Friday, July 1, 2011

Around the Globe with JO ANNE ALLEN

On this very hot (but sunny) day in Iowa, I quickly get into my air conditioned transporter, set the controls for Grand Junction, Colorado, to pick up this week's author, Jo Anne Allen. Then we do a short skip over to Vail. I haven't been here in over three decades. Oh, the memories...breaking the car key off in the ignition (Dad and I couldn't lock the door the entire trip); tennis; white water rafting (Dad fell out of the the boat); and a very weird memory of the longest lasting strawberry dacquiri (ask me about it sometime).

Anyway, it's cool enough so Ms. Allen and I can sit outside and enjoy a few drinks (non alcoholic, of course. I'm driving) outside a small cafe with an excellent view of the mountains.

1. Who is Jo Anne Allen and what makes you the most fascinating person in your city?

I was very blessed to be born from Myrtle and Lawrence Stolte. I have the best genes anywhere in my energy level and excellent health. I am very fascinating because I can run circles around anyone, especially those that are 20 years+ younger than myself. I am 53 but you'd never know it by my heart's actually 53 beats per minutes. I am a dedicated athlete.

2. Without revealing a deep dark secret (unless you want to), what one thing would people be surprised to learn about you?

I have a black belt in TKD.

3. What interested you to be become a writer rather than something else such as becoming a NASCAR driver?

I have always loved to write...even in the very early years of 8 and 9. I loved telling stories and keeping people's interests with the subject. I have never had another dream of any other profession.

4. Writers are readers. With which author(s) would you enjoy sharing dinner? Why?

Og Mandino. He has changed my life with his books and I will always think of him as the greatest out there!

5. If I were stranded on a deserted island (or suffering a four hour layover at the airport), why would your book(s) be great company?

Because you are totally surrounded by God in my books.

6. Share the Allen process of writing in regards to: idea and character development, story outline, research (do you Google, visit places/people or make it up on the spot?), writing schedule, editing, and number of rewrites.

The process? I only listen to my heart and write what it tells me to do. I rarely change anything once I write it because the process takes place in my head, along with all the editing and story line before I transfer it on paper. All my characters are based on people who have crossed my path. It's very easy to write what you know.

7. “I think I have a good idea for a story, but I don’t know where or how to begin. Your process may not work for me. Any advice?”

No. You totally have to know where to begin. I think it's natural for some people. I always like to start any story with something that would keep you reading from that point on. Something totally "out there."

8. I saw an amusing T-shirt the other day which read ‘Every great idea I have gets me in trouble.” What is your philosophy of life?

Treat everyone you meet like you know a big secret about them. They will die at midnight. You will find yourself going that extra mile to be kind, to make this moment happy for them, etc...your life will never be the same.

9. Please tell me you’re not going to stop writing? What’s next for you?

Are you kidding me? I can't find the time for complete books now but I never stop with the short stories. I recently won 2nd place in a national prose contest. Two years ago, I won first.

10. Where can people find more information on you and your projects?

If they call me, I'll send them some of my self published books. I do have a website for my Marine book from Echelon Press.

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