Q&A with Allen Whitlock

We are thrilled to feature Allen Whitlock’s Self-Rising Dough as part of our weekly feature series. As part of our weekly features, we are interested in learning more about our authors, and hope that their experiences will help to empower other writers. Please enjoy this brief Q&A with Allen!

What does literary success look like to you?

I have to entertain or engage at least one person. I also need something I feel is unique in the story. I have one test-reader especially in mind and sometimes she makes me listen to her reading a passage she loves, excited and animated back to me; then I’m in heaven. Also, profits from sales should at least cover expenses, then could say it is no longer a hobby. On that last point, I have not achieved literary success. On an academic path (which I am not on) success could be a teaching position or speaking at conferences.

What is the first book that made you cry?

I thought I wouldn’t know this, but it was Black Beauty. We had a copy in the house when I was growing up, probably my older sister's.

If you had to do something differently as a child or teenager to become a better writer as an adult, what would you do?

I would have ignored criticism, not of my writing skills, but of my chosen subject matter and type of story. The writers I loved as a young teen were Shakespeare, Conan Doyle, and Freud. I found them all engaging. There was a sense that they were taking you along with them on a journey. In a soliloquy, are you not discovering the character’s thoughts while he or she is thinking them? Freud made you feel that way as well—that you were discovering along with him.

What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?

Too many times where I talked myself out of getting beat up or in trouble. This often involved lying… does that count?

What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?

I think some genre novels are not underappreciated because they have a huge readership, but they are underappreciated for their sophisticated insights. So, Dune, and Asimov’s Foundation Series.

Does writing energize or exhaust you?

Writing energizes me and editing exhausts me. However, I was editing all day on an old story where I wasn’t sold on the last half. It was a long story (some 7,000 words) and a more satisfying series of motivations and events came to me as I was working. That, although it was editing, was energizing. Creating is energizing. No matter which though, you do hit a wall at some point and need to take it up the next day.

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