Today I have an interview with horror author Shaun Allan. He has just released a new fiction and poetry collection called Dark Places.
Shaun, Tell us a bit about Dark Places.
Dark Places. Well, it's a collection of 13 poems and 13 stories, all on a horror or dark theme. Talking of themes, there's a quote on the cover of the book in Latin: "Furor est in tenebris utriusque. Debemus facere proelium cum nostra daemones." Which means "There is darkness and madness in each of us. We must do battle with our own demons."
Dark Places is all about that. What if the horrible thoughts we sometimes flash upon, even if we’re the nicest of people, decide that they’re going to become real? Is it always possible to prevent the beast within from crawling out of its cage?
As you know from Sin, he struggles against a force that uses him but that he can’t control. In many ways, the characters within Dark Places suffer a similar fate. They see things they shouldn't. They do things they can’t help. Or they discover things about themselves that they didn't realise...
The poems were written a while ago, when I was in my own ‘dark place.’ I’d put them aside and saved them and hadn't actually thought about their publication. I’d written a couple of the stories too and enjoyed some wonderful feedback. Then a fellow writer asked me to look at one of her stories. She told me it had been written when she was in a ‘dark place.’ Thus, the inspiration for the title story came and, along with it, the flow of words for the other stories.
The response for the book has been excellent. The fact that it is made up of individual poems and stories means it’s easier to pick up and put down – well, hopefully not so easy to put down, of course.
I love the cover too. It keeps the theme from Sin and looks gorgeous in print!
Dark Places contains both stories and poems. Do you prefer writing one over the other? Do you find writing one more difficult than the other?
I prefer to write stories, I think. I don’t necessarily find one easier than the other as I write a lot of poetry, but it tends to be for an occasion or a mood. Saying that, I have two books of children’s poetry out too - Zits’n’Bits and Rudolph Saves Christmas. I once went through a stage where poetry was all I would write. Now, though, I find the stories flow much more freely.
In some cases it’s how the muse takes me. I have written a couple of Sin’s blog posts in rhyme. One was even to the tune of Queen’s ‘I Want to Break Free!’
Which of the stories or poems is your personal favorite?
Now that’s a hard one. As the poems were written at a time when I was, internally at least, not at my brightest, some of them are quite personal. As for the stories... I like 'Dark Places' because it was the one that coalesced the collection together. It was the spark that fired the anthology and prompted the burst of writing that became the others. Also, the thoughts of other ‘Alice’ worlds in the reflections of the television etc. are ones I toy with myself – hence their inclusion!
'The Last Dance' is another favourite. This doesn't have the darkness that the others have. It’s a little more whimsy. There's some hope in it. Also, it made my wife cry when she read it.
And there's 'Joy.' In Sin, as she's his sister, she didn't get the chance to tell her story. Now she does. Now she has a voice. There was no way, really, that any other story could close the book.
What do you now have in the works?
Well. Where do I start? I have a children's book about the youngest of three witches who have lost their powers to work on. I have another called Zombies are People Too. There's Sin's ongoing blog – his 'diary of a madman'. And, of course, there’s the sequel to Sin. It’s been difficult to work on this as Rudolph and Dark Places pushed in line, but I am hopeful I can return to it and actually spend some real time on finding out what comes next. I don't plan what I write, so actually fixing on one thing is often difficult.
I interviewed you about your novel Sin for the webzine SpecFicPick (link). Is there anything you'd like to say about it here, or any other publication you'd like to mention?
Sin is currently being pitched to Hollywood with the possibility of becoming a film. It's also being turned into an audiobook (and I've been asked to narrate!). The wonderful people at Wattpad have asked if I'd like to be a part of their Writers' Program and have Sin as one of their featured books, which is amazing. I've recently uploaded a new short story to Wattpad entitled The Hunger, which has had some great comments: http://www.wattpad.com/user/ShaunAllan
Of course, time runs headlong before me and I struggle to keep up with her pace, but I try.
Anything else you'd like to mention?
Thanks very much for this Michael. I very much appreciate it. You could mention that autographed print copies of both Sin and Dark Places are available from my website's bookstore (http://www.shaunallan.co.uk/bookstore.php) as are those of Zits’n’Bits and Rudolph Saves Christmas.