Today's interview is with Shaun Allan, author of the horror/paranormal novel Sin. A creator of many prize-winning short stories and poems, Shaun has written for more years than he would perhaps care to remember. Having once run an online poetry and prose magazine, he has appeared on Sky television to debate, against a major literary agent, the pros and cons of internet publishing as opposed to the more traditional method. Many of his personal experiences and memories are woven into the point of view and sense of humour of Sin, the main character in his best-selling novel of the same name, although he can’t, at this point, teleport.
A writer of multiple genres, including horror, humour and children’s fiction, Shaun goes where the Muse takes him–even if that is kicking and screaming. Shaun lives with his one partner, two daughters, three cats and four fish! Oh, and a dog.
Michael K. Rose: What role do you believe speculative fiction plays in society?
Shaun Allan: Speculative fiction, I have to admit, is a term I've only come across recently. I suppose, as a writer, I should know all the jargon. Looking at my life as a READER, it appears I've always been interested in the all-encompassing genre. From fantasy to science fiction to horror, my tastes have changed throughout the years, but they've always been 'weird'. A little like myself, perhaps.
Speculative fiction makes you - or at least me - think. You can imagine and enter worlds beyond your own. The realms of aliens, ghosts, dragons and so much more. You can IMAGINE.
I wrote a poem once, long ago, called "Escape." It followed an adventure in which you rode a dragon and were chased by wolves. It was, simply, about what happens when you read a book so good you're transported to another world. You lose yourself in it.
Of course, there's also the horror and paranormal aspects. The thrill and chill. The look into what might exist. We all need to look beyond our lives. To dream and wonder and even be fearful of what might exist or might have. It piques the imagination. It makes ze little grey cells work. It prompts invention. Science Fiction has been one of the major pushers of technological advancement.
Speculative fiction asks 'what if?' I dread to think 'what if not?'
MKR: Why do you write in this genre?
SA: It's not a conscious thing. I often start from just a single sentence. I wrote a short story called "I Am Death" from only 'I think...' without having any idea what the story would be about. They form themselves and speculative fiction is the form they take. It can be a children's story or something humorous. Horror or science fiction. I can be sure that it will be weird though. The genre suits me.
SA: Strangely, the initial inspiration for the book had nothing to do with the subject. I've always been interested in science and space. Black holes, too. The centre point of a black hole is the singularity point, at which the laws of space and time break down. From that (I use Singularity's Point for my webpage and Sin's blog) came Sin as a name. I wrote the first few words:
and the story went from there. I had no idea what it would be about - I find I can't plan stories - so I discovered it along the way. Originally Sin was a short story. That short story is now the prologue to the book. He still doesn't want to be quiet, hence his blog (written from his point of view) and the sequel.
MKR: What was your biggest challenge in writing it?
SA: Time. Sin took me ten years to write. I did produce other stories and poems in that period, but I have so little time to write, it was a real labour of love. I have a full time job and family. Often, I get 15 minutes out of a day to write and sometimes not even that. One year, I barely wrote a single word and I class 250 words in a day as a triumph.
Somehow, I've been on a roll recently, though. I've a new collection called Dark Places and have managed to produce a number of new stories for it, ranging from around 1,500 words to 7,500. I'm very pleased with that. And surprised.
MKR: What are you working on now?
SA: I have a couple of projects. There's my Dark Places collection. It's an anthology of dark poetry and darker prose. It's all speculative. There's a story about a reflection, ones about shadows and night and more. Most came from a phrase or a brief conversation that I've picked up and flowed with. The one I really like is "Joy," a story from Sin's sister's point of view. She appears as a ghost in the book and this gives me the chance of telling things from her point of view.
I also have a children's book about the youngest of three witches who have lost their powers, Sin's blog, which is ongoing, and Sin's sequel. Whichever my muse decides I should be working on.
It's not all my own choice...