Sunday, October 6, 2013

Featured Author: Shaun Allan

Shaun Allan is a multi-talented, twelve-time published author of books in numerous genres. His newest book is a #1 Bestseller paranormal thriller, titled Sin. Shaun and his main character, also known as Sin, are here today to talk about each other, the book, writing, and more. There's never a dull moment when these two are around. And don't miss Shaun's answers to my Twenty Questions.

About the book:

Dead, dead, dead.  Say it enough times and it becomes just another word.

What would you do? Could you kill a killer? Does the death of one appease the deaths of a hundred? What about that hundred against a thousand?

What if you had no choice?

Meet Sin. No, not that sort of sin, but Sin, crazy as a loon (you ask Sister Moon), and proud of it. Sin locks himself away in an asylum and, every so often, gets violent. That’s only so they’ll give him those nice drugs, though. The ones that help him forget.

It’s a pity they don’t work.

Sin, you see, has a serious problem. Well, it’s not so much his problem, as ours – yours, mine and everyone else’s. People die around Sin.  He doesn't like it and there's nothing he can do about it.  But someone else knows, and Sin has to stop them... and himself...

Flip and catch...

Book Trailer

Interview with Shaun Allan:

Shaun, how long have you been writing and why the heck did you start?

Well, my mother tells me I started writing when I was very young. I’d draw pictures and write stories to go along with them. She also tells me, however, I cried all the time as a baby and was difficult. Me? Never. So she may be wrong. I certainly can’t remember a time when I haven’t written.

Sin, do you tell Shaun what to write? Do you two argue over what he writes? Who wins?

We have a sort of symbiotic relationship. He lets me lose with his hands to write my story whilst he goes off picking daisies or something. I get to have a voice, and he gets to escape for a little while.

Shaun, do you let him tell you what to write? Do you ever feel like poking Sin with a Q-tip?

Would you poke someone who can kill people without even knowing it? Nope, I don’t tell him anything! I find out what’s going to happen when he does.

Smart man. I’m assuming Shaun named you, Sin. Why did he pick that?

Sin: Actually, it was a joke of some sort from my parents. They named me Sin and my sister Joy.

Shaun: Actually, I can’t quite remember. I think it has to do with my fascination with black holes. It started out as Singularity Point, the point in a black hole when the laws of time and space collapse. I just, one day, wrote “Name’s Sin” and followed where the story took me.  It could have been a comedy or a children’s book.

Sin: Hey, I am a comedian. I’m hilarious. Didn’t you know?

Would you change your name if you could? To what?

John. Or Steve. When I was young, I always wanted to be Steve. Something normal! Saying that, Odd Thomas is happy with his name, so I suppose I can’t really complain.

How did you two meet and get to know each other?

Sin: I’ve always been inside of him, waiting for him to give me a voice. I’m therapy for him.

Shaun: Actually, he’s probably not far from the truth. I call Sin my ‘Dark Half.’ He gets to ask all the questions and say all the things I can’t myself. Writing him is quite therapeutic.

Sin: And I’m the one who’s been in an asylum??

Shaun, put your hands over your ears. Sin, tell us about Shaun.

He’s a nice enough bloke. Thinks he’s funny. He took his dog training and, on the second occasion of going, the trainer couldn’t remember his name but remembered his dog’s, so called him Mr. Sarcastic. It doesn’t take long, you see! But, he loves his family, likes his job, and wishes for a few more hours in the day to fit his life in!

Which one of you came up with the title Sin? Is Sin (the person) a little self-absorbed?
Did Shaun lose control on this issue?

Sin: It’s my name, but it sort of encompasses what the book is about. Not just the name, but the ideal of what ‘sin’ actually is. Could you kill a killer, for example? If you did, would that make you as bad as him? Sin has a broad definition. I suppose, if my name was Fred, or something, it wouldn’t quite carry the same weight.

Shaun: What he said...

Mr. Sarcastic, I mean Shaun, are you a starving artist, independently wealthy, or do you have another job outside of writing that pays the bills?

Shaun: Oh, I have another job. A full-time job and full-time family. This is why it took 10 years to write it.

Sin: Yes. Ten years. It’s a good job I’m patient!

Shaun: As opposed to being a patient?

Sin, describe Shaun in a tweet. (140 characters or less.)

Funny, decent, takes too long on the toilet. Believer of ‘if it’s meant to be.’ #LovesFindingNemo

Okay, Shaun, your turn at tweeting about Sin.

