Indie Zone: Talking with Todd Allen

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Todd Allen - Headshot - No greater Agony

Author Bio: Allen lives on the East Coast of Canada with two beautiful ladies—his wife Michelle, and daughter, Maya. A lifelong fan of all things horror, Allen released his debut novel, Sacra Obscurum, in 2015. Allen’s second novel, No Greater Agony, was published in 2017. Influenced by the genre greats, M.R. James and H.P. Lovecraft, and raised on Stephen King and Peter Straub, Allen aims to deliver his own brand of creeping, cerebral thrillers.

 


Interview with Todd Allen – Author of No Greater Agony

1. Your first book, Sacra Obscurum, was (in part) about finding a book. And now No Greater Agony is about writing a book. Was it a coincidence that both your novels revolve around books?

Todd Allen: No, I like the idea of dangerous books. Both stories feature books that end up causing a lot of harm. Most households have a shelf full of books or at least a few books kicking around. They’re such a benign presence in our everyday lives. I like the idea of something sinister waiting in our bookcases without us knowing.

2. There’s a little bit of fun in the fact that your second novel is about an author having trouble following up on the success of his debut novel. Did you have a few sleepless nights yourself or was No Greater Agony already in your mind for writing for a while?

Todd Allen: I assure you, my character had a lot more success with his debut than I did! When my first book was published, I decided to devote more time to writing. It can be difficult to strike a balance between time spent writing and time spent with family and friends and on other pursuits. But, you really need to find that healthy balance if you’re going to be the best version of yourself. The main character in No Greater Agony had that same difficulty. He never found that balance and suffered for it.

3. You say that you’re influenced by “the genre greats, M.R. James and H.P. Lovecraft”. Where/how/will readers see this influence in your work?

Todd Allen: I believe, if you write horror, you’re influenced by those two whether you know it or not. They are the godfathers of the genre. James’ influence likely shows up more in my published work to date. His stories often feature scholarly men on some quest for riches or knowledge. They inevitably come to a point of no return and when they decide to forge ahead are met with danger. Many of his tales are cautionary and warn of overstepping or taking things too

4. Do you have another novel in the works yet?

Todd Allen: Oh yes. One in the works. One already complete. I’m writing a lot these days.

5. Tell us a little bit about Wabasso, the location of No Greater Agony. Is it based on a real location? 

Todd Allen: A real place inspired the story. I visited there many years ago and the place just kind of stuck with me. The fictional place I wrote about is quite different, though. Both places are beautiful and peaceful and have a bit of a wild vibe, but that is the extent of the similarities. Nothing supernatural ever happened at the real-life place—not to me, anyway.

6. What was the most difficult part of writing No Greater Agony?

Todd Allen: I didn’t really have difficulty writing this book per se. But, I did have some difficulty writing in general. I was supporting my first novel at the time, doing book fairs and literary festivals and launch events. You could say I was entering the writer’s community. I met a lot of writers. I met a lot of readers. I heard a lot of opinions. That was kind of the problem. For a time, I began writing to please other people. I lost sight of why I wanted to write in the first place. The work suffered. Ultimately, I learned to ignore those outside influences. And a lot of pages went in the trash, I am happy to say.

7. What’s your favorite horror movie (or book if you don’t movies) scene?

Todd Allen: Easy. The shower scene from Psycho. It’s fifty-some years-old and still one of the most terrifying scenes on film.

8. What, in your opinion, is the best horror novel to be released in the past 5 years. (And no, you can’t vote for yourself. 🙂 )

Todd Allen: The Scarlet Gospels by Clive Barker. I read the first hundred pages or so before bed and had nightmares about Pinhead. That never happens to me. And it just seems like Barker has a lot of fun when he writes. He sure a s hell makes it fun to read.

9. What is it about horror that attracts you?

Todd Allen: People frequently experience fear in one form or another. It’s an unavoidable part of the human condition. I have fears. I fear economic collapse. I fear North Korea and ISIS and Russia. These are everyday fears. When I pick up a horror novel, or watch a movie, I get to express that fear all at once. I can let it go for a time. It’s kind of like a reset for me. It’s therapeutic. Also, it’s just plain fun.

10. Given that you were ‘raised on Stephen King’, what do you think of Hollywood remaking It? Did you like the book? The first movie?

Todd Allen: I cringe a little when Hollywood tampers with any novel, but I have a bit of a soft spot for those old Stephen King movies, It especially. I really like Tim Curry. He was fantastic in the role of Pennywise. Bill Skarsgard will have some giant shoes to fill in the new movie. Pardon the pun.

11. Are you going to try to get an audio version made of No Greater Agony?

Todd Allen: I confess I hadn’t thought about it. It’s a great idea though, so long as I’m not the one reading it. I have a terrible reading voice.

