Monday, June 20, 2016

Interview with memoirist Allen Long

I’m kicking off a new week with an interview with memoirist Allen Long. We’re chatting about his book, Less than Human: A Memoir.

During his virtual book tour Allen will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift card to a lucky randomly drawn winner. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit his other tour stops and enter there, too!

Bio:
Allen Long was born in New York City and grew up in Arlington, Virginia. He holds a B.A. in journalism from Virginia Tech, an M.A. in fiction writing from Hollins University, and an M.F.A. in fiction writing from the University of Arizona. He has been an assistant editor at Narrative Magazine since 2007, and his fiction and memoirs have appeared in a wide variety of literary magazines. He lives with his wife near San Francisco.

Welcome, Allen. Please share a little bit about your current release.
Less than Human tells the story of how I overcame child abuse, PTSD, and a nightmarish marriage to find true love with my second wife, Elizabeth. We’ve been married twenty years. The book also includes all of the most dramatic highs and lows in my life. Some of the other subjects covered include the corrupt business world, teenage love, a nervous breakdown, and fatherhood.

What inspired you to write this book?
After I’d published several short stories in literary magazines, I decided to write in a different form for a change of pace. I ended up writing a magazine-length memoir about my anger and disgust with the dishonesty and corruption I witnessed when I worked in the management consulting sector of the business world. A writer/editor friend praised the piece and suggested I write additional memoirs. So I wrote magazine-length memoirs about the most dramatic highs and lows in my life until I realized I’d written a book.


Excerpt from Less than Human: A Memoir:
This scene is about how I met my wife Elizabeth.

I remember only a fragment of our lunch conversation. Sophia, who used to work at the textile design firm where Elizabeth was employed, brought up the name of a colleague who was agonizing about whether he was gay.
            Elizabeth surprised me by saying, “If he can’t make up his mind, I’ll make it up for him—he’s definitely gay.” There was absolutely no malice or derision in her voice; she simply stated what seemed an obvious fact.
            I laughed, pleased by her presumptuous humor. Also, a few weeks later, the co-worker in question came out of the closet and has seemed contentedly gay ever since.
            After lunch, Sophia made a quick getaway and Elizabeth and I stood in the parking garage near her black cherry Dodge Shadow and talked for another hour and a half. Again, I remember only one snippet of this conversation.
            “I have to tell you how important my daughter Stephanie is to me,” she said. “We’re best friends, I love her dearly, and she’s my number one priority.”
            “I understand. That’s how I feel about my boys,” I said.
            Tears glazed Elizabeth’s eyes, but she didn’t cry. I felt such a strong connection to her I trembled.
            “Would you like it if I called you?” I asked.
            “Yes, very much,” she said.
            We hugged and fell in love.


What exciting story are you working on next?
Right now I’m writing magazine-length memoirs and short stories on various subjects. This activity may lead to another memoir collection, a short story collection, or both.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I started telling stories when I was a small child. In sixth grade, my teacher let me write a short story a week instead of doing regular English assignments. The summer before college, I attended a writing workshop at Michigan State University. In college, I excelled at all of my creative writing classes. Then I sent several short stories to Hollins College (now Hollins University) which has a fabled creative writing program—William Golding was the first or one of the first writers teaching there, and that’s where he wrote Lord of the Flies. When I was accepted into the M.A. fiction writing program with a scholarship, I realized my dreams of becoming a writer were finally coming true.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I work full time as a hospital nurse. I get one weekday off per week, and I have every other weekend off, so that’s when I write. When I had a lot of momentum going with my book, I wrote in the evenings as well.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
My writing often contains an undercurrent of fairy tale images or themes. I’m guessing the reason is that I was physically abused as a child. Fairy tales were a great escape from reality. Also, I realize now that I also probably enjoyed fairy tales because good almost always triumphs over evil.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I think I always wanted to be a writer. After a brief flirtation as a forestry major in college, I switched to journalism and also took a slew of English and creative writing courses.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
The image on the cover of my book is an alligator. This was my suggestion. When my brother and I were in elementary school, our neglectful parents encouraged us to swim in a Florida lake inhabited by an adult alligator while they visited inside with our grandparents.

