Interview with M. Ray Allen

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up as a Navy brat so I lived all over. Mostly on the west coast of the United States but we did live in Bermuda for a while. Now, I don't say 'Navy Brat' as a derogatory term but quite the opposite. I wear that title as a badge of honor. Very few civilian children grow up with the challenges that military kids do. Our parents live and die for the country we live in and are paid next to nothing for it. We move around a lot...A LOT...and as a result are forced to adapt to new surroundings and new people on nearly a yearly basis. In my 12 years of public school I attended seven different schools. That is a lot of moving around and most of the time it was during the middle of the school year. As a result, military kids are forced to grow up quicker than others and we know how to handle ourselves.
So, for all you 'brats' out there...hoo rah for you! Wear your title proud because you've earned it!
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
Yes, actually I do. I remember the first time I really got interested in reading was when I was seven. The elementary school had a book sale where a vendor brought in some books. I found a curious book about a Hobbit. Up to that point I had read mostly picture books from our schools library, but I picked up this book and read a page at random and was perplexed by it. I asked my parents for the money to get it, which at the time was just two or three dollars but I felt like I was asking for enough to buy a car. I bought The Hobbit and over the course of the next month I read it all the way through and was amazed by the adventure. When I was done I felt like I had just got done climbing Mt. Everest and immediately started reading it again. That was the first real non-picture book I'd ever read and after that I was hooked.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
Neil Gaiman said it best when he said, "Picking five favorite books is like picking five body parts that you don't want cut off." He couldn't have been more right, so I'm not going to pick five. Instead, I'd like to discuss the kinds of stories I like to read and why I like to read them. I primarily like science fiction and fantasy stories. Stories about adventure and mystery and overcoming your fears to do what must be done. In short, I like to be inspired when I read.
Yes, reading does provide a way to temporarily escape the day-to-day world but you can read almost anything to do that. During breakfast I'll read whatever details they put onto the back of a cereal box to forget about the awful tasting stuff I'm trying to make myself eat 'in the name of being healthy'. Or while wasting time waiting at the Dr's office I'll read articles about whatever celebrity is doing something bad, etc.
However, when I really want to enjoy myself, I wish to be inspired. I want to read stories about how brave knights saved children from vile monsters. I want to feel the exhilaration of being a soldier draw a line in the sand and letting evil know that it shall not pass...and most importantly I want to experience a little bit of something miraculous through the eyes of someone else.
That is why I read and it's also a big part of why I've chosen to write. If I can give to someone else, what so many other authors have given to me, I think that is something worth doing.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I chose to become an Indie author over a traditional author mostly because of the publishing industry. It seems that they have lost their path and I simply cannot walk that road with them. Don't get me wrong, I fully understand that the publishing industry is first and foremost a business. They exist to make money and I don't fault them for that. I fault them for how they choose to do it.
When I first began to sell this story I found an agent willing to work with me. She read the book and loved it. Then, over the course of a couple months, we discussed the book but she said it was too long for her to sell. At 150k words publishers just wouldn't take on a new author with a story that long. The costs for printing a book that big would be too high and the risk would be too great. Ultimately she and I parted ways because she wouldn't represent it unless I split it into two books and I wouldn't split it. If I had, then you'd have the first book with a lot of back-story with no climax and the second book would be a climax with no context. I personally hate it when authors do that and I refuse to do that to anyone else.
It seems to me that publishing has become too corporate in nature. Bottom lines drive everything and there is very little to no soul left in the industry. Once upon a time publishing houses actually published books because they were people that loved books and it gave them a way to make enough money to live on while bringing great stories to the masses; a win-win scenario if there ever was one. Then something happened and they sacrificed their love of books for more money so now if you're not a celebrity or the newest 'hot topic' then they have no interest in taking a risk. Publishers no longer want to do their job of actually 'reading' stories and searching for great ones to share, they want something that will sell well to just magically drop into their laps.
While that business model may work well for their bottom lines, it has ripped the soul from the industry and there is a revolution coming; a revolution that is changing publishing and I am afraid that traditional publishers are ill prepared for it. That revolution is electronic books and epublishing, and that is why I decided to become an independent author rather than a traditional one.
Published 2014-01-28.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

The Orb of Chaos Vol. 1: No Rest for the Wicked
Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 151,850. Language: English. Published: January 19, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Fantasy, Fiction » Fantasy » Epic
No Rest for the Wicked is a light-hearted adventure that allows readers to quickly jump into a fast paced story and escape the real world (at least for a little while). It is aimed at teens and young adults but has been enjoyed by virtually all ages of those with a curious and adventurous spirit.