Thinks he’s funny, wants to be decent, believer of ‘leave the penny where it is.’ #PeopleDieAroundHim

Sin, I hate to tell you this, but Shaun has described you as “crazy as a loon.” Is this true? How would you describe Shaun in four words?

It probably is. I’m crazy, but not insane. I look upon the world with a bit of a squew-whiff slant. Shaun? I can’t think of four words to describe him. I can never say anything in four words!

How did you create the plot for this book?

I didn’t. It actually created itself. I had no idea where the book was going to go or what was going to happen – not until it did. When I was writing it, there were points where I was worried in case it didn’t come to a conclusion. It wasn’t until I had a mad 15,000-word writing blast in Luxor, Egypt that I could even see what that ending might be.

Sin, which line has Shaun given you that you loved saying the most?

Oh, that’s a hard one...Possibly: “Dead. Say it enough times and it becomes just a word.  Dead. Dead. Dead. Four letters thrown together to mean something that was so much more and so much less. Dead.”

Have you exacted writer’s revenge on anyone, Shaun? Are any of your characters inspired by real people? Have you killed anyone off in the name of therapy?

As if I would...Well, perhaps. Wendy Carpenter is based on a real person, and Connors and certain orderlies are a sort of amalgamation of people.

Shaun, how are you like Sin?

I try to treat darker issues with a sense of humour, and I want to be a decent guy. In most cases, I think I manage that.

Shaun, does Sin do things you wish you could do or things you would never do?

Teleport? That’s something I wouldn’t mind doing, though I’d actually like to be able to control it! The people dying thing I’d prefer to leave alone, thanks.

Shaun, what five real people would you most like to be stuck in an insane asylum with and why?

Jack Nicholson would be a must. Not least because of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, but also because his whole demeanor is a wee bit manic. 

Hmmm...Gary Lightbody from Snow Patrol. They’re one of my favourite groups, and I love his lyrics. We’d have great conversations if he can write like that.

Dean Koontz so Odd Thomas and Sin can chat.

Angelina Jolie. Just because.

I would have said Death, as he plays a mean game of chess (or will in one of my stories), but you said real people, so perhaps Morgan Freeman just to hear him talk – and because Shawshank is one of my favourite ever films.

Mine too! 
Shaun, what’s your favorite line from a book? Any book. You have more than one? Okay, what are your ten favorite lines from a book?

That’s a difficult one. I have various favourite books – Green Mile, Night Watchman Express, The Belgariad, Odd Thomas, but I can’t really remember lines from them, I’m afraid.

Have you ever bought any books just for the cover?

I can’t say I have. The title yes – that’s how I got into Odd Thomas, and I’ve loved every installment!

Who are your favorite authors?

I like a lot of Dean Koontz, particularly Odd. I’m humbled that Sin has been compared to him. I’m also a fan of Stephen King (another comparison), Alison DeLuca, David Eddings and Terry Brooks. I also read a book called Silver, which I came across by accident on my Kindle and loved it, but I can’t remember the author. I only know I’m waiting for the sequel Gold.

How long is Shaun’s to-be-read pile? What’s at the top?

Very long. Nothing is really at the top as, once I’ve finished the book I’m reading, I’ll pick up whichever I feel at the time. Possibly James Herbert’s Ash, which I’ve been eyeing for a time and started about three pages before Odd came out. I’d just finished Dan Brown’s Inferno. Not bad, but far too descriptive. It was like Langdon was doing a Lonely Planet guide to Florence.

Sin, you get to decide who would read your audiobook. Who would you choose?

I’ve actually had this discussion as it’s in production. I wondered if it should be an American or English voice. I think it needs to be English as it’s set here and I am.  Probably James McAvoy. He’s the right age (well, a bit younger but close enough) and is typically English – he’s not too ‘posh’ sounding and isn’t cockney.

What book are you currently reading and in what format (e-book/paperback/hardcover)?

I’m reading the latest Odd Thomas book by Dean Koontz, in hardback. Inferno was hardback too, but I have Ash as an e-book. I don’t mind the format, as long as I get to read.

Does Sin like to read?

He does, but they don’t allow books in the asylum.

They don't? Wow. That should be a...sin. Sorry. Couldn't help myself. Where and when do you prefer to do your writing, Shaun?

I’d prefer to be sitting at my kitchen table, or in my garden, but I usually end up squeezing bits in during my lunch break, typing into Notepad and pasting into Word!

Sin lives in an asylum, but Shaun, where’s home for you?

Grimsby, England. I’ve lived in a couple of other places – and almost moved across country, but have ended up back here. The town is OK (good and bad points, like everywhere), but the area is lovely. We’re in the middle of Lincolnshire, which is like the garden of the world.

