I’m kicking off this new week with an interview with N.R. Allen about her young adult urban fantasy novel Lot’s Mountain.
N.R. Allen grew up in Dooms, VA, and currently lives in Blacksburg, VA, with her husband and family. While this is her second full-length novel, she has written and published poems, short stories, and flash fiction, including "Teddy Bear Heads," "That House at the End of Carver Street," and "A Song for Miss Cline".
Welcome, N.R. Please tell us about your current release.
Magic isn't gone, only hidden. For countless centuries monsters, men, and things in between have fought hidden battles over the fate of magic … in a small rural town in Virginia. Now their skirmishes threaten to explode into open war, with the entire world held in the balance. Dylan Caid, a troubled misfit whose secret just might hold the key to victory, finds himself thrust into the center of this ancient conflict. With both sides urging him to join with them and threatening death or worse should he not, Dylan must seek out an ancient force that even monsters fear.
What inspired you to write this book?
I actually wrote a poem about ghosts living in a house. After that poem was published, I couldn’t get my mind off it. I also wanted to write about the myths and monsters of Appalachia, as well as other legends.
Excerpt from Lot’s Mountain:
"There's a reason that we're afraid of the dark. A lot of things in it are pretty dang nasty," I tell her. "But there's a lot more in the dark than you know, and they're asking for help, Jamie. Our help."
That seems to spark something in her. She looks up and slowly nods.
"I wish you could see the good things." And then I realize something. She can.
As soon as I pull out the orb-thing Grim gave me, it starts to glow and pulse with orange light.
I don't know if it's because I'm thinking of Grim or if it's just something that the orb thing can do, since it’s a wisp’s map, but all of a sudden, light splashes against one of the walls of the theater and we see something. It's just a glimpse, but we see it—Belle Lake. I can hear soft music that digs down to my soul. Jamie hears it, too. Shimmering trees rise from the floor as a breeze brushes warmly by us. The water ... it isn't really there, but Jamie leans over and watches it glow next to her. And I know that she feels how I felt the first time I saw the lake. She feels like she finally belongs somewhere.
And Jamie smiles. Well, that's not saying much, since most smiles always mean that I'm shit out of luck. But this one ... well, this one is a whole lot different. It isn't Diane's pity smile, or Shard's I'm-gonna-eat-your-heart-when-I-can smile, or the sheriff's creepy, possessed smile. This one really makes me want to smile back, and I do.
"Jamie, this is what we have to save."
After the mirage of Belle Lake fades and the orb becomes just an orb again, Jamie and me just sit there on the theater floor. Then, for a few minutes, we forget about the war looming over us. We forget about Stone and Glass.
Looking at her face, I want to say a thousand different things, but I don't say anything at all.
And neither does she.
But that's okay. That smile of hers is enough.
What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m working on a new edition of my first novel, Blood of the Revenant. I also have several novels lined up to explore Urban Fantasy in more Appalachian settings and also want to weave in a few more Cherokee myths.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I was five, I was totally in love with Smokey the Bear and wanted to be a forest ranger. But I kept making up stories and by age seven I just knew that I wanted to be a writer.
Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I have three children so I usually take summers off from writing. But when they’re in school, I write full time. I have several chronic illnesses that keep me from working.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I talk to myself when I write and do the voices of the different characters out loud.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Forest Ranger, definitely.
Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I first started writing horror stories, but then found that Urban Fantasy was really where I belonged. I love blending in myths and legends. I also love working with different languages. I’m part of a medieval reenactment society and try to weave in little tidbits here and there.