Thursday, August 20, 2015

WRITER 2 WRITER: An interview with Bev Allen

Read any writer's list of favorite authors and you're bound to find one you love too. Seeing Terry Pratchett show up in Bev Allen's list (alongside Patrick O'Brian, who I am just getting into) made me smile. I've been to Discworld a few times, and it makes me laugh and keeps me entertained. You can't ask for more than that.

There are other similarities too. I've had some very disparate jobs and multiple career aspirations. Writing is what won out. I too have interests in paleo-anthropology, mythology/religion, and ecology. I'll also sheepishly admit that some chatty characters have been dictating when & how they want their stories written. Only another writer can understand what it's like to be so distracted by an imaginary conversation, you can't keep track of what you were supposed to be doing until you get it all jotted down. Or what it's like to have the 'voices' suddenly clam up and you're lost for what to write next. Bev Allen & I belong to a very special group of people who somehow don't get locked up for talking to our make-believe friends, who get us into all sorts of trouble. We're considered non-threatening as long as we have access to a keyboard, or at least a squeaky old pen and a hunk of paper. So read on folks, and you'll get even more interesting insights on what kind of fiction Bev Allen has to offer, as well as a peek inside her life.

And make sure you check out that short piece about the Maud in the garden that is linked here. Read it and you'll easily see how that got Bev not only the top ten prize, but the chance to write about a certain 'Doctor' that many of us are enthralled with. 


An interview with author

  • Bev would you please tell our audience a little about yourself and your writing?

I’m an ex-person. That is to say, apart from being a wife and mother, I am an ex everything else; ex-student, ex-civil servant, ex-china restorer, ex-antique dealer, ex-teaching assistant and ex-researcher. There are probably a couple of ex’s I’ve forgotten, about the only thing I am not is an ex-writer.

I write in two genres, full length sci-fi adventure books for the older YA reader and shorter dark fantasy stories.

  • How long have you been writing, and how did you get interested in it?

I’ve probably been writing since I was in my early teens and it was then and still is a necessity. I have a head stuffed full of people and places and they all have stories to tell me and if I don’t write them down, they clog up my head and make me do silly things, like the day I went out for bread and milk and came home with smoked oysters and a sausage. It is definitely a case of better out than in.

I’m interested in history and ecology. Soldiers and the army have been a large part of my life and some of that is reflected in my books, but I am also fascinated by anthropology, especially paleo-anthropology and early belief systems. 

  • Most writers are avid readers as well. Do you have any favorite authors?

I love to read, so I hope you won’t mind a list. I adore Terry Pratchett, but I also love Ben Aaronovitch, Patrick O’Brian, George MacDonald Fraser and Georgette Heyer. A recent discovery is Jodi Taylor, her Chronicles of St Mary’s are a delight.

  • Is there any sort of writing you can't tolerate? Any pet peeves you'd like to share?

Aga sagas. I find books about well-off middle class women whining on about how unhappy they are and how unfulfilled their lives are a complete turn off. I want to slap them, tell them to get a hobby or volunteer for something, not read about Tarquin/Undine’s problems with their extra Mandarin classes.

  • Some days, the words just don't come easily—if at all. That can readily turn into weeks or months of no writing getting done. Do you have any strategies or advice for getting something on the page when the muse seems to have taken an extended holiday?

“No”, she said sadly. I wish I did. I get worried and lost when the people in my head go silent on me. If I’m not careful it can mean a drop into depression. If anyone knows a solution please can I be first on your list for the cure?

  • Do you have other hobbies or interests that fill those rare hours when you aren't writing?

Fortunately for my sanity, I am an obsessive quilter. My word processor is in my sewing room so I can just swivel from sewing machine to key board as the mood takes me.

You can find what I make HERE.

  • Is there a new book or other writing project coming out that we should be aware of? Any future plans you can share?

Two things out there in the last few months, a long one and a short one, so a scific and a dark fantasy.

The YA book is called “The Tattooed Tribes” and is a tale of eco-warriors and criminals all set on a forest world. It deals with the clash of two cultures and the efforts of a few people to maintain a balance. It sounds a bit serious, but I promise you it is a lot of fun and packed with loads of daring do.

The other is a dark fantasy novella called “A Solemn Curfew”. In the castle kitchens Quine struggles to bring his elegant vegetable cooking to the attention of his master. Frustrated at every turn of a carrot and every dice of a leek by the malice of the head chef, he can do nothing to find the audience he craves. Then a stranger arrives selling spices and exotic ingredients and something which will allow Quine to serve up a dish worth having. 
This is a smorgasbord of dark fantasy, humour and the culinary arts.

  • I understand that you have a Dr. Who story that we might all enjoy reading about. So what's that all about?

SFX magazine (you can get it over there) runs an annual short story competition. The top ten prize winners get their story published in an anthology. In 2007 (I think, memory is a trap set for the unwary owner to fall over) it was judged by an editor from Gollancz and I was one of the winners (you could have knocked me down with a rolled up feather duster. I only entered because my son nagged me). You can find the story on my web site blog "Maud: A Garden Tale". A couple of weeks after it came out I get a phone call from Big Finish who at the time published Dr Who stories under license from the BBC.

On the strength of Maud they commissioned me to write a story for one of their hard back anthologies. You can find it HERE on Goodreads.

It was hard work, lots of restrictions and a firm word count. I watched loads of old stuff on DVD. I had forgotten what fun Tom Baker was. It was a great experience.

  • Where do we go to find your writing?

“The Tattooed Tribes” and my first book “Jabin” are both available HERE.

And “A Solemn Curfew” can be found HERE.

I am quite willing to give away E-book copies of the novella. If people email me through my web site putting "Curfew" in the subject box I will send them the story. 

You can find me HERE.

Bev, thanks so much for sharing your writing world with the rest of us.

You can find Bev Allen's author page on Amazon US HERE, and on Amazon UK HERE. The main page of her author website is HERE, but make sure you check out her short fiction page HERE, and there is a lot of great reading to be had!

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