AWP: My name is Alison Pickrell and I live in Statesville, NC. I am 57 years old. I have been married to my husband Brian for 31 years. I have grown twin stepsons, Danny and David, and one grandson, Cody. We have a dog named Lucy and two cats, Thaddaeus and Baby Girl. I am a retired special education teacher. Writing was my favorite subject to teach.
DLC: Thank you for sharing. As an ice breaker I always like to ask a series of fun questions right away that I call 'Getting To Know You' questions. What is your favorite food?
AWP: Spaghetti and anything chocolate.
DLC: What is your favorite color?
DLC: Cool, mine too! What is your favorite ice cream flavor?
AWP: Chocolate or Praline Crunch.
DLC: OK I'm getting hungry now. lol What is your favorite type of music?
AWP: Christian contemporary.
DLC: Alright then, who is your favorite Christian singer?
AWP: Rich Mullins.
DLC: I love his song Hold Me Jesus! Great artist. What is your favorite movie?
AWP: The Lord of the Rings.
DLC: Me too. What is your favorite book?
AWP: To Kill a Mockingbird.
DLC: Nice...you went classic on me. What is your favorite time of year?
DLC: Then you must be pretty sad right now with the end of Summer coming up. I personally am a Fall guy. Thank you for sharing and answering those questions. I'd like now to ask you some more personal questions about you as an author. So what inspired you to be a writer or have you always had a passion for writing?
AWP: When I was young, my brothers and sister and I made books and comics and stories and plays. The oldest book I have from that time says, “Complete with words” so I must have been making books even before I could read!
DLC: So writing has always been a part of your life. When you sit down and are starting a new story what source or sources do you draw from when preparing to write?
AWP: A lot of my stories come from incidents in my own life. The characters are often based on people I know or conglomerates of people (like my students). Sometimes I am inspired by a poem or by headlines in the paper.
DLC: Interesting. So am I going to be in your next book?... Just kidding. I know for me the hardest part of writing is outlining and character profiles. What part of writing a story do you find the most difficult?
AWP: The most difficult for me is editing. I wish my writing would come out perfect the first time!
DLC: I think every author shares the same sentiment. So let's say you're at the editing stage of your manuscript, at what point do you personally say to yourself, "OK the story’s done." and you send it off to the publisher?
AWP: It is hard to know when you are finished. After I have edited and re-edited, I have to leave it for several days and come back fresh or let others read it with new eyes before I can decide I am done.
DLC: That's smart. I will actually read my books out loud to my wife and often she gives me feedback on different chapters. She rocks! lol
Alright let's talk about your latest book The Last Cordate, how long did it take you to write initially?
AWP: I began taking notes on Easter Sunday, April 3, 1988 and finished the first draft on May 21, 1989.
DLC: I love it. You know the specific dates. Me...not so much. I can see you're very detailed and those that read your books can see you give a lot of thought into your writing. When you started writing The Last Cordate did you plan on writing it as an allegory of the Christian walk?
AWP: I knew I would be writing a quest story set on another planet but I didn’t think through the spiritual layer—that came as I wrote.
DLC: You said that, "The characters are often based on people I know". How much of the main character Talasa was a reflection of you personally?
AWP: A lot of her weaknesses are mine as well as spiritual struggles. We don't look alike.
DLC: By the way, my wife loved your book and stole it initially from me before I got my chance to read The Last Cordate. She had made a mention that many of the social classes had a distinctly Middle Eastern philosophy. How much of other religions and theologies influenced how you created the world Talasa was to journey through?
AWP: I did think about other religions when I created these groups. The Guisists are based on Pharisee-like beliefs. The Sylvanians aren't so much a religious group as that group of people who believe animals and the planet are more important than people. The Prolixites are a tongue-in-cheek reflection of us writers and others who value language!
DLC: Speaking of animals, I noticed that in your book you have several secondary characters that were animals and often played a big role in your story. Were any of the animals in the story based off of any of your pets?
AWP: We had two ferrets at the time I was writing this book. Bayoot was based on our beloved dog Tonika. The horses aren't based on any particular horse I've known—though I've known several but never owned any.
DLC: I have to admit that at first, when I started reading The Last Cordate, I thought the book was going to be geared toward a younger audience. But then you started to unfold this world that was a bit darker than I had expected. Were there specific scenes or a scene that you had difficulty writing?
AWP: The sex scene was definitely the most difficult. It was hard to write down and I had to do much editing before OakTara would publish it.
DLC: Well I think the final edit came out just right. Now for those readers who may not know your other works let me share a little bit. You've written three other books through OakTara, Unto the Least of These, As Eagles and Den of Lions. The Last Cordate seems like the standout of the four books...
AWP: The Last Cordate is different from all my other books. The other books are about people here on planet Earth. I loved creating my own planet and populating it with beings and animals. I believe the Holy Spirit was really helping me because it was not hard and was a lot of fun!
DLC: I bet and I had a lot of fun reading it as well. So that begs the question that many of us who've read The Last Cordate want to know... Will there be a sequel?
AWP: At the time I wrote it, I had planned a sequel and at least one prequel. I will probably wait to see how this book does before I write the others.
DLC: That's OK, I'll forgive you. lol Are there any last thoughts you'd like to leave with our readers?
AWP: I just thank God that He has given me the desire of my heart. I started trying to get published back in 1984 and even had an agent who believed in me. But the publisher God had in mind didn't even exist back then. After Capstone/OakTara published my first book in 2007, they wanted to see everything I'd ever written. My other three books are some of the ones I wrote in the 80's. God is so good and kind to indulge us the way He does!
DLC: Well I want to thank you Alison for putting up with my questions and taking the time to give of yourself to be here. I truly loved your book The Last Cordate and will be looking forward to what your next project will be.
For those of you that missed my review of The Last Cordate by Alison Winfree Pickrell you can click here to read it. See my follow up post after this one for my October Book Giveaway of The Last Cordate.
Daniel L Carter
Author of The Unwanted Trilogy