I got to know a little about June Collins by reviewing her memoirs Goodbye Junie Moon and Junie Moon Rising. She has led an amazing, adventurous and gutsy life, which she admits:
"… has been so varied and intense that it is hard to believe some of it is true. (Most of it has been verified in newspapers and magazines.) Therefore, although I write as memoir, it actually reads more like fiction."
If that doesn't tempt you to check out her books, I don't know what will…
And here are June's questions, with my responses:
1. How often do you post on The Writer's Drawer and do you have preferences when it comes to genre what you choose to feature?
I post material 3-5 times a week, depending on what comes in and my own schedule. I am always on the look out for quality material, especially pieces that would enhance The Writer's Drawer Book Series (see below). However, if the submission meets the requirements for The Writer's Drawer, I'll post it, regardless of genre.
2. What made you decide to do an anthology?
The Writer's Drawer was launched in early 2012. It took a while for it to acquire an identity and become the intercultural, literary showcase it is today. But once the creative material began to accumulate I noticed that some of it was very good and deserved to be published. That's when I got the idea to publish an anthology. I therefore compiled and edited some 35 short stories, essays (or "stories from life," as I call them) and poems, and set to work producing a book. The result? A Certain Kind of Freedom: Stories and Poems from The Writer's Drawer, which I published with CreateSpace (November 2013). The reviews have been favorable and some of the stories and poems received very high praise ("superb short stories and memorable essays and poems," "a treasure trove"). It's a great book for dipping into before sleep, taking on a flight or train trip, or enjoying during a break in a coffee shop.
Now I am planning a second anthology, as part of The Writer's Drawer Book Series.
3. Have you always been an editor and did you ever work for any publishing houses?
I have been an editor for some 30 years, but I have done other things, too. For example, after completing my degree in Far Eastern Studies at the Australian National University, majoring in Japanese, I traveled to Japan as a representative of the Australian Government at Expo 70. The year I spent in Japan was an exciting and exotic period during which I met many interesting people and toured the country from north to south and east to west. I was also, briefly, a teacher in London, UK. And, no, I have never worked for a publishing house.
4. Keeping The Writer's Drawer going must take a lot of work. What inspires you to do it?
The Writer's Drawer has put me in contact with many people all over the world. I enjoy corresponding with them and have learned quite a bit about some of them. In fact, email messaging takes up a lot of my time. One of the qualities that people like about the website is that there are no automated responses; I am always there for them, maybe not instantly, but usually within 24 hours.
In addition, since I plan to publish another anthology, there's the excitement of receiving a really good creative piece and thinking, yes, this will be good for the next volume.
Finally, I love the independence and freedom of running my own site. After spending many years as an editor in an academic institution I enjoy working on it when I choose and for however long I feel like (although one of the drawbacks is that editing and posting each piece is quite time-consuming). And while I am aware that it is something of a philanthropic venture in that I offer writers a free site and free editing support, I am loath to commercialize it. The main problem is the anthology, which of course – if you want a professional-looking product – requires investment in areas such as graphics and formatting. I am looking into ways of funding the next one and would welcome suggestions/proposals.
Here are the bloggers I've tagged:
Alienora Taylor is an unconventional person with an unconventional blog. I am not going to cramp her unique style by adapting or editing her bio to conform to the blog hop format (if there is any). So here she is in her own words.
"Hatched (or, possibly, whelped), on January 9th, 1958, I was the first sprog of Captain John Browning and his uxorious type, Judith. By a ghastly coincidence, as I was being delivered at one end of the hospital in Aldershot, my father was being discharged from the Army at the other, due to a diagnosis of diabetes.
I was dragged up in Headington, a suburb of Oxford, and attended first St Andrew's Primary School – where I was bullied mercilessly for being posh – and then Milham Ford Grammar School for girls – where I was bullied for being weird and having an odd name!
I knew, from age eight onwards that I wanted to be a writer – and started my first journal two days before my fourteenth birthday; it is a habit I have kept up now for forty-two years!
I had a fabulous five years living in, and around, Aberystwyth, Mid-Wales: went to the university there and got a degree in English Literature, dossed for another year (hoping the real world would go away) and then, in a rash moment, did a PGCE (Post-graduate Certification in Education).
This last resulted in my getting a job – last thing I wanted! – as an English teacher in a school in Weston-super-Mare. There I stayed, like some moth-eaten old gryphon, for thirty years!
Two years ago, I bailed out of the leaking ship of education – and became a full-time writer. I have published a novel on Amazon Kindle (Long-Leggety Beasties) and have my very own blog (Alien Aura's Blog) on Wordpress. Thus far, I have made almost no money from writing – but I love it anyway!
Married, with a sixteen year old son, I live in the South West of England – and, when not blogging or diarising, I play fiddle in a group with several friends, perform in local plays, read, walk the dog, meditate and go on Ritual Drama weekends."
"Life in Canada’s smallest province Prince Edward Island became infinitely more interesting in the past few years when Susan Rodgers finally took the plunge and left full-time employment to pursue her creative passions. Susan’s journey into writing started with a box of wartime letters discovered in the attic of the historic house where she worked, which launched her first half-hour screenplay and then filmed drama, Bobby’s Peace. When a period television series, Emily of New Moon, came to town Susan had to become involved. She started as a stand-in and double before joining the wardrobe department to help monitor on-set continuity (e.g., removing modern watches from the wrists of forgetful actors!). When the series ended, Susan went back to full time museum work but alas, so many stories cried out for release! Eventually the call to try storytelling in film was so strong that she had no choice but to pack herself and her seventeen-year-old son Christopher into a tiny Pontiac Sunfire and drive across Canada to Vancouver, where she studied film for a year. A number of projects resulted, including the web series A Time to Drum, period short film Dreamers, short comedy The New Neighbours, music video for Christopher’s haunting song Silence, Bloodhound (YouTube), and many client documentary-style films. Susan’s journey into writing novels evolved from the need to focus on storytelling in a simpler form. The Drifters books (A Song for Josh, Promises and No Greater Love) have been defined as a cross between the genres of women’s literature and romance. Susan was a finalist in the 2011 Atlantic Writing Awards for her as yet unpublished first novel A Certain Kind of Freedom. A well received excerpt has been re-worked as a short story and featured in the Writers’ Drawer anthology. Novels Seasmoke and Riptide are well underway. Susan is also in post-production on her first feature documentary film The Healing Place. Plans to produce a feature drama within the next few years are percolating as well. And, most fun of all – Susan finally tried acting, and just finished a run as Elizabeth Caulder in the James McLure play Laundry & Bourbon. Life is short!"