Interview: Author Robert Mulolo Why Me? and Theatre

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 by Alyssa Laube 

For most writers, getting a book published is the end-all, be-all. It’s a milestone to work towards for years; not only does the author have to write and revise the story, but they also have to find a publisher and discuss all of the details that come with distributing a book. However, for Robert Mulolo, the aspirations didn’t stop there. His first novel to be released in 2012, Why Me?, told the tale of a young woman’s struggle to thrive in the face of adversity.


“The basis of the story, when I first decided to write it, was that I wanted to display a character who had an uphill battle from the get go,” said Robert, about the inspiration behind his novel. “I wrote about Renee and created that character. She never knew her father. Her mother, running from taking responsibility for her actions, would blame her for the bad misfortune she’s experienced in her life, and her half-sister would be absent from her life unless there was a need to have her around. The story covers the span of 10 years and shows Renee trying to better her life, and she encounters three men during that time. The story touches on family, betrayal, abuse and the idea of love.”


After the publication of Why Me?, Robert felt that he had to make “a big announcement” with the book, and do more than simply release it to his audience. It was then that he felt inclined to host book readings and signings, but because the narrator was a woman, he decided that they would not do the character justice. It was this complication that eventually led to his next monumental success.


“I wrote the book in the voice of a woman…so I decided to hire a performer to [read it] out. After seeing one part of my book being acted out, I had the idea for the play. It’s not yet ready as more funds are required, but by the end of the year, it will either be on stage or we will have a date for it.”


With luck, the play will add more depth and excitement to an already well-written novel. The dramatics and emotivity of theatre has enhanced story lines countless times before; Les Misérables, Crime and Punishment, and The Grapes of Wrath are just a few on the list, and act as great inspirations for the developing adaptation of Why Me?. The play may not have a set date yet, but stay tuned to Robert’s Facebook for updates (such as his next novel, Just Chance It) and purchase your own copy of Why Me? at these three locations to prepare for Robert’s big release.


“Storytelling is all about showing a new reality to others, and that’s what you must do as a writer. Give your reader an opportunity to get out of the crappy reality they know and allow them to be the witness to an amazing story,” said Robert, and Why Me? should be a great escape.

Telling Life Stories

An Interview with Marilyn R. Wilson

by Alyssa Laube


About: Marilyn Wilson is a passionate editor, writer, blogger, and author of her book – a collection of interviews – titled “Life Outside the Box”. Her editorial and composition work is under Raine Magazine, stationed in New York, and she works with Influence Publishing as an author. Marilyn covers a wide variety of subjects, but is highly involved in the fashion industry.


What is it about meeting new people that fascinates you so deeply, and why do you feel that it is necessary?

I cannot remember when the fascination with other people’s lives started. It’s been a part of my core being from the time I was very young, but I truly became aware of it during my first interview. I had goosebumps and little bells went off in my head any time something important was said! It is only now, looking back over the last 8-9 years, that I realize how much it has changed me. I learned how others have lived and faced success and adversity. They bring me concepts that guide my life such as Ujamaah (cooperative economics – we raise our success together) and Wabi Sabi (the Japanese concept of finding beauty in imperfection). I have learned self-acceptance for my own personal journey. Why it is necessary to tell these stories is more complicated. For me personally, if I do not share them, I do not get to interview and my life becomes much smaller and more limited. For others, I truly believe that it’s the stories of how real people live that will define our times. Reality TV will fade away as 80% irrelevant, and in its place, historians will look to those who offered a better picture of how we lived.


How has it changed your life, personally? If there are any specific interviews from Life Outside The Box, please don’t hesitate to include them if you wish!

Some I mentioned above. Another that I didn’t came from my interview with Geir Ness. He is a tidal wave of positive energy who always pursued his dreams. I have more insecurities and struggle with procrastination. After hearing him talk about his life for over an hour, I commented on this. How can those of us without that incredible positive energy and unlimited drive face our shortcomings? His answer was to surround ourselves with people who help support us in areas of weakness. That, plus the concept of Ujamaa, pushed me to create a positive circle of friends and elevated me and to sign with Influence. It also helped me let go of people and decisions that created a negative energy. This is not easy for me, as I was raised to be everything to everyone, but necessary for me to succeed in my life’s purpose.


