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?
Alan: Hi Fiona. My name is Alan Anderson.
Fiona: Where are you from?
Alan: I was born in Dundee, Scotland but have lived in British Columbia, Canada since I was ten.
Fiona: A little about your self (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
Alan: My wife and I have been married almost 41 years. We have children and grandchildren. I have earned two Bachelor Degrees and a Masters Degree. My Masters has a spiritual/pastoral care/chaplaincy focus.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
Alan: My latest news is I will be starting podcasts early this New Year for an internet radio station called Hope Stream Radio. The radio station is in Ontario, Canada.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
Alan: Writing found me. When I was a boy the school subjects I was good at all had something to do with spelling, composition etc. That stayed with me all through high school and into college/university. Through writing I discovered I could really be me. My writing showed me where my passion lies. Writing is a fascinating, self-revealing journey. I began writing because I had to. Things of life that matter to me are in my heart and head and have to get out. This happens through my writing.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Alan: I’ve pretty well always enjoyed writing. When I was in my forties is when I began to think of taking a more serious consideration for writing. It would be a few more years, however, before I had time to really dig into writing.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
Alan: I was contacted by a writer/publisher, by the name of Glynis Belec, of Angel Hope Publishing who contacted me on Facebook and asked if I would like to co-author a book with her and a few other writers. I was inspired because of the subject matter. The book is called “Good Grief People” and is an anthology on stories dealing with grief.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Alan: The title was determined by Glynis and another of the authors after they had discussed the idea of the book.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
Alan: I’m primarily a storyteller so narrative is the style I resonate with most. A challenge is doing a good job of character development. I want readers to connect with the characters as they read. Another challenge is bringing out emotion well enough that readers empathize with the characters. I am going more in the direction of deep Point Of View (POV) as I write. Thisis a wonderful writing technique that helps emotionally connect readers with the characters of a story. I’m still learning the technique but it is exactly what I want to do in my stories.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Alan: The stories in Good Grief People are all realistic and based on experiences of the authors. It is not a “how to” type of book at all.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
Alan: For me, that all depends on what project I’m working on.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Alan: A very talented woman by the name of Amanda Belec of Angel Hope Publishing.
Fiona: Is there a message in your book that you want readers to grasp?
Alan: The overarching message is that those who grieve don’t have to be alone in their grief.The cover of Good Grief People also offers a message, “Easing the sting of death by recognizing and respecting the individuality of grief and the reality of hope.” It is important to the authors that readers notice we are being honest with our grief in the stories. Grief resulting from the death of a loved one hurts deep inside a person. It is no joke, there is definite pain accompanying grief. The authors of the book are all passionate about giving some sense of comfort to those who grieve.
Fiona: Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
Alan: I don’t have one favourite author but I enjoy the writing of Mitch Albom. I resonate with the heart of Mitch’s writing. He’s a guy I would love to have coffee with and talk about our love for people. You might be aware of his book “Tuesdays With Morrie.” Man, that is a great book of a guy (Mitch) learning about life from a great teacher.
I also love the writing of Henri Nouwen. I find many of his books soul quenching. In his writing I discerned he had first hand experience of what it is like to be “broken.” The reality of one’s brokenness shows up in many of his writings. A classic of his is “The Wounded Healer” and is a beautiful explanation of in spite of one’s brokenness we can still help other people who are also wounded or broken. Fiona, if readers of your blog want a good book to ingest into one’s soul I recommend “The Wounded Healer.”