Sin, tell us about the asylum.

It’s white. I mean everything, uniforms, walls and ceilings are white. You can’t think for yourself, and you’re expected to sit there and stare into space. I have some very good friends in here and I feel for every one. Ah, home, sweet home.

Tell us one weird thing, one nice thing, and one fact about where you live.

Shaun: It was (supposedly) founded by Grim, who was protecting the heir to the Danish throne from the murderous intentions of the Prince Regent. We have a seaside town (Cleethorpes) right next door – joined by a street. It was once the biggest fishing port in the world.

Sin: The television in the recreation room is pretty much permanently stuck on MTV. The inmates are some of the nicest people you could meet. Connors is probably crazier than anyone else in here...

Neil Gaiman said, “Picking five favorite books is like picking five body parts you'd most like not to lose.” So...what are your five favorite books and your five body parts you’d most like not to lose?

All of the Belgariad.
The Green Mile.
Odd Thomas.
Angels and Demons
My head.
My hands.
My penis!
Erm...That’s all. You can have the rest of me.

What would your last meal be?

Either a rib-eye steak with peppercorn sauce, or fish fingers, fried egg and chips (proper chips – chunky and deep fried). Oh, or a bacon butty!

Shaun, what do you like to do when you’re not tormenting Sin?

Tormenting him? Me? Other way around, methinks. I like to read, and I love watching films. One of my favourite places is the cinema! Most of all, I love to spend time with my girls – my wife and daughters. They’re the main reason I’m grey, but also why I have laughter lines at my eyes!

That's very lovely. Sin, if you could escape the asylum, where would you go?

Luxor, Egypt. No, Moscow in winter. No, Budapest. No, New York to find Phoebe, Chandler, Rachel, and the rest and drink coffee. No. I’d go home.

If you could take a trip together anywhere in the world, where would you go? Would the world be safe with the two of you on the loose together?
Shaun: I think the world would be safer with us together!

Sin: You’d do my head in! You’d be trying to tell me what to do!

Shaun: I’ve tried that. It didn’t work.

Sin: Fair point. OK, where do you fancy?

Shaun: Easter Island?

Sin: Ohhh, sure!

Shaun, what's next? What are you working on now?

I’m actually working on Mortal Sin, the sequel. I’m researching the investigation of random deaths and such like...

And you promise to come back and tell us more about it when it's published...right?

Other books by Shaun Allan:

Twenty Questions with Shaun Allan:

1.    Love or money? Love. Who needs money?

2.    Plain or peanut? Plain.

3.    Beef or chicken? Hmmm…. Chicken, though I do really enjoy beef!

4.    Coffee or tea? Tea. Coffee when I have had too much tea!

5.    Oxford comma: yes or no? NO.

6.    Hardback or Kindle? Hardback, though room for both.

7.    Salty or sweet? Sweet.

8.    City or country? Country every time.

9.    Dog or cat? Dog, though my favourite pet was a cat...

10.    Fame or fortune? Love. I don’t expect fortune, and I’m not interested in fame.

11.    Laptop or desktop? Laptop.

12.    Health food or junk food? If healthy tasted like chocolate...

13.    Mountains or beach? Mountains.

14.    Gourmet or diner? Diner.

15.    Sweet or unsweet? (Tea of course.) Sweet (just).

16.    Humor or drama? Humour. Or dramatic humour.

17.    Dr. Seuss or Mr. Spock? Mr. Spock!

18.    Halloween or Christmas? Halloween, but I love Christmas.

19.    Spring of fall? Fall.

20.    Morning or night? Night.

About the author:

A creator of many prize winning short stories and poems, Shaun Allan has written for more years than he would perhaps care to remember. Having once run an online poetry and prose magazine, he has appeared on Sky television to debate, against a major literary agent, the pros and cons of Internet publishing as opposed to the more traditional method. Many of his personal experiences and memories are woven into the point of view and sense of humour of Sin, the main character in his best-selling novel of the same name, although he can’t, at this point, teleport.

A writer of multiple genres, including horror, humour and children’s fiction, Shaun goes where the Muse takes him – even if that is kicking and screaming.

Shaun lives with his wife, daughters, cats and fish! Oh and a manic dog. Though his life might, at times, seem crazy, he is not.


Connect with Shaun:
Website | Blog and Sin's Blog | Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter (Shaun)  (Sin) | Ganxy

Buy the book:
Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon Author Page | Barnes & Noble | Shaun's bookstore