12. What would your coffee cup say about you?

Todd Allen: My coffee cup should bear a warning label: If this mug is running low, duck and cover!


Todd Allen - No Greater Agony - Cover jpg No Greater Agony: Jack Bishop always dreamed of becoming a writer.

That ambition finally became reality with his critically acclaimed debut novel, but following up on that success has proved difficult. For over a year, he has failed to produce a new bestseller and his publisher is losing patience. In a last ditch effort to save his floundering career, Jack is sent to the renowned writer’s retreat, Wabasso Lake, with orders to finish his manuscript in record time.

Jack’s first impression of Wabasso is that of an idyllic place to work, but despite being surrounded by awe inspiring nature and the lovely Kate, a fellow author, he continues to be plagued by self doubt. It is with the discovery of a hidden manuscript that Jack begins to scratch the surface of the retreat’s sinister purpose. As visions of fictional characters inundate Jack’s waking life, he is driven to the brink of madness.

A diabolical intelligence has stirred. Wabasso wants something from Jack, but is he willing to pay that price to achieve his greatest desire?

Buy No Greater Agony now on Amazon.

What’s Up In Horror #6 – Poultrygeist to Nu-Horror

WhatsUpinHorror

Welcome to What’s Up in Horror #6

This week we’re changing things up a little bit, but you’re going to get an emphasis on poultry (I know, it’s a fowl trick to pull.), clowns, and viruses. Oh, and NaNoWriMo. How many of you are participating in that? I actually am! Not because I’m delusional enough to think I can write, mind you. But more because I have had a story in my head for 6 + years, and it won’t go away!

There was no science fiction entry last weekend because I was on vacation. So everything that appeared on the site had been scheduled a good bit in advance during that week.  I contemplated switching things up and doing one this week, but I’d rather just skip it and get back into the rhythm already established.

Movie & TV Tidbits

I’m really regretting adding this section as there’s hardly ever anything new to report! So, let’s change it up a bit.

Movie Suggestion for the week: I know, I know, Halloween is over, and lots of people have their sites set on Christmas already. But there’s always time for a good horror movie. Especially when it’s a hilariously disgusting horror comedy. So stop what you’re doing and find Poultrygeist. You may gag whilst watching it, but it’ll be worth it! I mean, c’mon, mjust look at the name. Poultrygeist. You know you’re in for something special.

poultrygeist

Poultrygeist

IMDB Synopsis: Zombified chickens attempt to kill the fast-food workers that cook them in a restaurant built on an ancient burial ground.


TV Suggestion for the week:  Right now I’m watching a show called Containment on Netflix. I’m only a few episodes in, but it’s holding my attention a lot more easily than… pretty much anything nowadays. It’s got maybe one person I recognize in it, and the CDC director reminds me vaguely of an angry llama, but it’s fairly well-acted and worth checking out.

containment

Containment

IMDB Summary: The series follows an epidemic that breaks out in Atlanta, leaving the large city quarantined and those stuck on the inside fighting for their lives. The drama tells the story of loved ones torn apart, and how the society that grows inside the cordon reveals both the devolution of humanity and the birth of unlikely heroes.


Featured Vimeo Horror Short

Aircooled Horror Day – Oito doze x Vw Air Clube from Gerson Ampessan on Vimeo.

Guys, I’ll be honest. I have no idea WTF I watched when I watched this. But it kept me staring and it was under the horror section, so…

Featured Horror Art


Freddy Krueger by OscarCelestini on DeviantArt

This black and white illustration of Freddy Krueger really appealed to me. I think the harshness of with basically no shades of gray is what makes it really stand out.

Horror Books

(click on the covers to go to the Goodreads page.)

New Releases:

resurrect

Permuted Press  Pub. Date: November 1st, 2016

mad-god-walking

City Owl Press
Pub. Date: October 18th, 2016


These books are not brand new releases, but they’re probably brand new to you (and they’ve got at least 3.75 rating on Goodreads)!

Note: Sci-Fi & Scary is not affiliated with any of these small presses. We just like giving lesser known horror books a chance to shine.

gutted

Crystal Lake Pub.
Goodreads: 3.91

yeitso

Blood Bound Books
Goodreads: 3.91

point-hollow

ChiZine Publications
Goodreads: 4.06

beneath-ash-and-bone

Necro Publications
Goodreads: 4.43

little-things

Cemetery Dance
Goodreads: 4.41

 

patchwork-house

Nightscape Press
Goodreads: 4.26


  • NY Times Best Sellers – zip.
  • USA Today Best Sellers (1-20) – zilch.
  • Amazon’s Kindle Horror Best Selling Section is headed by by Finders Keepers by Stephen King,The City of Mirrors (book 3 in The Passage Trilogy) by Justin Cronin, and The Dark Tower I: The Gunslinger by Stephen King.