Life Outside the Box-Click to Purchase on Amazon

There are ten people featured in your book. Why did you choose those ten, out of every interview you’ve conducted?

 Over the last 8-9 years I have been privileged enough to interview well over 100 people – perhaps over 150. But because the articles needed to go into print – as well as my access to people – they fall heavily within the fashion community. While I love fashion, my interest is not actually fashion writing. I love to interview a wide range of people. So, for this book, I had to reach deep to have a true variety of lives. That’s what it’s all about for me. There is no one right way to live your life, no one right path to follow, and no definition of success that fits all of us. Embrace your journey.


How did interviewing so many interesting, hard-working professionals change your outlook and work?

Each was like a facet of a diamond. You start way too close with the diamond right at your eye and only see the one side. Each interview required a step back to see a little more of the diamond – and myself reflected in it. One day I suddenly realized I looking at who I was, what I wanted, and who I chose to associate with in a whole new way. The hardest part for me was learning to let go of those who brought a lot of negative energy into my life. I don’t mean friends or family who are struggling – I mean those who do not appreciate you for the talents you have and for what you bring to the relationship. It’s okay to let those fade, as it’s not beneficial for them either.


The idea that “there is no such thing as a normal way to live your life, and no one right solution to any problem”, as written in your article with Influence Publishing, is not an easy lesson to learn. What do you believe brought you to this revelation?

Sheer numbers. Period. When you’ve interviewed over 100 people living fulfilling, unique lives, it’s hard to hold on to absolutes. When you allow yourself to follow your inner intuition and find your own path, it quickly becomes obvious that it’s the right way to go. We only fight this because the outside world tells us what we should want and strive for in terms of success. It puts pressure on us to comply. In contrast, the intuitive mind can offer answers that are truly unique.


I imagine that learning that lesson has changed your life enormously. How so?

Some days yes – some days no. I didn’t start interviewing until I was 49 and you don’t wash away that many years of conditioning easily. Surrounding yourself with friends, family and business associates that you have an Ujamaa relationship with is so important. They want the best for you. You want the best for them. It’s by being in a supportive community that we can deal with the highs and lows and keep our focus.


Why did you choose Influence Publishing to partner with, over another company?

One of my friends, who became a zen chaplain, told me that when her future mentor walked into the room, she felt her presence without even turning around. I had a similar experience with the founder of Influence, Julie Salisbury. Out of the blue one night, I bought a ticket to a women’s networking event – something I never do – because a publisher was speaking. From the moment Julie began to speak, I was overcome with emotion and had tears in my eyes. You have to know me to know how out of character this was. But the words of my friend, the zen chaplain, came back to me. I met Julie in person to talk about my ideas and from the moment I saw her, I had the same feeling. That’s the true story. On the business side – hybrid publishing works for me. I get to keep full rights to my work, pay an affordable set fee contract, have their support for marketing/media, and access their US distributor.


How are/were you involved in the fashion industry?

After Gestalt Magazine, my first opportunity to write fashion articles, folded, I advertised on Craigslist and connected with a photographer. He wanted to start a local fashion magazine focused on the amazing professionals we have working in the industry. I was introduced to artists from all over the world through nearby fashion weeks, which then led me to connect with Raine Magazine in NYC. Working with Raine has allowed me to have a slightly wider range of articles. I have even covered an international sand castle builder! They have also been my greatest connection to some very high end artists.


Can you explain how you chose the name for your website, http://http://www.oliobymarilyn.com/?

