Interview with Alora Young


What is the one piece of writing advice, good or even bad, that you have received that has impacted you the most?

“Writing is rewriting,” Was the most impactful piece of writing advice I’ve
received. Over my early years of writing I was constantly stressing over whether
or not other people would like my writing, to the point I stopped writing at all. I
knew I loved writing and wanted to share mine. So, when I stumbled upon this
advice online, it completely changed my point of view. Ever since then, I have felt
safer sharing my work and more confident in the fact that, even if a piece doesn’t
start out very good, I can make it such.

What are some of the greatest influences upon your writing, whether other
writers or outside influences?

In terms of other writers, some of my greatest influences have been
Michael Crichton and Margaret Peterson Haddix on the Sci-fi and Fantasy front,
along with Maya Angelou in terms of poetry, but my greatest influences over all
have been my English teachers from pre-k through freshman year. I never had
an English teacher I didn’t love! They all encouraged me to keep writing, they
read my work over the summer, gave me feedback and even introduced me to
slam poetry. Amazing English teachers have made me the writer I am today.

Can you recommend one book that you think everyone should read and tell us

The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman, is one book I feel
everyone should read. Like Gaiman says, it’s not just for adults or children, “it’s
for anyone who has ever been seven years old.” It’s such a surreal read, and I felt
a deep and genuine connection to a main character who is never even named.
When Gaiman tells a story, it entrenches itself into your mind, and despite being
a relatively short read, it’s powerful, and I recommend it to everyone who ask.

How do you find inspiration for your work, particularly these pieces?

A large majority of my inspiration comes from my own life and
experiences. In “Love Is…,” “Tapestry,” and “For a Black Girl,” I’m exploring my
search for an identity and in “For a Black Girl” specifically, I evaluate how my identity as a black woman impacts my interactions with others. However, in my piece, “Death is the Cameraman,” my inspiration was a collection of photos from summer camp that inspired me to explore my own feelings about death, the afterlife, and greater powers.

Do you have a favorite place to write, or are there any habits, inspirations, or
rituals that help you?

My favorite place to write is my first period computer apps class. It’s quiet
and dark and it’s distraction free, it gives me the opportunity to be completely in
the zone. Sometimes, I can write 200 words before second period.

As a relatively young poet, what drew you to write poetry? Are there ideas and
images you want to explore through your poetry in the future?

I have wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember, and by my
parents account, I first said it when I was two years old. So, there’s really no
defining event that drew me to poetry. However, I do recall a deep love of Dr.
Seuss and Shel Silverstein. I’d love to explore writing poetry from religious,
cultural, and ethnic points of view that differ from my own in the future, as I
strive to use poetry to foster empathy and understanding.