Q: How did you get started writing?

I can’t remember a time where I didn’t write. In 3rd grade I remember writing small plays and asking classmates to act in them. My “allowance” went to pads and pencils. Oh to go back to those days when I had unlimited time and energy to write.

Q: What made you decide to write in the genre you chose?

Well, I have tried to write fiction and have failed… miserably. I write what’s inside me, emotions, feelings, memories, all painful at times. However, that kind of writing to me is eventually cathartic.

Q: What are some of the steps you take to ready yourself to write?

When the dogs have been fed and are back on the couch, when it is totally silent, when I begin to reach back into the past, I am ready. I take many breaks because my writing is so personal, so from the heart, and is true that it takes quite a toll emotionally.

Q: Do you have any hobbies? What do you like to do in your free time?

My free time right now is teaching my 41-year-old son to cook. Tanner recently retired from 20 years active Army and came home. As a Combat Engineer, he never learned how to cook, start a grill, or even bake cookies. We are both having a great deal of fun with this. Each recipe he learns will be my gift to him: one that I got from my mother and she got from hers.

Q: What is your all-time favorite book? Movie?

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles comes to mind instantly. I just love that movie! Anything that W. Bruce Cameron writes is my favorite book. He has an amazingly simple style that places me within the book and I experience what he does along with all of the emotion written on each page. The highest compliment I ever received was from a reader who reviewed my book, “Broken Spokes.” She said my style reminded her of W. Bruce Cameron. To me, that was the highest tribute I could ever receive.

Q: When you read for yourself, what is your favorite genre?

That’s a difficult question to answer. I find that I don’t read as much as I used to and between editing and my own writing, it’s hard for me to switch over to just reading for pleasure. I guess when I do settle down to read it would be books about dogs or short stories about anything. Suffer from short attention span when it comes to reading.

Q: After a difficult day what do you do to recuperate? How do you unwind?

I have become a fan of Judge Judy and find myself watching her show from 4 pm to 6 pm. I also enjoy The Big Bang Theory and its spin-off, Young Sheldon. Escaping for a few hours, I know there are still lessons to learn even from trivial shows.

Q: For what are you grateful?

If you had asked me this question even a year ago, I would have a different answer. Right now I am very thankful for the last six months with my son. We spent so little time together in the past 20 years, that this time with him is truly amazing. Time living together however, has come to an end. Tanner got the job he has been waiting for since he retired and will be moving to an apartment about an hour away. We will still see each other once a week or so, but to me will still be away. Apparently I have a difficult time with “Empty Nest Syndrome.”

Q: If you could go back in time to when you were seven years old, what wisdom or advice would you pass on to yourself?

When I was seven years old, unfortunately I was hospitalized, but around that age, I would have said, “Watch out for that car!” Seriously, I think my advice would be to take it easier on myself – physically as well as emotionally. I have pushed too hard for so very long. I could have avoided a lot of pain that I feel now.

Q: At what age were you the happiest? What triggered such joy?

My early 20’s were an incredible time! I owned my own horse and loved riding as well as competing. I also was involved in theater. Singing and dancing in Jesus Christ Superstar was exhilarating, and the most alive I have ever felt. I have never been able to recapture that emotion, that joy. Oh I have had some incredibly amazing moments in my life, but that time period will always stand out as the greatest.

Broken Spokes by Arlene R ONeilQ: How can our readers connect with you?

My book, “Broken Spokes” is available on Amazon and I also have an author page. On Facebook I am on two pages – Arlene R. O’Neil and Arlene R. Gallo-O’Neil.

I do proof reading and editing and can be contacted at arleneoneil@aol.com