Interview with Eleanor D Alspaugh, author of “The Mommy-Go-Round”

When did it dawn upon you that you wanted to be a writer?

I absolutely had NO thoughts of writing a book when I first started to write. I wrote, partly for my own benefit (maybe my own sanity?) to help sort out my feelings and find some humor in my sometimes crazy life as a mother. At the same time, I also loved my kids “to the moon and back” and wanted to keep some of our stories, particularly some of the funny times, to share with them in the future. It wasn’t until I had written about half of The Mommy-Go-Round that it occurred to me that this IS a BOOK. I felt it was funny and touching and I was definitely enjoying writing it. Eventually it became something that I really wanted to finish and share with others.

What inspires you to write?

I feel inspired by my love for my family and my desire to capture moments and times in our lives. I also want to touch other people’s hearts with my books, particularly those who may be going through similar experiences and reassure them that they are not alone.

What makes this particular genre you are involved in so special?

Motherhood and Parenting affects all of us in one way or another. Even people who don’t have children were once someone’s child. I’ve been told that people can relate to my stories because they center around family dynamics and the sometimes craziness of family life. In fact even men have read it and laughed and told me that they loved The Mommy-Go-Round. They also enjoy the fun I poke at my husband within the book. They probably relate to that too but don’t mention that part!

Writers are often associated with loner tendencies; is there any truth to that?

I suspect there may be some truth to that, at least for me. I enjoy writing alone but I still feel I lead a fairly normal life, frequently spending time with family and friends.

How possessive are you about your work?

I would say I’m very possessive. For about 7 years no one even knew I was writing. Then only my immediate family knew. Eventually I shared the fact that I write with others which is fun. However, I generally don’t share my writing until the book is almost completed. And when I do finally share it, I wait with bated breath to hear what the person thought of the book.

Do reviews still excite you as much as it did the first time you received one?

Absolutely! I love to see a new review and love it even more when they join the ranks saying that they could relate to the book, loved it and were truly touched by the book! That sends me soaring!

Who is the most supportive of your writing in your family?

Within my immediate family, I would say my husband Steve but I have a number of extended family members and friends that are very supportive and encouraging.

When you were young, did you ever see writing as a career or full-time profession?

No I really didn’t. I loved to read as a child but I don’t recall ever thinking that I might write books someday. I think some of my former coworkers suspected I might as they use to tease me for writing elaborate emails with my plans to conquer our system issues. They were right!!

Do you have a day job other than being a writer? And do you like it?

I did. I was an Assistant Vice President for many years but when it seemed they wanted to reinvent the wheel, I decided to take an early retirement and finish this book and others floating around in my head. I’m also self-employed as a photographer and have been since 2006.

Does your day job ever get in the way of your writing?

Not any more!

What is your view on co-authoring books; have you done any?

To date, I have preferred to write alone. However, I’ve been blessed to have some very good friends who gave me valuable guidance. I have made other contacts since then who have also been helpful. However, much of what I write is very personal and while I’m sure, many women could have contributed their own stories to The Mommy-Go-Round, I really wanted to write this book on my own, and have it center around my life as both a mother and a daughter. I have mentioned to my daughter Holly the possibility of collaborating on a Spanish speaking children’s book in the future. Holly accomplished what I once dreamed of when I was young. She is a wonderful Spanish teacher.

Do you think you still have a story to tell to the readers?

I’m not sure my family would agree, but yes, I have a story or two to tell. As far as The Mommy-Go-Round book, I always described it as heartwarming & humorous and I feel as though I’m breaking the Motherhood Code of Silence with A tell ALL book on motherhood & childhood and everything in between.

Which writer’s work do you believe most resembles your work?

The work of Erma Bombeck. She found the humor of family life long before I joined her in the often crazy world of Motherhood! Several people have also mentioned to me the resemblance of my writing to hers. I was extremely honored by that comparison.

Do you pen down revelations and ideas as you get them, right then and there?

Absolutely! Before iphones, I jotted notes down on paper as they came to me but now I use the note section of my iphone to quickly get my thoughts down. I have even written more than just an idea on my phone if the idea was flowing well.

Is there anything you are currently working on that may intrigue the interest of your readers?

I believe so. I’m currently working on a book called The Heart of a Soldier which is centered primarily around my Father’s World War 2 experiences as a soldier as written in his letters home to my Mother. The letters share his life as a soldier as well as his love for my Mother and their hopes for a future together. The book also includes my thoughts and feelings and touch on select events occurring during the war as well as what his outfit, The Sixth Armored Division, was experiencing as the letters were being written. I’ve also started a sequel to The Mommy-Go-Round but plan to complete The Heart of a Soldier first.

How important is research to you when writing a book?

For The Mommy-Go-Round, it was centered around life experiences, so no textbook research was necessary. Instead, it drew from “On the Job” experiences. However, for The Heart of a Soldier, I definitely needed to research the events surrounding World War 2 and the experiences of my Father’s Division once they joined the D-Day Invasion and engaged in combat against Nazi Germany.

How much of yourself do you put into your books?

In order to break the “Motherhood Code of Silence,” I felt I had to be completely honest, and therefore, I share both my feelings and my heart. This is true for both The Mommy-Go-Round and The Heart of a Soldier.

Which of your books took you the most time to write?

The Mommy-Go-Round was probably record breaking as it took me about 15 years to complete it since it was written while I was also living the CrAzY working mother life. I wrote late at night when my children were in bed, wrote on weekends and vacations. I wrote whenever I could squeeze it in between being a wife, mother of 3, working full time, as well as being a part time photographer for my children’s teams and my own small business. However, I have also spent a substantial amount of time writing The Heart of a Soldier.

Have you ever turned a dream or a nightmare into a written piece?

Actually yes. I was always amused by the strange things I would dream about as I tried to balance life as a working mother. I found it particularly humorous when I’d dream that I was cleaning, doing laundry, grocery shopping, trying to escape for a long overdue visit with a friend or family, etc. so yes, I worked some of that into my writing.

How many siblings do you have? How many of them share your passion?

I had two brothers who sadly have passed on. However my one brother liked to write and had been both a writer and editor for both college and community publications. He knew I was writing but sadly he died unexpectedly and like the rest of my childhood family, never got the chance to read my writings. Hopefully they are close by, reading over my shoulder and nodding their approval.

How active are you on social media? And how do you think it affects the way you write?

It varies. I do tweet about what I’m writing. I think it’s fun to come up with creative tweets but I don’t think it really affects the way I write. Readers can follow me at: @elalspaugh.

I’m also on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/TheMommyGoRound/

and have a blog at: themgr.blogspot.com

Also my photography business and The Mommy-Go-Round share my photosbyel.com website. All these sites have excerpts and reviews.

Do you enjoy theatre? Would you ever like one of your stories to be turned into a play?

I have always enjoyed plays (and musicals too). I would absolutely LOVE it if one of my books was turned into a play. I could see that fitting well with The Heart of a Soldier. I personally see The Mommy-Go-Round more like episodes from a sitcom.

What is that dream goal you want to achieve before you die?

I’m hoping to reach more readers who will laugh and cry through both The Mommy-Go-Round (and eventually its sequel) and The Heart of a Soldier. I hope readers will relate to these books and the family love and life experiences contained within each of them.