The Underground Lit speaks with John F. Allen

Today’s society is all about instant gratification. Facebook and Twitter’s popularity is at an all-time high and both have become very important tools for self-published authors who may not have the financial means to drop a lot of money on promotion. Groups such as the Urban Author’s E-book Club provide an oasis for those looking to network and promote their work. These promising authors don’t have big-name companies to back them up, but the talent is there.

One of these authors in John F. Allen.

A drawer, painter and writer; John F. Allen has created Ivory Blaque, a professional thief with a powerful duo of weapons. Reaching out to his audience through his blog, John F. Allen is giving us all a look into the mind of a writer and a look into Ivory’s life through his short story.. He knows how short the average attention span has gotten and knows what to do to reach them.

 Do you believe that short stories are more marketable in today’s society?

             I believe that short stories are a great way to reach the “on the go,” audience. With today’s fast paced society, many people are inclined to read shorter prose fiction than ever before. I also feel that short story characters that come to life effectively for the readers are favored for further adventures and quite possibly a series of novels.

 On your blog, you talk about marketing strategies, do you feel that emerging authors lack in this category and if so, why?

             I feel that many emerging authors are so caught up in their writing that they sometimes fail to fully realize and/or acknowledge that there is a business side of it. Stories are written to be told and they cannot be told without an audience. If you don’t consider how to bring your stories to the attention of the audience then they won’t be read. You must actively seek out your target audience and engage them. Writing good stories alone is not enough.

 Why did you decide to make “Ivory” a short story?

             I was pleased with the concept of Ivory’s character and decided that a short story to introduce her to the world would give me the testing ground I needed to eventually fully flesh her out into a novel series character. I also wanted to gauge the market for a character of her ilk amongst a test audience. The results of which have been promising.

 Ivory Blaque is a female professional thief? Give us the background on how her character developed.

             I have to give credit where it’s due. The initial concept of Ivory was brought to me by a friend, who pitched to me a vague concept of a girl who stole two pistols that never ran out of ammo. From there, Ivory’s character background and supporting characters—with the exception of the character named Zelphius—were entirely my creation. One of the reasons I decided to pursue Ivory as a character was that my vision for her was very precise. I knew what she looked like, how she acted, etc…before I’d written the story. I had a strong affinity for her because a lot of her personality traits I patterned after my wife. I also thought that it would be an interesting challenge to write the first person point of view of a female character. One of my literary heroes—Robert B. Parker—did this with his series character Sunny Randall, from whence I drew some of my inspiration.

 Your forth coming novel is based on “Ivory.” How did you decide to further develop this story line?

             I had already created a rich history for Ivory, which wasn’t able to be utilized in the short story. I simply had more stories to tell. I fell in love with her and had already formulated some scenarios for her to face which would slowly reveal her true character to the reader. It was this; tendered with the favorable response I received from those who read, “Ivory,” which helped me to decide to develop her into a series character. Incidentally, I plan to continue to write short story adventures of Ivory to fill in gaps between novels, as I only plan to release Ivory Blaque novels semi-annually.

 Emerging authors often have to be writers, editors, marketers and distributors. How do you handle this?

             I plan. I think about what needs to be done, then read about and/or talk with people who have already done it. I then write out a list of necessary goals to achieve in order to get it all done. My writing process is to start by creating a story premise, then write a skeletal outline, followed by flushing out a first draft. I then put that first draft through a workshop of readers, who critique it. I take their critiques into advisement,then I revise…During the course of writing the manuscript, I blog about the process and sometimes publish little teasers in my monthly newsletter along with a projected release date. I also maintained a definite web presence via a website, facebook, twitter, linkedIn, etc…

 What is the best advice that you can give? Something that you’ve learned from experience that no one told you before getting into the literary game.

 I would say that the following from R.A. Salvatore sums up what I’ve learned from experience.

“There’s way too much pain in this business for anyone who doesn’t have to write. I always tell beginning writers, ‘If you can quit, then quit. If you can’t quit, you’re a writer.’ I’m not being facetious. The idea that writing is a way to get something else, be it fame or fortune, is ludicrous. The odds are astounding, and I’d wager that they’re even more astounding against someone who doesn’t love the power of the word.”

 Readers can get “Ivory” as an e-book from Barnes & Noble and Amazon. A pdf copy is also available on .  Get in contact with John F. Allen on Facebook or Twitter @JohnFAllen70.


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