Welcome to my weekly Author Spotlight. I’ve asked a bunch of my author friends to answer a set of interview questions, and to share their latest work.
Today, Martha Allard – Martha J Allard is a writer of contemporary and dark fantasy. Her short fiction has appeared in magazines like “Talebones” and “Not One of Us.” Her story “Dust” won an honorable mention in “Year’s Best Science Fiction,” 19th edition, edited by Gardener Dozois and her story,”Phase” was nominate for a British Science Fiction Award.
Thanks so much, Martha, for joining me!
J. Scott Coatsworth: Do you have any strange writing superstitions?
Martha Allard: Strange? Or peculiar? I love to write with a fountain pen, and if there’s a ghost in what I’m writing I enjoy using grey ink to write about it. Purple for sex, pink or black for almost everything else. And I’m picky about notebooks. They have to be spiral bound. Because I need them to fold flat. I need them to be smaller than school notebooks. My sweet spot is 6×8. Oh, and I ignore margin lines. And they can’t be more than 70 pages, because my hand falls off a super fat notebook. Right? I’m really odd, I know.
JSC: When did you know you wanted to write, and when did you discover that you were good at it?
MA: I can tell you the exact moment. I was thirteen, and I was alone in a movie theater for the first time, watching Star Wars. I watched Luke, at just a little bit older than me, stand on that little rise on his uncle’s farm, stare off into the double sunset, and something happened to my brain. At the end of the movie, I left the theater, walked across the hall and bought a spiral bound notebook and a pen. I’ve had one in my bag ever since.
JSC: If you could create a new holiday, what would it be?
MA: It would be Self-esteem day. And I would be the self-esteem fairy, and it would be my job to walk around and hit people with my club-err, wand. What? Fairies don’t hit people with their wands. Bite me, it’s my holiday, my rules.
JSC: How would you describe your writing style/genre?
MA: I write mostly contemporary fantasy which tends to be dark, but I’ve been known to stray into space opera and horror.
JSC: If you were stuck on a desert island all alone with only three things, what would they be?
MA: The album Hunky Dory, the book Someplace to be Flying, by Charles De Lint, and my cat.
JSC: What was your first published work? Tell me a little about it.
MA: Well….. Technically, my first published piece of fiction was a short story which may have been called, “Thought you were dead.” It was the story of the gunfight that Snake Plissken got busted for before the beginning of “Escape from L.A.” Yep. Published in a Snake Plissken ‘zine. But the first story I got paid money for was a story called “Dust,” about Tinkerbell and Peter, who end up traveling with a carnival in the southwest with a knife throwing act. The story is about what happens when Tink’s dust can no longer keep Peter young and magical. It is also in my echap book called “Dust and Other Stories.”
JSC: Tell me about a unique or quirky habit of yours.
MA: I spend the first snow day of the year in my living room watching Lord of the Rings while crocheting.
JSC: What’s your writing process?
AUTHORNAME: I write things out scene by scene in my notebook, and then give them a first edit when I’m typing them into the computer. I am more chronological then I used to be, but I don’t really know why that changed. I’m still fickle. If something’s not working, I will totally skip ahead to write what I know. And I love it when unexpected things happen. In Black Light one of the characters committed suicide completely without my permission. I remember looking down at the page, and thinking, what just happened/of course that’s what happens. It was amazing.
JSC: Were you a voracious reader as a child?
MA: I was. I read mostly what was expected of me. Little House, Nancy Drew. My favorite series as a kid was Anne of Green Gables. The main character is the reason many of my characters have red hair. It wasn’t until high school that I began to read things with magic in them. I credit Star Wars with pushing me in that direction. But I credit my oldest best friend, Loren Rhoads for pushing me over the edge. She introduced me to fantasy with “Nine Princes In Amber” by Zelazny as a birthday present when we were maybe fifteen. I’ve been in been in big trouble ever since.
JSC: What are you working on now, and when can we expect it?
MA: I’m working on novel called “The Night Was Not.” Set in the neo-Victorian age, it’s the story of an airship Captain and the entanglements he encounters while grounded in his home town. It’s been so much fun to write! It has freak shows, and workhouses in it. Finally, a use for all that Victorian Lit I read in college! I hope to finish by summer, so you may expect to see it at the beginning of 2017.
JSC: What action would your name be if it were a verb?
