The summer has flown by, hasn’t it?
How many of you have school starting up soon – either for yourself or for your kids? Maybe you’re a teacher?
Well, to take your mind off things we have Christiane Allison in for an interview. She’s the author of The Infinitus Saga, owner of Allison Publishing, and President of the Alaska Writer’s Guild.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
In the seventh grade, our English class did an anthology project and I started writing my first book. That book was never completed, but coming from a family of storytellers, I’d caught the bug. I took creative writing classes in middle school, high school, and college. After entering the workforce, I took a break from writing for a few years until I realized I could no longer live without it. Then in the middle of my MBA program, I dove back in with abandon and completed my first novel-length story.
I decided to become a professional writer when my circumstances pushed me into a corner. I have a debilitating genetic condition called hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (hEDS), and although I was successful in my regular job, eventually my health deteriorated to the point that I could no longer consistently work enough hours to keep it. After leaving my job and losing my home, I realized writing was my real passion, and that no matter how much pain I was in, as long as I could speak, I could write. That’s when I started writing my first published book.
What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
I am a person that’s practically allergic to routine, and I’m a disabled author with no day job, so I can be found writing at all times of the day or night. However, when I want to focus in on getting a lot of writing done, I often use the various events of National Novel Writing Month. I am a goal oriented person and do well with deadlines, so their “camp” programs throughout the year and NaNoWriMo itself in November give me helpful motivation to make leaps of progress on my manuscripts. I also use them for editing goals – not just writing.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I talk to myself and my characters out loud – a lot. I also pace in circles around my house. I’m not sure why, but I see the story more fluidly when I am in motion. Driving, pacing, and riding all help the movie play out in my head, especially with the right music for the mood of the scene. Afterward, I try to capture as much as I can on the page.
What does your family think of your writing?
My family rocks! They are incredibly supportive of and involved in my writing and publishing. They support me with time, finances, and my dad talks about my books to practically everyone he meets.
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
I hear from readers from time to time, but I would love to hear from them more. Most times they are sending me a note to let me know how much they love my writing. They often tell me how I made them feel a particular emotion while they were reading a particular scene, which is what I absolutely love to hear! Overall, one of the best compliments I’ve gotten thus far was from someone who told me they didn’t expect to like Infinitus because they don’t read the genre, but now plan to read the whole series because they fell in love with the characters.
As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
I wanted to work in film. I was most interested in doing an M. Night Shyamalan type of scenario where I got to write, direct and act in my own movies. With my disability, I’ve scaled it down to the writing, but I would love to be directly involved if my books were ever converted into film or TV.
What is the first book that made you cry?
It’s hard to remember for sure, but the one that was by far the most memorable was Fig Pudding by Ralph Fletcher. I still own it.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
I don’t focus on formula or reader expectations. I write true to the story that I’ve been inspired with and then figure out where the story fits. The closest thing I have to a formula is that I write the kind of stories I like to read.
What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
I am President of the Alaska Writers Guild, and have gotten to know lots of amazing authors in my state like LoLo Paige, Tamsin Ley, Brooke Hartman, Dante Medema, Caitlin Buxbaum, Jamey Bradbury, Lizbeth Meredith and others. Networking with these authors and being active in the guild gets me access to industry information, craft knowledge, and publishing professionals. I could not have published my books without the knowledge and support these awesome artists bring to the table.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Don’t stop writing. Don’t decide it’s not important. It’s what you were made to do.
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
The best money I ever spent as a writer was probably the $20+ I paid for my license for the Scrivener software. This software allowed me to compile all of my notebooks and sticky notes into a single file that contained all of my world building and that I could reference in any given moment while writing. It also allowed me to restructure my entire novel with the ease of drag-and-drop, and even helped me generate the final .EPUB files. I would have wasted hours of precious time without it.
What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
The Host by Stephenie Meyer. Even though The Twilight Saga got tons of press and fame, The Host is still my favorite. It’s a beautiful and unexpected love story that grows on you, with characters that are fantastic. I go back and reread it all the time.
What are you working on now?
