Don’t rush the process: In our culture, we’re accustomed to wanting things quickly, and to be a great author, you have to be okay with your work being ready when it’s ready. It’s essential to get feedback from others and to have professional eyes take a look at your work before you debut it to the world. I’ve been working on a new novel for a few years. When I initially received feedback from beta readers, they weren’t very positive, but after I developed and rewrote the book, the input kept getting better and better. It’s worth the wait to get your novel just right.
As part of my interview series on the five things you need to know to become a great author, I had the pleasure of interviewing Allen Wolf.
Allen Wolf is an award-winning author, filmmaker, and game creator. His company, Morning Star Games, also publishes Slap Wacky, JabberJot, and Pet Detectives as well. Allen has won a total 38 awards for his games, which have been played by hundreds of thousands of people around the world.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you share a story about what brought you to this particular career path?
A close friend was very interested in a woman he was dating, so I created a game to help them get to know each other better and gave that to them for Christmas. I created prototypes that I played with other friends who encouraged me to turn it into an actual game. That game became “You’re Pulling My Leg!” and I continued to produce more games while working as a filmmaker.
Can you share the most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career?
I’m a filmmaker, an author, and a game creator, and all three worlds came together when I was filming the movie adaption of Hooked, a novel I wrote. The character plays the You’re Pulling My Leg! game to get to know his dates in the book. The story was now coming to life as we were filming it, with my game featured on the main character’s bookshelf! It felt strange and thrilling to have all three worlds come together like that.
What was the biggest challenge you faced in your journey to becoming an author? How did you overcome it? Can you share a story about that that other aspiring writers can learn from?
I think the biggest challenge as an author for me is pressing onward until you’ve reached your goal. There are so many distractions in our lives that want to derail us from what we feel called to do — our phones, unending streaming options, commitments we shouldn’t be making. Then there are moments we might perceive as distractions that aren’t at all. Those are the meaningful moments, such as when your kids need you, time with your spouse or loved ones, or anything that will matter far longer than after you’ve reached your goal. I’ve seen people push the distractions and the meaningful moments to reach a dream, and in the end, they suffer for it. It’s just not worth it. So, my solution was to work as much as I could in my life’s margins and move forward purposefully. I get up around 4:00 am and spend those morning hours focusing on my creative work. It takes patience to pursue this every day because the results are not quick. But over time, one day, you realize the project is complete, and you reached your goals without sacrificing what is essential in your life.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
My first novel was riddled with errors when it was released. I was so passionate about self-publishing my book by a particular date that I neglected to make sure everything in the book was ready for the general public. It wasn’t. I received several emails from readers who pointed out the many errors, and I was embarrassed! All I could do was laugh about my novice mistake and then go back to the manuscript to correct everything. It was a great reminder to take the time to make sure my writing is in the best possible form before it gets released to the world.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I recently released two You’re Pulling My Leg! books that are games for ages thirteen and up or the Junior version, which is nine and up. I have since discovered that it is not very common to find a game within a book. I love playing the game because I’m able to hear people’s fascinating life stories. I’m also in the process of finishing a movie based on my novel, Hooked. I wrote, directed, and produced Hooked, and it will be released in 2021. The story is about a man who believes he found his perfect soulmate, but his autism keeps him from realizing that she’s actually a prostitute. My hope is for the story to bring awareness to human trafficking and help people to see autism through a new lens. Reader response to the novel has been fantastic, so I can’t wait to experience how people respond to the movie.
Can you share the most interesting story that you shared in your book?
In my You’re Pulling My Leg! game book, you’re the interesting story. Each person playing the game chooses a question they would like to answer out of three options. The flip of the coin tells them if they should tell a true or false story, then the other players vote points on if they think the player is telling the truth or pulling their leg. I have heard hundreds of stories from people’s lives while playing the game, and I heard one of the most interesting very recently. My wife and I were playing with another couple, and the husband talked about how his mom brought him into the United States from Cuba as a refugee seventy years ago, and then she placed him in an orphanage. We thought he was pulling our leg, but this was a true story! I had known this man for over a year, and we had enjoyed several meals together. One of my favorite parts of playing You’re Pulling My Leg! is when you hear fascinating stories about people’s lives.
What is the main empowering lesson you want your readers to take away after finishing your book?
Whenever readers play the game inside You’re Pulling My Leg!, I would love for them to come away from that experience realizing the uniqueness of their life stories. There is no one like them, and they are here on earth for a purpose.
Based on your experience, what are the “5 Things You Need to Know to Become a Great Author”? Please share a story or example for each.
1.Don’t rush the process: In our culture, we’re accustomed to wanting things quickly, and to be a great author, you have to be okay with your work being ready when it’s ready. It’s essential to get feedback from others and to have professional eyes take a look at your work before you debut it to the world. I’ve been working on a new novel for a few years. When I initially received feedback from beta readers, they weren’t very positive, but after I developed and rewrote the book, the input kept getting better and better. It’s worth the wait to get your novel just right.
2. The magic is in the rewriting: When you’re writing, don’t overthink what you’re typing or writing out. Just create it, and don’t worry about editing or refining your writing. Otherwise, you can easily clog up your creative process. Instead, form that lump of clay with your words and then sculpt and refine it through your rewriting.
3. Find your voice: You have a unique view of life and the world. Write from that perspective because no one else is like you. Discover a storyline that relies on your particular point of view.
4. Partner with others: you need a community to not only give you feedback but to encourage you along the way. No one is a writer alone on an island. It would help if you surrounded yourself with people who can give you honest feedback and
5. To be a “great” author, first be great at life: Producing excellent writing isn’t very meaningful if your life is a disaster. Make sure you keep your priorities in line as you pursue creating your best work. At the end of your life, you won’t talk about how glad you were that you neglected your friends and family and what’s important to you to finish your book. The love you experience from that same community will also help fuel you as an author.
What is the one habit you believe contributed the most to you becoming a great writer? (i.e. perseverance, discipline, play, craft study) Can you share a story or example?
Perseverance has helped me the most in my career. I frequently hear from people who have been working on a book or movie until they gave up. I think it’s important to keep pressing forward until you accomplish what you set out to do. Working at something until you complete it also sets a precedent for everything else in your life.
Which literature do you draw inspiration from? Why?
I enjoy any literature that draws me into an unfamiliar world and helps to expand my imagination.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
The Bible quotes Jesus as saying the two greatest commands are to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself. Can you imagine how the world would be different if we all followed those two commands? At the same time, I think what is most transformative is to know first how much God loves us. When we realize how loved we are, perhaps that can empower us to love God and the people around us. Living in that reality could genuinely transform the world.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Thank you so much for this. This was very inspiring!