What was it like not having the things we have today?
This is a great question! Of course, I didn’t know anything different so I was very happy as a kid but, oh, my gosh, if I had had the kind of access to information you have today, I would have been thrilled. I remember sitting in the school library and having to copy from the encyclopedia’s all the information I wanted and needed to write a report. I would write so much my hand would cramp up and still, I always felt like I did not have enough research material for my reports. Then, you would go home and have to rewrite everything. I didn’t have computers or printers, no email or www . Imagine this… imagine only having three channels to watch television! We had a small black and white television set and sometimes you had to stand next to the tv and move the little antennas around so the picture would not be fuzzy.
I know, I know … you CAN’T even imagine that!
To make things even crazier, I lived in Moscow, Russia when I was 10 to 13 years old. I went from having only three television channels to NO television channels. No fast food, no DVDs or movies, no video games or computer. I had comic books, books and a very big imagination!
When did you start writing books?
Another excellent question! I wrote my first screen play when we were moving to Moscow, Russia. It was wonderful because it distracted me from the fact that I was moving away from everything and everyone I loved. But it also started my career. While we lived in Moscow, I attended an Anglo-American School that was an hour bus ride away. It was a school that had English speaking kids from all over the world and I made many friends but it was difficult, too. There were so few things for us to do. And when you consider that it was 50 degree F BELOW 0 F, we were very limited in activities. So, I began to make up stories. But I was too embarrassed to tell the other kids that it was my story so I would always start by saying, “Oh! I saw this one movie. It was about …” and I would begin my story.
I still remember the day that my bus stopped and our bus driver said, “Это ваша остановка!” (Bet you want a translation, don’t you?? OK. He said, This is your stop.”) All the kids moaned. They wanted to hear the end of the story. The next morning, they were waiting for me to finish the “movie.” I had to make everything up as I went along. About a week later, one of the girls asked me the name of the movie because she wanted to watch it one day. I remember thinking, “Hmmm. Maybe I could be a writer!”
Were you very active as a kid?
Oh, yes! Always. I played soccer and hockey but I was always running around! I was that ding-a-ling kid who was always being dared to do something and I would (and later get yelled at by my mom for being stupid). When I turned 18, I got into martial arts and became a competitive fighter for a couple of years. I taught martial arts after I earned my black belt and then in my 20s, I made the US women’s bobsled team. I played professional women’s football and started doing what is called Adventure Writing. It is so cool. I got to test drive the Volvo Gravity car, wear fire fighter gear and go into a burning building, put on a dog attack suit and run from a dog (not as easy as you think!) and even try to outrun a beefalo. A beefalo is a mix between a buffalo and a cow and …. those guys can run fast!!!!
Today, I tell my own kids that it is so important to be active. I know it sounds kind of corny but when you’re active, you much happier and healthier. You sleep better, usually eat better, feel stronger and have a better work ethic that definitely rolls over into how you study and participate in class. And, you learn how to play with others. Losing is just as important as winning. In fact, even more so. As a writer, I am often told “no thank you” to book proposals. I have to learn to say, “Okay, I’ll try again!” This attitude comes from being in sports.
Why did you want to write books?
As I mentioned earlier, I always loved to tell stories. I traveled so much as a child; I was exposed to all kinds of cultures. I was born in Germany but have lived and/or traveled throughout Europe, Africa and the Middle East. When I was in the 8th grade, I had a school field trip to Central Asia and I’ve traveled throughout the United States. We counted it all out once and figured we have lived in Maryland, Virginia, Texas, Louisiana, Kansas, Hawaii, Ohio, Colorado, Arizona, Missouri and California. I learned to love people and listen to their different stories.
Have you ever met someone and thought, ‘Wow! That person is really cool?’ I think the same thing. But then I also imagine their story in a book.
Today, I love to write fiction and non-fiction books. Animals, people, sports, health, environment … you name it, I love it! I hope you can check out my website and see my kid’s books at http://www.allredbooks.com
Do you have health issues in your family?
We did not used to have problems. My kids were super healthy. They never even had head colds but then we moved to a town that produces cement and a lot of dangerous chemicals come out from the stacks. But it wasn’t just my kids who got sick, it was lots and lots of other kids. So one day when Tommy, my son, was at Children’s Hospital, a doctor there told me that I needed to do some research on what was actually in the “steam” that we could see coming from the stacks. (This is another reason I love the Internet!) I was shocked by what I found out.
I began talking to officials, I wrote letters, I appeared on the news and in magazines talking about the health issues and why we need to have clean air. It was really hard because the big businesses do not like to have that kind of publicity and would try to make it look like everything was okay. This was very frustrating so I traveled to Washington D.C. and met with U.S. Senators and Congressmen and women. My kids even got to meet Barack Obama.
Until Tommy got sick, I never really thought about air. Air is air, right? NO! When bad chemicals are in the air, it can affect your heart, lungs, how you breathe and even think. That’s right. Did you know that certain chemicals can actually damage your brain? It is crazy!! But what is crazier is that businesses are still allowed to put such chemicals into our air. So, always look for my name because I am always going to be fighting for clean air for you, your family and friends. Too many people do not understand why clean air is important but now YOU know. I hope you will always have the courage and strength to stand up and speak out against something that is harmful to others.
Thank you for talking to me! I loved this. 🙂