Interview with Christopher Allen

Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Yes I do. It was known as "The Adventurers", and it was written by hand in 1995. It was the precursor to "Tale of Lynaly", and I shared it with friends and family. Not long afterwards, I changed the title to "Tales of Lynaly", and it became a series of short stories I wrote back in the 90's. All of this is what eventually lead to the novel, "Tale of Lynaly" which finally saw the light of day as a published work in November 2017. Quite the journey if I do say so myself!
What is your writing process?
I visualize the whole thing from the mindset of a movie. I know the story, I know the characters, and I see it in my mind playing out. I take what I see and apply it to the written word, but the important thing is that I really do like to focus on "how" it is presented just as much as "what" is presented.

To me, I feel very strongly that the way something is worded can help the reader more accurately picture something close to what I saw in my own mind. I'll even go to great lengths to carefully rethink my wording in certain areas, trying to imagine how another reader might interpret it, and change it until I feel like it will lead them down the path to seeing it the way I do.

In short, it's like I have this movie in my head, and my job is to describe it in a way so that someone else knows what it looks like without being able to see it. (Would be nice if there was technology to just think a movie into existence though!) It's very elaborate too, I mean I even imagine sound effects, how characters explicitly stand and their body language...sometimes very difficult to represent in the written form, but I do try the absolute best that I can to do it.
How do you approach cover design?
As an artist, I do the cover design myself. For "Tale of Lynaly" I actually had many, many ideas in mind for something that could represent what the book is about, very elaborate scenes. What I eventually went with, however, was something simple: it's simply a close up picture of Lynaly from the front.

My thinking on the matter was this: I felt like it showed the main character, and that my particular art style in it's own way could possibly communicate what this world is like, or what kind of a writer I might be should someone pick it up and read it. While I do still visualize the possibility of something much more elaborate, I felt like starting things off simple was hopefully the best choice.

To me the cover communicates a very basic idea: this book is about a young woman, her expression of something of a semi-blank slate (who is she? what is she like?) and then the book content itself answers any questions that one might have.
When did you first start writing?
Very young. As a child I drew my own comics, but as I approached my teens, I often wrote many, many short stories. Some of these were even collaborative efforts with a friend of mine. We really only created them for our own amusement, oftentimes coming up with the most ridiculous things just so we could laugh at them, but it was fun. It wasn't until the mid 90's where I had a feeling that this is something I really wanted to do: I just knew that writing and drawing wasn't just a hobby, but something I very much enjoyed, and that the aspect of entertaining others was something I desired. When people read what I have created, and tell me how much they liked it, or even just what they thought of it, I find some kind of satisfaction that feeds my drive to create more.
Who are your favorite authors?
My favorite authors are Lloyd Alexander and Robert E. Howard.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in East Texas, but most people cannot tell as I possess no accent. I actually remember when my coworkers in the military assumed I was from Boston! Yeah, that was always funny. As for writing influences, it really comes down to settings. I've been to many lakes, large cities (like Dallas), and even growing up at my grandparent's house where they live out in the countryside, surrounded by large wooded areas, influenced my inner eye for settings.

Other influences for writing come from so many different sources: movies, tv shows, other books...there is just so much I have observed, often finding things I liked quite a bit, and then other elements where I would think critically about how I would have done this, or that, had I been involved in the creation process. I really do end up writing something that I know I would personally enjoy reading. Afterall, if my hearts not in it and I don't like it, how can I expect anyone else to?
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
I have to answer this in the hopes that someone sees what I wrote, and possibly gives me a helping hand! Truth be told, I'm very new to this and I'm still trying to figure it all out. When I published the book, I tried to price it according to a very specific principle:

1. I am an unknown, and if I want to fix that I have to have as many people experience my book as possible.

So far, my method was pricing the book as low as I could, offering both digital and physical editions, and consumer friendly options such as a free digital copy with every paperback purchase. Recently, I put together an "Preview Edition" of my book which contains the first seven chapters, and have offered that for free. To me, I think this offers a potential buyer more of a clear idea of what the book is like.

From there, I know there is a lot more that can be done but as I am still new to this, I'm trying to work on discovering what else I can do to get the word out and market my work. It's not easy, at least for me, but I know you really only get out what you put into this, so I must remain diligent and I am completely willing to learn or adopt new ideas in this process.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I just really, really want to be an author. When I was younger, this seemed impossible as the process of getting published the traditional way seems very daunting. I wasn't sure I could ever accomplish that, though I do understand a negative mindset such as that is hardly productive.

As a result, I just kept working on my ideas with the hope that I could do something with them, someday. As I developed my story, and my characters, there were other things developing in the world that I didn't even notice at first. Then, the time came and I discovered, completely on accident, that the internet had given rise to a new means for getting your book out there: independent publishing. I think that was back in 2010 when I first learned of all this and it had me excited. Now, I had a possible outlet that while success wasn't guaranteed, I at least knew I could actually get the book out there and work from that point.

I think in a way that it's given me more confidence to look into the traditional way in the future because who knows? At the very least, I have a tangible representation of my desire and what I can do to offer the agents or publishing houses.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
These days I am inspired to finally get my story out there. I have spent years working on it, and when I finally published the first entry back in November 2017, the drive really took off. Putting that first book out was like clearing the first hurdle; the proof to myself that not only do I want to do this, but that I CAN do this.
Describe your desk
Nothing special, just my computer and a few odds and ends, but I can tell you this: it's organized. Actually, while we are talking about it, I wish it was bigger. I'd say that the desk I have now is an in-between desk for the moment. It's something I use because I need one, but just for as long as it takes for me to get something better. If you are curious, it's one of those low cost, off the shelf desks from Walmart.

I did have a much nicer one (oh how I miss it), but that was sadly lost in a move.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Well for fun, I am very much into playing games on my PC, and my Nintendo consoles. I also watch a lot of movies (have a very large collection), and do a lot of things with my wife. Now for the regular day to day, I do take on the role of all the housework: I do the dishes, all the laundry, clean house, take care of really anything that needs to be done. The way I see it, since I am the one at home, I can lessen the amount of stuff my wife has to worry about when she is not at work. It makes her happy, which makes me happy (and I'm quite OCD anyhow), and it just really feels like we have a well-tuned household in general. Really though, I just very much appreciate a clean house and everything in its place.
Published 2017-12-28.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.