Interview with memoirist Allen Long

I’m kicking
off a new week with an interview with memoirist Allen Long. We’re chatting
about his book, Less than Human: A Memoir.



During his
virtual book tour Allen will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift
card to a lucky randomly drawn winner. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your
chances of winning, feel free to visit
his other tour stops
and enter there, too!
Bio:
Allen Long was born in New York City and
grew up in Arlington, Virginia. He holds a B.A. in journalism from Virginia
Tech, an M.A. in fiction writing from Hollins University, and an M.F.A. in
fiction writing from the University of Arizona. He has been an assistant editor
at Narrative Magazine since 2007, and his fiction and memoirs have appeared in
a wide variety of literary magazines. He lives with his wife near San
Francisco.

Welcome, Allen. Please share a little
bit about your current release.
Less than Human tells the story of how I overcame
child abuse, PTSD, and a nightmarish marriage to find true love with my second
wife, Elizabeth. We’ve been married twenty years. The book also includes all of
the most dramatic highs and lows in my life. Some of the other subjects covered
include the corrupt business world, teenage love, a nervous breakdown, and
fatherhood.

What inspired you to write this book?

After I’d
published several short stories in literary magazines, I decided to write in a
different form for a change of pace. I ended up writing a magazine-length
memoir about my anger and disgust with the dishonesty and corruption I
witnessed when I worked in the management consulting sector of the business
world. A writer/editor friend praised the piece and suggested I write
additional memoirs. So I wrote magazine-length memoirs about the most dramatic
highs and lows in my life until I realized I’d written a book.

Excerpt from Less than Human: A Memoir:

This scene
is about how I met my wife Elizabeth.
I remember only a fragment of our lunch conversation. Sophia,
who used to work at the textile design firm where Elizabeth was employed,
brought up the name of a colleague who was agonizing about whether he was gay.
            Elizabeth surprised me by saying,
“If he can’t make up his mind, I’ll make it up for him—he’s definitely gay.” There
was absolutely no malice or derision in her voice; she simply stated what
seemed an obvious fact.
            I laughed, pleased by her presumptuous
humor. Also, a few weeks later, the co-worker in question came out of the
closet and has seemed contentedly gay ever since.
            After lunch, Sophia made a quick
getaway and Elizabeth and I stood in the parking garage near her black cherry
Dodge Shadow and talked for another hour and a half. Again, I remember only one
snippet of this conversation.
            “I have to tell you how important my
daughter Stephanie is to me,” she said. “We’re best friends, I love her dearly,
and she’s my number one priority.”
            “I understand. That’s how I feel
about my boys,” I said.
            Tears glazed Elizabeth’s eyes, but
she didn’t cry. I felt such a strong connection to her I trembled.
            “Would you like it if I called you?”
I asked.
            “Yes, very much,” she said.
            We
hugged and fell in love.

What exciting story are you working on
next?

Right now
I’m writing magazine-length memoirs and short stories on various subjects. This
activity may lead to another memoir collection, a short story collection, or
both.

When did you first consider yourself a
writer?

I started
telling stories when I was a small child. In sixth grade, my teacher let me
write a short story a week instead of doing regular English assignments. The
summer before college, I attended a writing workshop at Michigan State
University. In college, I excelled at all of my creative writing classes. Then
I sent several short stories to Hollins College (now Hollins University) which
has a fabled creative writing program—William Golding was the first or one of
the first writers teaching there, and that’s where he wrote Lord of the Flies. When I was accepted
into the M.A. fiction writing program with a scholarship, I realized my dreams
of becoming a writer were finally coming true.

Do you write full-time? If so, what’s
your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find
time to write?

I work full
time as a hospital nurse. I get one weekday off per week, and I have every
other weekend off, so that’s when I write. When I had a lot of momentum going
with my book, I wrote in the evenings as well.

What would you say is your interesting
writing quirk?

My writing
often contains an undercurrent of fairy tale images or themes. I’m guessing the
reason is that I was physically abused as a child. Fairy tales were a great
escape from reality. Also, I realize now that I also probably enjoyed fairy
tales because good almost always triumphs over evil.

As a child, what did you want to be when
you grew up?

I think I
always wanted to be a writer. After a brief flirtation as a forestry major in
college, I switched to journalism and also took a slew of English and creative
writing courses.

Anything additional you want to share
with the readers?

The image
on the cover of my book is an alligator. This was my suggestion. When my
brother and I were in elementary school, our neglectful parents encouraged us
to swim in a Florida lake inhabited by an adult alligator while they visited
inside with our grandparents.

Links:

Thank you for being a
guest on my blog!

My
pleasure. Thank you.


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32 thoughts on “Interview with memoirist Allen Long

  1. Ally Swanson says:

    I enjoyed reading the excerpt. This book sounds like such an interesting and intriguing read. Looking forward to checking out this book.

  2. Unknown says:

    Lisa, thanks for hosting me today. Readers–I'm a hospital nurse on my way to work right now. When I return home, I'll address any questions or comments posted here. Thanks for your patience.

  3. Unknown says:

    Ally, thanks for all of your good wishes. I'm glad you enjoyed the excerpt. As one can see, Elizabeth and I virtually fell in love at first sight. July 1 is our 21st wedding anniversary. I think you'll be very satisfied with the book.

  4. Unknown says:

    Lisa Brown–I'm glad you enjoyed the interview. By the way, my enjoyment of escapist literature went well beyond fairy tales when I was a kid. I was fascinated with comic books from the moment I first saw one. I started out reading Batman and Superman, and I ended up a hardcore Marvel comics fan, reading Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, and The Hulk. My love of comics was similar to my love of fairy tales–they were escapist, and good always triumphed over evil. When I was thirteen, I read Ray Bradbury's The Illustrated Man and transitioned from comics to reading science fiction and fantasy books until I left for college. Ray Bradbury combined great story telling with poetic use of language. He was the first author I read that made me think about becoming a writer.

  5. Unknown says:

    Rita–Glad you enjoyed the excerpt. The final chapter of the book includes how I met Elizabeth, the ups and downs of our courtship, our marriage, and how she helped bring me into the light. The book is dedicated to her.

  6. Unknown says:

    Clojo–Thanks very much for following the tour, and I'm glad you enjoyed the interview and excerpt. Please let me know if there are any questions or comments you'd like to bring up that haven't been featured on the tour yet. This goes for all readers. I really appreciate your time and interest.

  7. Unknown says:

    Readers–I'll continue to monitor this blog and address additional questions and comments that come in. Lisa Haselton–thanks again for hosting me. I really appreciate this opportunity.

  8. James Robert says:

    Happy Friday! Hope it's a good one for you I appreciate your offering us such a great giveaway and thanking you for all you put into this for us.

  9. James Robert says:

    Have a great weekend and thanks for all you do amd hard work you put into offering us the great giveaways

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