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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Interview with B. Morris Allen

Would you tell the readers a little bit about yourself?
I grew up overseas, and I've lived on both US coasts and in the midwest. I like to travel. I'm back overseas now, and move every few years, but my long-term home is in the Pacific northwest. I've been a biochemist, an activist, and now a lawyer dealing with foreign aid.

Can you tell us what book you are promoting?
The Speed of Winter is a dark science fiction novella. It's about an arkship - a suspended animation colony ship - sent out from an overcrowded Earth. Two of the crew break the rules, and have a child while on the way out, but when the ship reaches its target planet, they find that it's unlivable. The book uses the eyes of that one child to tell the story of the crew's struggle to find purpose in a difficult situation.

Did you have the main character’s names already picked out before you began to write?
Not at all. They came to me as I wrote. In The Speed of Winter, it's a multi-cultural ship, so there are key characters named Elyse, Zulay, Arek, Dima, etc. The characters are entirely invented, but I mostly took the names from people I've known.

Did you have to do any research in order to help you with the writing of this book?

Not too much. It's SF in that it describes things that could really happen, but it's not hard SF - it doesn't go into details about technology, but focuses on the human side.

What made you decide to become a writer?

I've always liked to write. I wrote my first story, "The Orange Donkey", when I was six. (It's on my website for anyone who's curious). I was and am a voracious reader, and always wanted to be on the other side of the book as well.

What genre do you generally write?

I generally write science fiction and fantasy, though I throw in a bit of general fiction from time to time.

Have you ever had second doubts about a story you’ve written?

I've certainly had doubts that the story will find an audience. Some of what I write is experimental, to test a concept - like "Shadow", which is about the immediate aftermath of the steps in an epic quest. And some stories straddle genre boundaries - for example, "Spring and the Arachnodactylist" is about a young man who's in thrall to his books, but breaks free to find love and happiness. It's a mix of romance and fantasy that pretty much everyone likes, but no one wants to publish. The Speed of Winter is pretty dark, but that's where the story wanted to go. The only times I really have doubts about the quality of a story is when I feel I've compromised too much to please critiquers. When I don't feel the story is 'mine' any more, it's time to pull back and start over.

Are there any authors you admire.

Jack Vance is the absolute master of clever word use - he's a joy to read, and he makes you want to write something that's just that much fun. Roger Zelazny's prose was poetic and beautiful and had a similar effect. Arthur C. Clarke was the one that taught me that SF can have real people, not just action heroes. Sherri Tepper invariably writes intelligent, thought-provoking stories. Patricia McKillip is a genius at producing striking moods. I could go on and on.

What are your favorite titles from this or other authors?
I'll read anything by Vance, but if I have to pick one, it's The Languages of Pao, which made me think very differently about language. From Zelazny, I loved the underrated To Die in Italbar, and his masterpiece Lord of Light. For Clarke, it's Imperial Earth. Sherri Tepper's The Gate to Women's Country opened a whole new line of thought for me. From Patricia McKillip, everything is good, but her Riddlemaster of Hed trilogy is terrific.

What did you do to promote your books?

I set up Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon pages, plus a couple of websites, and I've tried to network more consciously. Plus, I've used Kindle Select's promotional periods - The Speed of Winter is free to download 21-22 July - probably the last chance to get it for free. Below are some of the links.Amazon link:
Publisher website:
Press kit:

Author website:
Author Twitter handle: @BMorrisAllen
Author Facebook site:
Author Goodreads site:

Independent reviews:

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