Blogs by L.T. Suzuki
Shaun Allan Interview
4/22/2012 7:17:22 AM
Debut author Shaun Allan discusses his works and the writing life!
For todayís guest blog, Iíd like to introduce you to a very talented author with a great novel to share, Shaun Allan. Iíd like to begin by having you share a little information about yourself with our readers, Shaun. What do you enjoy doing when youíre not writing?
SA: Hi Lorna. Thanks very much for this opportunity. Thanks even more so for the talented author bit. Of course youíre not wrong but itís nice to be told, lol.
What do I enjoy doing when Iím not writing? Well, to be honest I have so little time for actual writing, itís nice to BE putting the words down. I have such a busy work life and home life that being an author is something I have to squeeze in when I can. Perhaps thatís why it took me ten years to complete Sin. I do, though I donít know if I should admit to this, enjoy my job, but I LOVE my family life. I have an amazing fiancťe and two wonderful daughters (one only 10 months old) and they take up almost all my time. But thatís ok, as our house is constantly filled with laughter.
Outside of that, I am SUCH a gadget geek, much to the head shaking of my fiancťe, and I really enjoy films and music. I like all sorts of both Ė I canít wait for the Avengers, Batman and Men in Black III this year, but alsoÖ ermÖ had something in my eye watching the Notebook the other night. With music, weíre big 80s fans (though my fiancťe is 13 years younger than me, she still likes the music that was Ďmy eraí), and saw Cyndi Lauper last year (can still belt Ďem out) and Howard Jones last week (still good). Lost Prophets is this weekend and we saw Snow Patrol in February Ė easily the best concert Iíve been to.
I understand that youíve been writing stories all your life. Why did you wait until last year to publish your first full-length novel?
SA: I certainly have been writing since being a small child. I suppose I tend to be undisciplined when writing. I write as the story takes me, so can write a whole load of words in one story, then suddenly begin another or pick up an older one. With Sin, it started off as a short story. I thought that was it and it was finished, but now that short story is the prologue to the book and Sin even has his own blog and Twitter account.
I sat down sometime in November to write some of Mortal Sin (the sequel) and a thousand words later realized I was finding out how Rudolph saved Christmas in a story that resulted in a follow up to my ZitsíníBits childrenís collection. With Sin, I kept writing bits here and there as and when I could Ė sometimes 200 words a week, in one place (bad place) not a single word in a year. I have an old school friend who now lives in California who was an avid follower and would never let me leave it too long before he had another installment. It was quite funny when he came over to the UK at Christmas and shoved two copies of my book under my nose in a busy restaurant to sign!
In the middle of all this, Iíd also written 30,000 words of a childrenís book, Puddlebrain, and promptly forgot about it as Sin progressed. Iíve since picked that back up and am trying to finish it before working on Sinís sequel.
So, really, last year was when Sin was finally finished. My fiancťe took me off to Luxor in Egypt the September before, somewhere Iíve wanted to go since being a child, and I managed Ė in amongst the Valley of the Kings etc. Ė to write 15,000 words. I was SO in the zone and she enjoyed watching me fill notebook after notebook. I could finally see the end of the book and completed it in the February Ė though typing up those 15,000 words was a beast of a job!
Iíve had the opportunity to read an excerpt from your debut novel, Sin and I donít think Iíll toss another coin again without thinking about this book! ;-) What was the inspiration behind this story and can you tell us a little bit about your protagonist, Sin?
SA: My mind tends to make odd leaps Ė as you might be aware reading Sin. The inspiration had nothing to do with the subject of the book. Being a gadget geek and interested in science and so on, Iíve long had a fascination with black holes. The Singularity Point is the point at which the laws of space and time cease to exist (more or less), and Iíd had an email address along those lines. I started to think of the ĎSiní part of Singularity and then, simply, wrote ďNameís Sin.Ē That was how the book started. I didnít know where it was going, or what was going to happen. I suddenly had a character and his name was Sin.
Sin, the person, just wants to be an ordinary guy. For most of his life he was, too. He didnít have a good relationship with his parents (they DID name him Sin, after all), his sister committed suicide, but he took it on the chin and tried to make these things make him a better person. Then, one day, he picks up a coin, flips it, and sees a bus drive into a post office.
Thus begins his decent into NOT being just the ordinary guy he wanted to be. Extraordinary things happen, things that he has no control of. He hates this. He doesnít want this curse, but he canít do anything about it. He wants to do right but canít help do wrong.
Sin is very much a part of me. He has my tangential thoughts (which do end up relevant!), my sometimes offbeat sense of humour, which is his defense against the things that are happening. I, myself, have tried to make sure that some of the rough spots Iíve had have turned to my advantage rather than knocking me back. I donít think I would change anything, if I could live my life again, as itís all made me the person I am today Ė and I donít think Iíve turned out too bad. Sin is like that, and he uses humour to filter out the horrors he endures.
Iíve had readers telling me that they end up laughing while something really bad is happening. Theyíve cried at other points, and, though they donít particularly like Sin at the beginning, they canít help but warm to him and sympathize with his plight.
Without giving away too much, can you reveal whatís in store for the readers when they crack open Sin?
