Colleen M. Story writes imaginative fiction and is also a freelance writer, instructor, and motivational speaker specializing in creativity, productivity, and personal wellness. Her latest novel, Loreena’s Gift, was released with Dzanc Books April 12, 2016. Her fantasy novel, Rise of the Sidenah, is a North American Book Awards winner, and New Apple Book Awards Official Selection (Young Adult). She is the founder of Writing and Wellness, a motivational site for writers and other creatives. Find more at her website, or follow her on Twitter.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
My first memory is of wanting to be a stewardess. This happened soon after my first flight on an airplane when I was about six years old, and I was thrilled with the whole experience, including the pretty ladies who (at that time) handed out airplane pins.
Within a short time, that desire changed to wanting to be a teacher. Teaching came naturally to me from a young age, and I was frequently tapped by my schoolteachers to help tutor the kids who were struggling in class. I really enjoyed that feeling of being helpful, and I continued to teach all the way through high school.
In my teenage years, though, I considered a lot of possible futures. I’d always been passionate about music, but in high school I started to experience a lot of success with it, so I decided to pursue that, thinking I would combine it with my teaching skills and teach music in the public schools.
It may seem strange that I never once thought of being a writer, but it just never crossed my mind. My parents were hard working people in business and in education, and though I always enjoyed writing and found it easy to ace my essay tests, I never thought about it as an occupation.
It wasn’t until I had graduated college and moved to Idaho that the writing bug bit me. I had decided to take a short break—moving from Colorado meant I would have had to go back to school to get my teaching certificate in a different state—and I was tired of school, so I took some time off, pursued some odd jobs, and started writing. I’ve been hooked ever since.
What do you do now?
Now I’m a fiction writer, a health and wellness writer, and a professional speaker. I work with clients from all over the country, mostly in New York and California, writing for magazines and websites, ghostwriting books, and consulting. I teach workshops at writer’s conferences and speak about creativity, productivity, intuition, overcoming self-doubt, and writing to heal.
I also still teach music on the side and play French horn in the local symphony and other area music groups.
I’m giving you a super power that will make your biggest dream come true—guaranteed. What’s going to happen?
I’d love a superpower that would enable me to heal people. The greatest pain I’ve ever experienced has come from watching loved ones suffer. I know I’ll have to do more of it in the future, and it’s one of the major things I fear facing in life. If I had this super power, I’d wave a wand and the hurt and illness would be gone and people would be able to thrive once again. I can’t imagine a better power than that!
Did you ever give up on your dreams?
I’ve wanted to several times over the years, particularly my fiction writing dreams, since they have been the most challenging to achieve, but I never really did. I’d think about giving up, and say I was going to, and go maybe a few days feeling grouchy about the whole thing, but that string or tether or whatever it is between the dream and me was never completely broken. I could always feel it pulling me back, and eventually I’d succumb and try again.
What advice do you have for people who are trying to decide if they should chase their dreams?
This is one of the topics I speak about.
I think we get caught up in other things, such as whether our dreams will come true, or whether they’re worth chasing, and that leads us down the wrong path.
The important thing is that we take action toward those dreams, and we continue to take some small action toward them every day. Over time, each of those actions leads us to who we are supposed to be. That is the key to fulfilling our potential.
If we do the opposite—if we don’t follow our dreams—we cheat ourselves out of the growth that they can give us. It’s when we try and strive and push ourselves out of our comfort zones that we become more. So when you look at it that way, you realize there’s really nothing to decide.
If you were a superhero, who would you be and why?
This is similar to the question above about a superpower—is there a superhero that can heal others? I know several can heal themselves. I looked it up—seems there is an “Elixir” from the X-Men comics that had the power to heal others. He’s a guy, so I think we need a female with something similar! Maybe some of you readers know of one?
Loreena’s Gift: A BLIND GIRL’S TERRIFYING “GIFT” ALLOWS HER TO REGAIN HER EYESIGHT–BUT ONLY AS SHE FERRIES THE RECENTLY DECEASED INTO THE AFTERLIFE.
Loreena Picket thinks she knows herself. A blind young woman who lives with her uncle, a reverend at a small-town church, she’s a dutiful niece and talented pianist for the congregation.
But they’re both hiding a terrible secret. Loreena can kill people with the touch of her hand.
While her uncle sees her as an angel of mercy, helping usher the terminally ill members of his flock into the afterlife, Loreena has her doubts.
Torn between doing her uncle’s bidding and the allure of the fleeting moments when her eyesight returns on the journey to the other side, Loreena cooperates with her uncle until her troubled older brother returns to town. When she reveals her power by saving him from a local drug dealer, she is drawn into a sinister and dangerous world that will test the true nature of her talent and force her to consider how far she is willing to go to survive.
An exciting debut that crosses fantasy and literary fiction, Loreena’s Gift is a thought-provoking meditation on life and death and what ultimately lies beyond this world.