Featured Interview With Sally Wiener Grotta
Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?
Professionally, I’m a writer and photographer, and I’ve been privileged to be able to make a living doing what I enjoy most: creating verbal and visual stories that others enjoy. I’ve traveled on assignment for various magazines, newspapers and journals to all seven continents (including three times in Antarctica) and numerous exotic islands (such as Papua New Guinea and Madagascar). And the more I’ve seen of this world, the more people and cultures I’ve encountered, the richer my life – and my imagination – has become.
After traveling to all corners of the globe, I’ve now settled down in the Pennsylvania Poconos, where I live and work in an old converted Oddfellows Hall. My daily companions are my husband (and closest friend) Daniel Grotta (who is also a well-established author and editor), my 99-year-old father (who still beats me at Scrabble and has more on the ball than many a 50-year-old I know), Watson (our playful Golden Retriever) and Watson’s two cats, Rascal and Diva.
At what age did you realize your fascination with books? When did you start writing?
I don’t believe there was ever a time I didn’t love stories. My earliest memories are of my mother reading to me, and my grandmother spinning tales. I still fondly remember the day I received my very own library card, and when I was finally allowed to borrow books from the upstairs library (the big people’s books), I knew I had found my home.
More than books, however, stories have always defined me. Stories and the fictional characters who tell them to me. I’ve often wondered what “normal” (i.e. non-writing) people do. Don’t they feel awfully alone without all those imaginary friends that I have, who are constantly telling me new stories that I’m compelled to write, to give life to them, to share them.
Who are your favorite authors to read? What is your favorite genre to read. Who Inspires you in your writings?
My favorite authors span such a wide range: Jorge Luis Borges, Michael Swanwick, Margaret Atwood, William Shakespeare, Daniel Grotta, Viktor Frankl, William Faulkner, Ursula K. LeGuin, Gabriel Garcí a Márquez, Charles Kuralt, Jean-Paul Sartre, Tennesse Williams — so many others.
Regardless of the genre, I love being swept up in a good story filled with fully-textured characters who live within a well developed tale that has depth and meaning. I especially favor stories that will linger long after I finish the last page, making me wonder and question.
Similarly, I don’t really think of genre when I write. I simply give myself fully to creating a story, sculpting the moments, layering on the flesh and memories of the people, rewriting and fine-tuning the prose and dialog over and over again, until it becomes alive for me.
My inspirations come from everything around me, but mostly people… the people I love, strangers I meet or observe, individuals in the news or from history. And, of course, my imaginary friends… the fictional characters who are an amalgam of all I’ve experienced or dreamed of and who now live in my mind.
Tell us a little about your latest book?
Here’s the basic blurb of “The Winter Boy”:
The Valley of the Alleshi is the center of all civilization, the core and foundation of centuries of peace. A cloistered society of widows, the Alleshi, has forged a peace by mentoring young men who will one day become the leaders of the land. Each boy is paired with a single Allesha for a season of intimacy and learning, using time-honored methods that include dialog, reason and sexual intimacy. However, unknown to all but a hidden few, the peace is fracturing from pressures within and beyond, hacking at the very essence of their civilization.
Amidst this gathering political maelstrom, Rishana, a young new idealistic Allesha, takes her First Boy, Ryl, for a winter season of training. But Ryl is a “problem boy” who fights Rishana every step of the way. At the same time, Rishana uncovers a web of conspiracies that could not only destroy Ryl, but threatens to tear their entire society apart. And a winter that should have been a gentle, quiet season becomes one of conflict, anger and danger.
I’m honored that “The Winter Boy” is being compared to fiction by Margaret Atwood and Ursula K. LeGuin, because it “explores important political and social issues within a dynamic, character-driven otherworld, wrapped up in masterful storytelling.”
To read more about “The Winter Boy”, please go to http://www.pixelhallpress.com/the_winter_boy.html, where you can also download a free excerpt.
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