Thoroughly Engaged: Xenia Allen

Ah, romance! It makes us dream, smile, glow, sigh, tingle, burn, cry, cringe, despair, joyous, jealous, fearful, angry. Is there any other human experience that elicits such a range or polarity of emotions? And yet, rather too many of us, modern sophisticates, do not or would not own up to being romantic or at least believing so unconditionally in romance. Perhaps, that is because our idea of romance is limited to visions and sensations from bodies heaving frantically against each other.

Xenia Allen
Xenia Allen

Xenia is rare, in that sense—an unabashed romantic who believes one could love that special someone forever. But romance for her goes beyond that.  It infuses every aspect of her life. I realized, interviewing Xenia, that romance is founded on faith. And faith is what drives her. Not only faith in romance, but also in spirituality, in herself, in life. As she says:

I see the world through rose colored glasses. No matter what is going on “out there” in my world it is perfect and I say YES to life every day.

The other things that she reveals about herself center around this encompassing idea of faith. She is adventurous; loves to laugh, read, write, and create pretty things; is active within various communities she is involved in including a school of ancient spiritual wisdom. And she lives in a

a huge 15 room Queen Anne Victorian brownstone house all by myself that I purchased and restored. I believe in living like a Queen.

How cool is that! Very few of us can ever have that chance. But Xenia made it happen for herself.

And—this would surely interest many authors—Xenia is a thoroughly engaged reader. She reviews books she reads and posts her reviews on her blog.  But, of course, she must first want to read your book.

Tell me as much as you can about yourself

I was born in Panama in Central America. Both of my parents were born and raised in Panama and speak Spanish. My father was a well-known Latin jazz musician there. Father and his band wanted to try to make it big in America and that is how I came to be raised in the United States. I landed in America six days after my second birthday with my mother and older brother and yes, I do remember that day. My father came to America one year before us, got a job in a furniture upholstery factory in Brooklyn, New York and then sent for us. Mom is now 76 and Dad is 84.

St Patrick's Altar, Troy, NY
St Patrick’s Altar, Troy, NY

In 2010 the Albany Diocese closed 33 churches in the Capital District of Upstate New York. One of them is the former Saint Patrick’s church which is just a few blocks from my house in Troy. Before the Diocese closed the churches, I used to dream that somehow I became the owner of Saint Patrick’s church building. Every time I drove by it I would say to myself that Saint Patrick’s now belongs to me and it is now the I AM Temple of Love and Light. It has become a Temple of the Light and all people who are awake and ready to turn towards the Light can come for support and for me to show them that the Christ that dwells within Jesus is the same Christ that dwells within all people. We are all God/Goddess. I do not know the details, but I do know that the Universe is lining up everything for all these things to come about. The church is a 30 thousand square feet building of magnificence that will help change the world.

I have not been married yet and I never had any children even though I always wanted to be a Mom. I wanted a big family with lots of children, but I also did not want to be a mother outside of marriage. Therefore, since I did not marry I did not have any children. If I had known that my years of celibacy would last as long as it has I probably would have just gone ahead and had a child first. If I have any regrets it would be that I never brought a child of my own into the world. I would have loved the opportunity to raise a child. I know that I could have adopted, but I really wanted to experience pregnancy and childbirth. I always had those feelings within me.

Why do you love to read?

I was an average student since school did not really inspire me, although I always loved to read. I have always been a huge dreamer and manifest many of my desires through constant focus and visualization. I have been doing this since I was a child but not consciously because, when I was younger, I was not aware of the laws of metaphysics. Creative visualization is a particular talent of mine. It is one reason that I love to read so much.

I love to read because I love stories. I also have quite a vivid imagination and, when I am reading, I get lost in the stories. Many times I imagine myself as the heroine in a love story. Reading also moves me emotionally. Reading enriches my life so much on many levels. Reading can teach you lessons and educate you. Reading can also sharpen your senses. It certainly does wonders for my already potent sense of being able to create in my mind. When I was growing up I had dreams of becoming an actress so that I could act out in the stories I read. I practically begged my father to send me to acting school. He paid good money so that I could attend the Little Theater School. I wanted to be an actress in the worse way back then. I still wouldn’t mind being an actress if I was not so shy in front of a camera. In some way I know that I am going to end up on a stage in front of people.

Can you mention some titles you are now reading or intend to read shortly? How do you select the books you read? That is, what do you look for when you make your choice?

I just finished reading The Tempest by Charlotte Hawkins and My Lady Gisborne, A Love Story also by Charlotte Hawkins. I also just finished reading The Holy Grail Revealed by Akasha and Asun. I am currently reading The Infinite Way by Joel S. Goldsmith. After I finish reading The Infinite Way I will be reading A Winter’s Knight: A Regency Romance by Elizabeth Cole. Now after I read a book I review it on my blog.

I select books a lot of times depending on how I am feeling. I am usually in the mood for a really good romance story. If I cannot find one that I want to read immediately I will either re-read one of my metaphysical books or look for a travel essay. I always read the book reviews by readers on Amazon before purchasing a book. I also read the synopsis of the book. I have to admit that I love book cover art and often the cover of a book will catch my attention and draw me in. If a book has multiple book covers I choose the one that appeals to me the most if I decide to read it.