Links:
Thank you for being a guest on my blog!

My pleasure. Thank you.

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32 comments:

Ally Swanson said...

Congrats on the new book and good luck on the book tour!

Ally Swanson said...

I enjoyed reading the excerpt. This book sounds like such an interesting and intriguing read. Looking forward to checking out this book.

Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thank you for hosting

Lisa Brown said...

I enjoyed the interview, thanks for the chance to win :)

Allen Long said...

Lisa, thanks for hosting me today. Readers--I'm a hospital nurse on my way to work right now. When I return home, I'll address any questions or comments posted here. Thanks for your patience.

Victoria Alexander said...

Great post, thanks for sharing!

James Robert said...

Happy Monday! Weekend sure went by quick. Thank you for the giveaway

Rita said...

I liked the excerpt.

clojo9372 said...

I am really enjoying the book tour! Great excerpt and interview! :)

Allen Long said...

Ally, thanks for all of your good wishes. I'm glad you enjoyed the excerpt. As one can see, Elizabeth and I virtually fell in love at first sight. July 1 is our 21st wedding anniversary. I think you'll be very satisfied with the book.

Allen Long said...

Lisa Brown--I'm glad you enjoyed the interview. By the way, my enjoyment of escapist literature went well beyond fairy tales when I was a kid. I was fascinated with comic books from the moment I first saw one. I started out reading Batman and Superman, and I ended up a hardcore Marvel comics fan, reading Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, and The Hulk. My love of comics was similar to my love of fairy tales--they were escapist, and good always triumphed over evil. When I was thirteen, I read Ray Bradbury's The Illustrated Man and transitioned from comics to reading science fiction and fantasy books until I left for college. Ray Bradbury combined great story telling with poetic use of language. He was the first author I read that made me think about becoming a writer.

Allen Long said...

Victoria--Glad you enjoyed the post. Thanks for stopping by.

Allen Long said...

James--You're welcome. Thanks for stopping by.

Allen Long said...

Rita--Glad you enjoyed the excerpt. The final chapter of the book includes how I met Elizabeth, the ups and downs of our courtship, our marriage, and how she helped bring me into the light. The book is dedicated to her.

Allen Long said...

Clojo--Thanks very much for following the tour, and I'm glad you enjoyed the interview and excerpt. Please let me know if there are any questions or comments you'd like to bring up that haven't been featured on the tour yet. This goes for all readers. I really appreciate your time and interest.

Allen Long said...

Readers--I'll continue to monitor this blog and address additional questions and comments that come in. Lisa Haselton--thanks again for hosting me. I really appreciate this opportunity.

Nikolina said...

I really enjoyed reading your interview, thank you!

Allen Long said...

Nikolina--Glad you enjoyed the interview. Thanks for stopping by.

James Robert said...

I am back and thanking you once again for the great giveaway. I appreciate it!

Allen Long said...

My pleasure. Thanks for dropping by, James.

Ally Swanson said...

I have added this book to my TBR list and look forward to reading this book!

James Robert said...

Good Afternoon! Have a terrific day and thank you for the chance to win

Ally Swanson said...

Excellent interview! Excited to read this book!

Nikolina said...

I am really enjoying following this tour, thank you for all the great blog posts and excerpts!

Ally Swanson said...

Hope you are having a fabulous weekend! Looking forward to reading this book!

James Robert said...

Hello! Hope your having a great evening and stopping by to say thanks for the giveaway

James Robert said...

Wishing you a terrific Wednesday and thanking you for the chance to win.

James Robert said...

Hello! Hope your day is awesome and thanking you for the giveaway.

James Robert said...

Happy Friday! Hope it's a good one for you I appreciate your offering us such a great giveaway and thanking you for all you put into this for us.

James Robert said...

Have a great weekend and thanks for all you do amd hard work you put into offering us the great giveaways

Nikolina said...

Shared on G+, have a great day!

James Robert said...

Enjoy this beautiful Sunday and thank you for this chance to win