Friday, May 10, 2013

Interview Friday with Author Hadiyah Joan Carlyle

Hadiyah Joan Carlyle grew up in a Jewish immigrant neighborhood in New Jersey, became active in the Civil Right movement of the sixties and migrated to San Francisco’s colorful Haight-Ashbury to be part of the counter-culture there. In the seventies, she was the first and only female shipyard welder in Bellingham, Washington, north of Seattle.

In the eighties, Hadiyah returned to the East coast to earn her MSW at Rutgers University. In 2003, she completed the certificate program in Memoir Writing through the University of Washington Extension. She is an active member of Seattle’s thriving community of writers.

Today Hadiyah lives in Seattle’s Queen Anne neighborhood close to her son, Washington State 36th district Legislator Reuven Carlyle, his wife Dr. Wendy Carlyle and their four children. Activist, hiker, devoted grandmother, Hadiyah delights in the wild beauty of the Northwest while remaining connected to her gritty urban East Coast roots.

Though welding is no longer a part of her life, she continues to carry the torch for the empowerment of the oppressed.

VS: What do you do to help balance your writing life with other activities in your life?

Hadiyah: I have activities that I do every day like yoga and hiking around the city.  Having this routine is very important to keeping the kind of balance I want in my life.  Spending time with my grandchildren is also part of that balance.  Much of my writing is done in writing practice groups with other writers.  The sharing that takes place among the writers in those groups is way of seeing other perspectives and having a balanced life.

VS: How long have you been writing?

Hadiyah: I first became interested in writing my memoir in the late ’70s.  I audited a memoir writing class at Western Washington University while I was living in Bellingham, Washington.  After I moved back to Brooklyn the ’80s, I took a class at the Y with Patty Dann and then took workshops with Natalie Goldberg, author of Writing Down the Bones, and Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way.  I completed the certificate program for memoir writing at the University of Washington Extension in 2003 and worked steadily on writing my memoir Torch in the Dark up to the time of its publication last year. 

VS: As a grandparent, how does your interaction with your grandchildren relate to your life as a writer?

Hadiyah: I learn so much about myself from being with my grandchildren.  Experiencing the world from their viewpoint helps me to grow as a person and gives me material for writing.

VS: What inspired you to write your book (if this is a personal story about you, please share about the decision to open up about your life)?

Hadiyah: I felt compelled to tell my story.  I came through a process of healing from events that happened in my childhood but were buried in my unconscious mind.  I didn’t follow the accepted path.  I didn’t buy into the mental health system.  Coming of age in the sixties when everything was being questioned—that was part of the story.  I found my own way, and I wanted to share that story.  Telling the story was also part of the healing process.

VS: What is a typical writing day like for you?

Hadiyah: My day begins with yoga and often includes hiking for a few hours in the city. I belong to several writing groups, one of which meets afternoons at the East Louisa Bakery CafĂ© and uses Natalie Goldberg’s approach to writing practice. While I was writing my memoir, I consulted on a weekly basis with two other writers who were in the memoir class with me at the University of Washington Extension.  We met regularly every week for nine years and gave each other feedback on the progress of our work.

VS: Is your family supportive of your writing?

Hadiyah: When I first started writing my memoir and thinking about publishing it, my son had some concerns because I was writing about experiences that were part of his life too.  But the process of writing the book has been a healing experience for both of us and has enabled us to have a better perspective of each other’s viewpoints.

VS: If this isn’t your first publication, what was the first thing you ever had published?

Hadiyah: Some of my earliest writing was poetry.  My poems and essay have been published in The Journey of Healing: Wisdom from Survivors of Sexual Abuse, a Literary Anthology; Shine the Light: Sexual Abuse and Healing in the Jewish Community by Rachel Lev and Escaping the Yellow Wallpaper by Elayne Clift.

VS: Can you share with us a little about your current book(s)?

Hadiyah: My memoir Torch in the Dark is the story of how I raised my son as a single mother while struggling with issues of early childhood abuse and pioneering as a journeyman welder in a world surrounded by men who told me I didn’t belong there. 

VS: What did you find to be the most challenging part of writing your book(s)?
Hadiyah: The most challenging part of telling my story was finding a way to communicate about a very traumatic experience that happened in my early childhood and has influenced me on a subconscious level throughout my life.  I had to find ways to subtly refer to this experience in the early part of the book and then describe how reliving that experience in a therapeutic setting enabled me to begin to heal.

VS: What part of your book do you feel really stands out to you personally?

Hadiyah: For me personally, the part that stands out for me most is the description of the experience of my son’s birth.  I think this is probably true for many readers as well.  Other parts that stand out for me are my early experiences in the shipyard at Bellingham when I am finally given the opportunity to work as a welder.

VS: If this is a nonfiction book/inspirational book, what event do you feel was the turning point to your story?

Hadiyah: There are several important turning points in the book.  The book is divided into six sections, and there is an important turning point at the end of each of the first five sections.  In each case, there was a discovery or a decision that was critical in my journey to self-reliance.

VS: Do you have any other works in progress? Can you share a little about them?

Hadiyah: Recently I have written more about other members of my family, my grandmother, my grandchildren.  I don’t know what I will write about in the future.  Life is full of changes.

VS: What tips can you give new writers to help them see publication?

Hadiyah: I would give the same advice that is given by my mentor Pricilla Long, which is, “Writing every day is the key to becoming a writer.”  Sit down with your notebook and keep your hand moving.  Everything you write contributes to your development as a writer.  With regard to publishing, there are so many new opportunities available to writers today with the availability of print-on-demand technology and ebooks.  It’s important for writers to carefully consider what audience they want to reach and how to reach that audience most effectively.

VS: What do you think are the basic ingredients of a good book?

Hadiyah: For me, the most important qualities I look for in a book are a sense of the author’s honesty and authenticity, a feeling that the book was written from the heart.

VS: As a grandparent, what do you feel is the best way adults can help the children in our lives see success?

Hadiyah: I think that the best way for adults to help children is to be as real and as honest as possible with them and to validate the kids in whatever areas are most important to them.

VS: Where can the readers of The Writing Mama find out more about and your writing?

Hadiyah: More information about my book is available at   My book is available in print at Elliott Bay Books, Secret Garden Books, Queen Anne Book Company and Couth Buzzard Bookstore in Seattle, Bluestocking Books in New York and Village Books in Bellingham, Washington.  It can also be ordered from Amazon and Barns & Noble.  As an ebook, it is available from Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, Ebookstore. sony, Ebookpie and Kobobooks.  

VS: Is there anything else you would like to share with us about being a “Writing Mama or Dad”?

Hadiyah: I think that, for anyone—a mama, a dad, a grandma—writing is a way of being in the world, a way of making sense of life. 

You can find out more about Hadiyah Joan Carlyle, Torch in the Dark and her World of Ink Author/Book Tour at

Follow Hadiyah Joan Carlyle at
Twitter @CarlyleHadiyah

To learn more about the World of Ink Tours visit

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