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Monday, June 28, 2021

Interview: Gabriela Marin



 Today, we have an opportunity to talk to Gabriela Marin. Gabriela Marin has written the book Made of pixels.  

 

I appreciate you giving me your links and I want to share those with our readers.

 

With pleasure, I thank you for inviting me to participate in this interview.

 

Find Made of Pixels at Amazon: Amazon


Gabriela's Website


Gabriela's Facebook Page


 

 

That is great. Can you tell us a little about yourself and what led you to start writing?

 

 

I am a Romanian, middle-age woman and I live in Italy now. I have three children and I've been working in the video chat industry for almost twenty years.


I bet you have a lot of story to draw on from your life experience.


First of all, I consider myself a strong woman who assumes the imperfections and errors caused by circumstances or inherent in age. I am a mother; I'm engaged and I worked as a webcam girl.

I wanted to share with others the events in my life, the good ones but also the terrifying ones.


So your book is autobiographical?

 

This is my first book and in the first volume I talk about everything I lived in my early youth, under the communist regime of that time in Romania. In the second volume of my book I will approach very openly the subject of video chat from my perspective as a veteran model and professional trainer in this field, as well as the circumstances that led to this choice.

 

 

I get my inspiration from the sweet bitter reality of life. It’s such a huge domain!

 

What are your hobbies and do they ever play into your writing?

 

My first and biggest hobby is cooking and, without false modesty, I am quite good at this. 


I also read a lot and I also don`t see my life without music and animals. I recently discovered that gardening calms me down and makes me happy. 


Regarding your second question, these will not be described in my first volume of my book, but in the second volume, for sure my hobbies will play a big role. 


That's if you don't consider smoking and coffee a hobby, because in my first volume you will read a lot about smoking and drinking coffee 😊.

 

I'd consider those hobbies as well. So now that you are published, what advice would you give someone who wants to be a writer?

 

To not quit. No matter how hard seems to be at the begging.

 

Is that advice the same you would give yourself?

 

To not quit 😊. To believe in myself and to stop all of the stress thinking. (Thank you, Robert.)

 

Do you write full-time or around your other job? How do you schedule your time to write?

 

Unfortunately, I don`t write full-time, I have another job. I write when I have my inspiration, I don`t set up a schedule.

 

When you have inspiration, how much will you write per day?

 

When I have my inspiration, I could write up to 5 hours per day.

 

What is your favorite part about writing?

 

When I finish something and after rereading that part, it brings me the same emotion I had when I wrote it.

 

That is great to reread your work and find satisfaction in it on the page. What does literary success look like to you?

 

A bestseller.

  

Well, with that in mind, please tell us about your current release.

 

I wrote about people very dear to me. Some of them wander among the stars. I also state strongly and responsibly that in the first volume the truth is 100%, no matter how incredible and shocking some things may seem. The “truth is stranger than fiction” cliché applies entirely to my first volume.

It's basically about birth, death, love, life and all the baggage of feelings and emotions they bring. Also, I tried to capture the political climate in my country's past (communism) and the impact it had on my generation.


So many of those themes will resonate with readers or be something that engages their interest.


And in the second volume, which is the natural continuation of the first, I will deal mainly with another controversial topic, this time topical, namely video chat. So, I will certainly not bore my readers.

 

Can you read / provide us with a small exert? 


“-Don’t cry, please!
   -I’m not crying anymore. Come, let’s take a photo with mom and…. (with that trivet on his head, Sandu looked even funnier than usual) Caius Julius Caesar. God, this man looks like a caricature.
Amused by my joke about Sandu, Dan joins the bride and the groom, but makes room for me to stay by my mother. I take her arm and realize I would start crying.
Instinctively, I turn more to her, so Dan wouldn’t see my eyes. All the guests thought I was overwhelmed by the moment.
This is how the moment was immortalized in the black and white photo: a ridiculous groom, a bride resigned and tired with the preparation of her own wedding, a young man with wonderful eyes and a mischievous smile and a young girl with sparkling earrings and eyes.

31 years later, that picture, buried in the sands of time, would travel to Rome. Who among those immortalized in it ever thought of that?”

 Thank you for sharing. What are you writing now?

 

 

I am currently working on Made of Pixels Volume 2.

 

Who are your favorite authors? 

 

Stephen King and J.K. Rowling, for originality and the source of their inexhaustible fantasy.

 

Any plans for the upcoming holiday?

 

For us, orthodox Christians, the Easter will arrive soon. 

