Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.


Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?

Hi Fiona! Thank you for inviting me to your blog. My name is Arleen Williams. I’m 62.


Fiona: Where are you from?

 I was born in Seattle, Washington, USA. I lived in other places—California, Hawaii, Venezuela, and Mexico—before returning to Seattle. I now live not far from where my father grew up in West Seattle.


Fiona: A little about your self (ie, your education, family life, etc.).

 I grew up on a small farm outside of Seattle. I left home at seventeen, took ten years to complete a Bachelor’s degree and two years to earn a Master’s in Education from the University of Washington. I have spent the last thirty years teaching English as a Second to immigrants and refugees at a local college. My husband and I have lived in the same West Seattle home for the last twenty-seven years,where we raised our only daughter and watched the city change around us.


Fiona: Tell us your latest news.

I have big exciting news! A little over a year ago my publisher went out of business and my three novels and two memoirs found themselves homeless. I’m very happy to announce that my three novels—Running Secrets, Biking Uphill,and Walking Home—are again available in print and ebook formats on Amazon.

I’m still seeking a home for my memoirs—The Thirty-Ninth Victim and Moving Mom—but hope to have them available before year’s end.

I’m currently working on a third memoir that explores my years as an undocumented immigrant in Mexico City in the early 1980s.

Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?

Although I’ve kept journals since my teens, I didn’t take my first writing course until my late fifties. I’ve always written to make sense of the world around me. I find writing to be a meditative form of processing chaos. I signed up for that first writing class because I had much to process: the twenty-year unsolved murder of my youngest sister. From that yearlong program, my first memoir—The Thirty-Ninth Victim—emerged.

I followed that memoir with three novels which explore the world of immigration in the U.S. and the joy and redemption found in cross-cultural, multi-generational friendships.

Fiona: How did you come up with the title?

 My sister was the thirty-ninth victim of the worst serial killer in American history. I chose that title—The Thirty-Ninth Victim—as a reminder of the horror and a need to honor the victims.

 Running Secrets, Biking Uphill and Walking Homemay sound like exercise books, but each title is metaphorical in its own way. Together they form The Alki Trilogy. Alki Beach is a lovely area along the coast of West Seattle just across Elliott Bay from downtown Seattle. Setting and characters link the novels.


Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I have worked with three small presses who published four of my books between 2008 and 2015. I needed the validation. I needed another person, a stranger, a publisher, to deem my work worthy of publication. When I finally made the decision to self-publish a few months ago, I became a writer.

Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?

I’m obsessed with accuracy. Whether I’m writing memoir or fiction, I want setting and historical fact to be, well, factual. This can make memoir writing particularly challenging, especially when writing of events that occurred decades prior.

Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

 My memoirs are absolutely true, my truth, as I remember it. The settings and historical facts in my novels are accurate. The characters are fictional, usuallyamalgamations of characteristics of people I have known or observed. As an ESL instructor, I have the privilege of hearing many immigration stories shared by my students. Three decades of stories have flavored my novels.


Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?

Research is necessary, but because my books are set locally, I have not needed to travel. Now, as I work on a memoir set in the early 1980s in Mexico City, I wonder if a trip there would jog memories. Perhaps, but the internet is an amazing tool.

Fiona: Who designed the covers?

 A wonderfully gifted woman by the name of Loretta Matson is responsible for the covers of all three novels in The Alki Trilogy. They’re lovely, aren’t they?


Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

First and foremost, I hope readers enjoy the read. I hope they get so lost in The Alki Trilogy, they forget to make dinner or they stay up so late reading they sleep through their alarm the next morning! Later, when they go about the business of the day and they see someone who looks or talks a little differently from themselves, I hope images from my books float through their minds.

Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?  Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?

In Seattle you see these little book-sharing libraries, just little waterproof boxes really, that neighbors place along the sidewalk. People are welcome to take or leave whatever titles appeal to them. The other day a bright blue and yellow cover and the title, The Turner House, caught my eye. I took Angela Flournoy’s debut novel home and enjoyed it immensely.

There are so many wonderful authors, big names and hardly knowns,I hesitate to choose a favorite. I love books with interesting characters and a story that pulls me in and won’t let me go. Learning something about a culture I’m unfamiliar with or seeing something from a new perspective is also a pleasure.

Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.

There have been so many wonderful writers who have supported me on my journey to become a published author, it’s impossible to name just one. My earliest support came from the two professors of that very first writing course I took. Jack Remick and Robert Ray were amazing teachers who over a yearlong course convinced me that I had a story to tell and I could write it. Their encouragement led me to submit my manuscript of The Thirty-Ninth Victim for publication.


Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?

Anyone who decides to become a writer (which is different, I believe from private writing) is making a career decision and hopefully understands the risk factors involved. There are also various areas of writing from journalism to poetry, some more lucrative than others. Most writers I know hold second jobs to support their writing habits. For me writing must be a passion that grows into a career.


Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

I don’t think so! I love Walking Home. I love Gemi, Kidane, Talisha, and the whole family of friends that Gemi has created. That’s not to say that it wouldn’t benefit from another round of deep editing. That’s just the way of writing. It can always be better, tighter, cleaner.


Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?

 My latest novel, Walking Home, is the story of a young Ethiopian immigrant and his African-American girlfriend. Although I’ve taught English as a Second Language for thirty years, I had to learn more specifics of the escape and immigration experience endured by so many. I also had to better understand the tensions between African-Americans and African immigrants. Fortunately, I teach on a very diverse urban college campus and had the opportunity to do direct research.


Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?

I’d love to see all three novels made into a movie or maybe a mini-series! But I think I’ll leave it to the film folks to determine casting. In the meantime, my readers can imagine whoever they choose in every role!

Fiona: Any advice for other writers?

Keep your seat in the chair and write. The more you write, the more practiced the process becomes, but don’t make the mistake of thinking it will ever be easy!


Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?

 Thank you! Thank you for reading, sharing and reviewing my books.

As I wrote in a recent blog post:Reviews help sales. Sales mean more readers. More readers make writers happy. If you haven’t already done so, please consider writing a brief review on Amazon.


Fiona: What book are you reading now?

 Beartownby Fredrik Backman. I loved A Man Called Ove and decided to try another.


Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?

I don’t remember the first book I read, but I do remember devouring every Black Stallion book Walter Farley ever wrote!


Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?

 There’s much in today’s world that makes me cry, but I find solace in the incredible beauty of nature and the goodness of so many individuals worldwide.


Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?

 I would never be able to choose just one!


Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?

 I’m a cyclist. I just completed a 100-mile ride to raise money for cancer research. I love to be out in nature as much as possible: gardening, hiking, cross-country skiing, reading in the hammock.


Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?

I’m not a big TV viewer, but I keep an eye out for new movies. I tend to shy from blockbusters and lean toward independent films.


Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?

 Bright green, red, purple, orange, yellow fruit and veggies to Jimmy Cliff at the table in the garden.


Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?

 Such a time will never exist. I will continue writing for as long as I am able to grasp a pen. If that were to become impossible, I would read others.


Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?

 It may seem odd to some, but I do not want a headstone.


Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?

 Absolutely. I hope your readers will visit me and subscribe to receive my regular posts at www.arleenwilliams.com.

My Amazon author page is: https://www.amazon.com/Arleen-Williams/e/B005TVCAGM/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1502920960&sr=8-1