Interviewing Stephen L Wilson (U.S.A)
Interviewer : Kiriti Sengupta (India)
Hi Stephen !! This is Kiriti from India. I must congratulate and thank you for the painstaking effort you have invested towards the making of a global anthology, Twist of Fate. Being the administrator of the group Indies in Action and the Chief Editor of the anthology, I would appreciate if you, please, answer me. Are you ready ?
Stephen: I am ready, Kiriti. Thank you very much for taking the time to put together the ideas and thoughts of the people behind the work. I hope that those who read this are inspired by our project.
Kiriti: What made you form the group Indies in Action ?
Stephen: It actually began in 1996. I was in Oklahoma City the year after the Alfred P. Murrah building was destroyed by a domestic terrorist attack. 167 people died, and the entire community was affected. There was virtually nobody who didn’t know someone who was affected. I guess you could say I was mad at God, and I wrote my feelings down on paper. The result was the short piece “Angels Were Sent,” which is included in our anthology. I showed it to a few people, and then it was filed away, helping nobody but me. Then, on December 12, when the Sandy Hook school was attacked in Newtown, Connecticut, I was teaching middle school students when the announcements were made over the radio. I saw the shock on the faces of those 11 year-old students, and I was enraged! By the time I arrived at home, I knew what I had to do. Rather than sit helpless, or maybe write my frustrations down on paper to be filed away, I decided to put my emotions into action. It was that day when Indies In Action was created. I put out a call, and created a Facebook event inviting authors, poets and artists from around the world to join together and put their feelings into motion. Together we created a charity anthology, Angels Cried, to help the victims of that horrible shooting. Not only did our work provide a way to put our talents to use for a good cause, money was raised for the people who needed it the most, and many of us became friends because of the project.
Kiriti: What is the objective of this global anthology ? And how many countries are involved in this project ?
Stephen: The objective of this global anthology is two-fold in nature. First, we will create a quality book, in both paperback and electronic copy, with all of the proceeds going to charity. In this case, the charity is May Tornadoes Relief Fund, managed by the United Way. The second part of the project is to provide for people who are not otherwise able to help a venue to express their feelings, and to feel like they are DOING something, instead of wishing there was something they could do to help. On this anthology, titled Twist of Fate, there are about 60 talented authors and poets from seven different countries, representing multiple customs and beliefs, as well as regions of their respective countries. All together there are 78 entries in the anthology. Contributors from the United States alone range from Hawaii to Florida, with mutiple authors hailing from “Tornado Alley,” the section of the Midwest known for its frequency of these violent storms. India is well represented, as there are several contributors from that nation alone!
Kiriti: Who are the sub-editors of Twist of Fate ?
Stephen: Right now, the only other editor is Chrystal Schall, who has been faithfully working behind the scenes. As need arises, I expect that there will be a few others who will work with me to finalize the work. I know Allison Bruning, Don Martin and Lisa Williamson have expressed an interest in helping, along with a few others. I have worked with these folks on Angels Cried, and I trust them as worthy editors.
Kiriti: What were the criteria in selecting the literary pieces ?
Stephen: There is not an easy answer to this question. As the submissions accrued, I tried to accept works that both fit the overall themes, as well as offer breaks from the strong mental imagery provided by many of the authors. For example, Eleni Papanou submitted works with a peaceful theme, alluding to the calming effect of nature. This balanced out other works by authors and poets who felt the need to express their strong emotions regarding the power and destruction of nature. I also tried to mix in a balance of stories and poetry. It is difficult to deny a person’s heartfelt and sincere work, but in order to create a professional, worthy book, it was necessary to achieve a balance, and to provide a structure that would come across as both comforting and truthful at the same time. In the end, the accepted works fell into this “criteria,” if you wish to call it that.
Kiriti: As they say, Charity begins at home. Do you believe in it ?
Stephen: Yes. I believe that, like Gandhi said, we must be the change we want to see in the world. This starts at home, and by doing good deeds for others, not only do we feel good about ourselves, we have the opportunity to brighten someone else’s day.
Kiriti: It is a team-effort, no doubt. Keeping your attention primarily on charity, do you think that Twist of Fate may well be treated as a Collectors’ Edition, from the point of its literary value ?
Stephen: I don’t think along those lines. I am not really one to seek fame or recognition. My motivation is partly selfish, though. I feel better by working hard to create something of value, which will help others. By others, I mean, of course, the victims who will receive the donations from the anthology, but I also mean the others such as yourself who find the time to contribute and gain a sense of purpose by helping others. If our efforts gain recognition, and in turn lead to huge sales, that will be helpful for the cause, so it is a nice thought, but not something I dream about or expect to happen. In the end, a group of wonderful people came together and attempted to use their skills to help those in need. If everyone could manage to think like this, the world would be a much better place.
Thank you so much Stephen for answering me, I wish you stupendous success. Keep well.