Indie Zone: Talking with Todd Allen

No Greater Agony Tour Banner

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.

All About Book Blog Tours

A book blog tour  “allows authors to professionally promote their work without rearranging their schedule. Each tour stop enables authors to gain new readers and social media fans while reaching a worldwide audience.” (from Sage’s Blog Tours)

Book blog tours work for both authors and bloggers, albeit for different reasons. It gives bloggers, at a minimum, a topic/reason to post for a particular day. (This can be handy, especially if the creative well is bone dry.) It also introduces us to books (especially from indie authors) that we might not have come across otherwise. It does not, however, increase our page views or anything like that (at least not if the site is a daily poster as-is.)

There are some cons to participating in book blog tours, though. They can be seen as ‘filler content’. (I address that in the next paragraph.) Most blog tour companies seem to require ‘top post’ for the material, which means you cannot post anything else for the entire day. While it’s easy to understand why tour companies request this, it’s still difficult to give up various posting slots solely to book promotion. And you run the risk of having your site not stand out to potential new readers because they may have already seen the content somewhere else.

Sci-Fi & Scary is signed up with a few virtual book tours with blog tour companies, but we really only actively accept requests from one. That being Sage’s Blog Tours. There are several reasons for this but, in essence, it’s because the way Sage does her tours works out well for us. She works with content that most other book tour companies don’t seem to touch (science fiction and horror of the non-YA variety). Also, other than the graphics, we’re not given cut-and-paste material to use for interviews or prepared guest posts from the authors. (This isn’t an across the board thing with all other blog tour companies, just something I’ve noticed more from several.) Instead, we have a lot more control – we write our own interview questions, we have our own guidelines for guest posts, etc. There has been one case where I (Lilyn) received a guest post and got back in touch with Sage saying “I can’t accept this.” Within the day, I had something that I was willing to put up on Sci-Fi & Scary instead. That means a lot. Also, Sage doesn’t require ‘top post’ (although she mostly does get it from us.)

But I’ve always kind of wondered exactly how much work goes into doing a book blog tour. So, when I saw the issue raised on a forum about an author feeling ‘scammed’ because they hadn’t made any sales from the book tour that they had paid for, I went to Sage and asked her how things worked. She laid everything out for me in a post that I could share with everyone.

(I apologize for the rather lengthy introduction. I meant to do a separate discussion piece, but never found the time.)

So here you have it, straight from Sage’s mouth: Doing a Book Blog Tour from Start to Finish

Book Blog Tour

Doing a Book Blog Tour from the Organizer’s Perspective

Since 2012, I have been coordinating blog tours through my online business, Sage’s Blog Tours. In that time, I have created a smooth system that I use to plan blog tours for authors. I can personalize this system to work best for each author and their blog tour. Below are the general steps:

1.) Get to know the book – You can’t plan a blog tour for a book without knowing at least the basics. I request materials from the author, and I use this information to figure out the book’s target audience. This allows me to choose bloggers who would be best suited to participate in the blog tour. The more informative I can be for potential bloggers, the better.

2.) Organize materials – I create media kits for each author using the information they send me and set up a feature page on the Sage’s Blog Tours’ website. While I do this, my graphic designer begins creating a custom tour banner for the author.

3.) Reach out to bloggers – I have built a large database of book bloggers over the past five years, so for each blog tour, I contact the book bloggers who are interested in the genre that the author is promoting. This way I know the author is reaching their preferred audience. If not, the blog tour wouldn’t be as beneficial for them.

4.) Set up a schedule – I create a tour schedule and keep it updated with the book bloggers who have signed up to participate in the blog tour. Once the tour is filled, I share this tour schedule with the author so they can follow along, as well as keep it updated on their feature page located on my website.

5.) Follow the tour – I make sure to follow along with the tour, so I can check to see if each blogger posted their feature and that the information posted is correct. I also share every stop on tour with the author, and on all of our social media pages – Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

6.) After the tour – The tour is over, but my work isn’t done! I contact each blogger who hosted a review during the tour to ask if they would share their review on Amazon and Goodreads. If there was a giveaway, I collect the winner’s info and send it to the author or distribute the prize if the author has asked me to do so.

A successful blog tour happens with the partnership of the tour coordinator, the author, and the bloggers. When all of those above are on the same page and have good communication, the blog tour is sure to be an excellent experience!


Sage’s Blog Tours “is a full-service publicity company that works with authors of all genres. We offer services to help promote your work in an affordable, fun, and successful way. Sage’s Blog Tours schedules blog tours with reviews of your work, interviews, and guests posts.
Our in-house graphic designer is exceptional at designing promotional tools for your online tour and in-person events. ”

It’s important to note, also, that Sage very clearly states in her FAQs about Book Blog Tours that sales are not guaranteed, and authors do need to be an active participant in promoting the tour stops as well.

Find Sage on Twitter: @SagesBlogTours

“What Inspired You to Write Science Fiction?” by Natalie Wright

half banner for write science fiction guest post

What Inspired You to Write Science Fiction?

From the earliest time I can remember, I was drawn to shows such as “Twilight Zone” and “Star Trek.” When I was a child my favorite book was A Wrinkle in Time. I have a lifelong fascination with the intersection of science and the paranormal or unexplained. My science fiction tends then to combine these two things. It’s a big dose of what’s at the edge of our understanding mixed with enough science to make it feel plausible.

At the time that the idea for the H.A.L.F. series came to me, I was still working on my first series (The Akasha Chronicles), a teen fantasy series about an everyday America teenager who learns she has ancient Celtic magic. I was enmeshed in Celtic mythology, Druidic lore and magical creatures.

But a hot summer day in Arizona brought about a wholly different type of story. I was driving across town – my back wet with sweat even with the air conditioning blowing full blast – and listening to a techno-rap song called “Cowboys & Aliens” by the band Gram Rabbit. The song about mother ships and aliens combined with the oppressive summer heat to inspire a story about a teenage human-alien hybrid who has lived his entire life in an underground lab. As the story begins, he has just escaped the lab but he may be our only hope to escape destruction at the hands of a ravaging alien species from across the galaxy.

Continue reading ““What Inspired You to Write Science Fiction?” by Natalie Wright”