Vending Machine Press Presents Interview With ASHLIE ALLEN

What was your early life like? Where did you grow up?

My early life was pretty good for the most part. I was homeschooled after the sixth grade, which was nice. I grew up in West Virginia. The area in which I lived was quite small, not too much going on. I enjoyed that though. I have always been a person that keeps to themself mostly. Maybe that has to do with the environment I grew up in. When I was a teenager, I rarely went out. If I was not in my room reading or writing, I would be outside taking photos. My backyard had a lot of trees, so I used to take photos of them to experiment with photography. I would say even in my early life, I always had the urge to be creative. I remember writing a short story at the age of eight. I have always loved using my imagination, and that is something that continued into my teen years. I would say I became extremely inspired to write at the age of 13. I did not start sending out work though until 2013. I never gave submitting my work much thought until I realized how many journals I had. It was then that I got the idea to try and get my work out there to the world. I didn’t want to keep it to myself anymore.

What made you want to write?

Well, when I was eight years old I knew I loved to write, but it wasn’t until I discovered Anne Rice’s “The Vampire Lestat” that I really became desperate to create my own world and fill them with my own characters. I loved the spooky atmosphere Anne created, and how she made each of her characters loveable even when they seemed merciless. I became inspired to make a world of my own and fill them with people I created. That is the awesome thing about fiction writing; you can create anyone you want.

What are your writing habits like? Are you always working on a story or poem?

My writing habits change often. Sometimes I can write for several days in a row; other times I will go weeks without writing something new. What I do though to make sure I stay in touch with my creativity is edit older works that I’ve written if I do not come up with anything new for awhile. I also think it is good for a writer to read their older works, like a favorite piece of theirs to get inspiration.

Can you discuss your literary influences, or at least name some writers whose work you greatly admire?

Anne Rice of course and Sherman Alexie have been two of my greatest influences. I can re-read their books several times and always feel satisfied afterward.

How important is community amongst fellow writers, do you get along with other writers?

I think it is important to connect with other writers. I have a couple writer friends, and we often share our work with each other and give advice. I think all writers have a special bond together. We can relate to the frustration that comes with writing, like the obsession of editing and getting our message out there clearly.

 If you haven’t already, do you think you will ever write a novel?

Yes, I do. I have written around 7 novellas over the years, so I feel like I am prepared to write a full novel in the future.

Do you feel a sense of home? Is there a place like that to you?

I would say my full sense of home is when I am writing a good story and drinking a nice glass of wine. There’s something about the combination of writing and wine that makes for an exhilarating experience.

Do you have any writing rituals or superstitions, before you start to write?

Sometimes I will listen to music before I write, or I’ll read a story. Usually the urge to write just happens though before I can prepare to perform any rituals that would enhance my writing experience.

Does writing energize or exhaust you?

It can do both. I feel energized in the beginning, but if it is a long piece of work, I eventually get exhausted and need to take a break. I would say the most exhausting part about being writer is editing. It is easy to write a story, but once you finish you have to really focus on adding or taking out things that do not make sense or do not fit the story or poem.

Are you a science fiction fan? If so what attracts you to the genre?

I can appreciate the genre, but I have not read much of it.

Do you think literature can help readers make sense of their lives?

Yes, I do. I think people can identify with literature without even knowing it sometimes. Maybe one person will read a story online about depression and not realize why they are so fascinated with it. Usually it’s because they have something inside of them that relates to the story, but maybe they’ve been denying their feelings.

How autobiographical are your stories/poems.

My writing is kind of autobiographical, but I try to make it subtle by just adding my emotions into it and not making the story based on my real life experiences. I usually only use my emotions to describe what my characters are going through based on experiences I make them go through, not experiences I have been through. It would be mean to make my characters go through some of the experiences I have had. I love them too much.

I would be remiss if I did not ask. What are your favourite films and TV shows?

The original Exorcist is definitely a favorite film of mine. I also love the Lord of The Rings trilogies. I love horror films and dramas. I can appreciate all genres though. I prefer older movies over most of today’s movies. My favorite TV show is American Horror Story. I never miss a season.

Are you political? What do you think of the current political climate?

I am not political to be honest.

How do hope your stories/poems will affect people?

I hope that when people read my stories/poems they will feel inspired and become open to expressing themselves. I also hope that those who suffer from mental illness will read my work and find the courage to be creative and share their experiences with the world. I think that is very important for those who suffer with mental illness. We all need a way to get what we feel out there, yet not be shamed for doing so, but instead inspire and entertain people. That is what I try to do, and I would love to see others do the same.

Ashlie Allen is a fiction writer and poet. Besides writing, she also enjoys photography. She loves coffee and wine.