*NOTE: In this interview, JM refers to author John Mondragon, and KA refers to author Kelly Alblinger*
1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?
JM: I’m an American-Palestinian husband/father of 2 beautiful boys, currently living in Maui, HI. I’m the youngest of the boys and I wasn’t very social growing up, so I always kept a journal with me to doodle and write whenever I got bored or needed to keep busy. Writing was my friend growing up and stuck with me ever since.
KA: I’ve been a writer and a storyteller all my life but I’ve only been writing professionally for about six years. I am a prolific ghostwriter with dozens of works to my (unnamed) credit, having crafted everything from blog posts to articles to DIY guides, biographies, memoirs – even a book based on an original musical score. My great-uncle was the author of the beloved novel “Where the Red Fern Grows”, so I think writing is in my DNA.
2) What inspired you to write your book?
JM: A couple things inspired this book. My oldest brother who plays one of the characters in the story suffers from a mental disorder, so he was a big inspiration. I also went through personal life traumas that helped create the story. Lastly, hearing of so many suicides/depressions of children and young adults played a big role in wanting to find a way to reach out to the public.
KA: Prior to TCIM, I had not ventured into the YA genre. It was challenging to write from the perspective of a twenty-something male, and even more of a test to factor in the state of the protagonist’s mental health challenges. My hope is that readers will find the voice authentic and representative of some of the challenges they face.
3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?
JM: The mantra created for the book is “Speak Up and Speak Out”. My message as an advocate of mental health to readers is to help spread awareness on this subject and create a platform where people who struggle or feel embarrassed can feel safe and heard! There have been so many taboos surrounding mental health and I want to help normalize the illness.
KA: I find the characters in TCIM to be fascinating. They are different facets of the same person characterized as individuals. I wanted to portray the anxiety and isolation that we all occasionally feel, but in a more extreme way. Dissociative Identity Disorder gave me the opportunity to delve deeply into those feelings.
4) What drew you into this particular genre?
JM: The drama genre isn’t something we planned but sort of fell upon when the story unfolded. It turned out to be great and I really enjoyed the intensity of the book.
KA: My son is in the same age range as the characters in the book, and I wanted to write about personalities that he could relate to.
5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?
JM: Charlie is by far the most impactful character in my opinion because when he arrives there’s a drastic turn in the narrator’s life. Charlie likes to take charge and is a bully who always gets his way. I would ask Charlie, why he is the way he is?
KA: Instead of one character, I’d want to talk to the parents. I’d want to pick their brains to find out why they chose not to seek treatment for him when a diagnosis was made. Was it the cost of treatment, or societal pressure to conform, not to stand out? Did they fear judgment from the community? Did they feel ashamed or that DID would be a negative reflection on their parenting?
6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?
JM: I have a lot of friends on Facebook so that’s where I get most of my attention from an audience.
KA: Currently Facebook is the primary means of engaging with our readers, but there will soon be a presence on Instagram and possibly Twitter as well.
7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?
JM: No matter how hard it gets, fulfill your dream of becoming an author. It took me over five years to finally publish my first book. Don’t give up!
KA: My advice to beginning authors is to believe in yourself. That might sound cliché, but it’s SO important. If you don’t believe that you have a good story or concept, no one else will believe it either. My second piece of advice is: EDIT!
8) What does the future hold in store for you? Are any new books/projects on the horizon?
JM: A sequel to The Clash Inside Me is definitely something I want to do. We’ll just have to wait and see.
KA: I have a number of book projects currently in the works – a memoir and two novels, specifically. My intention is to bring a variety of experiences to readers, so I endeavor to change up the characters and situations in each story.
About Author John Moondragon
John Mondragon is a self-published author of his first novel “The Clash Inside Me” and a caring father and husband.
He is passionate about helping people understand the importance of mental health matters, and encourages others to speak up and speak out.
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