 

I would love to see in your book how faith plays out in your journey. That has always been a theme in autobiographies I find fascinating.  


It is a perfect moment for me to enjoy cooking a lot of traditional dishes, to make, together with my little son and my boyfriend, wonderful painted eggs.


What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

 

Money spent on insulin. I'm diabetic and insulin is "my fuel" in order to survive. 😊

 

What is your writer’s kryptonite? 

 

Unhappiness, I can't write when I'm unhappy.

 

What part of writing and publishing was most difficult for you?

 

About writing, for me the most difficult were the moments when I thought no one would be interested in what I was writing and those moments when I struggled to write "literary", bypassing strong expressions, trying to fit into the pattern of censorship. But once I saw the reactions of those who read the manuscript, my first fear was shattered. Regarding the literary style, I realized that the description of the events as they happened, the use of authentic dialogues, these details shock with their reality and licentiousness. These kinds of descriptions are the ones that give food for thought, the ones that best achieve their goal. I realized then that I had found my style of writing.


About publishing, I must confess that I am fortunate, my publisher is taking care of everything related to this aspect.

 

That is a blessing to have an active publisher. Is there anything additional you want to share with the readers? 

 

Yes, I want to share something with the readers.

By reading Made of Pixels, you will find yourself in some of the situations presented, because reality and authenticity always prevail and our day to day lives are not that different. You will have fun and you will cry; you will be naturally indignant in the face of the injustices of life and a totalitarian regime. But most importantly, you will find yourself pondering the weird and sometimes extreme scenes of someone else's life. You will imagine, putting yourself into the characters shoes, wondering if you would have chosen a different path.

 

 

 I think that is a meaningful insight. One more time, where can someone go to purchase your book?

Add your links here again

 

Find Made of Pixels at Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B092W4YGYB

Website: https://gabrielamarinautho.wixsite.com/gmauthor

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/gabrielamarinauthor/

 

Monday, June 21, 2021

Interview with Kelly Hanwright, Author of The Locust Years





Today, we have an opportunity to talk to Kelly HanwrightKelly Hanwright has written the book, The Locust Years , a poetic memoir about being raised by an untreated schizophrenic.  First, let me thank you for joining me.  I appreciate you giving me your links and I want to share those with our readers.


https://kellyhanwright.com/


The Locust Years - link to buy


Kelly on Facebook 


Kelly on Instagram


That is great.  For our readers, I want to provide your back page bio:


Kelly Hanwright is a poet, teacher, dog trainer and self-proclaimed rogue living in the beautiful Smoky Mountains. She loves her life with the man who helped restore its meaning. She pinches herself to make sure she’s not dreaming every day that she gets to pass on the magical, healing gift of language to her high school students. A Best-of-the-Net and two-time Pushcart Prize nominee, she plans to continue both devouring and publishing poetry. Work has appeared in Lady Literary Magazine, Birmingham Arts Journal, SoulLit, Heart of Flesh Literary Journal, American Diversity Report, and more.


This book is part of your personal journey. What led you to start writing as a part of your recovery?


As long as I can remember, I have always gravitated toward writing. Words, rhymes, and wordplay have always fascinated me. But I really began to rely on writing as a helpful tool in my teens. My mother’s main delusion was that my father was possessed. In my early teens, we moved out and life was even harder with just me and her, because then she began scrutinizing me all the time the way she had done my father. I also noticed more and more that something just wasn’t right with her. For instance, she would get mad at me if I tried to take a shower. She yelled all the time, over everything, and really that was nothing new, but since we now lived in a smaller area I was more often trapped with her. 


Feeling trapped like that, I imagine writing gave you a voice?


I began journaling just to process everything that was going on. I also learned that although I never could get a word in edgewise or explain anything to her while she was in her extreme panic state, I could communicate more successfully by writing her a letter, which allowed her to calm down and think about what I was trying to say. Finally, my 8th grade English teacher taught us some poetry and I found that I strongly identified with using metaphor to describe the indescribable. I have pretty much been writing poetry ever since.

So, you wrote poetry around your own journey. At what point did you decide that it was something you wanted to publish and share?

