- GUEST MUSICIAN
AND AUTHOR -
Well, here is my interview with an inspiring musician and author.
Welcome, Alison ...
1. TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR creative JOURNEY.
I started singing at the age of 16 after my uncle saw me in a school talent show and hired me on the spot to front his band. I caught the creative bug and have been exploring my talents ever since. When my now ex-husband said married women don’t belong on stage, I had to quit singing. After we got divorced, I decided to try my hand at stand-up comedy and did well, so I kept at it. But then I became pregnant and needed to focus on single parenthood. I became a teacher so I could have my daughter’s hours. I always loved writing and words, so it was high school English for me, helping teens improve their writing skills. I also tutored illiterate adults. It seemed fitting that I should one day write a book. After so many horrible online dating experiences, I decided I could combine my comedy and writing skills into a book that would be both humorous and practical—so that others don’t have to suffer as I have! And now I have a children’s book in the works. Got a few more ideas in other genres. I have genre ADD, apparently.
2. WERE YOU INTERESTED IN MUSIC AS A KID? WHAT TYPES OF MUSIC?
I grew up listening to the radio a lot, so classic 70s rock has always been a favorite. As for books, I read murder mysteries or spy intrigue. Authors such as James Patterson and Nelson DeMille are favorites.
3. WHEN AND HOW DID YOU BECOME A MUSICIAN?
You know I started singing in bands at 16. At the age of nine, I took piano lessons from a nun at school. At 12 I took guitar lessons from another nun, and parochial schools tend to have students singing in church at a young age, so my vocal pipes got strengthened early. Still, I spent my allowance on private singing lessons for a while. At 17 I got curious about bass guitar and studied that. And while waiting for our band’s guitarist, always late for practice, I got playing pointers from our drummer (musical ADD as well). Writing, I started reading at a young age and loved books. School teachers would encourage us to write stories using our weekly vocabulary words, and I ate that up each week! I went to college for photo journalism (BA in Mass Communications) and got a job writing corporate newsletters for the US Postal Service. But that was so corporate. Once I began teaching English, it was only fitting that I write a book! (It’s said, “Those who can’t do, teach.” Well, I DID do!)
4. WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB?
I get to travel and meet cool people. It was never about the money, which is non-existent.
5. WHAT IS THE HARDEST THING ABOUT BEING A MUSICIAN/AUTHOR?
Well, there ARE bills to be paid… so I work at other odd jobs to make money. But this doesn’t necessarily take away from my writing time. I make the time when the mood strikes. Getting people interested in what I do is very difficult. I’m self-published, so there’s no big publishing firm marketing around the world for me while I put my feet up. I sell one book at a time, either at book signings or just word of mouth.
6. DO YOU WORK FOR YOURSELF, OTHERS OR BOTH?
For myself. Although Amazon and my hired publisher take a piece of each sale.
7. WHAT WERE YOU IN A PAST LIFE, BEFORE YOU BECAME INVOLVED IN MAKING MUSIC?
I had various odd jobs as a kid, including egg candler at a factory! You’d be amazed what can happen to a chicken’s egg before the perfect ones get to your market!
8. WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT?
Completing the book! Or, having a child. But if we’re talking creatively, that book took two years to complete and STILL I wasn’t ready. The publisher said, “Eventually you have to hand it over.” So I did. But I still go back to it wishing I’d said THIS or THAT. A second edition is forthcoming. Once I raise the money.
9. WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON AT THE MOMENT?
The Adventures of Gizmo. It’s a children’s book, but aren’t we all kids at heart? Gizmo was an AWESOME dog I had, a few dogs back now, who got himself into all kinds of crazy scraps. I thought it would make a good story book. And, once it’s done (need money for illustrations…), I’ll have two different books on my sales table, which will attract more attention for me.
10. WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE TYPE OF MUSIC?
I love it all, but still going with classic 70s rock.
11. WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
I love seeing people moved to tears, hearing about hair-raising moments—like when a great singer hits an amazing note with feeling. When those things happen, I wanna BE that person, or at least be the person who causes that sensation.
12. DO YOU HAVE A COLLECTION OF MUSIC? WHAT?
My collection is so varied in every direction (music ADD, haha). I have disco on 8 track, Barbra Streisand on vinyl, baroque on cassette, jazz on CD… Ironically, I don’t own an mp3 or anything, I just listen to Sirius radio and keep changing the channel to whatever strikes my mood.
13. DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR EMERGING MUSICIANS/AUTHORS?
Stay true to yourself, and try to keep creative ownership. Nobody else should own your stuff. Nothing sucks worse than losing good stuff to someone else who puts his name on it and profits from it. Ask around for a reputable manager, never hand over material without representation!
14. DO YOU HAVE A PREFERRED SCHEDULE?
Yes! It’s called: whenever I want!
15. DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE PLACE OR TIME TO WORK?
I like weekend festivals. Lots of people come out. I’m a people watcher. Everyone’s in a happy mood at festivals.
16. WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST JOY IN YOUR WORK?
I love the creative process. Sitting down to bang it out. Perfecting it over and over and over and… hearing from adoring fans how much they loved what I did.
17. WHAT’S THE GREATEST COMPLIMENT YOU’VE EVER RECEIVED?
A gay man once told me he’d go straight for me. Does that count? But that’s got nothing to do with my work. Musically, someone once told me I had the kind of commercial voice she could listen to all day. As for the book, I love when people tell me they ‘laughed so hard!’ and think I have something really special here. Still waiting for everyone else to catch on.
18. DESCRIBE THE FUNNIEST MOMENT YOU EXPERIENCED IN YOUR WORK?
The entire book is a collection of funny moments! My best story? A guy with dentures really liked me and asked for a kiss goodbye after our lunch meet-and-greet. I said, “OK. But no tongue!” Well that NEVER works. He slipped me the tongue, and when he did, his dentures dislodged. A piece of meat was deposited to the back of my mouth. Yeah.
19. WHAT WAS THE WORST COMMENT YOU EVER RECEIVED?
I was told the book is repetitive. It is in some spots, but intentionally!! I keep coming back to some main points that need to be stressed. But after hearing this, I feel compelled to make some changes in this regard for the second edition.
20. WRITERS ARE SOMETIMES INFLUENCED BY THINGS THAT HAPPEN IN THEIR OWN LIVES. ARE YOU AS A CREATIVE MUSICIAN?
Of course! The book is a collection of what happened to me, told in my sarcastic, witty way! I now am a comedian with a funny book under my belt. I’ve done something amazing for the world of comedy that not every comedian does.
21. HOW MANY SEPARATE PIECES OF MUSIC/books HAVE YOU PRODUCED?
Book two in the works…
22. HAVE YOU WON ANY PRIZES OR AWARDS?
Nothing official. Yet. I’m hoping the book draws attention from the RI Comedy Hall of Fame, which to date has only crowned stage comedians. I did all that, and more!
23. OTHER THAN MAKING MUSIC, WHAT ELSE DO YOU LOVE?
Having this ‘genre’ ADD, I’m all over the place! Also, as a kid I’d groomed myself to be an FBI agent, so I took lessons in all kinds of crazy things so I could be placed in any undercover assignment! I’m a certified bar tender, teacher and scuba diver. Musician, fast typist, yoga instructor, calligraphy, mother, grandmother, writer, tarot reader, linguist—you name it! And I love the great outdoors—kayaking, hiking, camping, fishing…
24. DESCRIBE YOUR PERFECT DAY.
Wake up with a coffee, sitting on a deck overlooking a lake and the sunrise. Go kayaking until it’s too warm to do so. Take a swim, make love, shower and nap. Go for a hike and have an amazing dinner. See a band, whether jazz or rock, mebbe sing a blues tune with the band. Read a book while someone rubs my feet or engages me in a deep conversation. Watch a little TV (cuddling optional) and fall asleep right there.
25. WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE FUTURE?
I still don’t know what I wanna be when I grow up. I only know I don’t wanna grow up. I’ve had a huge bucket list that I’ve mostly completed! Besides writing a few more books, I’d like to travel more of the world. Should be done seeing all 50 US states in a few years; looking to see cultures very different than my own. Also considering teaching English in China and/or Thailand for a time.
26. IF YOU CREATED MUSIC FOR THE LEADERS OF THEWORLD, WHAT WOULD IT BE ABOUT?
I don’t foresee world leaders listening to what I have to say. I’ve long felt rap artists have the attention of our teens. Instead of ‘kill whitey’ and ‘kill cops’, why don’t rappers use their powers for GOOD? Let’s write and sing about peace, love, charity, hope, family… Maybe I’ll write a young adult book that preaches manners from the main character. Let’s have kids learn a useful thing or two while they read fiction, since they aren’t into history until later in life. “No littering!” Make a change for the better!
Clancy's comment: Thank you, Alison. You have an inspiring story to tell. Love ya work!