SA: A rollercoaster ride, is how one reviewer described it. Dark and disturbing (and amazing) is another. Original and completely new. This is how other people describe Sin. I think youíre in for something unexpected. It reached number 9 in horror on Amazon and is number 1 in psychological thriller, but I think itís somewhere in between. It has a Ďquiet horrorí as youíre seeing the bad things through Sinís eyes, and he deals with them in a very matter-of-fact way, with tongue in cheek humour, to stop it driving him mad. After all, just because he incarcerates himself in a mental asylum, it doesnít necessarily mean heís crazy.
Youíll have to make your own mind up as to whether heís not.
Number 1 in psychological thrillers? That is excellent! Now, becoming a published author is truly a difficult road to travel, so Iím always pleased when a fellow writer is plucked from relative obscurity to land a book deal. Can you share that moment when you sold your story to Fantasy Island Book Publishing?
SA: I was at work, actually. I was emailing an author friend whoíd read and loved Sin and he recommended it to his publisher. The publisher agreed and wanted to take me on board.
Itís very difficult to be sitting at your desk working, and trying to keep the bouncing feeling you have locked inside!
What is the most important lesson youíve learned on the road to publication?
SA: Writing the book Ė even one that takes ten years, is only a small part of the Ďjobí. You need to put a lot of work and effort into promoting yourself.
Saying that, I have to say itís worth it. I have met SO many lovely people since I published. Iíve had amazing reviews and have made some firm friends Ė a lot of whom are in other countries.
Still on the subject of writing styles, are you a plotter or pantser? The readers would like to know if you tend to plot out your story line in great detail or if your writing is more organic with the characters and events unfolding as you write.
SA: A pantser, definitely. I have sometimes thought I should plan my stories out. I should do character outlines and figure out the main plot aspects. Unfortunately, I canít. As you can see from Mortal Sin becoming Rudolph Saves Christmas, things donít work out as planned. I donít know, a lot of the time, what is going to happen. I hope that the fact that Iím surprised by situations, the reader might be too.
Itís much the same with Sinís blog. Itís his diary from within his asylum and usually I just have the starting sentence and nothing more. I donít know where itís going to go, whether a new character will be introduced or anything. I find out as I write, and I really enjoy that. Sometimes the blog is based around a particular event (Christmas, Valentineís Day etc.) or Iím writing an entry to help promote another authorís book, so their character becomes a resident, but even then, I donít know how the tale will wag.
At one time or another, most writers hit the wall and their work stalls because of the dreaded writerís block. What do you do to get around or over this mental wall to resume writing?
SA: Itís not quite like that. I donít see a wall, or struggle. I have an urge to write or I donít. At the moment, and for a while, the urge has been almost overpowering. Frustratingly so, at times. I wrote a guest post on this very subject (my guest posts are on my web site). For a whole year, a difficult time, I had nothing. Now I donít force it. I let it come when itís ready, confident that it will. At the very least, I have the blog entries to write, which are only 300-500 words or so, and they are all individual so if a story isnít flowing, I can write a blog entry on something completely different.
Who is your favourite author and how has he/she inspired you to write or influenced your writing style or choice of genre?
SA: Over the years, my tastes have changed. I started out reading Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke. I moved on to fantasy with Terry Brooks and David Eddings and then Dean Koontz and Stephen King grabbed my attention. Iím luck and humbled that Sin has been compared to both King and Koontz (and even Hitchcock!). Iím interested in science and the paranormal anyway, but I do write various genres. I have humour, science fiction, horror and childrenís. Sin could quite easily have become a childrenís book (well, maybe not with that title) but the story doesnít start out being a specific genre. It sort of grows into it.
What are you reading now, and how did this particular book make it onto your to-read list?
SA: I have a couple of Stephen King books waiting to be read, but they took a back seat to Alison DeLucaís steampunk novels. Iíd never tried a steampunk book before, but I was hooked by these. I am currently 75% of the way through my very first autobiography. Michael McIntyre is a very funny comedian, and Iím a big fan. My fiancťe bought me his book for Christmas and inside was a pair of tickets to see him later this year.
What do you foresee in your future over the next five years and do you hope to branch out into other genres? Can your fans expect a sequel to Sin in the near future?
SA: HmmmÖ I try not to look ahead too much. I hope people are still enjoying Sin. In fact, I hope to follow in your footsteps and have Sin become a movie! As for other genres, I do dip in to them, as Iíve said, but I think my genre of preference is Weird. All of my stories, regardless of specific genre, have an aspect of Ďout of the ordinary.í
A sequel to Sin is already started, the first chapters being at the end of the print edition (and soon the Kindle version). I canít give anything away as I have no idea what is going to happen. Hopefully Iíll find out soon!
Thank you so much for take time from your hectic schedule to discuss your novel and your writing experience, Shaun!
For more information about Shaun Allan and his literary works, check out:
Sinís blog: http://singularityspoint.blogspot.com
Follow Shaun on Twitter: .singularityspnt (Sin is on .SinNotSinful)
Where to buy the book: The autographed print copies (with bookmark) are available from my website. The print version can also be purchased from my publisher: http://www.fantasyislandbookpublishing.com and from Amazon at http://amzn.to/SinPBUS and http://amzn.to/PBUK
The eBook is available, again, from Fantasy Island, and from Amazon at http://amzn.to/SinEBUS and http://amzn.to/SinEBUK
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