Honestly, The Locust Years is the first book I really considered publishing. That book represents the 15 year journey of healing I have been on since my mother’s death and my entry into therapy where I was diagnosed with complex PTSD. The inspiration to put the poems I wrote over this time period together and publish as a collection came from knowing that I could help other people, raise awareness, and even just stand in solidarity. I know I am not the only kid to ever grow up with a parent who has an undiagnosed mental illness. I know my mother was not the only person with mental health problems who was terrified that if anyone found out about her struggles, she would be committed to some horrible institution and be stigmatized for life. And I know that fellow C-PTSD sufferers need to see that healing is possible. If there’s been one thing I’ve had to learn, it’s that healing is a journey, not a destination.  So I guess to really answer the question, I have to say that I get inspired when I think I can create a book can really make a difference.

Do you have other hobbies that maybe provide an outlet for your message and do they ever play into your writing?

Oh my goodness, I have so many hobbies! I’ll try to focus on my favorites. I play the guitar. I always wanted to and kept putting off learning. Then my dad gave me his guitar on his deathbed. I figured that was a sign. I took 4-5 lessons til I could pick up the sound, and haven’t looked back since. I’ve even started writing a few songs! I also have picked up painting in recent years. I love art, and it feels very satisfying to create something original! Finally, I have always loved the outdoors, and this year have hiked pretty hardcore. I hiked all winter, even some in 30 degree weather, which I was really proud of because I hate the cold! Some friends and I are planning to do a section of the Appalachian Trail in October. 


Do my hobbies play into my writing? I’d have to say yes. It has been my experience that all creative endeavors feed each other. Probably #1 though is hiking. The outdoors gives me endless new inspirations. It always has. There’s even a poem in my book titled “Relationships with Trees!”


What advice would you give someone who wants to be a writer?


Let it flow. Don’t judge what you write. Don’t develop some mental block about what it “should” be. Just let whatever your soul wants to say flow out authentically.


That is good advice. So often writer's don't write because.... and what comes after the "because" often is not something they can change or overcome. What is the best advice you have ever been given as a writer?


Any advice given to me by poet John C. Mannone. Everything he has ever told me has always been high quality advice, and I have gotten to where I follow his suggestions like gospel! He even helped me with the storyline for The Locust Years


I have met John on a few occasions. He is certainly a wise and gifted writer. Do you write full-time or around another job? How do you schedule your time to write?

In addition to writing, I also teach high school English. 

That is right. I remember in the afterward of your book you mention one of your passions is helping students see the power of words and language. That is a beautiful goal. You must reallylove the opportunity to teach?

I absolutely love it. I write when I can, and I pray over my projects so that I know if I really need to prioritize something, but as a general rule, my students have priority during the school year.

How many hours a day do you write?

I don’t really write every day. I do better in spurts. I wrote maybe 3-4 hours a day when I was double-timing it to finish The Locust Years, but now that it’s done I’ve only been brainstorming or freewriting a few things here and there.

What is your favorite part about writing?

Getting things off my mind!

Beyond it being a type of therapy, what does literary success look like to you?

Helping others or making a difference through what I’ve written.

I'd ask if you are involved in any writing groups, but I know I am in one with you. Are you involved in any other writer groups?


I am a member of the Chattanooga Writers’ Guild for 13 years now and have served on the board for 2 of those. I lead a group called Rogue Christian Writers Anonymous and participate in John C. Mannone’s Ekphrastic Group. 


And, of course, let's give a shout out to the one we both belong too.


Most recently Calvin Beam’s Crazy Buffet which I am loving! It’s a super fun group and I have already learned a lot of new things. 


And you are very active as a writer?


I attend as many CWG workshops as I can, and up until COVID, was a regular participant in KB Ballentine’s Open Mic at the Hamilton Place Barnes & Noble which is open to the public. Being a Guild member and participating in all these activities, getting to know other writers and strategies - it’s all so extremely helpful. I stumbled onto the Guild in college when I met John, and he invited me to a critique group meeting. If I hadn’t joined the Guild, I don’t think I would be a writer now. I am fairly certain I wouldn’t be published or nominated for 2 Pushcarts and a Best of the Net award! You just need that support and camaraderie, and for someone to share your journey and be like, your writing is important. Without that, you feel like, well what am I doing this for? Self doubt is a powerful thing. I know wonderful writers and poets from my college days who aren’t currently writing and it’s so sad because the world needs them and they don’t even know it. Creatives are so important to the ecosystem of humanity, but the world is so hard on us. If we don’t protect and actively preserve that creative impulse, life will attempt to beat it out of us!


And I can’t talk about writing groups without also giving nods to Open Mic at the Well friends, Nancy Lyneé Woo’s Rise & Shine Daily Writing Hour, and Tresha Faye Haefner’s Poetry Salon - all of which have been highly instrumental in nurturing and growing The Locust Years into what it is today.


