Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Alle Wells: The IAN Interview

Alle Wells writes Southern Fiction set in specific time periods. Settings for her Human Interest stories may range from the early 20th century to present day. Each story is based on the life of one person and the effects of society, beliefs, and culture have on the outcome of that character’s life. In addition to writing, Alle dedicates her lifelong love of reading to Indie Authors in a book review blog entitled “Alle’s Five Star Reviews”. 

When she’s not writing or reading, Alle spends her time in the kitchen preparing and preserving fresh fruits and vegetables to sustain a complete, organic vegan lifestyle. Other interests include trekking through protected forests, with binoculars in hand, searching for Pileated Wookpeckers, and practicing Kundalini yoga.  Alle lives in North Carolina. 

IAN. Please tell us about your latest book. 

AW. My latest book is entitled, “Leaving Serenity”. Based on the life of Annette Bevels, “Leaving Serenity” takes the reader back to the quaint atmosphere of main street America in the 1960’s where everyone speaks the same language and success is measured by conformity. At an early age, Annette is dubbed a misfit, an ugly duckling, and the last child. Self-consciousness and insecurity make her feel different and unwanted by her mother, her siblings, and her peers. As a young teen, Annette seeks nonconformity and dreams of escaping the confines of small town life. At sixteen, she falls in love with Jack Harris, a romantic hippie with an unsavory past. She and Jack leave Serenity looking for the imaginary pot of gold that lies beyond the horizon. Annette changes her name and dodges pitfalls along the way. But she never looks back as she takes charge of her life and creates her own destiny.

Twenty-five years later, Annette (now Nikky) returns to Serenity to visit her dying father. Nikky is glamorous, successful, and unrecognizable to her family.  She takes a run through Serenity and relives the events that made her Nikky. The story of Nikki’s life and her journey to success is both inspiring and empowering. 

IAN. How long did it take to write the Leaving Serenity?
AW.  95 days 

IAN. What inspired you to write Leaving Serenity?
AW. Growing up in a small town under the eyes of close-knit family and peers.

IAN. Talk about the writing process. Do you write at night or in the morning?
AW. My stories talk to me early in the mornings when I’m walking in the woods, driving, or while taking long showers. I enjoy writing on my front porch from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. 

IAN. Did you use an outline or do you just wing the first draft? 
AW.  Since I know my characters, the beginning and the end of the story set the    stage. Then I begin to work through the details.

IAN. How is your book different from others in your genre?
AW. I hope that the heart and soul of my characters shine through my work.  Each time I write a story, I feel as if I’m sharing the soul of my characters with readers. Normally, this is accomplished in memoirs. Each story I write is someone’s memoir.

IAN. Is Leaving Serenity published in print, e-book or both?
AW. At the moment, my books are only available in e-book format. I plan to produce print copies for all of my books over the summer.

IAN. What do you hope your readers come away with after reading Leaving Serenity?
AW. I hope they can say, “I know that person.”

IAN. Where is Leaving Serenity available for purchase?
AW. Amazon.com

IAN. Tell us about your next book or a work in progress. Is it a sequel or a stand alone?
AW. Each story, each life stands on its own. I have two stories in mind, but I haven’t decided on which to write next. I plan to publish at least three stories a year.

IAN. Any other links or info you'd like to share?
AW. Thank you so much for taking the time to visit with me. 
Please stop by http://allewells.com/ to read excerpts from my books, and http://allesreviews.blogspot.com/ featuring five-star Indie Book reviews. 

Leaving Serenity by Alle Wells
140 pages
Genre: Human Interest

Chapter 1


My heart quickens as the black Mercedes-Benz comes to a stop. The 1960s’ ranch-style house looks shabbier than I remember, like Daddy’s old Lincoln sitting in the driveway. There’s an orange four-by-four pickup on monster wheels and a faded, black Volvo parked in the front yard. I slide my car snugly behind the smashed bumper of a blue Chrysler minivan parked on the street.

I flex my tingling hands and listen to “Happy Days Are Here Again” introduce the morning stock report on NPR and pick up the phone. I scroll to my broker’s number. “Hey, Bernie…Yeah, it’s a long way from Nashville, but I made it…Yeah, I heard. Buy all of it…I know you’ll take care of me. You always do. Bye.”

