he is my inspiration.

Other writers that I love: Shakespeare, J.K. Rowling, Orson Scott Card, Billy Collins, W.B. Yeats, Stephen King, C. S. Lewis, Charles Dickens.

5. What most attracts you to the life of a writer?

I love talking about literature, so I think conferences, lectures, readings, etc., would be something I would enjoy very much. I love travelling, so I would enjoy doing book tours. I love online social networking, and that can be very effective as a book marketing strategy. As for writing itself, the process can be frustrating, but overall it is incredibly rewarding.

6. If you couldn't be a writer but knew you were guaranteed success at
a different career, what would you choose?

Acting. Definitely. After writing a New York Times best-seller, my next chimerical dream is to win an Academy Award. Having said that, as much as I love theater, I still feel like writing is intrinsically part of my life, and what I am meant to do.

7. If you had to describe your writing in one word, what would that
word be?

Chimerical. Effervescently.

8. What's the best writing advice you've ever gotten?

My high school creative writing teacher used to tell us that whereas in real estate the key is ‘location, location, location,’ the key for writing is ‘details, details, details.’ I am always trying to bring my writing out of the abstract and into the concrete, and it makes such a positive difference. Detail can most definitely be the difference between good and great writing.

About Sarah: 
I’m a senior at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, majoring in English. I’m a Mormon. I am obsessed with movies, theater, and television and like almost nothing more than brilliant acting. If I’m not reading or writing, I’m watching or acting and I would rather spend the weekend watching movies with good friends and good food then going to a party. My favorite kind of dog is a cavalier king charles spaniel. I like rain better than sun and I own all eleven seasons of Frasier.

In closing, what's a good example of your writing that you would like
to share with us?

First off, here’s a link to my creative writing blog which I post to frequently. I write about the writing process and things that creatively inspire me, and any comments and ideas would be wonderful. Also, I had a poem published in Inscape, BYU’s literary magazine, called Pet Diaries and a 100 word flash fiction story called Diamonds Are that I got to read on the BYU “Word of Mouth” podcast. I am also very active on Twitter.
 Thank you for reading this edition of Fresh Voices. Feel free to follow the Fresh Voices list on Twitter or nominate yourself or another author as a Fresh Voice. 

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