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
Alan: I hope I answer this question well for you. The one entity is actually a group of people. I’ll explain in the following way. I worked for a number of years, actually decades, with people who were hurting emotionally or spiritually. As time went on and I was collecting stories through the years I began to refer to the people I came alongside as “my teachers.” I know it isn’t a term that originates with me but it fits so well. Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross used the term when she worked with dying people. She was passionate about what people could teach her and other medical staff about what it is like to know you are dying. Many of the people I worked with were dying or at least were living with a progressive illness. I loved them all and am determined to tell others about the lessons my teachers taught me about life, suffering, death and hope.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Alan: Hmm, I really thought that question over. I’m not sure my answer will suit your audience but here goes. Personally, I view writing as a callingrather than a career. It is something I have to do. When I think of the term “career” I see it as a term assigned to people who write for a living in various contexts. I’m retired from my profession and I did a lot of writing and teaching etc. and, of course, was paid for my services. Now, I write as a way to express my calling and give more time to it. Since retiring I have received payment for services rendered through workshops I’ve presented. I see this as part of my calling as a writer and speaker. Viewing my writing as a calling allows me decide what I want to write.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Alan: No, I really don’t think so. I believe my author partners for Good Grief People and myself love our book so I wouldn’t change anything.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
Alan: Boy oh boy, I sure did! I’m pretty new to giving more time to serious writing. One thing that co-writing Good Grief People taught me is to continue giving diligence to my craft. I learned that I can write something that other people appreciate and can be helped with the words I write. This gave me confidence to persevere in my writing. Writing is not a cakewalk, it takes work and discipline as well as passion to write and present something of value to readers. I also learned the benefit of having my writing critiqued by other passionate writers. It might not always be pleasant but it is always helpful. It was also confirmed that I love to work with other writers.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Alan: Well, I’ll simply put it this way. Keep on writing, keep on writing, and keep on writing some more. If you have a burning passion to write, then write and push aside any thoughts of doubt that you are a writer. For years I held off writing because I didn’t think I was good enough or that people wouldn’t find my writing interesting. I paid a price for that in putting my writing off for years.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
Alan: Reminiscent from advice to writers I’ll say, Keep reading, keep reading, and keep on reading some more! Books, magazines etc. are a great alternative to watching TV, or playing video games or spending hours on social media. In reading you not only read something of quality but you may also learn something about the writer. You may discover the writing “voice” of certain writer sounds like your voice. That may encourage you to write as well. That would be a wonderful outcome of your reading.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Alan: I’m reading a book called “Method Acting For Writers” by Lisa Hall-Wilson. It is a great book if you want to develop your technique in writing. It is a book on a technique know as Deep Point Of View and encourages writers to emotionally connect with characters in your book. I haven’t mastered Deep Point Of View but I hope to learn enough that readers will emotionally resonate with what I write. It is another book I would recommend to you or readers.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Alan: I don’t remember the first book I readbut my favourite story when I was young was Treasure Island. I simply say it is a fantastic story.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Alan: All sorts of things can make me laugh. I love a good comedian who really knows how to connect with his or her audience. I think my favourite comedians were laurel and Hardy. Some readers may be too young to know who they were but they are still worth watching how they acted. My wife, children, their spouses and my grandchildren can all make me laugh. I also laugh when I’m with my brothers or sister. We might do or say something goofy and the response is a good laugh. This might sound odd but I can also make myself laugh at times. I may recall a pleasurable memory that made me laugh at the time. Before I know it I’m laughing again even if I’m on my own. I love to laugh.
When it comes to what makes me sad or cry well that is a bit more personal. I am sad and cry when a loved one dies. I’m the same way when a beloved pet dies. I miss having these people or pets in my life. Life for me changes forever at such a cause of sadness and weeping.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
Alan: Hmm, a number of people come to mind. I’ll just mention one. I think it would be great to meet Mitch Albom. A reason for this is because I love how he writes and the subjects he writes about. He seems to me a guy who has spent quality time with other people. His book “Tuesdays With Morrie,” of course, gives evidence he has been with people and shared an emotional connection with. I can see myself sitting down with Mitch over a coffee or beer munching on hamburgers and talking about life and writing. That would be a cool experience.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
Alan: I love model trains including Lego trains. It’s fun and although I don’t put enough time into this hobby I enjoy the trains that I have.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Alan: A TV show I enjoy watching is “Fargo.” It is quirky, witty, dramatic and holds my attention each episode. I enjoy watching more gentle human interest show such as “Call the Midwife.” That show is well written and explores the intimacy, joy and sadness of human relationships and all their complexities. I also watch pretty well any show starring chef Gordon Ramsay. He’s a good leader and motivator and I love that.
When it comes to movies that is not easy to summarize. My choice in movies I enjoy watching is all over the page. I loved “Braveheart,” in spite of historical inaccuracies it was a fun movie to watch. This probably stems from my Scottish background. I like some gangster movies and “The Godfather Trilogy” plus “Goodfellas” I count as my favourites. I like all Clint Eastwood’s movies. I’m also a sucker for Adam Sandler movies even though some of them are corny.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
Alan: Steak/Seafood/some veggie salads/roasted chicken and turkey/home made shortbread/cheesecake/
Colors: Blue Music: My all time favourite band is The Beatles
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
Alan: Spend more time with my family. Spend more time with my church family. Read the Bible and the Church Fathers. Play with my dog or someone else’s dog. Play with model trains.
Fiona: You only have 24 hours to live how would you spend that time?
Alan: With my wife and children.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
Alan: Wow, ok, let’s see. “It was a good life and now I go on to one better.”
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
Alan: My website is still being developed but I would love people to visit my blog. I call it ScarredJoy and you can find it at scarredjoy.ca. If you visit my blog I would really appreciate comments. I will also be starting podcasts early this year called Scarred Joy Moments on the Internet station Hope Stream Radio. I don’t have a starting date yet.
I’m also on Facebook. Check out my author page, “Alan Columba Anderson Writer, Speaker & Cool Guy.” https://www.facebook.com/Alan-Columba-Anderson-Writer-Speaker-Cool-Guy-1979463075437513/
Alan: Thank you so very much Fiona. I look forward to when you reach 10,000 author interviews.