An Exclusive Interview with Alanah Winters the Author of "The Beast Within"
I look at my watch, seeing that my flight out of California is only a short six hours away and I’m nowhere close to being ready for it. The kids and their guardians were long gone, lost in the sea of people frolicking at the beach. The water beckons for me to join in on the fun, but I think better of it and continue to pack up instead. I keep my body busy at my task as my mind wanders elsewhere, when the voice of a woman startles me back into the present. My eyes go to meet hers at the same time her voice meets my ears. “I’m sorry; I didn’t mean to scare you. I just wanted to see if you needed some help.”
It takes me a moment to connect the person with her photograph. She looks the same as she does in her bio’s picture, but it shocks me to see how tall she really is. She looks graceful in her simple maxi dress that seems to match the color of the ocean’s waves. I notice a slight appearance of confusion from my silence take hold over her facial expression. Now I feel the need to apologize. “Sorry Ms. Winters, I just didn’t expect to meet you on this trip.”
“Please call me Alanah. I’m so excited to meet you and thank you so much for doing all the interviews so far.”
She went on to explain that she came to surprise her children, but ran into me first. Alanah then offers her help again. I accept and we make quick work of packing the rest of my things. I say as a joke that this time could be used for her mini interview. With a quick okay and a shrug of her shoulders, the chance meeting turns into just that. We start to walk the beach. I feel my heart go into my throat, because of my big mouth I need to come up with an interview on the fly. Here goes nothing…
The one thing everyone should know by now is the name of your novel, The Beast Within. However the name we don’t know is your birth name. Why is that?
That’s a big question that I guess deserves a full answer. Well, my dad’s love of cinema rubbed off on me at a very young age. I can remember being seven and trying to figure out a Disney character’s motives and inner turmoil. I would also pick apart movies for their foreshadowing elements to see if I could predict their endings. I mean, I had it bad. I quickly graduated into the classics, “Gone with the Wind”, “West Side Story”, so on and so forth. Soon my passion evolved into wild imaginations of my own, building on my need to create. Still I had a way in my youth of always making this ‘need’ of mine take a back seat to my more practical sensibilities. However, the older I became the more I felt comfortable venturing further into my dreams and creations. That’s around the time I found that I held a persona inside of me that didn’t let anything hold me back; she’s almost like a separate entity, so I named her Alanah Winters. Plus I really love that name. [She smiles big with a chuckle to follow it, waiting for my next question.]
When your path finally started down the road of fictional writing, did you begin with the story or with the characters?
That’s tricky, because the easiest answer would be the story came first. I know people have already heard the whole I had a dream and wrote it out bit, but that’s how it happened for me. It was a very frightening place I dreamed up that I was stuck in with Porsha. Now that I think of it, she’s the only character that existed in my head before my hands ever touched the keyboard. Then again, Danielle’s character I feel I’ve known for thirty-four years and counting. In many ways she is me. So I guess I took myself out of the scary place and placed Danni there instead. I’m such a chicken, sorry Danielle. [She chuckled once more and I joined her before continuing.]
So it’s a case of the ‘chicken or the egg’?
Yeah, I guess it is.
The similarities between you and Danielle are remarkable. I mean, if we were to list them…
I know, right? Okay, let’s do that. We’re both nurses, mothers with two kids and wives. However I have to say our backstories differ tremendously.
If you can tell us without giving too much away, how do you two differ from each other?
Sure. My backstory is blissfully boring compared to hers.
Did you decide to write this novel just to torture your heroine? And if not, what lead you to write it?
I definitely didn’t write it to torture her. I actually love her dearly; she’s a part of me. She had said it in her interview with you, we’re growing together. My confidence as a writer ripens as her character matures. I decided to write this novel when the idea of it wouldn’t let me go and everyone in my inner circle agreed with me in thinking… Why the hell not? That has been the best decision other than my marriage and children that I’ve ever made in my life.
Don’t forget picking me for your team’s interviewer as one of your life changing choices. I know the Nathan interview was a little light…
[She waved my concern off.] He’s a charmer who is used to things going a certain way. I’ll give you another crack at him after the book is released. [Something catches her attention and I soon realize she has found her husband and kids.] Do you have any more questions for me?
Yes, one more. Is your husband anything like Nathan?
[She laughs a hearty laugh.] Yes and no.
Would you care to elaborate?
Not at this time, but I’ll let you have another crack at that too, later.
I think that’s all I need. Our meeting wasn’t expected but it was thoroughly enjoyed. I wish you nothing but the best in all of your endeavors Alanah.
The least I can do is walk you back to your car. [I watch as her kids were being held back while they were champing at the bit to share their interviewing experience with her.]
No worries, I can find my way.
[She looks at her kids and gives a fake look of exasperation before sticking her tongue out at them playfully. They do the same to her in response. She turns her attention back onto me.] I enjoyed our unexpected moment together as well. I just have to say, most of the things I cherish in my life have been unexpected. So hopefully our present and future collaborations will fall under the same umbrella. And I too only wish you nothing but the best.
[I present my hand; she bypasses it, giving me a hug instead. I wave bye to the kids and husband for a second time and make my way back to my rental.]
My time in California is regretfully over, but only for the time being. It’s obvious to me that Alanah Winters is planning on making a cozy spot to call her own in the fantastic world of fiction and I’ll be there to record it all.