Featured Friday! Allan Batchelder
Allan is a professional actor, educator and former stand-up comedian. In addition to Steel, Blood & Fire, As Flies to Wanton Boys and Corpse Cold, he’s also written plays, screenplays, online articles, dialogue for computer games, greeting card sentiments and more. He holds a Master of Fine Arts in acting from the National Theatre Conservatory and a Master’s in Teaching from Seattle Pacific University. He is a huge fan of Shakespeare, Steven Erikson, Joe Abercrombie, Glen Cook, George R.R. Martin, Tad Williams, and R. Scott Bakker. Allan lives in Seattle with his wife and son, where he enjoys walks on the beach, reading in the garden and puttering around on his computer. Oh, and naps. He LOVES naps. In fact, he’s probably taking one right now.
What’s your favourite part of the lifestyle of an Author?
Mine’s more of a “lifestyle of a jack-of-all-trades,” anything to pay the bills. The dream, of course, is to get to the point where I can support myself and my family through my writing (and acting). It would be nice to focus on telling stories full time. But, to answer the question, my favourite part is when I’m immersed in a particular day’s efforts and lose track of time.
What made you start writing?
I started writing as a child – I think I just liked telling stories – but was more involved in the theatre until after my son was born. Then I began to feel the clock was and is ticking, and I’d better do it.
I suppose different authors have offered me different things. I read Steven Erikson’s Gardens of the Moon over ten years ago, and I loved both the scope of his tale and how he just dives right in, mid-story, and expects you to do your part and keep up. I love Glen Cook’s Black Company stuff for the relationships between the soldiers (something Erikson borrowed as well). Abercrombie is great, too. At least the full-on grown-up stories are. Love the Bloody Nine!
But…I also like a touch of absurdity in my stories, and for that I thank Douglas Adams, Roald Dahl, Lewis Carroll et al.
What’s your number one tip for an aspiring Author?
Prepare to be underwhelmed…my advice is: write. Damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead. It’s YOUR story, after all. You’re the only one who can tell it.
What type of book do you like to read and does this differ from the genre that you prefer to write?
I would say fantasy has been my preferred genre over my lifetime, followed closely by horror. But I also enjoy thrillers, detective novels, Dickens, humour, plays, and especially Shakespeare (This does not, however, mean that I consider myself any kind of expert on his work).
Which one of your characters would you most like to spend time with?
Hmmm. That’s a tough one. You might assume Tarmun Vykers (my “protagonist”), but I think maybe I’d be more comfortable around Long Pete. He’s more of a regular guy. Aoife would be interesting to chat with also.
Which book do you consider a must-read?
Another brutal question. Just one? That’s like saying, “What’s your favourite flavour of ice cream?” Answer: whatever’s in front of me. I think everyone should read A Tale of Two Cities. And A Christmas Carol. The Hobbit, of course. Watership Down. I love 1984 and Fahrenheit 451. Sorry to be so wishy-washy. Did I mention Lord of the Flies?
What’s been the hardest edit that you’ve had to make? Why did you want to keep the material in?
Shakespeare’s friend and rival Ben Jonson once wrote that he wished that the Bard had done a bit more editing. And I get it. I don’t cut a lot, either. If anything, I wish I had a better sense of what to add, where to elaborate. I have an astoundingly diverse and well-qualified group of beta readers, but I’m sure there’s an editor out there somewhere who’s having a seizure every time he or she reads my work. As for material I choose to keep in against others’ advice? Well, it’s me, isn’t it? My quirks are, to some extent, what define me. I have never been someone who likes to do things by the book. If we all follow the same formula, what have we got? Formulaic, predictable nonsense.
If you could live in a book, which one would it be?
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I love thinking we’re not all there is, and that greater life forms are even sillier. Plus, you know, who doesn’t like to travel?
If you could pick an Author to write your biography, who would it be?
Steven King. He’s fast, he’s prolific, and he’s funny.
We all know the phrase “the book is always better than the film.” Which film would you like to see remade as a book?
Can I choose a TV series? I’d love to read the recently-ended Penny Dreadful as a series.
Can you sum up your life story in ten words or less?
Restless creative guy tries to perfect strawberry-rhubarb pie recipe.
What’s exciting you about your next project?
I’ve got one-and-a-half books left in this series, and then I’m thinking of a bit of silly, standalone Steampunk before diving back into dark fantasy. What do you think of Hat Rack and Goat for a title?
And finally, you have one quote to be remembered by, what is it?
What a gift it’s all been!
As with all our Featured authors, Allan has a great active presence around the web. Look him up and connect with him below: