Natasha: Tell me about yourself. How long have you been writing? When you’re not writing, how do you like to spend your free time?
Allen: About me . . . I’m almost 40, and am just an average guy in an average life. Or has that been said before? I’ve been married almost fourteen years and have a fourteen-month old baby girl. I’m formerly a broadcast engineer and am an electronics technician by trade, and have been unemployed for sixteen months now. Wow! Where has that time gone?
I’ve been writing most of my life. I remember writing some sort of short story when I was in first or second grade (which is not unusual for the average writer). I started—and aborted—at least two “novels” in high school and another in college. Don’t worry about ever seeing those in print. They’re formative, but totally forgettable works. Best if nobody sees them.
When I’m not writing, I hunt for a job and I take care of my baby daughter while my wife works full time. I practice piano off and on, enjoy collecting and listening to 1930s and 1940s 78 RPM records on my Victrola, I sell 78s and other things on eBay as kind of a side-hobby, and also collect and listen to 8 track tapes, of which I have a pretty moderate collection. I also maintain the house (built in 1924) and usually am working on at least one house project.
I usually get most of my writing done while my daughter is napping.
Natasha: You have a paranormal thriller in the works. Can you tell us a little about it?
Allen: It is called The Ghost Machine, 105K words, which I started writing in the spring of 2006. It’s about an amateur inventor who builds a machine to catch ghosts. When the machine starts working, ghosts from three people murdered in 1924 emerge at various times and possess the characters, repeating actions that took place during their lives. Physical violence sometimes results, and it breaks up his marriage and damages his career. He must use the machine to catch the ghosts while solving the mystery behind the murders. I’m currently submitting my query to literary agents, over a hundred at this point. The rejections are rapidly piling up.
Right now I’m writing a YA thriller about a high school girl who falls for a boy who is secretly a practicing warlock. Or claims to be one, anyway. This story is a convergence of two ideas floating around my addled brain for several years.
Natasha: You also have a couple of historical books published. What are they about? Did you have to spend a lot of time on research?
Allen: I have four books published by Arcadia Publishing: The
Cincinnati Subway, Cincinnati on the Go, Stepping Out in , and Beverly Hills Country Club (2003, 2004, 2005, 2010). They are regional history titles, the first two focus on mass transportation, the third on entertainment history, and the fourth is about a popular 1950s nightclub just south of Cincinnati . Subway was the most research-intensive of the four, and since publication, has become the strongest of all Cincinnati Arcadia titles with about 7,000 copies sold. Cincinnati
See the trailer for Beverly Hills Country Club at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZfpVupUGlPc
Natasha: Do you have any advice for beginning writers that are trying to get published?
Allen: Keep working on your craft. Write every day, read inside and outside your genre, and read all the time. Study “how-to” books on writing, especially Elements of Style, Stephen King’s On Writing, Self Editing for Fiction Writers, and visit the library and browse the writing section. Whether it’s fiction or nonfiction, all writing has rules and conventions, and it’s better in the long run to understand these rules early on so you don’t keep repeating mistakes you don’t know you’re making. Join a local writers’ group, the smaller the better, and become a member of AbsoluteWrite and mingle with other writers. Most of all, learn the business of writing, how the publishing industry works, and what to avoid once you’re ready to submit.
Natasha:What is the best way for readers to contact you? (website, e-mail, facebook, twitter, etc)