Alan lives in the North of England and has had short stories accepted and published in Wicked Karnival’s Halloween Horrors, Thirteen Magazine, Black Petals, and All Hallows. Later this year he hopes to publish his debut novel DEAD PETALS. Alan also enjoys sculpting and is well known in the ‘garage kit’ world for his sculptures of various movie monsters and characters including The Terminator.
1. Where did your inspiration for your story come from?
When I first heard about Love Dust, an anthology of romance stories, I had no interest in contributing because I don’t write romance. To me, romance is You’ve Got Mail or something, which I love, but is not generally something I want to write… or so I thought, because then ‘love stories in any genre’ was mentioned which made me think ‘oh right so you can have a horror or a Sci-fi love story’. So the inspiration came from that muse really. Unfortunately, I don’t remember now how I finally came up with the idea for To the Moon and Back.
2. Who is your favorite character in this story and why?
Characters are a bit thin on the ground in my story so I guess I’ll have to go with the protagonist, who is never actually named. It’s difficult to talk about him without talking about the story, which I would rather the reader discovers for themselves. He is a tragic character though, my characters often are, who has never really gotten over losing the woman he loved on the night he was going to ask her to marry him.
3. When you aren’t writing, where can we find you?
Home most of the time, watching movies or TV shows. I play video games and recently got into VR, which is pretty amazing. When I’m not doing any of those things I enjoy sculpting. Over the last few years I’ve been creating my own tributes to the Terminator movies by creating half-scale busts of the main characters. I also mould and cast them which is a whole art-form in itself. When my son got married earlier this year, I made the topper for their cake.
4. What author has influenced you the most?
Stephen King, without a doubt. I remember reading Night Shift, his first book of short stories, and being blown away, especially by a story called Battleground. Since then I’ve read most of his work and he’s taken me on some incredible adventures. Honourable mentions must also go to James Herbert (who could forget The Rats and that quivering baby’s arm), Dean Koontz, and Clive Barker with his amazing Books of Blood: “Everybody is a book of blood; wherever we’re opened, we’re red.” Genius.
5. Where do you write? Is there a special place? Share a picture if you wish.
I write in the ‘study’ which sounds very grand until you see it’s just the back bedroom with a desk and a computer in it. It’s also very nerdy and full of movie memorabilia and figures and models. There is a book case behind me with a spread of books on display, but they are obscured by an unpainted bust of Regan from the Exorcist, C3PO from Star Wars, and lots of other nerdy stuff including my own Terminator busts and other stuff I’ve made over the years. The picture of the desk there is when I tidied it ages ago, it’s a bit messier at the moment.
6. Do you consider reading as part of your job as a writer? Why or why not
I think King expressed it best in On Writing when he said: “Can I be blunt on this subject? If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”
For me, writing is the same as any other art form: a painter studies the brush strokes and colour pallets of other artists. A sculptor wants to learn about the tools and materials and techniques used to create a statue or bust. If you don’t read, not only are you missing out on all those wonderful stories, you are also missing shortcuts to techniques and styles you might otherwise have taken a long time to discover on your own, or may even never have discovered at all.
On a side note, my sister never read a novel her whole life, but now she has retired she has discovered the joys of reading and regrets all the reading time she has missed. Every time I see her she tells me how many books she has read now… 59 I think it was last time I saw her.
7. Other than family, what are five things you cannot live without?
Movies, video games, art, stories, and my sound system, because the movies are sooo much better with great sound.
8. What is your all-time favorite TV show?
There are so many great TV shows, but Breaking Bad has to be my favorite. Walter White’s character arc is amazing and not something you often see so clearly defined in a TV show. I have also enjoyed Fringe, True Detective Season 1 (Matthew McConaughey is mesmerising), and Walking Dead (especially the first 3 seasons), and the deliciously viscous Game of Thrones. I’m currently watching Scrubs from the beginning (I can’t do this a-all on myyy own…), and am going to follow that up with Grey’s Anatomy.
9. Not picking your own, which story in Love Dust is your favorite?
I can’t answer that, I admire all of them in each of their uniquely engaging ways.
10. If you could meet one writer in the history of the world, who would it be? What would you talk about?
Stephen King. After my starry eyes stopped twinkling and I finished gushing about how wonderful his stories and characters are, we’d chat about writing in general and what makes a good story, oh, and drink lots of beer.
11. What are you working on now?
My debut novel, Dead Petals is with my editor at the moment, so I’m looking forward to getting stuck into that when it comes back shorty. I’m hoping to release it in October or November. I’ve also been working on completing a short story that has been knocking around without an ending for too long, and allowing myself some thought-time to another novel I have planned.
12. Where can we find more about you and your work?
I’m on Twitter and Facebook, and have a website where you can read the beginning of my first novel, Dark Destiny and see some of the models and masks I’ve made over the years. It does need updating with the last sculptures though. I’ve also resurrected my old blog.