Monthly Archives: October 2012

Getting to Know You: Allen Miles

Allen Miles is releasing his debut ’18 Days’ with Byker Books today. I had the chance to have a quick chat with him about his life as a writer.

Vic x

What do you like most about writing?

It puts me in my own little cocoon where I can release all the static and feedback that gathers in my head every so often. I tend to write at about one in the morning in the dark when everyone’s asleep and on many occasions I’ll be so into it that I haven’t realised that its starting to get light outside. Its escapism, I suppose.

What do you dislike (if anything)?

I hate the way I write. I’ll either write 10,000 words in a night or I’ll write nothing for six weeks. ’18 Days’ took me just a week to write and left me absolutely drained. It’s either ludicrously intense sessions in the small hours or two sentences a month. Plus I simply cannot write during the day. A lot of writers I’ve spoken to sit down at a desk at half nine in the morning and treat it as an actual job and I can’t do that I’m afraid. On more than one occasion I’ve taken time off work with the expressed intention of writing and I’ll fire up the laptop, open the word processor and my eyes will wander to the episode of Seinfeld on the telly. I have the attention span of a goldfish.

What inspires you to write?

Environment. The idea of immersing yourself in your surroundings and finding one tiny thing that can compel you to rattle off 500 words. Hull maybe a dump but it has a million things that you could write about. A sunny day in January wouldn’t inspire you if you lived in Beverly Hills.

Do you find time to read, if so what are you reading at the moment?

I’ve just finished ‘Skag Boys’ by Irvine Welsh and I’m about twenty pages into ‘Wait Until Spring Bandini’ by John Fante.

Which author(s) has/have had the biggest influence on your writing?

The book that made me want to write in the very first place was A Pair Of Jesus Boots by Sylvia Sherry. It’s a crime story about a kid who lives in Liverpool in the sixties. I read it when I was about nine and I’d be astounded if anyone here had heard of it. She evoked an amazing sense of atmosphere and adventure. I recently bought it off amazon for about 12p and I’ll be giving it to my daughter when she’s old enough.

Other than that, as an adult the biggest influences on what I do would be Irvine Welsh, George Orwell, John Fante, Albert Camus… I like anyone who writes about being down there in the dark place, really. My two greatest influences would be Charles Bukowski and Cormac McCarthy, for the way they describe their surroundings. They’re both very cinematic writers.

If you weren’t a writer, what would you be doing?

Getting immensely frustrated.

What do you think are your strengths and weaknesses?

I’m told I’m very good at descriptive writing and I’m pleased about this because my weakness is writing dialogue. You have to play to your strengths and there’s very little dialogue in ’18 Days’; there are only really two characters in it and the story is moved along by a sense of place and mood rather than the characters’ interaction.

What are you working on at the moment?

I’m writing a crime novel called ‘Dick’. ’18 Days’ was an incredibly intense piece to write and I’m enjoying doing something a bit more throwaway. With a fair wind it should be ready this time next year.

Where can we find you online?

My wordpress site isn’t quite ready yet but I’m on twitter @manicowl and @eighteen_days so I’ll be putting the link up there in a little while. It will be a collection of everything I’ve had published online so far and other things that I haven’t sent off. I’m also on facebook.com/manicowl.

What’s been your proudest moment?

As a writer, the very first creative piece I had published. It was called Home and it was a descriptive piece about a visit to my late grandparents’ house in the winter. I was very close to my grandparents and it was fitting for me that the first time I saw my name in print it was their name as well.

What would you say to your sixteen-year-old self if you could offer one word of advice or inspiration?

Start an ISA or something cos when your first child arrives you won’t have a pot to piss in.

Download ’18 Days’ on Kindle now: http://amzn.to/SzCeHI

The Next Big Thing

Ten Interview Questions for The Next Big Thing.

I’ve been tagged by my good friend (and mentor) Barbara Henderson to talk about my current work-in-progress.  The post is called ‘The Next Big Thing’. So this is a little bit of information on the novel that I’ve been working on. I guess I’m known for writing short stories and flash fiction but I do have a novel that’s waiting to be finished (although it has been waiting a while).

What is the working title of your book? ‘Fix Me Up’

Where did the idea come from for the book? When I was studying for my Masters in Creative Writing, I happened upon a story that I initially thought was about a grandmother and granddaughter who hadn’t got along together in life but the grandmother’s death has a profound impact on her granddaughter. However, I realised the more compelling story lay with the man who caused the grandmother’s death. 

What genre does your book fall under? Crime, I think.
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? That’s a great question. I think I’d like Ralph Spall to play Colin, I really think Ralph could embody Colin. I think I’d like David Morrissey to play Mary’s son and perhaps Pam Ferris as Mary.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? Colin wants a fix but it’s not necessarily the fix he expected.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? Not sure yet, I need to finish it first!

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? Still going. I’ve had this idea for three years now but have been distracted by writing short stories and blogs.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? Maybe ‘Trainspotting’ by Irvine Welsh and ‘Boy A’ by Jonathan Trigell.

Who or what inspired you to write this book? I wanted to write this story for many reasons. One of those reasons was to demonstrate how sometimes people can be sanctified or vilified because of something as simple and uncontrollable as their age. Frequently in the media, youngsters are portrayed as thugs and old people are generally seen as kind and vulnerable. I wanted to explore how readers would feel if an old lady, where the main stereotype is of a sweet old lady who would be the victim of a junkie but I wanted to subvert that by making her cantankerous and offensive. I’m not saying anyone deserves to be the victim of a crime but I didn’t want her to be seen as a saint. 

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? None of the characters are particularly likeable but the story is pretty compelling. The story is quite transformative too plus, like most of my stories, there’s more to it than meets the eye.