Author Interview - Martha Allard
Tell me about yourself?
Not much to tell. I live in an old drafty house in Flint Michigan, with my cat. I write every second I can, which is never enough. I am a hardcore geek in many areas, none of which are Game Of Thrones. And I’m always on the lookout for every day magic where ever I can find it.
Tell me about your novels?
I have one published novel, called Black Light. It’s about a rock and roll band in 1983, and a psychic vampire. It was the very first novel I ever tried to write, and it took me about thirty-three years to learn to do it right. It’s based on the people I knew in the ‘80’s and heavily influenced by David Bowie’s music. I am nearly done with its prequal, which takes place in 1947, and it the story of Albrecht Christian, the psychic vampire from Black Light. He falls in love with the Loch Ness Monster. It will be called “Your Cruel Fingers Will Close My Eyes.”
Why did you want to write?
Want is a funny word. I don’t think it’s strong enough for how I feel about writing. I need to write. My notebook and the story are the first things I think about in the morning, and the last thing at night. I carry characters with me through the day, think about them in the grocery store, while I’m cooking, I hear them talking when I’m on the edge of sleep. So yeah, need, not want.
Now, what made me start writing? Star Wars. Yes. I saw Star Wars when I was thirteen, alone in the theater for the first time in my life. That lit my brain on fire. When it was done, I walked out, across the mall hallway to a drugstore and bought my first notebook and pen. Then I met my oldest best friend, Loren Rhoads, who taught me how to put the stories on the page. Neither of us have looked back from there.
What are the challenges of being an Indie Writer?
My challenge is that I don’t know really how to do it that well. Luckily, I have people to help me with things like formatting a book, figuring out a cover, how to make it fit. Marketing. I was lucky with Black Light. It was published by a small press, Automatism Press, my friend Loren Rhoads again. It was lovely. Now, we’ll see how fast I can catch up.
What’s changed in writing since you started to now?
So. Many. Things. The first of which is that when I started writing, you had some chance of becoming a mid-list writer for a traditional publisher. Now Indie writers are the mid-list. That’s both freeing ad terrifying.
Another is that writing itself has changed. Novels are getting shorter, and the general style of writing has changed quite a bit.
Neither of these things are a bad thing. Just different.
Also, the number of books published in a month, just in the US has increased so much that no one can keep up with them all.
What is something memorable you’ve heard from a reader/fan?
I’ve told this story before, but a customer came up to me when I worked at the bookstore. He told me that he had bought my book. He said he had read it several times, and that he keeps it by his bed in case he can’t sleep. That was the best thing ever. I told him thank you, but I also cried.
The weirdest one was that I had a woman tell me that she objected to the term “psychic vampire.” She said she was a vampire and that she found it insulting. True. Story.
What is a common trap for aspiring writers?
Humm. I think one of them is that sometimes they can be so focused on the end goal—the end of the novel, the saga, series, that they don’t let their words grow. That they resist the journey that writing can be. We’re not born knowing how the words go on the page. We have to play with them for a while. Do the writing exercises, read what you want to write, read about writing (Writing Down the Bones, by Natalie Goldberg). Go down all the paths to your story.
Where do your ideas for your books come from?
What kind of question is that? You know, John Connelly, writer of the Charlie Parker books says that is the question most writers dread.
In my case, they come from a whole bunch of different places. Black Light was about my young
adulthood, and it comes from the first time my heart was broken, but it’s also based on a David Bowie song. The prequal, Your Cruel Fingers Will Close My Eye, is based on a fairytale, the Lindworm Prince, but it also has some Clive Baker influences floating around in it. The short stories in my collection “Psychic Surgery,” are based on song lyrics, and fairytales. Some of them even have roots on the crumbling streets of Flint.
Who is your favorite character from all of your stories? Or the one that has stuck with you?
I love Trace and Asia, from Black Light, and you can’t have one without the other. They both made me cry, and I wish they could have understood each other better and had a happy life together. But they prove that love isn’t the only thing you need to survive. Since I’ve spent the most time with them, all the characters in that novel are pretty special to me. I miss them now that they’re not hanging around in my head.
What do you love most about the writing process?
I love it when the words spill out on the page. I love it when the character surprises me and does something that I never intended. Albrecht did that to me in Black Light, and it was exciting. I had no idea where he was going, but I couldn’t wait to see.
What do you hate the most about the writing process?
I hate the middle. The doldrums. For me it’s usually when I know where it’s going, and I’m just pushing ahead, with that stupid list of Things That Have To Happen drowning me. Ugh.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
I read them. It’s been very interesting, because people see things in my stories that I haven’t seen yet. So that’s both fun and a little weird sometimes. Having said that, I don’t have a lot of reviews, so I haven’t had the chance to be overwhelmed by them.
Where can we purchase your books from and hear more about you and upcoming information?
Sure, Black Light is available on Amazon, and I’m also happy to sell it to anyone who wants a signed copy.
Psychic Surgery is also available on Amazon as a paperback, with the eBook coming shortly.
Your Cruel Fingers Will Close My Eyes is forthcoming.
What can we expect for the future? More books to come?
Yes. Speak My Name is a m/m paranormal romance that features the characters from two the short stories in my collection, (The Wings of Brothers, and Ithuriel’s Kiss). I also have a neo-Victorian novel coming next year, which is called “The Night Was Not.” It’s about an airship captain who returns to a home he doesn’t recognize.
I also have a new thing to work on, you know in my spare time. It’s a space opera/family drama. I got a story idea given to me by Joe Lansdale, at the last convention I attended. One of the panels he was on was about ideas, and passing them around, or giving them away. I got one of them, and I’m going to use it in this story. I’m not telling you what it is because that would spoil the surprise.