Two weeks ago when I was at a work meeting I received a Twitter notification on my phone that @GregoryGAllen had tweeted about buying my novel White Picket Prisons for his Kindle. Sounds like a pretty benign story right? To me it was a mind blowing occurrence. While I was getting my original novel re-edited I hadn’t been out haranguing all of you to buy it. I was in fact letting my novel simmer in the background until the new version was in the e-bookstores. Then, out of the blue, someone I’ve never heard of or had any connection with was proudly advertising my book with his tweets. I looked him up and found that he was an award-winning author of several novels, a writer for The Huffington Post, and was, for a time in his life, a professional Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. More impressive than all that though was that he turned out to be a genuinely nice guy who not only gave support to a new indie author but also to a variety of important causes. Before I give away too much, let me ask him some questions so you can meet him.
PT: You have an impressively varied background. Of all the experiences you’ve had in the theater, entertainment or the literary world, what is your favorite?
GGA: Well first, thanks for that intro, Phil. Dang you make me sound good! It is really hard for me to pick a favorite because I continue to do all of them. I was the artistic director of a theater company in New Jersey for several years and pulled away from that when I decided to concentrate on my writing. However, I occasionally will get back on stage or direct for them and my ‘pay the mortgage job’ is managing an arts center on a college campus – so the arts is always a huge part of my life.
PT: Could you tell us a little bit about your inspiration for your book, Chicken Boy: The Amazing Adventures of a Super Hero with Autism?
GGA: I never thought of writing a children’s book. It just sort of ‘happened’. My godson was diagnosed with autism when he was small and every Wednesday night I go to dinner with him, his sister and mother: the same restaurant each time. One night his sister and I were watching him and started to come up with ‘reasons’ he would do certain things. He makes this sound ‘bahcaaaaaah’ and I decided that would be his battle cry if he were a superhero. We decided on Chicken Boy because of chicken fingers are his favorite food. I wrote the book quickly and thought nothing of it until an author friend of mine told me about a contest MeeGenius Publishing has looking for new authors. I entered with 400 other people and because so many people across the country in the autism community voted on the book, it won and they published it.
PT: You’re also a regular supporter of projects on Kickstarter. What are some of your favorites?
GGA: You know I got involved in crowdsourcing as another way to ‘pay-it-forward’. I’m a huge believer in sharing what I’ve learned in the indie book industry with other authors, talking about their work, and indie filmmakers have it just as tough attempting to get their own work out to the masses. Either someone brings a project to my attention such as my friend growing her own business to include a store front (http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/help-me-get-the-doors-open/x/1623943) or I scroll through them occasionally and will find something that grabs my eye. Sometimes a movie that deals with a cause or theme near and dear to me will cause me to click on that donate button. The movie Illness was one about mental illness (http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/illness-the-movie/x/1623943) and the film [Love] in a Box by an indie filmmaker I enjoy that is doing a film on asperger’s syndrome. (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1996228380/love-in-a-box) I have to pick and choose because none of us are made of money.
PT: You’ve been involved in musical theater since you were very young. What is it about theater that draws you to it?
GGA: I’ve always loved to tell stories. Performing was a way to do that. And probably as I think about it now – I guess it was a way to pretend to be so many other people. (Funny enough, I used to hate public speaking when I had to be myself – but I’ve gotten much better with my school tours with my kid’s book…we’ll save that for a therapist visit!)
PT: Which Ninja Turtle were you?
GGA: I would trade off between Michelangelo and sometimes the Evil Shredder. We traveled all over the US, Canada and even Guam from ’89-’91. What an awesome time in a young 20-something’s life.
PT: You’ve written several novels. If someone were to set out to read all of your books, which would you prefer they pick up first and why?
GGA: It would be easy to say “please grab my latest one out there!” – But I write about so many different topics that I want readers to be drawn to the subject. I’d probably choose “Patchwork of Me” because it has a playful quality, mystery and intrigue, a little romance and I was pretty proud that a man could write in first person POV with a female protagonist and the book win several awards.
PT: Ok, we’re playing desert island now. If you were stuck on an island forever and could choose four people living or dead to be your companions, who would you choose and why?
GGA: I’d want the professor from “Gilligan’s Island” because he was awesome at turning coconuts into radios and crap like that. Paula Deen so that she could cook for us as well as keep us all laughing. We need entertainment so let’s take Barry Manilow since he writes the songs that make the whole world sing. And my partner, because no one can bring a smile to my face the way he can.
PT: Ok, now, what four books would you take to the desert island with you? (No, you can’t bring your Kindle. The battery would never last)
GGA: “A Prayer for Owen Meany”, “Tales of the City”, “She’s Come Undone”, “Running with Scissors”
Trust me folks, Gregory G. Allen is worth a read in whatever forum he chooses to write in. You can read him regularly on his blog Adversity & Diversity as well as regular features in The Huffington Post, BroadwayWorld.com, Baristanet.com, OutinJersey.net as well as his website . Also he is a great follow on Twitter @GregoryGAllen. You can find his books on Amazon as well as all the other online retailers. As always, if you like what you read here please show some love by hitting the Facebook Share button!