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Shared Stories: An Interview with Sally Showalter, author of Telling Tales and Sharing Secrets

Sally Showalter 1

Sally Showalter was born and raised in rural Illinois. Much of her writing lingers through the four seasons and county of Pike. She settled in Tucson, Arizona in the mid-1980s with her husband, cats, and a backyard full of various plants from seeds collected from dozens of road trips over the years. Ms. Showalter has studied at the University of Arizona in the Creative Writing Program, Pima Community College, and the Center for Creative Writing Works. Her poetry has appeared in Pudding Magazine and Festival Writer and her fiction and memoir in collections of anthologies.

You can buy Telling Tales and Sharing Secrets here.

Are you a writer, too? Submit your manuscript to Atmosphere Press.

Tell us the story of your book’s title. Was it easy to find, or did it take forever?

The title for this book came from notes throughout the years of writing in our group. We called ourselves different names over the years. Looking back, we gleaned the truth of the matter from our experiences as writing together, from personal stories being shared, prompts that told secrets, and the surprises that came with them. We three co-authors agreed the title spoke the tightness and trust of writing, elbow to elbow.

How did it feel when you first saw your book cover? Or when you first held your book in your hands?

I love the cover of the book. This took several attempts back and forth with the designer at Atmosphere (Ronaldo Alves), and he came through. The book jacket has received many comments. Holding close to twenty-five years of writing in my hand was a dream I didn’t know I had.

Who/what made you want to write? Was there a particular person, or particular writers/works/art forms that influenced you?

I have always enjoyed storytelling and capturing those stories and memories that last far longer on paper once the storyteller is gone. When I moved to Tucson in the mid-1980s, I was at a place in my life where I wanted to expand any talent I might have. I found Tucson Authors Resource Center spearheaded by Martha Gore, a non-fiction writer, and she encompassed every form of writing, bringing in local and outside authors to encourage and instruct writing. This fed and fueled my writing I didn’t know was hidden…one thing led to another. It usually does.

What other professions have you worked in? What’s something about you that your readers wouldn’t know?

I have worked with elementary children in physical education, driven an eighteen-wheeler from the West Coast to the East Coast, and ended up at the University of Arizona for the last thirty-three years of my work life. There, I mainly worked on grants for the US Department of Education and Arizona State Education Department, strictly in the areas of drug, alcohol, and school violence prevention in middle schools through high schools.

What was the most rewarding/meaningful part of publishing your book?

Having it complete. The process was arduous at times.

What is one thing you hope readers take away from reading your book? How do you envision your perfect reader?

I hope reading the book encourages others to write together, to form a group, to spend time being brave, and to explore oneself more carefully and deeply. To expound and enjoy writing that comes from within and from others. A perfect reader loves words and can take small or large from them that can sustain a long distance of time.

What new writing projects are you currently working on? Or, other projects that are not writing?

I continue to work on pieces of memoirs and short-shorts to make a longer piece. I also have a fiction story I hope to fit more into a novella length. Over time, I have come to admire short pieces that carry a big impact.

How was working with Atmosphere Press? What would you tell other writers who want to publish?

Since Atmosphere is the first press I have worked with, I don’t have a comparison. This first experience was full of trepidation, wondering if the right press (I have no idea if there is one), what to expect, not expect, but only to plow through, ask a lot of questions, research, and be very clear on expectations. And not give up. I love the end result.

You can buy Telling Tales and Sharing Secrets here.

Are you a writer, too? Submit your manuscript to Atmosphere Press.

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