It’s been a very slow few weeks for the blog I’m afraid, and it will likely stay this way for a while until I get well enough to start posting frequently again. This time I have an interview with the awesome Bret Allen. His work is rather impressive and inspired me to start writing short stories of my own. I still owe you an interview on Strange Matters Bret, I’m sorry on my long delay! It will be up soon, I promise D: Strange Matters also has one of the most badass book covers I’ve seen in a long time.
In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the review. Here is a link to my author page for updates on the interview front. Long story short, complications have arose, but nothing which can’t be fixed. Enjoy.
1. First of all, tell me about yourself! What do you write?
My name’s Bret Allen, I’m a 31 year old self-employed copywriter from the West Midlands and I love a bit of rock and metal! When it comes to writing, I heavily prefer fantasy and within that, I lean towards modern day/magical realism, such as Neil Gaiman’s work.
2. How do you develop your plots and characters?
More often than not I let it happen organically. I’ll start with a kind of mental snapshot for an idea and work outwards, until it makes sense. The tricky part with plots is making them fit the theme you have in mind for a story and making sure they have the right dramatic logic (no idea if that’s a real writing term, just popped into my head). I mean things like an ending which connects to the beginning, that sort of thing.
3. Tell us about your current project.
Right now I’m promoting the heck out of my collection of short stories, Strange Matters. I’m also working on a choose-your-own-adventure game which I hope to finish soon. It’s just a text only game, a bit of fun really, called Hipster Quest. It pokes lots of fun at Hipster and at the fantasy genre.
4. Who would you say is the main character of your novels? And tell me a little bit about them!
Well my favourite main character is from the story ‘Arcturus’, in Strange Matters. His name is withheld in the story and he’s referred to simply as ‘the animal’, because he’s just that. He’s a wanted criminal, a wild man of sorts, young and violent and proud, but also quite cunning. This is an origin story of sorts because as it unfolds, he also has a softer side and a fleeting shot at redemption.
5. What advice would you give new writers on how to delve into creative fiction?
Oh man, just to write! Keep writing and honing the craft, asking for advice and of course reading. Reading makes you a better writer. Writing makes you a better writer. But so, it should be said, does getting out there and experiencing life from time to time.
6. What real-life inspirations did you draw from for the worldbuilding within your book?
Interesting question! This isn’t worldbuilding per se, but in Strange Matters there’s a story called Torque which follows a gang of bikers. I was able to draw on a few biker characters I know for their characters and attitudes, as well as organisational structure (with a few poetic liberties).
7) What inspires you to write?
Nine times out of ten it’ll be an idea that pops into my head after reading or watching something, which will be so strong that I’m just dying to share it and make it into a proper tale. There isn’t enough time in the day to get them all down on paper, sadly.
8. What was the hardest part of writing this book?
That was probably the editing. Though it took plenty long enough to write the stories, compiling them and editing them took months upon months. I was very exacting with them and rearranged whole sections a few times. I think it paid off, but I daren’t look too closely as I know I’ll see something else I want to change.
9. What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?
In Strange Matters my favourite story was Wordsmith and favourite part of that was the opening, with Kate being beset by hyenas in the middle of a London street. I love the juxtaposition of it and the image, plus you get to see her work with Obie to escape and it becomes increasingly clear that something’s really wrong with him.
10. Did you learn anything from writing this book and what was it?
I learnt a lot of little facts, from Jewish and Ethopian culture to things about guns and weapons in the early modern period. It can be great fun researching things for a story. But most of all I learnt that perseverance is as important as skill!
11. It’s sometimes difficult to get into understanding the characters we write. How do you go about it?
That can be tricky. There’s one fun technique or mental exercise where you take your character and put them in a random situation from another book or movie and decide how they would act and respond. It also helps to consider more sides of their personality, such as their fears or little quirks, which affect all their thoughts and decisions behind the scenes.
12. What are your future project(s)?
The next big thing for me will probably a straight up novel, probably following one of the worlds already described in those short stories. Three of the shorts take place in a setting I call ‘Sleepwalkers’, which I’d love to expand on.
13. If you couldn’t be an author, what ideal job would you like to do?
I’d love to be a game designer or narrative developer for games. I’ve done some game writing and hugely enjoyed it, plus I really treasure games with a strong story.
14. What is your preferred method to have readers get in touch with or follow you (i.e., website, personal blog, Facebook page, here on Goodreads, etc.) and link(s)?
Facebook is a pretty good way, via https://www.facebook.com/bretallendoingwords. You can also get me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/bretallenwriter and my blog is at http://bretallen.info/, which also has all my books for people to buy!