Hello, everyone. My name is April Morone, and this is the blog where I write about and introduce the writers I admire. And one of the writers I admire who I am having as a guest on my blog, today, is Lena Winfrey Seder. She is a fellow author and a dear friend who I think is a kindred spirit. I did an interview with her to post, here. My interview with her is below:
1.) Tell everyone a little bit about you, about who you are, about what led you to write, and about what inspires you to write.
I am originally from a small town in Bluefield, Virginia. I am descended from Irish, German, Scottish and British roots. I have a brother and a half-sister who are older than me. I did my BA at Bluefield College and went on to achieve my MA in English Literature at VA Tech University. I traveled and lived around many places in the world, particularly in the Middle East and Africa. I have a background in drama and music as well; I achieved a minor in music and used to study voice and piano. Growing up I also played the clarinet. For a brief period, I took dance as well. Currently, I am interested in Tae Kwondo, and I hold a purple belt. And I just started playing chess and love it! My sons encouraged me to play since they take chess lessons and do tournaments.
I was so wrapped up in music and acting that it is a wonder that I explored my writing talents. I used to look at writing as just a hobby while growing up and it was a means of expressing myself, especially in poetry. As a teen I used to write song lyrics. Then, when I switched over to Literature as a study, I became more fascinated with stories and the written parts of plays. I was taking creative writing in high school and in college, so this sparked my interest as well. Though my earliest short story that I recall is when I was about eight years old about a princess. I even illustrated it! I started writing more when my dear friend passed away at the age of 16; she was a writer, too and we had a series going on between us where almost daily we would come up with humorous stories and create characters from the people around us. After her death, I started writing more on my own and expressing my grief.
Finally, one day, I realized that I actually was a writer and why not just make it a career because I enjoyed it so much, and because I found writing to flow out of me so easily. I realized it really was a gift. So, then I seriously started writing short stories and did some journalism, too for a local newspaper as well as for various newspapers while living abroad.
I have been working on novels and screenplays. I wrote both fiction and non-fiction, and I do not like being boxed into one character or genre. I want to write what I’m interested in when I’m inspired.
Sometimes, I get inspired due to a cause in the news. Sometimes there is just a need that I see that needs to be met. And sometimes it is just purely the act of creation. I still use my writing to expression my emotions and my thoughts. Also, I enjoy playing with words and literary devices; I love to create for the act of creating something beautiful. It depends on mood and inspiration. Writing to me is like the air I breathe and the water I drink; I cannot survive without it.
2.) I noticed that you like to help advocate for everyone. To what inspired to do so, and to do via your writing, as well?
Indeed, I’m interested in many issues. I like to help people and do a lot of volunteer work. While living in West Africa, I helped my children’s school and did a lot of fundraising and PTA work as well as marketing. I taught classes to some of the women there about child development and education. I’m also interested in fighting against domestic violence (for children and women). I have come to realize that abuse is rampant world-wide and can happen anywhere in any culture and any religion. It needs to be addressed and is a serious issue. I also like to inspire people and help them build their self-esteem; I grew up as a terribly shy, brainy person but I was able in high school to start pushing myself out of my shell. It is not easy, and people need this kind of encouragement. And I really have a million ideas to help society; I really would like to see the world a better and more cooperative place for everyone. Why can’t we all just learn to get along? This is one of the things I’m trying to do is to promote dialogue, understanding, communication and cooperation among various groups of people. One are one race– the human race– and we need to work together to help all of humanity.
In my writing it will come out in the form of essays, articles or even in storylines. I recently started a series of short stories about my experiences in West Africa that take a look at some of the conditions there and some tragic events that occur to some of the characters, partly based on reality.
3.) Wow! That is truly awesome and wonderful about to what has inspired you to write. And when you write, your advocating and expressions about these things come out, well, well-said, and beautifully, including in your poetry. I have read your wonderful poems. But, I’ve also noticed that you also write books that aren’t of poetry. Please tell everyone more about the types of writing and books you write, as well as to where your book can be found.
Thanks, April. I’m so glad you like my poetry. I do plan on a collection of poems one day.
I published last Spring, “The Metamorphosis of a Muslim” which is about my spiritual journey to Islam and my world travels. I make it like a simple conversation over coffee. I tried to keep it simple, yet inspiring. I give my take on countries I’ve been in and my hope for world peace in the future. It can be found at: http://www.iiphonline.com or http://www.iiph.com.sa Though available on Amazon and other places, it is better to get it from the publisher.
I am working on two non-fiction novels at the moment; one is about culture. I am working on a fictional novel that dives into the psychology of an abused woman, and I hope to get back to this one soon.
