Friday, March 24, 2017
Author Spotlight, Robin Gregory, on her award winning title, The Improbable Wonders of Moojie Littleman
WHEN DID YOU FIRST KNOW YOU WANTED TO BE A WRITER AND WHY?
I started journaling as a teenager, and writing poetry, then short stories. It was not with
the dream of being a writer; it was the only way I seemed to be able to process events,
circumstances, relationships. The sixties brought new chaos with them, women’s lib,
drugs, sexual liberation, racial divides, the war, power shifting to the individual. It was all
quite bewildering for me. Writing is a way to witness myself, to observe, to know that I
exist. It helps me find myself in the seams of the inner and outer world.
AS A CHILD, WHAT DID YOU ASPIRE TO BE WHEN YOU GREW UP?
I always wanted to be an trapeze artist.
HOW DID YOU GET THE IDEA FOR YOUR AWARD WINNING TITLE?
My son. His special needs have been extremely difficult, and yet he continues to be
charming, courageous, and enthusiastic about life. When family and strangers distance
themselves from him, he continues to offer them kindness. When other children exclude
him from play, he smiles at them. Moojie’s journey is a composite of both my son’s and
my own awakening. We both have been growing, either through the pain of our own
willfulness, or through surrender to the greater mysteries of life. If I learned nothing else,
it would be this one thing: the Creator, the Source, God, is infinitely patient, and will
grant us all the time we need to awaken.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LINE FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK AND WHY?
"If life were all sunshine and chocolate, there wouldn’t be any saints and
we’d never find our way back to heaven."
Moojie’s mother says this when he is having a particularly tough time. It represents the
foundation of the story. While our lives at times might seem impossible, challenges
serve a crucial purpose: they are exactly what cause us to develop our inner
resources, to master our gifts, and realize deep, lasting fulfillment.
WHICH OF YOUR CHARACTERS FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING TITLE DO
YOU BELIEVE ARE MOST LIKE YOU AND WHY?
I suppose all the characters are drawn from parts of myself, but the one most like me is
Moojie’s mother. Though she is not quite awakened in the story, she is determined,
fierce, and believes in the power of love. She sees potential in her son where others do
not. She believes Moojie has an auspicious destiny. But I am also like Moojie in my
struggle to surrender with willfulness, impulsiveness, and self-sabotaging habits. Ha! To
one degree or another, I suppose I will always be working on these.
WHAT MESSAGE DO YOU HOPE READERS WILL GLEAN FROM YOUR
AWARD WINNING BOOK?
I would like to remind readers that each of us, no matter what our present state or
condition, is wired for miracles. Miracles occur when we merge with Grace. My greatest
hope is for readers to become engaged on a soul level while reading. It is a privilege to
give folks a story that will invite them to take a closer look at themselves, to question
whether or not they have accepted false limitations. We all have challenges. But often it
is our own judgment of them that keeps us stuck. Miracles are a matter of opening
ourselves to the healing/guiding forces of the universe. There truly are no mistakes.
We’ve always done the best we can, and everything along the way has helped us
realize our power. No matter how we appear today—be it sick, well, able-bodied or
disabled, alone or with family—we shape our own possibilities.
TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE AS A WRITER:
While working as a journalist, I wrote my first novel, a terrible thing, that I’m glad to say
never got published.
WHICH AUTHOR HAS MOST GREATLY INFLUENCED YOUR WRITING STYLE?
Oh boy, I’m not sure I can name one. I love the classics, Homer’s Odyssey, Cervantes’
Don Quixote, and The Thousand and One Nights. Other books of great influence were
One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel García Márquez, Kafka’s The
Metamorphosis, and Kipling’s Just So Stories.
WHAT BOOK HAS HAD THE GREATEST IMPACT ON YOUR LIFE?
One Hundred Years of Solitude. It is a mind-altering book that expanded my awareness
of what is possible, not only in literature, but in life.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST LITERARY ACCOMPLISHMENT?
If you mean what do I feel has been my greatest contribution to literature, I would surely
say The Improbable Wonders of Moojie Littleman. My hope was to write a story that
gave transcendence a pedestrian quality, that included miracles as natural
DO YOU HAVE ANY WRITING RITUALS?
Writing for me does not require discipline, doing anything else does. I’d rather write than
eat. When I’m writing, I’m like the kid in the sandbox, building roads and moats and
castles, as if nothing else existed. Throughout the day, I’m always taking mental and
written notes because Life is always presenting ideas for interpretation. I prefer to write
the first draft by hand. When I am lacking inspiration, I clear my mind with meditation, or
read poetry and the classics. And oh yea, a fresh, steeping cup of English tea with milk
always helps. Writing can complicate family life. Once, I had to work 26 hours straight to
meet a deadline. Fortunately, my husband was able to take over. He’s a good cook.
HOW DID YOU GET PUBLISHED?
After failing to secure an agent or a publishing contract that met my standards, I
discovered Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing, Co., Inc. They are a traditional publisher that
for 20 years has offered a mentoring program for self-published authors. A wonderful
foreign rights agent approached me after seeing my book in a contest. She’s repping it
at international trade shows. We just closed a translation deal with a Chinese publisher.
WHAT DID YOU DO TO CELEBRATE THE COMPLETION OF YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK?
After thirteen years, releasing my book was incredibly liberating. My husband and I took
a trip to the San Juan Islands. I felt fresh like a butterfly just out of the cocoon.
CAN YOU DESCRIBE THE PROCESS OF BECOMING PUBLISHED AND ANY
TIPS YOU MIGHT OFFER FOR OTHER ASPIRING AUTHORS?
The most important piece of advice I can give new writers is to allow their book to ripen
before publishing. Make sure that every page sparkles, and that the story represents
something important to you. Wait until someone you do not know well reads the
manuscript and jumps up and down. Audition your editors. Send them an excerpt to see
how they respond. No one ever charged me for this. Weigh their responses. Are they
respectful? Excited? Do they see what you are after? Can they offer suggestions to
bring your vision to clarity? Never settle for “good enough.” Strive for excellence
concerning every word, the design, the cover, editing.
CAN YOU OFFER ANY ADVICE FOR WRITERS ON HOW BEST TO
PROMOTE THEIR BOOK?
Start promoting, entering contests, submitting for reviews, at least 3-4 months before
releasing your book. You can build up pre-order sales on Amazon, which can lead to
bestselling status right off.
IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU'D LIKE TO SHARE WITH OUR READERS?
Try not to take reviews too seriously. Every reader brings to a book the sum of their
state of consciousness. Not everyone is able to read with depth, or willing to take time
to savor what we have done. It is impossible to please everyone. Some of the best
literature stirs up controversy, and causes people to be angry. Anyone and everyone is
now qualified to be a reviewer. This is a two-sided blessing. While it provides readers
with an opportunity to support our work, it also gives a public platform to folks who get a
charge out of belittling our best efforts. The best feedback comes from our colleagues,
editors, publishers, and beta readers. Once your book is published, release it. Rather
than looking at reviews for feedback, go forward.
WHAT DO YOU CURRENTLY HAVE IN THE WORKS?
Presently, I am working with a producer to develop Moojie Littleman for the big screen.
Also, I am writing and editing my collection of mystical poems. I’d like to publish the
audio book of Moojie Littleman after that, and get going on a sequel!
The Chinese translation of The Improbable Wonders of Moojie Littleman will be
released by the Beijing Genuine & Profound Literary Culture Media Company, Ltd.,
February, 2018. It will be available on Amazon.