Holly Allin’s piece, “A Single Step” (Issue 2), depicts a biking adventure from Argentina to Alaska, a stray dog and a lesson on courage. In her interview, Allin discusses how photos helped with her piece, her inspiration for writing her piece, and monkeys.
Holly Allin refers to Anchorage, Alaska, as home, but there are no roots growing under her feet. She has traveled in over 50 countries on 7 continents and bicycled more than 13,000 miles. She shares about her last bicycling adventure at Holly Would On A Bike and is in the process of writing a book of her travels. She is one of less than two hundred women who have spent the winter at the South Pole. “A Single Step” is Holly’s publishing debut.
What inspired you to create this piece? An invitation for submission by Traci Macnamara and knowing I had a good story to tell that fell in line with the subject that quarter.
How would you characterize your creative process as you worked on this piece? ex: fast and furious, slow brew, fits and starts). Slow brew.
What writing or other artistic expression has had a profound impact on your writing? Photographs of travels past. Looking at the photos inspires me to tell the story surrounding that moment.
I believe it is very beneficial for me to look at photos in order to tell stories. It also helps me to recall that there is a story to be told! I have been traveling for 25+ years on all seven continents and I have a zillion stories! I don’t always remember people I met or believe it or not, adventures I have had until I see a photo and then I think “Oh yeah, I remember that guy who picked us up hitchhiking, he was so nice!” That makes me want to write the story and would most definitely clear a writer’s block. I also have tons of journals that help me remember details.
Where do you create? Tell us about your workspace. A desk in my bedroom or the living room lounger chair.
Who has been influential in your writing/creative work? My boyfriend, Eric. Why? He is always supportive, encouraging, and always reads my writing and critiques it objectively.
What do you do to help yourself get over a creative block? I look at the many photos I have that are waiting to have their stories told.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with us about this piece? This piece I hold near to my heart because of the great subject matter. I am so happy to have been able to tell the story of Munchi-my guardian angel as my first published work!
We asked Holly to dip into the “Proust Questionnaire” and select a few fun (less writing-related) questions to answer. This probing set of questions originated as a 19th-century parlor game popularized by contemporaries of Marcel Proust, the French essayist and novelist, who believed that an individual’s answers reveal his or her true nature.
If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be? A monkey.
When and where were you happiest? While traveling, anywhere.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse? I love… (fill in the blank because I seem to love everything!).
What is your greatest extravagance? Traveling, traveling, and traveling.
Which talent would you most like to have? To be able to sing well.
Who is your hero of fiction? Tigger!!!
What is your current state of mind? Extremely happy.
What is your motto? “Saving the planet, one straw at a time.”
Why would you want to come back as a monkey? I love being in trees, nature, forests, and I love being upside down! I think it would be great to have a tail I think monkeys are very smart which would give me some level of intelligence too.
This interview was curated by Erika Williams, Proximity‘s Interview Series Coordinator and a creative writing student at Ohio University.