Friday, 17 June 2011

Words With... Shaun Allan

Thanks to Shaun Allan for this interview

How long have you been writing?

All my life.  Literally.  Well, clearly when I was a baby I was more bothered about holding a bottle than a pen, but soon thereafter!  Apparently (so I’m told by my mum) I used to write stories and draw the pictures to go along with them.  There have been times when I’ve not written for an extended period – a whole year at one point – due to life getting in the way.  I really didn’t like that, so it was a relief when the words flow again.  It wasn’t so much a block – a physical thing in my path I could get around – it was an absence of the urge.  Now, though, it’s often overwhelming!

Do you have a day job or do you write for a living?

I SO wish I could write for a living.  But no, I have a day job.  I work in the inspection department of an oil refinery and it takes up SO much of my time.  A bit rude, really, interrupting my muse!

What do you feel is the ideal recipe for a good novel/story/poem?

I’m a rubbish cook, so I have no idea about recipes!  I write what comes.  I actually had a conversation with a colleague yesterday.  I said that I have no idea what’s going to happen in my stories until it happens.  There’s no point in me planning as the characters may not agree with me.  He couldn’t quite grasp that I didn’t know the plot of the story.  But that’s how it is.  It’s like Sin’s blog – almost every entry is written from the first sentence.  That’s all I have – the starter.  Then it goes where it goes.  A couple of times they’ve been based on friends, as a sort of tribute (if being written into a lunatic asylum can be such a thing) but even then I haven’t known how they’ll appear.  I like to be surprised.  To like to be drawn in so I forget that I’m reading a book.  I like to be immersed.

What/who inspired you to write and still inspires you?

My old English teacher was my first proper inspiration, I think.  I wrote before that, but he kind of opened the floodgates.  I remember him reading To Kill A Mockingbird to the class and he was an excellent storyteller.  I wanted people to be listening to my stories like that.  Maybe one day they will.  Sin is actually partly dedicated to him.  Since him?  Life inspires me.  Sin is SO much a part of me and my experiences.  And things I see and hear often find their ways into my work.  And my family inspires me.  It’s been a long dark path to happiness, but I found it and it’s amazing, and they are always so supportive.

What books have you written? Do you stick to one genre?

I don’t actually stick to one genre.  Sin is a supernatural thriller.  Zits’n’Bits is an offbeat children’s poetry book.  Tooth is a humorous story set in my kitchen for the most part!  Final Entry is sci-fi and The Feast is a (very) short horror.  And there’s others.  I think my genre is ‘weird’.  Yes, weird...

How long did it take you to write your book/s?

Sin has taken ten years from the initial short story that now makes up the prologue.  I’ve written a multitude of stories and poems within those ten years, though.  Sin kept wandering off, and I’d have to wait for his return.  But when he did return, he wouldn’t shut up.  I went to Luxor in Egypt last September – it was a childhood dream to visit the Valley of the Kings, and even now I find the memory breathtaking – and I was so ‘in the zone’ I wrote 15,000 words whilst there!

Do you have any works in progress?

I do indeed.  I found 30,000 words of a children’s book I’d written and forgotten about, which I’m reading through (and enjoying) to continue with.  I’m writing another poetry book for children like Zits’n’Bits.  Then there’s the children’s story Zombies Are People Too.  And, Sin is coming back...

Which character from your books do you like most / are most like?

Definitely Sin.  OK, so people don’t die around me etc.  But his sense of humour, his randomness and a lot of who he is as a person, is me.  I’m not sure I should admit to that though!

Where and when do you write ­ – do you have set times during which you write or is it just when the mood takes you?

I wish it could be a set time or when the mood takes me.  It’s when I get chance.  When I can sneak it in.  I have Notepad open permanently on my PC, just in case, and I have a jotter and pen easily to hand at home.

Have you ever based a character on someone from real life? Has the person guessed?

I have and they have.  Sometimes, as in the case of Sin’s blog, it’s by request.  Other times it’s in jest and the person has taken the joke.  I never do it in a derisive way though.

How do you find the marketing experience? Any advice for other writers? Do you use a blog or twitter, etc

Hard!  Writing was easy compared to this.  There is NEVER enough time in the day to cover all the bases and sometimes I have to just say I can’t do it today.  It can take over.  But you must persevere.  And the bonus of this is you meet some amazing friends, many of whom are in exactly the same boat as you!