My website is actually a funny story. I was feeling a bit boxed only writing on fashion artists and events. When I complained to a friend, she suggested I start a blog. I think I actually laughed. I hated blogs as they were mostly pictures with just a few lines of writing. Nevertheless, she pointed out that it could just be a place to put writing. If getting a few hits inspired me, what a great option! I searched my name and found way too many Marilyn Wilson’s – my first preference. I chose Olio, because this was just meant to be a hodge-podge of writing for the sheer fun of it. Never in my wildest dreams did I think it would become my main writing venue and receive up to 17,000 hits in a month. It doesn’t follow the rules, it isn’t on a specific topic. I write often sometimes and only occasionally others. Why it is finding an audience – I actually have no idea!


Do you have any advice, not only for myself, but for others? This could be professionally, or simply words of wisdom.

This is the best advice I ever received and it’s in my book. William Orlowski is a Canadian Tap icon who has toured the world. He struggles with Dystonia which has limited what he can do – but continues to find work that is fulfilling. When I asked him his definition of success, this was his answer. It still gives me goosebumps; ”There is no secret. Just do and be brave.”


You’ve said that you are constantly changing, as you learn something new with each interview. Is this something you want to do for the rest of your life?

As I am heading into a new decade in January, this is a troublesome question. At my age, no one knows how long they have when it comes to health and/or mental sharpness. I cannot imagine my life without interviewing and writing, but the journey we are on as human beings means we end up facing limitations. I am encouraged by the longevity of American-Irish sci-fi author Anne McCaffrey as well as Grandma Moses who didn’t start painting in earnest until the age of 78. There is always hope. But when the end comes, the hope is that I have encouraged others to embrace telling the life stories of real people with real lives. I promise – it will change you.


To learn more about Marilyn, visit http://www.oliobymarilyn.com/

The Art of Knowing Strangers-An Autobiographical Introduction to Alyssa Laube

The Art of Knowing Strangers

An Autobiographical Introduction

By Alyssa Laube


There’s nothing more enticing than a mysterious stranger, and the desire to explore their minds has been gripping the public for decades. Whether it be a teen heartthrob or world-renowned scientist, there is something endlessly fascinating about peeking into the lives of the talented, experienced, and attractive. However, it isn’t always possible to speak directly with our icons. Audiences worldwide dreamed of getting to know the character behind their favourite records, paintings, or novels. The human urge to to connect and be educated united the artists and their admirers, and so the interview was born.

As I grew up, my own attraction to journalism rapidly transformed from escapist to educational. As a young girl, I would eagerly anticipate my monthly issues of Glow, Teen Vogue, and Seventeen. As soon as it dropped through the mail slot, I would flip through the pages, instantly fascinated by what to wear and which Disney star was having boy troubles. Fortunately, years passed, Hannah Montana ended, and I began to form my own style – free at last from pink sequins and enormous bows. Yet, my love for magazines and newspapers was unwavering. Today, I look forward to The Rolling Stone, People, and of course, a long list of online news sources for their ability to broaden my world view. Merely being exposed to a foreign perspective, concept, or lifestyle can change the lives of an entire demographic. The power of journalism is not only beneficial to me as a reader, but also has inspired me to work in the field professionally.

From there, my interest only grew. At the age of sixteen, I was thrilled to be accepted as a volunteer journalist by the admirable woman I am writing this blog for today – Monika Blichar. When I stepped into the Make & Break Arts Foundation studio for the first time, surrounded by incredible pieces of diverse art, I could hardly believe that I would be able to meet and write about their creators. Nevertheless, here I am – one Art World Expo and dozens of interviews later – still in disbelief of my privilege.

Truly, that is what is has been. Working with Make & Break Arts Foundation has given me a world of experience and the opportunity to speak with creative local artists. Each interviewee I meet has a unique style, experience, and personality. It’s not unlike exploring different realities; I continue to be stimulated by captivating works of art and concepts which I would never have considered otherwise. Overall, being a part of Vancouver’s vibrant art scene, all while building my portfolio as a budding journalist, has been a dream come true. Still, it couldn’t have been the joy it was without every part of the Art World Expo team making it so! To all of the artists, readers, and of course, Miss Monika Blichar, I say an honest thank you. In the future, I hope to continue unmasking the human behind mysterious strangers. Every story deserves to be heard, and every one has a story.