Alan chats to Deborah Siepmann about writing and her serial, “Hold Fast To Your Dreams”, which is currently appearing in the magazine.
Q.1: “Hold Fast To Your Dreams” is the sequel to your “Friend” serial “The Best Of Both Worlds”. How did you find the writing second time around, revisiting some familiar faces and picking up their storylines again?
I was so eager to see how they’d react to their new surroundings and situations. They had so many challenges to face.
Q.2: Emily was the heroine in the original, whereas her sister, Jenny, takes centre stage here? Was this a natural transition for you, and out of all the characters featured in the two serials, who is your favourite and why?
I feel close to both Emily and Jenny. I moved from California to England, and Emily did the reverse. We experienced so many of the same emotions with our transatlantic adventures. Jenny is a younger sister, like I am. My sister and I are each other’s best friends, but I know how it feels when your sister has more vivid memories of certain events than you do. An older sibling will be first to do so many things. Perhaps I wanted to give Jenny a chance to be first. I like both Emily and Jenny for their strength of purpose, and their wish to do good for others through their creativity and hard work.
Q.3: People might not be aware, but you are also an accomplished pianist. In a creative sense, how do the parallels between music and writing affect you?
Both involve the power of the subconscious, and the mysterious union of emotion and thought, along with craftsmanship. As a musician, one is playing music that has been created by a great master. You try to bring what you see on the page to life, and work to become at one with it, while being true to the composer’s intentions. As a writer, one is creating characters, a setting and storyline out of the air, so to speak. There are so many similar challenges in both, such as resisting the temptation of becoming overly immersed in detail, at the expense of the overall flow.
Q.4: Though you have written short stories for us, I think you’ll agree when I say serials are your forte? What is it you enjoy most about them?
One can expand into a serial, and there is freedom to explore. It feels like a long adventure, with time to get to know people along the way.
Q.5: Notebook and pencil or laptop? Kitchen table or study? Blank wall or inspiring view?
I adore pretty notebooks and I’d love to train myself to write in them. But I feel at one with my beloved old laptop, which even survived having a cup of tea spilled into it. I write either in the kitchen or a little guest room, surrounded by things that make me feel cosy.
P.S., What’s your one top tip for aspiring writers?
Be aware of what opens your imagination, frees you and lifts your heart – those magical “chinks of light” that seem to expand and fill you with possibilities. Those chinks can be anything – places, colours, sights, music. They won’t necessarily seem like things that directly feed your writing, but mysteriously they eventually have a way of doing just that. Invite them in, unquestioningly.