Interview with Charles Allenn

Describe your desk
My desk is a large drafting table with a keyboard slide I attached to it. I had a couple of conventional desks before, but the office look didn't fit my personality. I needed a space that was more like a workshop that freed my creative energy. In the left corner of my desk is a replica of Rodin's sculpture The Thinker. It's a symbol of the long hours of brainwork I put in there every day.
What's the story behind your latest book?
The idea for it came during the time of a family "crisis." My fifteen year old son, Kalani, has special needs, and he had just graduated from middle school. My daughters, Karimba and Malawi, thought we were sending him to a private school that caters to children like him. When my wife and I told them he would be attending our local high school, they freaked out because they were afraid he would be teased by the other students. One day it dawned on me that this was a great idea for a book. So now we have High School Boot Camp which stars Karimba and Malawi who come up with a plan to prepare their kid brother for high school. Along the way, they take on six other teens headed to the dreaded Punchville High. Together they have a crazy summer experience that changes their lives forever.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
My writing. This is what I was born to do. Just like the rooster crows at the first light of dawn, I get out of bed each morning, driven by the light of my dream.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
When I'm not writing, I'm usually taking care of family business. Things like cooking, taking my wife to the train station, driving Karimba to and from school and taking care of Kalani. Other than caring for my family, I spend time almost every day doing yoga, lifting weights, and practicing tai chi, a meditative martial art.
What is your writing process?
First I have to come up with a great idea. If I don't think it's great, I don't touch it. I then get a working title, write a synopsis and do a detailed character analysis on most of my characters. I like to add pictures to each analysis to make them come alive. Then I let the characters drive the story. I have some idea where I want it to go, but I don't keep them in a cage. They always leave me with plenty of surprises.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I bought a copy of Dan Poynter's book The Self-Publishing Manual back in 1989, and it convinced me that this was the way to go. I enjoy having total control of my work and I don't have to bend over backwards trying to convince anyone that my writing is good enough to be in print.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The greatest joy of writing is that I'm living my dream, although It hasn't always been a bed or roses. As a matter of fact, it's been a long tough road. But when I kick my shoes off at night and lay my head on that pillow, I have peace because I know I've been true to myself.
What are you working on next?
I plan to get started on High School Boot Camp 2. I haven't begun plotting the story, but there's so much going on in the first book that a sequel is definitely in order. More than likely, it will follow the Boot Camp grads into their freshman year at Punchville High.
When did you start thinking of yourself as a writer?
My first year out of college, I started playing around with the idea of writing as a career. But calling myself a writer was a big and scary step. After meeting with Alex Haley in 1980 and hearing him affirm my gift, I had no more problem assuming the title. I think it makes a huge difference when an influential person affirms a young person's talent. It did for me. It helped me persevere, especially when doubt tried to set in.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I wrote my first story when I was in sixth grade. It was about a pickpocket named Sticky Fingers Louie. Nothing original about the name or the plot. As a matter of fact, the idea for writing it was a movie I saw on TV the previous night. The storyline was different, but it was enough for anyone to see where I got the inspiration. A few of my classmates did and brought it to the attention of the teacher. I thought I was in big trouble. But instead of giving me a low grade, she gave me an "A" because of the creativity I brought to the piece. I guess I was lucky.
What do your fans mean to you?
A writer's fans are his life source. We want people to read what we write, and when they read and come back for more, it becomes a deeply gratifying exchange. I, personally, think of my fans as friends. Through my characters, I take them inside a private world that the average person would never see. That world is an extension of my heart and mind, and anyone who keeps returning to that sacred place has made a connection with me that goes beyond a brief acquaintance.
Published 2015-03-26.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

High School Boot Camp
Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 50,730. Language: American English. Published: March 25, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Drama, Fiction » African American fiction » General
When two jobless sisters start prepping their kid brother for high school they land six paying students and their money problems are solved. Now they have bigger issues on their hands as the teens unload a ton of personal baggage and boyfriend problems get thrown in the mix. It's a summer filled with disaster but they find a silver lining through friendships made and memories gained along the way.