Monday, July 11, 2011

Global Book Blast: Arleen Alleman Interview


currents-cover2.jpgGBB: What was the inspiration for you to write this story?  What was your motivation to complete it?  Were there defining moments that helped you along the way?

Thanks for the opportunity to talk about my writing adventure.  From being a teenager, I have wanted to write a novel.  Not until three years ago did I finally decide it was time.  I used my career working for the Government Accountability Office, my science background, and my love of cruising to inspire the story of Darcy Farthing and her cruise adventures.  Many times over the years I pictured myself in scenarios where I was writing at my own pace in my own space and now it is happening.

The defining moment in my first writing attempt was the first time a person who was not a family member or friend gave me very positive feedback on the book.  Once I started hearing praise from readers, it gave me the incentive and confidence to keep writing.

GBB: Many writers do research or construct outlines before writing a story, take us through the process you used before you started writing.

I do quite a bit of research on science-related comments in the books and of course on the geography and history.  Early in the process I use an old fashioned white board to flow-chart my multiple plots to show how they interconnect and resolve at the end.  Then I outline the chapters as a guideline that I know will change as I write.  I have found that the stories flow surprisingly according to the outline.  

GBB: How did you come up with the title?

I filled a page with possible titles that I hoped would convey a double meaning to the word Currents and would fit the murder mystery aspect of the story.  I sought the opinion of the people who reviewed my manuscript and finally settled on the current title.

GBB: Tell our readers what the setting or backdrop is for your novel.

This story takes place on a fictional cruise ship, the Sea Nymph, sailing around Cape Horn, South America.  Much of the action takes place on board the ship, but some in the ports along the way.

GBB: Without giving too much away, can you give us some background on the major characters?  Do you have a favorite character?

The main character is Darcy Farthing, a very pragmatic forty-year-old woman with a troubled history.  She is a tall blue-eyed blond who works for a pharmaceutical company and has trouble forming lasting romantic relationships.   She has decided that she is an atheist and her whole life revolves around her skeptical beliefs.  Mick Clayton is a manager at the Government Accountability Office in DC, who coincidentally takes the same cruise to implement his own agenda.  He is struggling with the recent deaths of his wife and parents, while also watching out for the safety of a close friend, whose husband is threatening her safety.  Mick and Darcy team up to try to figure out a mysterious set of occurrences on the ship and become romantically involved.  Other major characters include Tom Smythe, a very good man who is an ex L.A. cop and the chief of security on the Sea Nymph, who will become a major character in the Darcy Farthing novels.  Suzanne Moretti, the exotic and deeply troubled head of housekeeping; her cuckolded husband, the stoic Norwegian Captain Espen Oldervoll; and Paul Denezza, a ruthless Vegas hotel and casino owner with violent intentions.

Although Darcy is the main character, I personally like Tom Smythe.  He is a kind but tough man who is emotionally vulnerable, is a calming influence, and has his life completely turned upside down by the events in this story.  

GBB: Can you give us a brief summary of your book?

Multiple sub-plots offer commentary on how chance and other factors influence which life currents we choose to ride or ignore.  The story also comments on the role of religion in forming our psychology and behavior and has an element of family upbringing and adoption issues.  These are tangential to the main plot of a murder mystery aboard a cruise ship.  It also combines tidbits of history and geography in a travel log of Caribbean and South American Seaports with Darcy’s personal journey of discovery.  Along the way, she experiences unbelievable coincidences linking her past to the frightening events on the ship.  These cause her to question her whole belief system.   In a stunning climax she comes face to face with her hidden past in an exotic South American city and her life and the lives of others are forever changed.   In another climax, she and her fellow travelers meet with horrific violence when the madness and greed of a shipboard murderer are finally revealed.  

GBB: Do you have a favorite part or chapter?

I like Chapter 24, which describes a scene where Darcy is being chased by two local thugs through the streets of Salvador da Bahia, Brazil.

GBB: Are there any anecdotal stories pertaining to writing this story that you would like to share?

One fun aspect of this is that I was writing the book while I was on a cruise with the same route as in the story.  I would set up my laptop on the ship and engage other passengers as I wrote.  After the book was published, I took the same cruise a second time and had book signings on the ship, and at that time I was writing the sequel to the first book. 

GBB: With all the new genres out there today, what categories and sub category would you say your novel falls into?

This is a very good question.  I found out the hard way through comments by professional reviewers that my book is not really a murder/mystery, in that there is not a murder at the beginning with the rest of the book focused on solving it.   Now I realize that the book is general fiction with mystery and elements of a thriller and romance. 

GBB: On a scale of 1 to 5 (with 5 being the most difficult) what is the reading level of your novel?

I’ve never thought of that before.  Judging by reader comments that it is a fun fast read, yet complex, I would say the difficulty is probably around 2.5.

GBB: What well known author would you compare your writing style to?

I just don’t know the answer to this question.  Perhaps it remains to be seen or someone else can give me insight.  From the general fiction and story-telling aspect, I would aspire to write in a manner similar to Diana Gabaldon.

GBB: Other than your current novel what other books short stories etc. have you written?

Prior to my first novel, I wrote non-fiction extensively on a wide variety of topics for more than twenty years as a GAO analyst.  Much of this writing can be found in GAO reports to the U.S. Congress, which are publicly available.  The sequel to Currents Deep and Deadly, called Currents of Vengeance is complete and should be published by the end of August 2011.  There will be at least one more book in this series with the same characters.

GBB: Are you working on any new projects?  

I am just finishing up the sequel and thinking about the story line for the third book.

GBB: Do you have any media or book signing appearances coming in the near future?

I will be arranging book signings and hopefully interviews for Currents of Vengeance when it is published.

GBB: Is there anything you would like to say to your fans or potentially new fans?

As I continue on this writing journey I am so grateful to all those readers who have told me they loved the book and are awaiting the sequel.  No book is for everyone and I’m hoping to improve my style so that each book will appeal to a broader audience.

GBB: Thank you for your time.  We wish you much success with your novel.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting questions. Sounds an intriguing book. Loved the introduction.