Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Interview with fantasy author Martha J Allard

Fantasy author Martha J Allard has stopped by today to talk about her contemporary fantasy, Black Light.

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 of her previously published works on 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" is a tale of love, sacrifice and rock and roll in the 1980's is out now and available on amazon and You can find her on her blog,

Welcome, Martha. Please tell us about your current release.
Los Angeles, 1983. 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.

What inspired you to write this book?
When I was a kid, before the internet, things were very different. I grew up in a small town in Michigan. I knew I was queer, and in love with my best friend, and thought I was probably the only one who ever felt that way. Then, one night I saw David Bowie’s video, “I Am A DJ.” In the video, he kisses a woman, and then a man (later this was cut out before aired on MTV). At first I was shocked, then I felt everything in my life click. I wasn’t alone. 

Black Light was very nearly the first thing I ever tried to write, and it does owe a lot to David Bowie’s music. I started it because it was the book I wanted to read back then. I put it away for decades, but the characters never left my head. Trace and Asia were always in the shadows, waiting for the rest of their story. Bowie’s death, coming less than six months after my father’s hit me with surprising force. I pulled Black Light out because I couldn’t concentrate on much else. I began to revise without even meaning to. It’s still a book about music, but it’s also about how important it is to become the person you really are, and learning to step out of the shadows. 

Excerpt from Black Light:
1983, Los Angeles 
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. He exhales a lungful of smoke. Every night there’s more, but it’s not enough, not yet. 
“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.”
Trace looks into Asia’s rust-green eyes and takes a breath. All he ever gets from Asia anymore is anger and disappointment. Trace won't apologize for telling the truth. He reaches up to brush a stray lock of wavy ginger hair back from his face, but Asia flinches.
 “Whatever you need to think.” Trace says softly. “It’s done. Get ready for the show.”
He goes back upstairs without waiting for Asia’s answer.
Asia shakes it off. He moves to stand in the doorway. “Wait, Weird. I can play your shit tonight and Trace can play bass.”
Weird is up, unsteadily leaning against the sink, already cooking his shit, Tommi looking on, stricken. Weird snickers. “How you think he’s gonna do that? faggot can’t even walk and chew gum.”
“I don’t care.” Asia knows he’s pleading. He wants to knock the smack out of Weird's hand, shake him. Don't make Trace right, he wants to say. But he goes back to begging instead. “We can do it.”
“Asia, look, Dellon’s a bastard, but he’s right.” Weird says. His hands don’t shake at all when he pulls the plunger back on his syringe to suck the liquefied drug up. “You think that bein’ a junkie’s ruinin’ my life, right? That I'm tryin' to kill myself? See, no, because it’s all I am, Asia. No junk, no music. I'm not giving that up.”
Weird is tying a piece of tubing around his upper arm. He looks from Asia to Tommi. “You guys got shit to do before we go on, right?”
Not really, Asia thinks, but feels himself give in. He turns away and Tommi follows him.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I am working on a novel called, at the moment, The Night Was Not. It’s a Neo-Victorian story about an airship Captain, grounded in the one place he never wanted to come back to, his home town. He lands to investigate the death of a friend, but is drawn into the dark world of alchemy and freak shows. 

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Minutes after I walked out of Star Wars as a teenager. I walked across the mall hall to by a notebook and a pen.

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 a day job. I work at a bookstore. I love being around books, but I spend every minute of every day that I’m not writing trying to figure out when I can write. 

Right now it’s days off or, middle of the night. Waiting in line at the store. I’m not a very fast writer, so any time I can move a story forward is a good day for me. 

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

I’m pretty odd about my notebooks. Spiral bound. They can’t be too thick because my hand falls off the bottom of the page. They can’t have margins….Oh, and they have to fit in my bag. And pens. Yeah, use a fountain pen, and I love certain color inks. I use purple ink as my every day color, and pink for sex…. Also gray for ghosts. Black Light was notebooks full of pink and grey. 

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I’m not making this up, but a writer. I mean, briefly in high school, what I really wanted to be was a personal assistant to a rock star. But eventually I realized that you needed to talk to people to do that, so I went back to writer. 

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
If you’re a reader, thank you! It’s always scary to share something you’ve kept to yourself for so long. But, by and large, you’ve all made it so easy. And if you’re also a writer, don’t stop. That’s the lesson I’ve learned. As my friend Loren Rhoads told me recently, “You’re the only one who can write your story.” And we need all the stories we can get.


Thanks for being a guest today, Martha!

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