When choosing a romance book I prefer books that stick to a certain formula. The hero meets the heroine and once they meet they do not go off to become physically intimate with anyone else from there on in; even while they are just getting to know one another. Once contact is made, no matter how it is done, that spark is now lit. I do not like erotica. Most of the romance books that I read contain sexual detail, however, it is written in a beautiful way. Two people making love is not the same as two people getting together for sexual release. A couple of times after reading reader reviews and story synopsis I did end up with books that were not romance but really erotica. Those books contain language that are complete turn offs for me like the “f” word and describing body parts in degrading ways. From the book covers and reviews I never would have guessed that is what I was getting. These books also came up under the romance label when they really are erotica. I could not finish those books and deleted them from my Kindle. Thank goodness that does not happen too often. I find that I do have to be careful when choosing contemporary romance stories because sometimes they can go too far out of the box for a reader like me.

The very first romance novel I ever read was Shanna by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss. I was 19 years old and a virgin. I really had no idea that it was a romance story that contained sexual content. I was shocked but could not put the book down because it was written in a way that was so beautiful. Plus I was very curious about what goes on between a man and a woman behind closed doors and Shanna was as close as I was going to get at the time. After reading Shanna I read every book that came out by Kathleen Woodiwiss for about the next 3 or 4 years. Kathleen was churning out books quite regularly at the time. The author passed away a few years ago. The last few books that Kathleen wrote I never read because as I got older I tired of reading “bodice ripper” romance novels. That is what those books were called back then. Rosemary Rogers was one of the most successful writers of “bodice ripper” romance but I did not like her books at all. I read one of her books and that was enough for me. Kathleen Woodiwiss stuck more to the formula of romance. Other romance authors whose books I read a lot back then was Johanna Lindsey and Sylvie Sommerfield

I was thrilled when African-American romance novels started being published. The first one I read is called Indigo by Beverly Jenkins. To this day Beverly Jenkins is one of my favorite African-American romance writers. I also enjoyed books by Brenda Jackson, another one of my favorite African-American romance writers, but I tend to prefer Miss Jackson’s earlier work. In Miss Jackson’s books, there now seems to be an over the top obsession with sexual attraction. The hero and heroine are always thinking about sex and that seems to be their main reason for being together. While sex is an important component to a relationship between a man and a woman I would say that a couple must have way more than that going for them. You cannot spend your entire life in the bedroom. I love to read about couples who truly like one another as people and are also friends and not just lovers. I like to feel that there is a connection that goes even beyond sexual attraction and is spiritual in nature.

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

I love Jane Austen’s books. I have not read everything by Jane Austen yet, but so far my favorite is Persuasion. I love it much more than Pride & Prejudice. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell is one of my absolute favorite romance stories. North and South even tops anything I read so far by Jane Austen. I am completely in love with John Thornton and Margaret Hale and I love how their story unfolds. North and South does not contain any sexual content at all, but you can detect and feel Mr. Thornton’s sexual attraction to Margaret. He really loves and wants her in a profound way and Margaret has his loyalty even when Mr. Thornton thinks that he cannot have her. There is a soul to soul connection between these two characters. It is the kind of connection that I always envisioned for myself with a man. I also find Mr. Thornton much more desirable and romantic than Mr. Darcy.

As far as spiritual books go I tend now to stick to certain authors. Over the last twenty years I have read hundreds of new age thought books and I keep coming back to the same ones because they resonate so completely within me. Life & Teaching of the Masters of the Far East by Baird Spalding, Saint Germaine’s I AM Disciurses, anything by Akasha and Asun and Ramtha’s “White” Book. I have to add The Infinite Way by Joel S. Goldsmith now to be spiritual arsenal.

How much of your time do you spend on reading? Any other activities in your spare time apart from reading?

I read a lot. Ideally I read two books per week. There are times when weeks will go by that I have not read a book. Those are times when I have a lot going on in my life, but I always come back to reading. I treated myself to a Kindle Fire in March 2012 and I love it. I swore that I would never buy a Kindle because I love books, but I finally gave in and I am glad that I did. I still prefer books, but the Kindle allows me to take lots of books with me on vacation. I read during my lunch hour at work and it just makes it so much easier to not have a bulky book in my bag. I will never give up books though. I love the smell and feel of a brand new book but I do love my Kindle also.

Apart from reading I enjoy making art journals, writing in my journal, cooking and eating good food and blogging. I have become a serious blogger and I love it. Blogging has expanded my world and feeds my love of writing and creating.

What do you think of the indie or self-published books? Of “real” vs. eBooks?

I think very highly of “Indie: or self published books. Going the formal route is fine, but it is very restrictive. There are lots of good writers out there who would never be seen if it was not for self publishing. I am very happy to see “Indie” or self publishing gaining respect and I hope that continues. I purchase eBooks all the time. They are much less expensive. I buy a lot of eBooks that range in price from .99 cents to $5.00. Real books will always be my preference but I like having choices. At some point I would love to take a stab at writing a book and self publishing is the route I will take. I want to be able to express myself totally, pick my own book title and cover art.

Related:

Reimagining Gaskell’s North and South
As These Pages Turn—A book in hand
Dreams of Una Duessa: Margaret’s Duality in Gaskell’s North and South
Resurrecting Romance

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