I recently had the opportunity to interview, by email and phone, author Gregory G. Allen who will be visiting my home state of Maine on June 23rd to 25th to promote his new book, Patchwork of Me. The novel, his third adult title, takes place in Arizona and Maine and is the story of one woman’s discovery of her forgotten past. The novel won the NewYork Book Festival general fiction award and the Fiction: Chick Lit/Women's Lit category of the 2012 International Book Awards. He is also the author of the children’s book, Chicken Boy, inspired by his godson who is autistic. I’ll be reviewing the Patchwork of Me in a later post.
Mr. Allen did not set out to be an author. As a young man he moved to New York City with the intent of becoming a full-time actor. While he did find plenty of work on the stage along with bit parts on Saturday Night Live, a stint as a touring Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle and a day job that took up more time than he would have liked, his path also led him to writing plays and musicals, producing shows and eventually writing novels. I asked him about his eclectic creative history and if he had found it at all difficult to move between these different forms of expression:
“I've always believed I was telling a story: no matter the medium I was working in. Either writing my own [story] or directing or acting another. I actually love moving from one to another and believe the creative aspects feed each other. Once I became a managing director of an arts center 6 years ago, my creative juices started flowing and my writing took off.”
Mr. Allen’s penchant for story telling showed itself in our telephone interview which, as it progressed, became less and less like an interview and more a conversation that eventually became an exchange of stories. We discussed his love of tales of transformation, a theme that often finds its way into his writing; his unexpected discovery of the story of Chicken Boy that came out of his relationship with his autistic Godson; and the difficulty of making a living in the arts; a subject that was of great personal interest to me having recently made the commitment to pursuing a creative life.
While his tale of Big-City-Plans to become an actor while trying to find that balance between the day job and one’s art is a common one, for Mr. Allen it is a tale that has a happy ending:
“I moved to [New York City] to be a performer, but the day job slowly took over. And then I spent 13 years climbing the corporate ladder & making a great living. But my soul wasn't being fed. So I walked away from the money & security and took a job managing an arts center and never felt happier. My life is now all about creative arts. Producing, writing, directing...it is all wrapped up together. Do I make a living as an author? No. But my day job is a pretty amazing way to live as well.”
We went on to talk about far more than I can fit into one blog post but I expect I will make reference back to our discussion in future posts. Meanwhile to learn more about Gregory Allen and his writing you can visit his website and facebook page.
I’ll be reviewing Patchwork of Me early next week; though I will say now that if it isn’t already on your summer reading list it should be. Once you have purchased your copy if you are in the area of Southern Maine you can also take advantage of Mr. Allen’s visit to have your copy of the book signed!
Gregory Allen will be in Maine from June 23rd to 25th at the following locations:
Saturday, June 23 - Bath Book Shop - 11:00 am - 1:00 pm Bath, ME
Sunday, June 24 - Tugboat Inn - 12:00 - 1:30 pm Boothbay Harbor, ME
Monday, June 25 - Freeport Community Library - 7:00-8:30 pm Freeport, ME
….and P.S. – For all you children of the 80s out there, I did ask - “I toured for two years switching off as Michelangelo & Leonardo. And sometimes I'd play the Evil Shredder to mix it up. :). A very cool job for a young guy & a great way to see the country.”