MY INTERVIEW WITH MICHAEL J. ALLEN
What’s your name and what genre would you consider your books to be?
My name is Michael J. Allen and I am a multi-level author of science fiction and fantasy.
Tell me about your book. How did you come up with that (story, angle, idea)?
That’s a tough one since I have so many. I guess I’ll go with my Dumpstermancer series. Big picture, I was homeless as a teen and while I was telling someone about those experiences struck on the idea of a homeless mage forced to make spells and constructs out of dumpster contents. From there I asked the famous author question ‘why’ followed by ‘what if’ and the rest is publishing.
How did you get interested in writing this particular genre (historical novels, mysteries, sci-fi, children’s books, etc.)?
I love reading urban fantasy, Kim Harrison, Jim Butcher, Faith Hunter, John Hartness and countless others. I was sticking mostly to space opera and modern high fantasy when the Dumpstermancer idea came along. Shortly after that I was also writing about a water phoenix and her brethren protecting Atlanta from the Sidhe.
What kind of research did you do for this book?
I have a pretty extensive collection of books on faeries, fae, and all the varied folklore, but at the same time I like to take those things and turn them inside out for new angles.
Can you tell me about your Series?
I love Dumpstermancer, heck I adore the word, but I think I’ll shift over to the series I’m working on now: my Blood Phoenix Chronicles. Imagine the world you know, but the things that go bump in the night are real. Sure that sounds like every other urban fantasy, but here’s the thing. What if after the fall of the Morning Star and his fallen angel brethren, God decided he needed a better angelic host to protect humanity. He created phoenixes in various elements, infused them with souls and set them to protect humanity from the fallen and their creations who were through folklore as the faeries, the Sidhe? Then, what if one phoenix who is reborn from blood had that blood tainted and went off the rails…
There’s so much more, but I don’t want to spoil it any more than I already have. Suffice to say, I’m excited to see them come out this summer.
Do you have a favorite book out of this series?
Book 5: Razing the Last Bastion. The ending is going to blow everyone’s minds.
Where did you get the inspiration/idea for your series?
Long story short, I imagines phoenixes that weren’t reborn from ashes, but tears or jokes or kudzu (anyone who knows kudzu knows it always comes back from the dead.)
What kind of research did you do for this book?
Some faerie research, some biblical research, a few trips back through Atlanta where I used to live. After that I did what discovery writers like me do best. I made stuff up as I went along.
Was it always meant to become a series?
BPC was always meant as a series, though it’s changes since original concept from one book per phoenix to a more ensemble design.
What’s a typical working day like for you? When and where do you write? Do you set a daily writing goal?
I get up, write two hours, listen to audiobooks on my commute to my day job, write during lunch, get off work and audiobook my way home, let the dogs out and play with them, head to a restaurant, write until I am out of battery, asleep at 10, up at 1-2am, write til 4am, sleep till 6am and restart.
Sometimes I have a goal word count, but only when I’m pushing on a particular deadline.
Do you have a new book in the making and if so, what’s the name of your upcoming book?
Blood Phoenix Chronicles 1: Ashes of Raging Water is available right now in pre-order in the Cursed Lands boxed set. Cool as that is, anyone buying the pre-order gets Dumpstermancer 1: Discarded in the bonus gift.
How important are character names to you in your books? Is there a special meaning to any of the names?
Some do, some don’t – wouldn’t want give my readers too easy of a time figuring out what happens next.
Where do your ideas come from?
Everywhere. Ideas are a billion a penny. When enough matching ideas collect in my brain that the puzzle of a new story takes shape, a mousy little guy with a bad comb over and thick glasses delivers it to my forebrain.
Is there a genre that you’ve been wanting to experiment with?
I’ve got an epic science fiction I want to write, something huge on a scale with the Stormlight Chronicles but in space.
What is the hardest part of writing for you?
Time. I never seem to have enough time to get enough words down to keep feeding new books – especially sequels – to the readers who want them.
What do you think of book trailers? Do you have a trailer or do you intend to create one for your own book?
Book trailers I’ve seen have been pretty repetitive. I considered filming a trailer for Scion 4, but that book is waiting for me to finish several other titles. We’ll just have to see if it happens.
What do you consider to be your best accomplishment?
I finished a novel. That’s pretty epic right there. After that, a publishing house wrote me a check for one of those novels.
What’s the best thing about being an author?
At first, it was living and working on a first name basis with the epic writers I’d grown up reading. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still awesome to have some really cool author everyone’s read slap me on the shoulder and ask after my kids or something a friend would know/care about. Having some young reader/writer stay up all night reading a book he bought Friday only to come back for the sequel on the second day of a convention is pretty amazing too. The pinnacle (so far) though was the reader who took me aside and told me how my book – the pile of weird words I cobbled together – had saved him, kept him sane through hard/dark times. That right there is incredibly humbling. That’s making the world a better place, even for if only for a single human being. I don’t want to tempt Ms. Fate, but I’m not sure how I will ever top that moment.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
With less hair (from tearing it out reading reviews or the lack there of) and more books. With ten years of writing all the series I have open now should be done, and if the readers are very good to me I hope to be writing full time.
