Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Shagging the Muse with author Jonathan Allen

It's always exciting to learn about an author and I am happy to have Jonathan Allen on my blog today so you can have just that chance.

1.First off, tell us about your writing. Is this a full time career or are you writing on the side while doing a “day job”?

That’s always such a tricky question to answer, because the answer is somewhere in between. I do write full-time for a living, as both a technical writer and a freelance writer (mostly handling government reports and analyses), so on some level I guess that makes me a full-time writer. The thing is, I’d also like to be a full-time novelist, which in my mind is very different. Still, I try to bring some of my fiction writing sensibilities to my technical writing job. It’s not that hard to weave an effective narrative out of even simple directions, if you use the language correctly.

2. The Kayson Cycle, tell us about the novel and how long it took you from start to up to the point where you are getting it on Amazon.

The Kayson Cycle arose from my entry in the Rule of Three Renaissance Blogfest. I’ve been knee-deep in editing my next book, due out at the end of November, as well as working on the next book, so I don’t know what I was thinking taking on another story, even if it is a short story. In the end, though, I fell in love with the characters and the situation. That always holds my interest, and so the story took roughly a month from start to publication.

The story itself is about a bartender (Kayson) who once worked with his brother performing faith healing in a traveling show. Twelve years after they go their separate ways and his brother vanishes into the desert, a strange man walks into Kayson’s bar. This man says he knows the location of Kayson’s long-lost brother, but needs his help in recruiting his brother to heal the stranger’s wife, who is dying of a plague that’s sweeping the countryside. What follows is a roller-coaster ride of betrayal, death, and redemption.

3. Favourite munchy food/beverage while working on your writing, we all have at least one so spill!

Haha! Only one? Seriously, I’m a fiend for any sort of Mountain Dew. Caffeine has always been the writer’s friend and I unfortunately can no longer have coffee, so I take what I can get. I’m also completely addicted to Nerds candy, and no longer allow them near my desk since I can’t be sane about them!

4. What sparked your interest in writing, what made you think, “hey, I could do that”.

I started out very young, so it’s kind of hard to pinpoint exactly what it was, but I do know that the 1982 film Tron sparked my interest in a sequel, so I started writing up my own version of the sequel. That would have been either in 1982 or 1983, when I was 6 or 7. Since then, it’s just been a matter of refining what I do. So yes, I basically started in fanfiction, at a very young age.

5. Favourite classic book and then favourite modern book.

Classic, I’d go with the Glass Bead Game (Magister Ludi) by Hermann Hesse. There’s a great description of exactly why I like it on Amazon: “The book is an intricate bildungsroman about humanity's eternal quest for enlightenment and for synthesis of the intellectual and the participatory life.” That sort of thing has always fascinated me – looking at how we pursue that which is larger than ourself. Modern book, without a doubt, is Imajica by Clive Barker. The depth of imagination and world building in that book is without parallel.

6. Thing you like the least about the publishing world right now.

Oh, no, this is a surefire way to get me started. In fact, my problem might be narrowing it down. I suppose my least-favorite part would be the methods by which traditional publishing refuses to acknowledge that the world is changing around them – why does it cost more to buy an eBook from the Big Six than a paperback? It makes no sense unless they’re protecting the hardcover market, something that I’ve thought should long be obsolete.

7. Thing you like the best about the publishing world right now.

The newfound community among writers. I think there’s always been something of that going on, between corresponding and conferences, but now we have ways to support one another instantly – whether it’s helping with marketing, cheering on a friend with writer’s block, or participating in group writing challenges. It’s really heartening.

8. Any writing habits/superstitions or quirks you’d like to share?

I constantly change my writing habits. It’s a side-effect of ADHD. One week dictating a scene full out of my head works; the next week I need to have complete silence, darkness, and candle light only. These seem to run in cycles, but I can’t figure out what triggers them, aside from the approaching darkness of Autumn prompting that last approach. One of the most important methods for figuring out which approach works at the moment, however, is mood. The more aware I am of my emotional tone, the better I can figure out what will work. At the moment, I’ve dropped back into the habit of dictating a scene, then shaping it when I transcribe it.

9. What can we expect to see next from you and your writing?

My first full-length novel, The Corridors of the Dead, the first in the Among the Dead trilogy, should be out by 11/30. I’ve always been fascinated with alternate histories, and for those who don’t know, there is a system of magick called the Enochian system, so named for Enoch, from the Old Testament, who was ascended straight to Heaven. Enoch wrote a book that was cut from the Old Testament that told the story of the rebel angels, known as the Watchers, who came to Earth and bred with humans. I’d always been fascinated with the concept, and I wondered what it would be like to make them angels in name only – instead a flawed race that was given the keys to the universe but don’t really understand why or how. The Corridors of the Dead explores a young woman who gets drawn into their world as their “Chosen One” and what she finds behind the veil that even the Watchers couldn’t penetrate, getting to the question of what it even means to be a messiah and bear the burden of history. It’s also LGBT friendly, as I’ve tried to portray the lesbian protagonist in a non-exploitative light, so I’m hoping that some in the LGBT community can embrace it.


Jonathan D Allen said...

Thanks for the interview! That was lots of fun. :)

Marie Loughin said...

Funny, I turn to writing by the light of candles and low lighting in the fall and winter, too. Definitely a seasonal thing, with me.

I've been out to Jonathan's site and have read chapters of Corridors. I have to say, I'm excited for a chance to read it!