Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Interview with Roland Allnach, Author of Oddities and Entities

Roland Allnach has been writing since his early teens, first as a hobby, but as the years passed, more as a serious creative pursuit. He is an avid reader, with his main interests residing in history, mythology, and literary classics, along with some fantasy and science fiction in his earlier years. Although his college years were focused on a technical education, he always fostered his interest in literature, and has sought to fill every gap on his bookshelves.

By nature a do-it-yourself type of personality, his creative inclinations started with art and evolved to the written word. The process of creativity is a source of fascination for him, and the notion of bringing something to being that would not exist without personal effort and commitment serves not only as inspiration but as fulfillment as well. So whether it is writing, woodwork, or landscaping, his hands and mind are not often at rest.

Over the years he accumulated a dust laden catalog of his written works, with his reading audience limited to family and friends. After deciding to approach his writing as a profession, and not a hobby, the first glimmers of success came along. Since making the decision to move forward, he has secured publication for a number of short stories, has received a nomination for inclusion in the Pushcart Anthology, built his own website, and in November 2010 realized publication for an anthology of three novellas, titled Remnant, from All Things That Matter Press. Remnant has gone on to favorable critical review and placed as Finalist/Sci-fi, 2011 National Indie Excellence Awards; Bronze Medalist, Sci-Fi, 2012 Readers Favorite Book of the Year Awards; and Award Winner-Finalist, Sci-Fi, 2012 USA Book News Best Book Awards. Roland’s second publication, Oddities & Entities, also from All Things That Matter Press, followed in March 2012. It, too, has received favorable critical review, and is the recipient of four awards: Bronze Medalist, Horror, and Finalist, Paranormal, 2012 Readers Favorite Book of the Year Awards; Award Winner-Finalist, Fiction/Horror and Fiction/Anthologies, 2012 USA Book News Best Book Awards.

His writing can best be described as depicting strange people involved in perhaps stranger situations. He is not devoted to any one genre of writing. Instead, he prefers to let his stories follow their own path. Classification can follow after the fact, but if one is looking for labels, one would find his stories in several categories. Sometimes speculative, other times supernatural, at times horror, with journeys into mainstream fiction, and even some humor- or perhaps the bizarre. Despite the category, he aims to depict characters as real on the page as they are in his head, with prose of literary quality. His literary inspirations are as eclectic as his written works- from Poe to Kate Chopin, from Homer to Tolkien, from Flaubert to William Gibson, from Shakespeare to Tolstoy, as long as a piece is true to itself, he is willing to go along for the ride. He hopes to bring the same to his own fiction.


Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Well, there’s the obvious inclination I have toward writing stories, but that’s just one facet of a greater creative impulse that guides me through life. I’ve always been interested in building things, whether it was construction toys, plastic models, or later, when I moved toward landscaping, recreational carpentry, and assembling my own computers. When I’m not busy putting something together (or taking it apart), I’m a relatively normal person. My joy in life is the time I spend with my family, and when I’m not with them, I’m off to my ‘day job’ at a hospital laboratory. Twenty years of shift work has allowed me the opportunity to see a different side of life.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in the quiet little town of Kings Park, New York. It provided for an interesting childhood. There was a vast tract of land for an old state mental hospital, which was in operation right through my teenage years. There were other expanses of woods, great for riding dirt bikes, and the town is near the water. I’m sure these factors have helped foster some of my creativity, because there was a lot to explore, and a lot to enjoy.

When did you begin writing?

I was sixteen when I wrote my first short story. It came about from the creativity curiosity brewing within me whenever I read something, not as a critique of what I was reading, but more so as a meditation to how the story could have followed different paths. At the time, my friends and I were hip deep in role playing games, so I had some experience with plotting while writing various ‘adventures’ for our characters. Even at that young age, with one very rough story under my belt, I felt writing allowed my imagination an outlet without parallel. Since then, writing has developed to the point where I feel compelled to write. As much as I love to write, I also know I need to write, so I can vent the voices and characters in my head.

Do you write during the day, at night or whenever you can sneak a few moments?

Give the ridiculous time pressure of life between my family, work, sleep (what’s that?), and my writing pursuits, I take what opportunities I can get. Given a preference, I prefer to write either early in the morning, while everyone is still asleep, or later at night, in the darkness of my bedroom. As long as I have my headphones, though, I can write just about anywhere. For most of my stories and books I can clearly remember where I was during the writing process, which holds a nice symbolism for me, because those memories serve as bookmarks in my life.

What is this book about?

Oddities & Entities is an anthology of six stories bridging the paranormal, supernatural, and horror genres, with a bit of dark humor for good measure. The six stories follow a thematic arc exploring life and realities beyond the everyday world, as encapsulated by both the title and the quote on the back cover of the book, “There’s more to this world than flesh and bone.”

What inspired you to write it?