I also have two screenplays in the works. I have already written the first part of one. And I have a ton of projects in mind for the future. I keep getting bombarded with ideas, so I write down the idea or the outline and then I place it in my Idea Folder so I can come back to it later.
It is still my dream to go into film. I would really like to write and produce a film (possibly direct it, too). I enjoyed a course I took recently at Full Sail University (audited) about “Producing Independent Film”. It was an inspiring course was magnificent instructors! It takes time (and money) but one day I hope to achieve this goal.
Also, I’m one who likes variety, so in my literary pursuits I’m trying to create new types of characters and to cross-cultural bridges. I wrote all kinds of stories that combine unusual twists. I like to push the bar and to be different.
4.) O.k., enough of my part in this guest blog. Please write a blog post within this blog post to add anything you wish to add.
Now, that is not so easy. I don’t want to talk so much about myself, so I want to mention a very important topic: “Friendship”.
Friendship is vital, and it is rare to find a great friendship. The real test of friendship is when you are in need, you find them there ready to help or to encourage you. You find they really are concerned for you. I think society has grow apart, unfortunately, because we just don’t find sisterhood (or brotherhood) and friendship to be on the priority list anymore. This is a shame! I really would like to see people become kinder again and really value each other as special human beings. I would like to see people cooperating and promoting peace and love. I want to see more people involved in helping others and doing more volunteer work. Friends can be miles or even countries apart, but they understand each other and that can never fade away. I have a favorite quote about friendship:
“A friend is one to whom one may pour out all the contents of one’s heart, chaff and grain together knowing that the gentlest of hands will take and sift it. Keep what is worth keeping and with a breath of kindness blow the rest away.”
My friends are all valuable to me and special. And friendship should be about kindness, acceptance, forgiveness, loyalty and sacrifice. April is a kind, sweet friend who inspires, and I hope that I do the same for her. Good friends are rare, and that makes them a treasure!
Lena sent me via e-mail, a little more about her and about her book than is in this interview, herein, for me to add into this blog post. This information is in her own wording as she had worded and sent it to me via e-mail, below:
Lena Winfrey Seder
Writer, Editor, Lecturer, Educator
MA degree from VA Tech University in English Lit
Taught various grades from KG up to university levels both in the US and abroad
Writer of non-fiction, fiction, poetry and screenplays
Published: “The Metamorphosis of a Muslim” in May 2011 from IIPH publishers.
Married with 4 children: 3 boys and 1 girl
Hobbies: learning languages, reading, writing, tae kwondo (and playing chess, which I recently learned)
Dreams: get into producing films one day and publishing more books, esp fiction
Goals: promote peace and understanding among all peoples as well as inspiring others
Volunteer: help in my children’s school with hospitality and reading
Favorite books: I read a variety of fiction, non-fiction, educational, management. I love Harry Potter books, everything by Ernest Hemingway, Lord of the Rings, “The Face” by Dean Koontz and Norma Beishir’s “Chasing the Wind” as well as Mark Hunter’s “Storm Chaser”. I like mysteries and sci-fiction like “Dune”. I like to read variety according to my mood. Enjoy reading biographies, too (esp liked “Katherine Graham” and “Marilyn Monroe” as they were insightful). Recently I have discovered some powerful poems by friend April Morone in “From the Heart” that struck a chord in me.
Favorite films: “Braveheart’, “Gladiator”, “The Last Samurai”, “Avatar”, “His Girl Friday” (love Cary Grant), “The Da Vinci Code” (so intriguing and suspenseful), “The Message” (about the life of Prophet Muhammad; it was moving). I like a variety of films as well (Star Wars and Indiana Jones) and then on the serious side I like “The King’s Speech” (it was an amazing story)! And then I like marial art films like Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Tony Jaa, Jean Claude Van Damm.
Music: everything: classical (Mozart, Beethoven), 1980’s (esp) like Phil Collins, Bryan Adams, Whitney Houston, Journey. And Islamic music like Maher Zain and Sami Yusef. And I like some of the new things I hear on the radio from time to time. It depends on the music and lyrics. Again, I like variety.
“A friend is one to whom one may pour out all the contents of one’s heart, chaff and grain together knowing that the gentlest of hands will take and sift it. Keep what is worth keeping and with a breath of kindess blow the rest away.” (Arab Proverb)
“This is the true joy in life– that being used for a prupose recognized by yourself as a mighty one.”…”I want to be used up when I die. For the harder I work the more I live.”…”Life is no brief candle to me. It’s a sort of splendid torch which I’ve got to hold upu for the moment and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations” (George Bernard Shaw)
Current Projects: 2 non-fiction books in the works; one dealing with culture and a fictional novel that digs into psychology as well as gathering together a collection of poetry and 2 screenplays that have been started. And guiding my kids to be the best they can be.