Have you always liked to write?
Nope. I was certain in high school that English was a complete waste of time. Ms. Fate and Ms. Irony enjoyed a lot of nights snickering and pointing, I’m sure of that.
What writing advice do you have for aspiring authors?
Quit. If like me you find quitting just doesn’t work, then get your but in a chair and write until you finish something. Then throw it in a box and write something completely different.
If you didn’t like writing books, or weren’t any good at it, what would you like to do for a living?
Like most of the science fiction writers I know, I’m a computer nerd. That’s the day job that pays for me to stick my neck out here and hope a reader tries and likes my stuff.
Do you read reviews of your book(s)? Do you respond to them, good or bad? How do you deal with the bad?
I do read reviews. It’s not always easy, but I want to listen to my readers and learn from what they have to say. Some good reviews are empty of value, and some bad reviews reveal important truths. It takes time to shake off some bad reviews – it’s easier to believe my writing sucks than the other end of the spectrum. Then again J someone wrote me a check.
What is your least favourite part of the writing / publishing process?
Struggling to get reviews where they’re most effective. Reviews help readers find a book, but most readers that like a book figure someone else will write a review. The people that disliked a book, they love writing reviews because it’s their job to put the writer in his/her place and crush their dreams. (Everybody has to have a hobby 😉 )
Can you give us a few tasty morsels from your work-in-progress?
Readers can get an excerpt of Ashes of Raging Water at: https://claims.prolificworks.com/free/1KsgLKA8ZKUwjIPaYUyk
Why did you choose to write in your genre? If you write in more than one, how do you balance them?
Think of my style of writing as more of a Channel. Every one of my stories has a ‘voice.’ The voice tells me the story and I write it down. Once the voice isn’t threatening my sanity if I don’t jot down his story, I go back and clean it up. So far, no voice has ever crossed over into someone else’s world.
Where did your love of books come from?
My wild, mad, pirate of an uncle gave me books. He had to, the little town I grew up in was so small it had no bookstores and the library was a room that dreamed of full shelves.
Do you have any favorite authors or favorite books?
I love Roger Zalazny’s Amber books and I adore Mercedes Lackey & Andre Norton’s Halfblood Chonicles. These were the books that probably made me want to write (without bothering to tell me that’s what I wanted) I also adore Mercedes Lackey and her husband Larry Dixon as probably the best people I have ever known. I’ve never met Ernest Cline, but Ready Player One resonated with me like no other recent book. Another fantastic book with a sweetheart of an author is D J Butler’s Witchy Eye, and Quincy J Allen’s Blood Ties, and Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn and T. Allen Diaz’s Lunatic City and, and, and I could just go on and on. Writers are some of the coolest, nicest people on the planet. I’ll take them over every other industry I’ve ever worked in.
Of all the characters you have created, which is your favourite and why?
Massive, global killer of a question. Sam Bridger from Crossways (which isn’t published yet) because he is just too fun for words. If I had to pick from those published, I think I would have to choose CASSII from the Scion series with Rafe from Fey West right behind. CASSII is smart and snarky and sarcastic and despite the limitations of what she is, she doesn’t fail to dream. Rafe, well, Rafe and I are kindred.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Yes, depending on the scenes involved.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
My day job. I’m on call for a major corporation that couldn’t care less that I have readers waiting on sequels.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
I write the truth of the story, the truth of that world – even when I get criticized for choices the readers didn’t like and/or didn’t understand. I can’t even say that I wish I could write only what the readers want. My job as an author is to entertain while opening your mind to places and points of view you might otherwise have never encountered. I’m providing an escape that occasionally comes with a side of broccoli.
What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
Wow. That is not a small list. Larry Dixon has been challenging me to let the readers see the real me I’ve been hiding behind a corporate suit for twenty years. D. J. Butler challenges me to be taller. Quincy J. Allen challenges me to show off a bit when it’s warranted. Kevin J. Anderson challenges me to write faster. James Owens challenges me to be a better person. Chris Kennedy challenges me to work harder. John Hartness challenges me not to be short sighted and settle. All of these incredible writers and a slew of others challenge me to write better so I can stand next to them without cringing in fear that someone will figure out I don’t belong.
If you were writing a book about your life, what would the title be?
Success Via Every Failure Possible
What question have you always wanted to be asked in an interview? How would you answer that question?
“Who the hell is Alden and what is his deal?”
Answer: Alden will tell his story in his own time.
Subtext: Alden has appeared in every novel regardless of genre since I started writing.
Where can your fans find you and follow??
Thank you for taking your time to do this interview ❤️