MA: Lately I think it would be Flail because I seem to be doing that a lot.
And now for Martha’s latest book: Black Light:
Trace Dellon knows exactly what he wants: the white heat of the spotlight. When his band Black Light is offered a record deal, Trace grabs for it. He will do anything to make it.
Bass player Asia Heyes knows what he wants, too. It’s not fame or the adoration of groupies. It’s Trace. It’s always been Trace. Though it’s been unspoken between them, Trace’s other lovers—his audience—push Asia aside.
With the record contract, Albrecht Christian comes into their lives. He has everything but what he needs to live: the energy that runs just under Trace’s skin.
When everything crashes with a bullet, they all learn the truth. Rock and roll, like magic, requires both love and sacrifice.
Los Angeles, 1983.
Trace Dellon stands in the wings backstage at the Refugee Club, a narrow shadow. He lights a cigarette, shielding the flame with his hand to protect the dark. In the full house beyond the curtain, he counts dozens of reflections of himself. Boys or girls, hair cut spiky with spaghetti-o colored dye-jobs, all waiting for him. Every night there’s more, but it’s not enough, not yet. He exhales a lungful of smoke.
“Trace.” Asia Heyes, Black Light’s bass player calls him from the doorway to the basement dressing room the band shares. “Weird’s real sick.”
“No he’s not.” Trace turns.
“Yeah. He is. He’s not gonna be able to play tonight. He should be–”
“He should be shootin’ the hell up, Asia. He’s the guitar player, and this isn’t fuckin’ Charity’s Place back in Ann Arbor anymore. It’s the Refugee Club where somebody important could be listening.” Trace moves farther backstage, past Asia, down the rickety stairs. He smells it, bitter on the air before he hits the bottom step. Then he hears Weird choking.
Asia is right behind, protesting. “He’s almost clean. Don’t fuck it up for him.”
Trace doesn’t answer. Instead of going down the short hallway to the bathroom, he heads into the dressing room. Weird’s guitar case is propped against the broken down leather couch that sags in one corner. Trace flips it open. Tucked inside, along with the instrument are Weird’s works, just like Trace knew they would be. He grabs the pouch and steps around Asia to cross the hall. Without knocking, Trace opens the bathroom door.
It’s a re-modeled storage closet, too small for three people. Tommi, their drummer, hovers outside, worry lining his pretty face.
Weird’s on the floor, back against the wall, arm draped around the toilet seat, like it’s his best friend. In the buzzing fluorescent light, he looks ancient, every one of his thirty-seven years are etched into his face. His skin is the color of spoiled milk. His long red-blond hair is stringy with sweat. He wipes a hand over his beard, looks up at Trace through slitted eyes and grins. “Hey Dellon, you gonna hold my hair while I puke some more?”
“Are you’re gonna? I mean, you are gonna be okay, aren’t you?” Tommi’s face turns even paler as he squeezes himself against the sink to let Trace all the way in.
“Oh sure.” Weird groans, sucks in some of the sour air. “Yeah, I’m great.” Then he looks up at Trace again. “Gimme my damn smack.”
“No.” Tommi gasps. “No, Weird.”
Weird stares hard at Trace. “Gimme m’ works, Dellon. Neither one of them will.”
Trace nods. He hands the pouch over and turns away.
Asia is leaning against the hand railing of the stairs, shaking his head as Trace exits the bathroom. “So let him go back to killin’ himself?”
“You think he can play clean, Asia?” Trace says. “You gonna take that all away from him?”
“That’s such bullshit.” Asia laughs. “You don’t even care as long as you get what you want and that’s all that matters.”
Martha J Allard is a writer of contemporary and dark fantasy. Her short fiction has appeared in magazines like “Talebones” and “Not One of Us.” Her story “Dust” won an honorable mention in “Year’s Best Science Fiction,” 19th edition, edited by Gardener Dozois and her story,”Phase” was nominate for a British Science Fiction Award. They are both collected in the echapbook “Dust and Other Stories.” You may also find a selection o her previously publish works on Wattpad.com. She was the editor of “Nice Tattoo, the Magazine of Shadow Fiction.” Her nonfiction has appeared in the anthologies “Lend the Eye a Terrible Aspect” and “Deaths Garden.” Her novel, “Black Light,” a tale of love, sacrifice and rock and roll in the eighties is out!! You can find her on her blog, marthajallard.blogspot.com.