That is great! I remember being in college and open mike nights were a favorite for me. I need to get back to attending one. Please tell us about your current release.


The Locust Years is a poetic memoir. It is written in the form of poetry because that’s literally the only way the words would come out.  I guess ultimately, one way to describe it is that it is the heart and soul of my journey with Complex PTSD - from developing it through growing up in a household where I always had to be ready to fight demons and humans, to being diagnosed and beginning the healing work and forgiving my mother. I always say finding my voice saved my life. If I hadn’t been able to write all that out of me, there’s no telling what would have happened.  


Can you provide us with a small exerpt?


As you might imagine, there were a lot of surreal moments in my life. This happened when I was about 10 or 11.


Exorcism

 

Why are we takin’ my daddy to a preacher?

To cast the demons out of him.

 

I have to keep pinching myself

to make sure I’m awake.

We’re going to a man who

really has cast out demons?

I stare out the window,

crank up my Walkman.

 

As we enter,

I watch Daddy closely.

If he’s really possessed,

he won’t be able to sit

in this room

in this church,

talk to this preacher.

 

I am stone silent;

holding my breath.

 

Daddy enters calmly

without foaming at the mouth

or passing out.

 

Preacher arrives.

Interrogation begins.

 

 

Do you believe in God…?

Have you been saved…?

Have you made Jesus Lord of your life…?


 

After Daddy affirms,

the preacher explains to Mama

a Christian cannot be possessed.

Furthermore, Daddy

is not showing any signs.

 

Mama decides the preacher

is possessed too.

 

For having driven halfway

across Texas to get here,

the meeting is short.

 

On the walk to the parking lot,

I gather an impenetrable forcefield around me

like a coat to block out the wind.

 

As our suburban hurtles over bright freeways

I turn up Martina and wish myself

into the black sky looming above.

 

I remember this one in your book. By the way, I set my review below the interview. What exciting story are you working on next?


Next I want to do something fun - although it is really a bit existential too. I can’t help myself from deep contemplation, it seems! The new project is called Twisted. It intends to explore different ways our realities are really seen through a prism. So far it has 3 planned sections: Darkly Twisted, Naturally Twisted, and Epically Twisted, although I’m not sure I will keep that last one the way it is. The original idea was to explore epic characters and how they relate to humans, but I’m not sure that isn’t a whole different book. I’m more of a pantser than anything in that I let the story tell me what it wants to be, so I guess we’ll just have to wait and see!


One more time, where can someone go to purchase your book?

Add your links here again


You can get The Locust Years from my website and on Amazon


Please share it with someone you know if you think it would help and inspire them because that’s really the reason I decided to publish it! If you like it or it helps you, I will also deeply appreciate if you leave a review.



MY REVIEW:


 I purchased a copy of The Locust Years to review. Opinions are my own.


The Locust Years

by Kelly Hanwright


https://kellyhanwright.com/



The Locust Years - link to buy



Kelly on Facebook 



Kelly on Instagram


MY REVIEW:

Kelly says that in her childhood she "created the thickest possible fog in order to protect me from an unlivable reality." This auto-biographical book, and it really is a book more than a collection of poems. It is a life story, told through well written poetry and organized for the reader to walk alongside Kelly. As someone who has worked with mental health patients, this work brought me to both tears and smiles as I saw the life of a household through the eyes of a child. The lines of poetry evoke deep emotion and do what great poetry always can - place you in the moment portrayed in a small turn of phrase.

"I didn't think shadows made noise until Mama and Daddy started shouting in the dark."

"Mama, I want to go to school. I am not asking for the world, just a little part for myself."

"The art of your grand design was stealing while pretending to give, all the time making us feel the weight of your great sacrifice."

The poems are not isolated instances, but walk the reader through a journey of Kelly's childhood and her journey in adulthood to cope and recover. There are scenes where school counselors are teaching her hygiene and she hopes they will ask whether her mother prevents her from cleaning. There are moments where her father sneaks out to attend church, even though her mother claims he is an agent of Satan. What arises is a tapestry where the household becomes a living thing in the mind of the reader. The poetry allows the reader to join Kelly in a way straight prose might not allow.

I read the book in two sittings. Each page led me to the next. I expected to find the book a request for pitty or a declaration of shallow restoration. What I found was so much greater. I won't ruin it for you. Instead, I will point to the opening Bible quote, "And I will restore unto you the years that the locust devoured. (Joel 2:25).