Miscellaneous

  • UnboundWorlds gives us a bit of advice for NaNoWriMo from published authors. Some of it is good stuff!
  • Well, I think it’s safe to say we can’t ignore the fact that The Walking Dead fans are all up in arms over the fact that Glenn died. I have to admit, even though I don’t watch the show any more, I don’t think they should have did that. Glenn was pretty much the only decent guy on the team.
  • Vice staff writer, Mike Pearl, offered a retrospective on Y2K Nu-Horror, where he ripped into my favorite horror movie ever (Thir13een Ghosts.) After I got over my urge to smack him upside his head for daring to do so, I had to admit it was actually a fairly entertaining article.
  • The Washington Post had a piece on a teen horror blogger who murdered her parents. It’s an interesting (albeit depressing read) because while they do poke at the fact that – Oh my God, somebody who likes horror did a bad thing!! – they did a pretty good job of making it clear that she wasn’t just an evil kid or something. They detailed certain things which make her snap understandable.
  • ComingSoon’s Max Evry did a with-love piece on the 9 levels of horror fandom. I cracked up. For the record, I’m between a level 5-6, but not anywhere near a 7. If I met the director of Thir13een Ghosts, I’d probably just say “Loved that movie!” and walk away. I don’t fangirl over people. I fangirl over their work.
  • Blastr gave us a fun list of fowl horror movies.  I need to watch every single one of these. How about you?
  • Here’s a fun quiz from People to determine What Stereotypical Horror Movie Character Are you? For the record, I got Martyr/Voice of Reason. *Sigh*

Screamtastic: Horror Novels for Book Clubs

Want your book club to venture into some seriously spooky or terrifying territory? Are they reluctant to do so because they don’t see what you could possibly talk about when it comes to horror? (Other than how much it scared you, of course!) Well, here’s a list of horror novels that you might want to present to your book club, and a few of the questions you could ask about each one. Plus, it might just open up a few minds to the realization there’s more horror writers out there than Stephen King.

Screamtastic: Horror Novels for Book Clubs

Bird Box - Horror Novels for Book ClubsBird Box by Josh Malerman
Pages: 262
Trigger Warnings: None

 

 

Possible Questions:

  1. Do you think Bird Box would have lost some of its impact if the monster was revealed?
  2. Do you agree that the mother did the right thing in trying to flee to safety? Why/Why not?
  3. What did you think of the non-linear timespan? How often is this an effective tool in novels?

Seed Me - Horror Novels for Book ClubsSeed Me by Konn Lavery
Pages: 228
Trigger Warnings: None

 

 

Possible Questions:

  1. Did the appearance of the book (words unusually close to margins, font) enhance or detract from your reading experience?
  2. The main characters are very ‘normal’ young adults, and aren’t exactly upstanding citizens at times. Did you have trouble connecting with them?
  3. What did you think of the ‘monsters’? It’s not exactly your typical hack-n-slash or possession horror. Did the author ‘sell’ you on these unusual creatures?

Mirror Image - Horror Novels for Book Club Mirror Image by Michael Scott & Melanie Ruth Rose

Pages: 352

Triggers: Rape

 

Possible Questions:

  1. From Narcissus falling in love with his reflection and dying because of it, to Medusa turning to stone once she saw her own reflection clear to modern movies like Mirrors and Occulus, there’s been negative connotations to reflections/reflective surfaces for thousands of years. Why? What is it about them that is so scary?
  2. Why are sex and horror so often associated with each other? Do you think the association hinders people from reading more horror because they don’t necessarily want to read about bits and bobs banging around?
  3. Do you agree with the author’s decision to explain exactly why the mirror is so horrible? Or should they have left well enough alone? In effect: What’s scarier? A horrible known, or a complete unknown?

Mother

Mother by Tamara Thorne & Alistair Cross

Pages: 538

Triggers: Suicide, Parental Abuse

 

 

Possible Questions:

  1. How did you feel about Priscilla before things ramped up in the book? Did you have any idea she’d turn out to be as sick as she was?
  2. Do you think Priscilla was mentally ill or just evil?
  3. What did you think of the setting? Did it add anything to it? Or would this book have been just as horrifying in any other location?

Alice - Horror Novels for Book Clubs Alice by Christina Henry

Pages: 291

Triggers: (Mentioned) Rape

 

 

Possible Questions:

  1. What were the similarities between Alice and the story it was derived from?
  2. What did you think of the relationship between Alice and Hatcher?
  3. Alice was an interesting character. Do you think the author portrayed her correctly? Was her mental state accurate?

It’s challenging to come up with questions for horror books!

Do you have any horror novels for book clubs recommendations? Can you think of better questions for these five novels than the ones I’ve asked?

  • I love Audible. Tons of books, fantastic narrators, good prices.