Interview with Allen M Werner

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I've always lived in Southeastern Wisconsin in or around Milwaukee. My writing has been influenced more by what I've read and experienced in life than the locations where I have lived. Perhaps one day, I'll have to incorporate the essence of this area into one of my stories. I do have a short story I haven't published yet where the locale is a county park. I'll have to blow the dust off that one day and see what I can do with it.
When did you first start writing?
The series I'm working on now, The Crystal Crux, was my first attempt at really writing. The original story, started over 20 years ago, was about 70 pages long and horribly written. I still have it. The first book of the series now is over 300 pages long, so either I've become rather long winded or I've improved upon the story and become a much better writer. I prefer to hope for the latter.
What's the story behind your latest book?
Honestly, The Crystal Crux started over twenty years ago as a bad retelling of Lloyd C. Douglas' THE ROBE. It was simple, to the point, had a dragon, and was in Rome. I've since decided to keep the story in Italy but moved it into the Middle Ages. I transformed it into a historical fantasy, placing it in Parthenope (Naples) in the year 1198, soon after Emperor Henry VI died and Pope Innocent III began his quest to build a papal state. While the marrow continues to be Christian in nature, the meat and bones is general spirituality, the faith sown in all creatures to pursue goodness in the face of evil. I've experienced much in life since that bad first retelling - losing two brothers to Muscular Dystrophy, getting married to a queen and becoming father to three wonderful daughters, several grandchildren also. I've been well-to-do and I've been broke. All of my experiences in life have helped me mold and shape these characters and give them a depth I could never imagined back in the day.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
There's a part of me that would love to latch onto a big publishing house someday but I'm self-educated, no degrees or titles behind my name. I've read and studied history and mythology on my own, teaching myself how to write along the way. To finally go for it, put my head down, finish the story and see it in print is magical. I don't know how many copies it will sell or if anyone else will like it as much as my wife and I do (She's my biggest fan), but it's an accomplishment I'm proud of. I have several more books to write to finish this series, and after that, I see myself writing more now that I know how - and know I can.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
It took me a while to brave the "meatgrinder". I was a bit intimidated at first. But, after I decided to really give it a whirl, I found the "meatgrinder" wasn't so imposing. It is wonderful to see my book for sale on so many other sites because of Smashwords. It's still too soon to say how financially successful it will be but just reaching people has been rewarding.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Writing something that moves me and I want to read again without editing it. There are so many of the sentences and paragraphs I want to write over again, even though I've re-written them dozens of times. I always feel like most of them can be crafted better. But there are the ones that turn out in a way where I forget I wrote them. When I read someone else's work, I don't think how I would have written their words differently. It's nice when I can do that with my own words, think of them as if someone else wrote them and immerse myself.
What do your fans mean to you?
They are literally my world because up to now, they are my dearest family and friends. I've received a lot of support from them. I'm still trying to branch out beyond my known circle but marketing is not easy or cheap and I have no real budget to work with. I'm depending a great deal on word of mouth and any other opportunity that presents itself to reach a wider audience. So if you do read THE CRYSTAL CRUX and like it, please let me know! Post a review everywhere and anywhere - and especially on Smashwords!
What are you working on next?
I'm working on Book Two of The Crystal Crux series. The first book was titled 'Betrayal'. I don't have a working title for the second book yet. The second one, however, promises to be even darker than the first as the power of evil grows exponentially. The characters we want to root for are going to face formidable obstacles and the ones we hate are going to be even more callous and despicable. I'll also be flashing back in time to the creation of Sinibaldus and his rise to power with the Bellerophon Crystal. It's going to be fun.
Who are your favorite authors?
Jack Whyte stands atop the rest. I absolutely love his Camulod Chronicles. The Skystone is a masterful work of art and got me hooked from the jump. I've been a fan of Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman since I was a kid. Being a Wisconsin native and fan of D&D, it was natural to latch onto them. I really adore the Dragonships novels they wrote. I like George R.R. Martin and Michael Crichton. I love the classics by C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien and Lloyd C. Douglas. I also have an affinity for Herbie Brennan and The Fairie Wars Chronicles. He has a style that appeals to me and I can't really put my finger on why.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Family. I have the best wife in the world. I would walk through a wall of fire to be next to her. And my children, grandchildren, are simply the best. I'm a religious man and a pacifist although you might not get that reading my books. My faith, however, carries me through the day. I've been broke more often in my life than well-to-do, and I've learned that whatsoever condition I'm in to be content. I take life a day at a time.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I'm much older now and can't do it six days a week like I used to but I still play soccer as often as I can. I also watch it whenever possible. My wife calls it, 'The Other Woman.' If you read my book, take note of Francis Whitehall and how I explained his sentiments on the melee field before and during battle. There is a lot of myself written into that part. Just imaged the melee field being a futbol pitch. In the rest of my spare time I listen to music, rock and symphonic metal, everything from the Scorpions to Symphony X and Nightwish. I don't watch as much tv and movies as I once did but still enjoy adventure stories best. My wife and kids can claim my attention anytime they want, especially the grandchildren. They let me act like a big kid all over again.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
I'm a dinosaur. I still love having a paperback in my hands. I will usually purchase a paperback version of a book first if it is available that way. If the story is really good and really grabs me, I will get the eBook version so I can read it whenever I want, wherever I am. If the story is especially good, like Jack Whyte's Camulod Chronicles, than I'll even get the audio-book.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
The Crystal Crux is the first story I ever wrote that I remember. I'm sure I wrote other stuff back in the day but nothing stuck with me through the years like it did. It was the one that haunted me, called to me, made me write it. I'm glad I did.
What is your writing process?
Erratic, inconsistent, haphazard and unpredictable at best. I wish I had a process but it just doesn't seem possible with my lifestyle. I still work a regular 3rd shift job which throws my whole days into chaos. Having grandchildren, one who lives with us, is a temptation I can't resist. I'll go play with him anytime he wants to play. I love doing things with my wife and kids, playing soccer. I actually plot out the whole book to a certain extent and then assign chapters to three day blocks. Once I'm locked into the blocks, I can only work on the designated chapter during those three days. It gives me leeway to procrastinate but also a deadline in the fact that I know I can't come back and work on it for a long time if I don't do something during these three days. It's working so far. Some chapters actually work out better and quicker than I foresaw which lets me get a jump on the next chapter. When I run into a tough chapter, one that doesn't seem to work like I want it to, or needs more research, it's nice to have a few days extra slotted for it. I prefer to write at night when I'm not working, since the house is usually quiet and everyone is sleeping. Too bad my whole life is not one long weekend. Who knows how many books I could write.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I'm going to have to go all the way back to childhood and Maurice Sendak's 'Where the Wild Things Are.' It was a simple book but I read it a thousand times, memorizing all the pictures. It sparked my imagination. As I grew older, I started to believe it was possible to author books myself, write about wonderful places, especially ones with knights and dragons.
How do you approach cover design?
Well, like I've said, I don't really have a budget and reached out to some people for possible designs and ideas. Most of those didn't turn out or would have cost too much. Eventually I decided to do it myself and I'm very pleased with how it turned out.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
As a Christian, I would choose my Bible over any other book. I do read from it every day. But if I had to list my five favorite books that are not the Bible it would have to start with The Skystone by Jack Whyte. It's just amazing. One of my favorite research books is The Middle Sea by John Julius Norwich. Dee Brown's Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee is number three. Fourth, I'll say, T.H. White's The Once and Future King. And fifth, Michael Crichton's Eaters of the Dead.
What do you read for pleasure?
I like reading medieval and Native American history. The plight of the oppressed has always been a subject that peaks my interest. I'm not all that interested in reading about the rich and famous, the strong and powerful. I don't care for biographies. I like historical fantasy or any fantasy that incorporates swords, chivalry, spirituality, magic and dragons.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I have a Dell Venue 7 that I use most of the time.
Describe your desk
Glass surface, no drawers, a single flex-lamp, several papers sprawled across the top and my laptop. I have a wireless keyboard and mouse because I HATE using the scroll pad and keys on the laptop. I have two tables to my right with my chief research books, as well as a Dictionary and Thesaurus. I have a shelf on my left with more papers, hole punches and staplers, and more books.
Published 2016-04-07.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Tirza And Her Knight
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 14,160. Language: English. Published: April 15, 2018. Categories: Fiction » Fairy tales, Fiction » Romance » Fantasy
A classic Cinderella tale for young hearts with hopes and dreams.
Knight Dream
Price: Free! Words: 1,540. Language: English. Published: June 18, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Short stories, Fiction » Adventure » General
Sir Geoffrey Clayton Wolfe visits his nephew, Merle Gilmore, filling the boy's young head with fantastic tales of his most loyal and talented knight, the Griffin.
Raid On Chamonix
Price: Free! Words: 2,860. Language: English. Published: June 17, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy, Fiction » Adventure » Action
Claire was exiled from Chamonix sixteen years ago. Now she is back with her husband,, the giant, Sinibaldus, to wreck havoc and revenge on the poor little French village. They have no idea the fury about to be unleashed as the cave-dwellers of Mount Dolent descend upon them.
The Crystal Crux - Blue Grotto
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 97,780. Language: English. Published: March 4, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic, Fiction » Fantasy » Dark
(Reformatted for easier reading) The second book in The Crystal Crux series - a ten day Dark Fantasy adventure through Europe in 1198. Survival is the name of the game as Pero and Francis go their separate ways, seeking answers to the horrors they have experienced.
The Crystal Crux
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 119,770. Language: English. Published: April 3, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic, Fiction » Fantasy » Dark
(Reformatted for easier reading) First book in the series - The Crystal Crux - Betrayal. A dark historical fantasy novel for those who love epic tales where love and tragedy go hand in hand. Pero de Alava, accepting a suicidal quest on Eagles Pass, thinks his voluntary scapegoating will save his people from the evil Fabbro Family. He is wrong.