Author Interview: Jonathan D. Allen
Hi, Jonathan. Welcome to my blog. Thank you for allowing me to interview you. It’s a pleasure to have you here.
Jonathan: Thanks! I always welcome an opportunity to get to know new readers and critics.
Would you take a moment and introduce yourself to us?
Sure. I grew up in rural Virginia, in the Shenandoah Valley, where I was lucky enough to have teachers who spotted an aptitude for writing and encouraged me to pursue it. These days I live in Maryland, in the DC Metro region. My hobbies include video games, singing, and playing guitar (very poorly).
How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing semi-regularly since I was 12, and completed my first (awful) novel when I was 13. I’ve been working as a professional technical writer since 1999, but fiction writing has always been my first love. I have something like five or six completed novels under my belt at this point, but The Corridors of the Dead and The Kayson Cycle are the first works that I’ve really felt deserved release.
Would you mind telling my readers a little more about your book, The Corridors of the Dead?
The short version is that it’s about a young woman discovers that angels are not only real, they’re fighting a war to control the universe, with her as their pawn. The longer version is about how her life is turned upside down when a strange woman rescues her from a kidnapping and the end of the world looms over her. The biggest questions that drive the story are the nature of the woman who kidnapped her and exactly what that “of the dead” moniker means. It’s not a zombie story – there’s a different meaning to death behind the story. I think that makes sense by the time you’ve finished the novel and drives the narrative into the second novel, coming next year.
How and when did you come up with the idea for the book?
It’s an idea that’s been kicking around in my head for ages. When I was a teenager, I had a neighbor who practiced Enochian Magick. We had long talks about the nature of the system, and eventually he taught me what he knew about the system. It’s difficult to explain it all in one spot, but Enochian Magick is supposedly based upon the Book of Enoch, which was cut from the Old Testament. It told the tale of the rebel angels who came to Earth and mated with human women, creating a sinful civilization that challenged God and was eventually wiped out by Noah’s flood. The story always fascinated me, and put an itch in my imagination: what if those rebel angels were actually other-dimensional creatures and that civilization was advanced beyond even our own wildest dreams? Some of this has become conspiracy lore over the years that aliens brought humans here and are responsible for some of the ancient wonders of the world. I wanted to turn that concept on its head – you’ll have to read the book to see just how I do that.
What type of research did you do for the book itself?
I brushed up primarily on my knowledge of angels as written in the Enochian system, as well as traditional Judeo-Christian angels and their hierarchy. Before I could even put pen to paper I had to understand exactly the structure that was in play and what effect that had on humanity both in the past and the present.
Is this the only genre that you’ve written of? Or have you experimented with others?
Oh, no, not at all. I’ve written mainstream fiction – just straightforward stuff – and experimented with sci-fi, stream-of-consciousness, and westerns, as well as some erotica.
Do you have any upcoming projects? If so, are you able to tell us a little more about it/them?
Yes, I’m currently working on a book called Entanglements, which I’m currently considering renaming to Room 3. This is what I have written up for the plot so far:
Kelli, a woman who was spirited away to a mysterious cabin in the middle of nowhere and subjected to strange brainwashing techniques and unnamed drugs, finds her life changed when a highly prized experimentation subject shows up: Carla. Suddenly, dead and distant relatives appear to her and her musical abilities grow by leaps and bounds while the experimentation rots away Carla’s mind. Kelli and a fellow captive fall in love as he explains the plans that are unraveling around them. As Kelli discovers why she and Carla were brought there, they plan to finally escape and destroy the experiment.
I’m hoping to release that in late March/early April, soon to be followed by the sequel to Corridors of the Dead, City of the Dead, which is still in the planning stages.
How do you find inspiration when writing your stories?
Oddly, I don’t. Not really – the ideas come to me, either in dreams or in that odd state between waking and sleeping, either at night or in the morning. I mean, I recognize that they’re a synthesis of my influences and things that I’ve seen over the day, but these “movies” just show up in my head.
What’s influenced you the most?
I think David Lynch films have probably influenced my “vision” the most. There’s something about the uncomfortable, surreal, emotionally-charged worlds that he creates that fires up my imagination and tries to find ways to express the same sorts of ideas.
What’s your favorite book?