A few years ago I wrote, and saw through to publication, one of the stories in the book, a piece by the title of “Shift/Change”. This story is the source for the quote on the back of the book, and that idea that there’s more to the world than flesh and bone opened a number of creative doors in my head. I’ve always been interested in the functional process of things, something that goes back to my childhood when I would take apart my toys to see how they worked. Over the years that curiosity for systems evolved to more elusive, more philosophical considerations, until “Shift/Change” left me wondering, from an author’s perspective, about the system of life itself. I started to ask myself about the unknowns surrounding our existence, and translated them into the stories of ‘Oddities & Entities’ by placing those questions in the context of characters who have things beyond the norm intersecting their lives.

Who is your biggest supporter?

Without hesitation, my biggest supporters are my family. I know that might sound a little cliché, but for those who don’t write it can be hard to understand the endless hours the pursuit of publication can consume. If my wife and sons didn’t understand that commitment, and if they - along with my extended family and friends - didn’t encourage me to pursue my dreams as an author, I’m not sure I’d be where I am now.

Who is your favorite author?

I draw my literary inspiration from a number of different sources. I love to read classical literature, history, and mythology, which covers quite a bit of territory. I feel I’ve been schooled in the musicality of language by Homer and Shakespeare, while I’ve learned about narrative structure from Kafka and others. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Kate Chopin and Flaubert, who bring what I think is a total package of characterization, beautiful prose, and narrative force. All that said, if I had to pick one author, it would be Tolstoy, because no one brings characters to life in the way his stories do, and the art of characterization is one of my joys when it comes to writing. I always say Tolstoy could write ten pages about someone tying their shoes, and it would still be fascinating.

Do you have an agent or are you looking for one?

Currently, I’m interested in representation. My experience working with publicists confirmed a lurking suspicion I’ve held, which is that industry professionals can open doors that normally would be very hard to access on my own. As happy as I am at this point in my writing career, I’m looking to take things to the next level with the opportunities professional representation could offer.

Was the road to publication smooth sailing or a bumpy ride?

In years past, I used to have this silly notion of going right for the jugular by getting an agent, getting a contract, and going off to the races. Reality, of course, is quite a different thing. When I decided to seriously pursue publication, I developed a plan, which consisted of building my author’s resume with short story publication credits, and then use that experience and credibility to move into book publication. So far, it’s worked out pretty well, and I’m very happy with the publication credentials, accolades, and awards that form my accomplishments as an author.

If you knew then, what you know now, is there anything you would have done differently?

Particularly with my first book, I came into the publishing world like a babe in the woods. I held the very ignorant belief that any book, given the number of books sold every year, would have some kind of built in sales figure. I quickly came to realize that figure was zero, unless some serious promotional efforts were made. That understanding, and the research and market education that goes with it, are things I wish I had under my belt before my books saw the light of the world. Had I known those things then, I think I could have better coordinated my efforts to promote my writing.

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?

Both of my books, Oddities & Entities, and Remnant, are published by All Things That Matter Press and are available right at the publisher’s website. They’re also available through the traditional mega-channels of Amazon and Barnes & Noble, both in print and Kindle/Nook. I also have a feature on my website for autographed print copies.

Do you have a website and/or blog where readers can find out more?

I have both a blog and a website. I use my blog,, as well as my Facebook page, for more temporal updates. I also post little essays on varying topics to my blog. The center of my online world, though, is my website, I keep all my published short fiction there, as well as reviews, interviews, and excerpts for my books. My favorite part of the site consists of the creative backgrounds behind all my published works, where I discuss how the respective pieces were written. I’m very respectful of the time a reader invests in a book, so one of the goals of my site is to provide readers with as much of my material as possible so they can make a confident decision to try one of my books.

Do you have a video trailer to promote your book? If yes, where can readers find it?

Indeed I do. It’s in a number of places, including Facebook, my blog, and YouTube, but the easiest place to give it a view is at my website,

What is the best investment you have made in promoting your book?

At present I’m running through a virtual book tour, which provided me the opportunity for this interview. I’ve also worked with a publicist to develop exposure leads. So far, all of this looks very promising, and provide a simple moral to the story - at a certain point, there’s no substitute for getting professional help.

What is one piece of advice you would like to share with aspiring authors everywhere?

In a word, it would be persistence. I’ve come to the conclusion that the dynamics of the publishing marketplace consume the vast majority of aspiring authors strictly by the rigors required to gain sufficient exposure for one’s written work. Considering the sheer number of titles published every year, any author has to be prepared to invest a great deal of time and effort to establish his or her presence in the literary landscape. That won’t happen by sitting back, it only happens through persistent effort.

What is up next for you?

For my next project I’m once again looking to do something a little different. With my first book, Remnant, I wrote in the science fiction and speculative genres, and with Oddities & Entities I bridged the horror, supernatural, and horror genres. So, for book number three I want to push my narrative borders, with the intent to display the range of my writing in both style and genre. To reach that end, half of the book will consist of my previously published short fiction, in one handy volume, while the second half of the book will consist of unpublished works. After much deliberation, I plan on going with the simple title of Prism, as it seems the most proper title to represent the divergent scope of the book’s material.

Is there anything you would like to add?

Only to express my thanks for the opportunity to chat, and to once again invite readers who are interested in a strange, unique literary journey to take a gander at Oddities & Entities. Happy reading!


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