Since my novel, Island Song, was released I’ve spent a great deal of time discussing life and literature with people who manage review blogs. To date, I’ve met none more pleasant to deal with that Carey Parrish, who manages Web Digest Weekly, one of the better literature blogs on the net. Recently, Carey self-published an anthology of short stories, which I have reviewed on this site. In addition to permitting me the privilege of reviewing his new work, he graciously agreed to an interview. The following is the result of that interview:
Q: When did you start writing and how many books have you published? CP: I started writing as a teenager but I didn’t begin writing professionally until about three years ago. So far I’ve had two books published. One is a short collection on poetry called Into The Light: Experimentations in Poetry & Prose, and my latest release is an anthology of short stories called The Moving Finger Writes.
Q: Was there someone in your family, a teacher, or perhaps a favorite book, that inspired you to begin writing? CP: I remember being a teenager and writing little stories that I let my mom and a few of my teachers read, and they all encouraged me to pursue writing, but back then I would read novels by Victoria Holt, Sidney Sheldon, Phyllis A. Whitney, and Ivy Compton-Burnett, and I wanted to so much to write like them. (Laughs.)
Q: Who are the authors who most influence you? CP: Gertrude Stein is one of the earliest influences I had, in that she took everything she knew about writing and threw it out the window; then she made her own magic with language. Agatha Christie also inspired me, as she could use her intellect to outsmart her readers until she was ready to share the machinations of her mind with them. The authors I mentioned above all did the same, especially Eleanor Hibbert (who was Victoria Holt, Jean Plaidy, and Phillipa Carr among others) because of her devotion to writing. These were true authors. Most of us are merely writers compared to them.
Q: Do you need to be in a specific place or atmosphere before the words flow? CP: I do most of my writing sitting on the sofa in my den. (Laughs.) Not all settings are conducive to writing but as long as I have some peace and quiet where I can collect my thoughts, I’m usually good to go.
Q: What’s the strangest source of inspiration you’ve found for a story? CP: Alice B. Toklas brownies. She called it Hashish Fudge. (No, I didn’t eat any or make any!) Just the description she gave in the narrative before that recipe in The Alice B. Toklas Cook Book gave me an idea for a short story that I wrote but which has yet to see the light of day…
Q: You recently had a new release hit the stands, anthology of Short Stories called The Moving Finger Writes. Can you tell us a bit about those stories? CP: These are stories that I’ve written over time, probably around fifteen years! I’ve always loved mysteries and back in the 80’s shows like Tales From The Darkside and Tales From The Crypt were staples of my TV viewing. So these stories are all mysteries except for the last one, which is a holiday tale, and four of them have a supernatural element. I had a lot of fun putting this anthology together and polishing up some of the older stories that found their way into it. I guess you could say that this anthology has something for everyone.
Q: So, if you don’t mind sharing, would you tell us about your latest work in progress? CP: I actually have two novels in the works presently. One is about reality TV stars who get mixed up with some jewel thieves. The other is about two men who meet in London and their relationship as it unfolds. I’m hoping to have both them ready for release by the late fall or early winter.
Q: Out of all the stories you’ve written, which is your favorite and why? CP: In the anthology, my personal favorite is “The Last of Penny,” although “Killer Convent” was inspired by an actual event. Fans of the BBC comedy “As Time Goes By” will recognize the two leads in “The Last of Penny.” “Killer Convent” as I said was inspired by an actual event about two guys down in Atlanta who were robbed by a man who came to their door claiming to be a minister raising money for a charity drive. What can be more unassuming than a so-called holy person? So I took the idea and made a fiction out of it that I think came off pretty well.
Q: Name a book or movie written by someone else that you wish you had written, and why that one? CP: Don’t laugh, but I wish I had written “Dolores Claiborne.” That book is a masterpiece of writing. It’s a psychological portrait of every character within its pages and you get so lost in it that when you’ve read the last word you wish it hadn’t ended. Also, Armistead Maupin’s “Tales of the City” series is a perennial favorite of mine because of its juicy, delicious storylines and the characters who come to feel like old friends by the time you reach the last book.
Q: What do you like to do when you’re not writing? CP: Reading, watching a little TV (I’m hooked on reality shows,) walking, running, spending time with my family and seeing friends, traveling.
Q: What was the craziest thing you’ve ever done in your life? CP: I watched “Divas ‘99” once before going to a doctor’s appointment and when I was sitting in the waiting room, thumbing through a magazine, I suddenly realized I had burst into a chorus “The Bitch Is Back”…and that I had audience. It would have been embarrassing if I hadn’t taken a bow.
Q: What, more than anything else, fills you with rage? CP: Injustice. Hypocrisy. Double standards. Cruelty of any kind. They are all one in the same to me. I can’t stand injustice on any level and I will speak out loud and clear whenever I encounter it. Oh…and anything to do with Rush Limbaugh!
Q: Can you tell us something about the place you call home? CP: I live in the mountains of North Georgia, in a beautiful place called Dalton, and except for two miserably hot months in the summer it is so beautiful here that it takes your breath away. There is so much history here and of all the places I’ve been I have yet to find anywhere else I’d rather live.
Q: Where can people find your books? CP: Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, Amazon.co.uk, Borders I think has them, I saw my anthology at Target.com and was floored by it! I think any of the booksellers can either order them or get them in the store.
Q: Anything else you’d like to share? CP: If you have a dream – and I don’t care what it is – go for it because you only live once and life is too short to waste any time. Take it from me, I waited till I was almost thirty-eight to pursue my dream of becoming a professional writer. So take your dream(s) and turn them into realities. Dreams don’t die; people just stop dreaming.
I write novels, short stories and screenplays.
I am the author of eight published novels and three unpublished screenplays. You can read about all my pubished works at http://alanchinauthor.com
I live and write half of each year at my home in Southern California, and spend the other half of each year traveling the globe with my husband, Herman Chin.