This week we’re talking to the very talented John F. Allen! An urban fantasy writer and a fellow Seventh Star Press author, I was excited to hear his thoughts and get his opinions about his writing experiences.5
SJ: Every writer has some sort of process. Give us a glimpse into yours. Do you meticulously outline? Do you write depending on what calls are out there?
JFA: I am NOT a meticulous outliner. My process is refined to a core concept, which is written out like a thesis statement. I then construct three paragraphs which kind of explain what takes place in the novel. From there I just dive in and free write.
SJ: Bonus question – Do you put on a cape and do a chant before hunkering down to work? Sacrifice anything? Along with your process, what’s your quirkiest writing habit?
JFA: I usually write with smooth jazz music playing in the background and while wearing comfortable clothing and a drink (not necessarily alcoholic either) nearby. My writing area—dubbed the Ivory Tower—contains various posters, bobble-heads and action figures I’ve collected over the years. I sometimes draw inspiration from them, but other than that nothing quirky at all.
SJ: Are you a meticulous planner or do you believe in the muse? Where do your ideas come from? Do they filter in through your dreams? Do they show up at inopportune times and whap you upside the head? Do they result in a shady deal with a dark power?
JFA: I follow my muse! My ideas come from my life experiences and from the world around me. We are all shaped in some way by our environment and as such, whatever experiences we encounter, whether it be what I’ve read, viewed or heard. I am an observer of people and this has served me well in character development also. I am always asking the “What if,” question and that usually develops into a viable idea in and of itself. Sometimes ideas pop into my head at inopportune times and I always carry a notebook and pen with me to jot things down so that I don’t forget.
SJ: Bonus question – If your muse had a physical manifestation, what would he or she look like and how would she or he act? Is it a sexy superhero version of Callisto? A sharp-tongued rogue? A reptilian alien? Do they have a catch phrase?
JFA: My muse would manifest in the form of my wife, my biggest supporter!
SJ: What’s the book/story that’s closest to your heart? Is there a piece that you clearly feel is a piece of you? Do you play favorites?
JFA: No, I don’t play favorites…the list would be entirely too long.
- If you could only write one genre ever again upon pain of being sacrificed to Cthulhu, what would it be and why?
JFA: I would have to say Urban Fantasy because it’s versatile enough to encompass virtually all of the other genres I like to write in outside of it. Hopefully that makes sense.
SJ: What’s your biggest frustration as a writer? What do you consider the downside, or is there one? Is there any cliché that makes you want to wring people’s necks?
JFA: My biggest frustration is when people think because I got a book published that now I’m going to be rich like Stephen King or James Patterson. Only if you know of a million people who are willing to buy my book otherwise, not gonna happen! I don’t write to be rich, I write because I’m a storyteller and I’ve got a million of them to tell. However, don’t get it twisted…if riches come my way, I WILL NOT TURN THEM AWAY!
SJ: If you had to be stuck in one of your own books/stories for the rest of your life, what would it be and why? If you had to stick a loved one in one of your own books, what would it be and why? An enemy?
JFA: I’d say I’d like most to live in Ivory Blaque’s world, but only if I were a demigod or a lycan. I think that her world is the most intriguing and the closest thing the world I know. As far as anyone else, I’d only take my wife and kids along because without them I’d be nothing.
SJ: Do you think it’s possible to develop a sure-fire recipe/formula for success as a writer? Would you want to, or does that compromise the art or the fun of it?
JFA: THERE ARE NO GUARANTEES! That said, there are proven ways to maximize your potential and to improve your skills as a writer. However, keep in mind that while skills can be taught, talent comes from within. No one can give you talent; it can only be nurtured from what lives inside of you to begin with. Plus, everyone is different and what worked for me, might not work for you and vice versa.
SJ: Everyone has words of wisdom for young writers, so I’m not going to ask you about that. With a few unknown writers becoming success stories, a lot of people seem to think it’s an easy career choice. What would your words of wisdom be to these people?
JFA: If it’s so easy you do it and see how far you get, otherwise shut up, sit down and get a clue. Writing is HARD work and shouldn’t be taken lightly.
SJ: It seems like everyone likes to gang up on certain genres as being inferior, less meaningful, or cheap entertainment (especially if it’s speculative in nature). Make a case for the genre you write.
JFA: My genre tells stories plucked from the history of storytelling. Mythology has endured and shaped literature in ways that are too inherent to fully explain and/or fully explore. Suffice it to say that most of the speculative fiction of today contains a kernel of inspiration and influence from world mythology
SJ: What do you want people to instantly think of when they hear your name or your work mentioned?
JFA: I enjoyed his book and when does the next one come out
SJ:Please tell us about your latest/favorite work or a little bit about what you’re working on right now. It’s plug time, so go for it!
JFA: My debut urban fantasy novel, The God Killers is the first in a series planned for publication starting in summer 2013 with Seventh Star Press.
The story focuses on former professional art thief Ivory Blaque is hired to procure a pair of antique pistols and gets much more than she bargained for when several attempts are made on her life.
Ivory’s world is complicated by the early release of her mentor and former lover, who wants to continue their relationship both sexually and professionally, but Ivory is not interested. He attempts to steal artwork from her former clients and frame her for it, all in an effort to discredit her and rebuild his criminal enterprise.
Her client turns out to be a shadowy government agent who reveals that she is descended from a race of immortals, that the pistols are linked to her unique heritage and the special psychic gifts she possesses, he uses the memory of her father to guilt her into working for him.
Ivory eventually gives in to his request, and in return, he presents her with her father’s journal, which was written in an unbreakable code. Bishop believes that she is the only one capable of breaking the code and unlocking the plans of the vampire hierarchy. But when the city’s top vampire is a sexy incubus with the hots for her and she’s assigned a hot new lycan enforcer to protect her, she finds herself caught between two sets of rock hard abs.
To regain her autonomy, clear her name, unlock the secrets of her past, and protect the lives of those closest to her, Ivory must play along with the forces trying to manipulate her. Ivory’s life is rapidly spiraling out of control and headed for an explosive conclusion which she just might not survive.
To learn more about John and his work, check out his links!