Monday, December 12, 2011

On Writing Author Interview: Michael Allen

To avoid pre-conceived notions which can sometimes be connected with certain genres, the number of books published and/or an author's appearance, none of that information will be revealed until the bottom of the interview.   So pour a cup of coffee, have a seat, and check out this interview - see how much, or how little, you have in common with this published author.

What is your favorite part of being a writer?   
Well, I get treated differently. When I’m asked what I do, I don’t have an answer like I’m a rocket scientist or a marine biologist. I’d probably get treated special if I did.

No. When I tell people I’m a writer, they normally perk up interested.  We talk about what I’m writing and how I got into writing before I find a way to divert the conversation back to them.  That’s when I find out that they’re a marine biologist.

I would have to say the sense of self-discovery is the greatest part of writing. It doesn’t matter what I’m writing. I always learn something new about myself. There’s always something deeper, something interesting, something out there in left field that I hadn’t noticed before.  These things come out when I’m writing.

What is your least favorite part?   
My least favorite part of writing is not having anything to write!  Could you imagine an architect not having a building to design or a doctor not having a patient?  What is my purpose if I’m not writing?  Sitting in front of my laptop with nothing to write is like sitting in the dark without any thoughts! It makes me feel like I should just wrap it up and join the circus. But then, I’d be running away and that’s far worse.
Name one obstacle you’ve had to overcome.  
The main obstacle has always been finding the time with all the other demands placed on me. My first professional writing opportunity was for a publisher who wanted me to write a topic of his choosing. That was great!  I loved every minute of it.  And then, another opportunity came along and I loved it too.

Soon I was writing books for other people and hardly able to find the time to write for myself. It’s tough to want to write a book, but there is so little time left at the end of the day. Then, you promise yourself that you will write your book next, no exceptions, no excuses.  That’s when another opportunity comes along and you just can’t pull yourself away from it.  It’s what’s paying for your daughter’s phone and the college she’ll go to one day.

What part of your writing makes you particularly proud?   
I like the fresh perspective I bring to issues. I am not normally influenced by what others have to say. I listen to their thoughts and ideas. But, I do my own investigating. I make up my own mind. That’s what I like most about writing, that sense of self-discovery. Writing gives me the venue I need to talk about the things I find important. In this day and age, I can put my thoughts out there as fast as I can spit them.

Do you do a lot of research for your projects or do you only write about what you already know? 
It’s a combination of both.  Obviously, I don’t know everything.  So, I have to do quite a bit of research.  Even when I do know something, I still make sure I have my facts straight.  But, there’s a good bit of the time when I can start writing off the top of my head.  I get it all down with what I already know and then go back to fact check.

How do you use the internet for your writing?  
The internet is a major part of my writing. Of course, there is a good bit of information that is false.  But, I’m no beginner.  I know the sources that are valuable.  I can discern between good information and bad.  But, the internet allows me to write and fact check in no time at all.

In fact, I hardly even try to guess anymore.  When I have friends over and something comes up that stumps us, I might take a minute or two to try to get it on my own.  But then, I’m off to the internet for the answer.

What one marketing tool have you had good success with? 
Word of mouth is always the best.  I like staying active online and interacting with people in different social networks.  I try to keep my sites as interactive as possible.  I love hearing what people have to say about my work and commenting back.

But, word of mouth is highly effective. When a person recommends my books, their friends buy it. I can’t beat that with any horn I can toot myself.

What good writing habits have you developed that you think would be helpful to someone starting out?   
One good tip I could impart would be to know the beginning, the middle and the end before you start writing.  I have always loved diving in and just writing, seeing where the story goes and letting it take me there itself. When I have writer’s block, that’s not a bad idea.

But, it’s a good writing habit to map the story out first. Keep the details straight so that no wires get crossed.  An intricate story with complex twists can get really confusing to write and to read if the details don’t make sense.  Proper planning prevents that from happening.

Do you have any bad writing habits that you’d advise writers to avoid?
Try to let go of self-editing when you are first writing a book. You’ll have time to edit later and you can always have someone else edit your work.  You’re your own worst critic and if you self-edit as you are writing, you’ll never get finished.  The occasional second look at the wording of a sentence is fine.  But, grammar and spelling errors can be left alone until you have penned the last word of your book.  Then, you can go back and look it over.

Do you have any strange writing habits?   
I think the strangest thing about my writing is that at home, I can’t have any distractions. But, I often write in public and that’s fine.  I can’t explain it!  People in public tend to be more distracting. I’ll have people peer over my shoulder to see what I’m writing.  Then, they’ll sit down beside me and start asking questions. But at home, people knocking on my door and calling my phone while I’m trying to write takes me off my game. I didn’t say it made sense.  In fact, the question was about strange habits right?  Well, that’s one of them right there!

What are you trying to accomplish with/through your writing?   There really is no goal.  I just want to write.  I love getting my thoughts out there and letting people know what I’m thinking.  I love giving people a different perspective than the ones they are hearing everywhere else. Self-discovery encompasses some huge territory. I’ll figure out where I’m going with it when I get there.

What words of wisdom do you have for young writers?    The main words of wisdom I would impart to someone just getting started in writing are to take the time to write. Procrastination is everyone’s problem. But, we can’t be writers until we’ve actually written something.  There are people who talk about wanting to write a book. But, they never do. They put it off and put it off always thinking in the back of their minds that they will start writing their best seller tomorrow.  Sometimes, they don’t have anything to write about and sometimes they just don’t know where to begin.

I once had an English professor when I was going through college who used to say that everything has a beginning, a middle and an end.  He preferred them in that order.  But, they don’t have to be written in that order. Start where you know. Writing doesn’t have to be that organized. Just get something down and figure out what it is later, the beginning, the middle or the end. Just make sure you write!  I know that seems contradictory to advice I gave earlier, but this is in a different context.  This is to break the writer’s block and get started on something.  Then, get organized.

What advice do you have for someone looking to get published?
Writers always have the dream about the traditional publishing contract and having a publisher take the book and handle the rest.  But, it’s a process that has come full circle.

Centuries ago, which is where some people would argue we received our greatest literature, people would often self-publish.  They would finish their manuscript, walk it down to the printer, and order a number of copies.  It didn’t matter how the book was offered to the public, just that it made it.  Somehow, we lost sight of that fact.  But, we’re slowly getting it back.  Self-publishing isn’t any less legitimate.  It actually gives me the chance to put my book out right now without waiting years for a publisher to finally print it.  I’ve had that happen and it’s not fun. I have written a book that hasn’t been published yet because the publisher has it on his shelf.  That was ten years ago.

Any thoughts on what this author writes?  How many books published?  Here's a little more information about the author...
How many published books are to your credit? Two

Do you have an agent?   No

Are you self-published?  Yes

How many different companies have you published with?  Two

How long have you been writing?   I’ve been writing since I was about six years old. My memory can only go back that far to a time when I wrote a poem entitled Slick Move. It was a poem about people slipping on bananas and oil slicks.  What can I say? I was six.

Do you write full-time?  I write full-time

So, any thoughts?  Here's the full scoop:

In Author Michael Allen’s words:  First and foremost, I am the father of a wonderful daughter. We live in Clearwater, Florida where the beach has become my second home. I was once in the Marine Corps and I was once an English teacher. But, the greatest thing that I am is the father of a wonderful daughter.

I’ve written novels and screenplays for a handful of clients over the years. I love the variety from which I have been given.  I have written books about video game warriors coming to life and racial discrimination by one of the biggest corporations in America. One of my most recent books was for an NFL Football player who wanted to teach students how to achieve success.

Michael is the author of When You Miss Me - a children’s book, and A Danger to Society - a true crime comedy.   His books are available on Amazon in print and on Kindle.
What are you working on now?    I’m working on an interesting true crime story that pulls out elements of A Danger to Society, the hysterical novel about a man who falls victim to a very serious case of mistaken identity.  It isn’t exactly a sequel. The story doesn’t simply continue. It takes it to another level.

How does a man get stabbed and get arrested for it? Only in Smallton, America can things get that twisted.  It will be out early next year.

Anything else about being a writer that you’d like to share?
It is certainly the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. To be able to write a story and share it with readers is something not a lot of people get to do. I’m glad that at six years old, I picked up a pen and started writing. It seems like it was destiny.  So, I’m very blessed that I get to do what I love.  I just hope that I’ll be able to do it for a long time.  It’s either that or the circus.  I don’t know how well I can handle a high wire.
Is there anything else you'd like to know about this author, or any questions you'd like added to future interviews?  Let us know...drop us a comment below.


  1. Hope your publisher gets that book of the shelf!

  2. Actually, that's all up to me. But, I'm doing pretty good with that! Thanks Yvonne!