One day you’re walking in the forest and you bump into an alien librarian from Mars. He wants five book recommendations from you…

To Kill A Mockingbird.  That was the book that made me go from writing to WRITING.  The Green Mile.  I’m a big Stephen King fan, and was SO humbled to have two different people compare Sin to King and Koontz.  Hmmm... I mainly read the Dan Brown-like books or some fantasy (Terry Brooks and David Eddings).  I thought Eddings’ Belgariad was great when I read it.  And Brooks’ Shannara.  As I don’t get a lot of time to read, as much as I LOVE to read, I don’t have much opportunity to discover classics.  Saying that, when I put the Kindle app on my Android tablet, I found a book called Silver – Dan Brown-esque – about Judas.  I thought it was excellent and was gutted when it finished.  I can’t wait for the second one.  I wouldn’t have even knew it existed without the Kindle app as I hadn’t seen it in my local shops.

Some of your fave things: Animal? Food? Drink? Film? Colour? Band? Song? Place to chill out?

Animal – used to be a dog.  I always had dogs growing up and was very close to them, but now I have 3 cats!  And the best present I was ever given was a cat – I lived alone in a flat and my fiancĂ©e gave it to me so I had someone to love me when she wasn’t there.  He was amazing.  Oh, and doesn’t everyone love meerkats?  Oh, again, I think penguins are pretty cool too....
Food – Chilli.  I used to hate spicy foods.  Growing up, if it went with chips (fries for you Americans – although I’m talking proper chips!) then it was ok.  But now I absolutely love chilli.
Drink – I nice cold can of caffreys, or water.  I have tea (used to be coffee but wasn’t being nice to me), the odd beer and vodka, but overall it’s probably water.
Film – I love films.  So many.  I’d be at the cinema every week if I could.  I have a great many favourites.  Highlander, Aliens, Wanted, The Empire of the Sun, the Indiana Jones films, Back to the Future.  Too many to mention!
Colour – blue.  Always has been.
Band – My favourite used to be the Eurythmics.  Now I am a big Snow Patrol fan, along with Florence and the Machine, Keane, Foo Fighters etc.  Also like the Police, Pet Shop Boys, Evanescence and so on.  I also like watching tv shows that generally have good soundtracks, like Grey’s Anatomy.  You can Shazam some really great songs from there.  I love Plumb’s Cut, which I found that way.  Haunting song!

Which book do you wish you had written?

Every one that I have liked, lol.  I read some books and just wish I could write like that.  It amazes me, and touches me, that I am getting such excellent reviews for Sin.

Who is your favourite character from any book and why?

Scout, from Mockingbird.  She’s got it sorted!

Which three authors (living or not) would you like to take to the pub? 

Stephen King, for one.  I read his book On Writing, for some tips, and was pleased to find that I already thought in a similar vein.  And he has some WEIRD ideas!  Dan Brown, to ask why the ending to Lost Symbol, which I thought was a great book, was such a letdown.  I felt deflated that, after the brilliant Angels and Demons, the Lost Symbol finished sort of flat.  Hmmm... Isaac Asimov.  I read a lot of his books when I was growing up.

What other hobbies/interests do you have or has writing taken over?

Writing has taken over to be honest.  I love films and computer games – well any gadgets.  I still manage with the films, but not so much with the games.  But I don’t mind.  Loving life!

What would you like to achieve in the next five years?

To walk into a bookstore or my local Tesco etc., and see someone standing there looking at my book.

If you won the Lotto, what would you do with all it?

Set something up to help other authors like me!  It’s a minefield knowing where to go for help or promotion etc.!  Oh, and take my family on the best holiday they’ve ever had!

The creative bit: please complete this story in 100 words or less…
"There was a young frog called Kipper…" who, one day, discovered he was actually a squirrel.

"We adopted you," his tearful parents told him.  "We couldn't have any tadpoles, so you were our only hope for a family!"

Kipper was heartbroken.  For a long time, he thought his life was a lie.  All the times he'd been fly fishing with his dad!  No wonder he wasn't very good at catching them with his tongue.  And couldn't hop very well.  And sank when he landed on a lily pad.

But at least it meant he didn't have to hide his nut collection anymore.  And explained his impulsive urge to run up trees.

Finally, what question do you wish I’d asked and, of course, what is the answer? 

Where you can get my books!  They’re available in all ebook formats from Smashwords, and for the Kindle and in paperback from Amazon!  Follow the links on my website lol!

Twitter: @singularityspnt
Blog – diary of a madman:


  1. Well done! You really showcased Shawn Allan. I loved the 100 word story.

  2. Thanks - he gave some great answers :)

  3. Excellent interview. Now I feel like I know Shaun.

  4. Thanks for the opportunity to be interviewed! Thoroughly enjoyed it!


Thanks for commenting - have a kitty cool day! :)