Deals worth millions of dollars don’t faze me. It’s just another day’s work. Sitting in front of this house that’s seen better days paralyzes me. After all this time, a stinging pain still lies deep in my heart. My anxiety level threatens to wipe out years of therapy. But I couldn’t get here fast enough, driving straight through the night after receiving Jeff’s call.

“How did you find me?” I’d asked.

“We do have satellite TV down here. Anyway, I called to tell you that Daddy had a stroke. It looks real bad. They don’t expect him to make it. He asked for you. Mama said that you should come home.” 

“Oh, God! Well, I’ll have to rearrange a few things, but I’ll be there as soon as I can.” 

I hung up the phone, still reeling from hearing my brother’s voice after all these years. The thought of my father lying helpless and calling for me brought tears to my eyes.

Headed eastbound on I-40, I called my assistant, my producer, and smooth-talked three major clients into rescheduling to visit a man I hardly know. I drove two hours to the state line, another hour through the Blue Ridge Mountains, and seven more hours to a dead town in the middle of nothing. Every hour, I asked myself why I’m doing this. The answer rang back, loud and clear. They want me, they finally want me.

Now that I’m here, I can’t get out of the car. My mind races through dozens of possible scenarios that I may encounter inside. Remembering my life in Serenity makes me feel like I’m spiraling downward into a bottomless pit. I tell myself to get a grip and throw my latest Coach bag over my shoulder. 

Two children playing in front of the glass door run inside as I approach the front door. A freckle-faced little boy yells, “Mom-ma! Some fancy lady is here.”
A heavy set woman with a mound of thick, dark hair steps around the gaping children. She reaches over them to open the front door. I haven’t seen my sister in over twenty years. Looking at her now, I wonder what happened to the young beauty queen I knew.

She swings the door open. “Annette? Is that really you?”

Her voice is sweet and recognizable underneath the years of added weight she carries.

“Hello, Beth.”

Beth wipes her hands on her red polyester pants and shoos the boys away. “Excuse my young’uns. Little Earl, you and Little Jeff go out back and play in the empty swimming pool.”

She motions to me. “Come on into the house.”

My sister’s careless dialect and the word, “howse,” remind me that I’m back in my hometown where everyone speaks the same language. Years of practice and expensive speech therapy have corrected my diction and inflection so that others can understand me. I remind myself that I have invested too much time and energy to fall back now.

The children run through the foyer ahead of us. Family portraits cover the gold flocked wallpaper. In one, Daddy’s athletic shoulders hover over Mama’s small frame as she holds a strained smile. Cloaked in Carolina blue and clenching a scroll to his chest, the corners of Adam’s lips turn up smugly. Jeff kneels on green turf, hugging a football. Curly, golden-brown locks frame his boyish face. Beth looks angelic, her face shadowed behind Mama’s rosette appliqu├ęd wedding veil. Twelve-year-old, pimple-faced Annette stares straight ahead a little bit cockeyed.

Beth holds an arm out and guides me past the formal living room that’s hardly ever been used. “Come on into the den. They’re all visiting Daddy in his room. Who would have thought that a strong man like Daddy would have a stroke? It just don’t seem possible.”

She bustles around, fluffing flattened, needlepoint pillows before we sit on the velour wraparound couch. “I just know that Mama is dying to see you.”
My heart jumps with anticipation. My relationship with Mama has been a major part of my therapy and recovery. My therapist said that I’m ready to see her. I hope she’s right.

“Is she, really?”

Beth hesitates, holding a pillow to her chest. “Well, it’s been such a long time since you were here. Sure, she’ll be happy to see you.”

I manage to nod and smile.

Beth examines my face closely. “My word! You have the whitest teeth I ever saw!”

Beth throws the pillow on a lumpy couch cushion and fidgets uncomfortably. “And that hair, well, you just look so different, is all. Why, Mama might not even recognize you.”

I nod again but keep my mouth closed.

Beth calls down the hallway, “Mama! Annette is here!”

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