Wow, tough choice. But I’ll probably go with Book 3 of Stephen King’s Dark Tower series, The Wastelands. It’s the perfect written version of what I described above, a surreal, emotionally-charged world that seems familiar and yet strange at the same time. Every time I read it I feel like a child again, discovering a new frontier.
Do you have any recommendations for books that you think the blog’s readers may enjoy?
Going to go with a novel that I finished relatively recently: Finch by Jeff VanderMeer. It’s an interesting take on world-building – the book is set in a world where an underground race that has built technology out of fungi is slowly taking over a city in a fantasy world. The book is about what it means to be a day-to-day worker (a detective, in this case) in the face of overwhelming oppression, finding yourself as a cog in a something that’s larger than yourself (a theme that I write about in Corridors of the Dead), and secret histories. It helps that VanderMeer’s writing style is fantastic.
I see that you’re a gamer just like I am. What’s your favorite game to play?
Right now I’m hooked on The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, which was recently released. I’ve loved the Elder Scrolls series for years, warts and all, for its innovative, open-world approach to gaming. I love games that both tell a compelling story and allow me lots of room to just explore and try out new things – to be creative in the world’s framework.
Do you play any MMO’s currently? If so, which one?
Not at the moment, but I’m something of an MMO bouncer, for lack of a better word. I’ve played Ultima Online, World of Warcraft, DC Universe Online, and Rift so far. I’ve preordered Star Wars: The Old Republic and am eagerly awaiting its release, but there’s something about the MMO structure that can only hold my interest for two months, at most. I think it’s the lack of a truly compelling story and ability to really be creative. I’m hoping that The Old Republic breaks that cycle.
When thinking about writing new material, do you take the time to outline your story or do you just go with the flow and see where it takes you?
I’m a hybrid writer. When I come up with an idea, it’s almost always fully-realized – I can see the path from Point A to B, all the way to Z, so I write that out. Then I start to get “acquainted” with the protagonist and the other characters.
Do you have any tips, or thoughts, that you would like to offer to the blog’s readers?
These days I seem to be full of tips and thoughts, it’s what I mostly offer on my site. So instead I’d just say that I think sometimes readers feel that there’s a level of separation between themselves and writers, that writers are somehow above them. I think the only thing separating a reader from a writer is the drive to sit down and write out their ideas; most readers have some concept of how to create and story and an eye for quality. That’s really all you need.
There you have it, Everyone. A wonderful interview with Jonathan D. Allen, author of The Corridor Of The Dead and The Kayson Circle. Thank you so much for the interview. I look forward to more of your work and wish you the best of success always.
Synopsis: Long ago, a mysterious being known as The Lost Aetelia crafted an elaborate series of Watchtowers, along with their resident guardians, the Aetelia, to watch over the Universe. In time, they sent a select group of their own to Earth, tasked with watching over the fledging human race. This group used humanity to challenge the established structure of the Universe. A bitter war ensued, and these rebels, who had come to be known as Watchers, disappeared from history.
The time of the Aetelia – now known as angels – is returning. After a fateful night of violence, Artist Matty DiCamillo finds herself drawn into this world by a mysterious savior, who becomes a driving force in Matty’s new life.
Both driven by and fighting the words of prophecy that lay out her destiny, Matty, her lover Kristy, and her best friend Daniel, follow this mysterious savior on a journey from Northern California to Las Vegas on a path that crosses through the boundaries of time and space.
As Matty struggles to understand her destiny, she discovers that her savior may not be what she seems, and that even the denizens of this twilight world have no idea what lurks behind the stage dressing of reality. Matty finds herself not only racing to rescue the woman she loves, but learning that she herself could be the cause of the Universe’s day of reckoning.
About The Author:
Born and raised in the rural Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, Jonathan wrote his first fantasy/sci-fi novel at the age of 13. After studying writing and communication at James Madison University, Jonathan turned his passion for writing into a full-time technical writing career in the DC Metro area, working for companies like Sprint/Nextel, Time Warner Cable, and Sirius XM Radio, where he had an opportunity to combine his love of music with his love of writing.
He may have drifted away from fiction at times, but it was always his first love – and he always returned to it. Now living in Bethesda with his fiancée, two cats, and two quirky guinea pigs for whom his publishing company is named, he crafts the kinds of stories that he had always hoped to read but just couldn’t quite find.
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