I’m currently working on The Infinitus Saga. It’s a cyberpunk adventure series following the Mallorey family’s struggle to survive in a world run by the Global Fellowship and their Global Reform Interface and Database (GRID) computer system which runs on the “wetware” of the human brain. They’ve managed to hide in the shadows of a world where the disabled disappear, but now they can’t anymore. The series is jam-packed with futuristic technology, tech-savvy rebels, and genetic animal-human hybrids known as chimeras.
This is the teaser for the first full-length novel in the series, Infinitus:
The community needs conformity. The squids are out to dismantle it. Now both want what’s in her head. Infinitus is the story of Gina Mallorey, a young freedom-loving tech dealer living in the Dregs on her own terms, hiding her disability from the Community. When an explosion forces her into the GRID, powerful forces make her a target. The Community operative sent after her hides a genetic secret of his own, but only time will tell if he’ll choose to be friend or foe.
Infinitus mixes many of my favorite themes into a single story. First, the main characters from the Mallorey family have my genetic condition, hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (hEDS). Their story is drawn from real life experiences of struggling with disability and persevering. The story takes place in a society where such people are put away or hidden by the government, putting the characters at additional risk.
Secondly, I love stories with characters that are a mix of human and animal. The world of Infinitus is full of a colorful cast of chimera characters that are human-animal hybrids born from reemerging genetics from Old World super soldier experiments. You get to see their advantages and disadvantages.
Thirdly, the world explores the relationship between people and technology. In the world of Infinitus, people are literally “wetwired” to the world’s computers and their brains are used as temporary servers. Think about what it would be like to close your eyes and dim the lights or turn up the temperature in your apartment. What would it be like to have an AI that was attuned to your every whim? What happens when there’s no tactile form of money? All of these amazing things and more are explored in the story.
Finally, even though this is not a romance novel, there is romance, and other significant relationships. The story explores the draw and connection between these characters in a world where all long-term relationships are feared as mental illness.
What do you have coming soon?
I’m currently working on the second full-length novel in The Infinitus Saga, Chimera Rising. (I also published a small prequel novelette to the series called The Global Fellowship.) In Chimera Rising, the chimeras make a move to form an independent nation while my main character continues to be hunted across the globe. Spoiler Alert! Below is the teaser for Chimera Rising.
For three months the world has held its breath with no word of the Red Queen after her bombshell broadcast exposed the horrific Community exploitation and maltreatment of chimeras—human-animal hybrids born of the reemergence of Old World genetic experimentation. Word of their unexpected champion’s message spread like wildfire through the GRID and galvanized chimeras worldwide to unite against Global Fellowship control. Loyal chimeras spurn the Red Queen’s message and fight, in the name of their fallen comrade-in-arms, to safeguard their Community from the anarchy unleashed by her mind. As the Global Fellowship deploys scorched-earth tactics to eliminate her, an uneasy alliance forms between the traditional freedom fighters and the very Community operatives and assassins they have fought for so long.
Hector ‘Hawk’ Warrenson, former covert chimera operative, waits at the bedside of the woman he failed to protect. The Global Fellowship wants her dead. The rebels want to control her. He wants her free and safe. But is he already too late? As Hawk fears his deterioration into Obsessive Attachment Syndrome, he’s determined to find a way to protect her—no matter the cost.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
In addition to my work as an author, I am a criminal justice reform activist with a focus on wrongful conviction and the struggles of prisoner families. My husband was wrongfully convicted of a junk science accusation in 2015 and my family has endured more than a decade of unjust accusation and incarceration. Out of the experiences of my family, I’ve written a children’s picture book series for kids impacted by the adverse childhood experience (ACE) of the incarceration of a loved one, including the first picture book ever written on wrongful conviction. Where is Uncle? received 5 Honorable Mentions in the 2018 Purple Dragonfly Book Awards, and I was awarded a Rasmuson Foundation Individual Artist Project Award for the sequel, Timmy & Kate Go To Visit. As an activist, I fight for criminal justice and prison reform, and to give the families of prisoners a voice. You can be involved by learning about and supporting the Innocence Project in your state or region.
How can your fans connect with you?
I love hearing from my fans! I’m on Facebook, Twitter, InstaGram, LinkedIn, and Goodreads, as well as my website.