Monday, August 2, 2010

Interview with Andy Frankham-Allen

Available at Untreed Reads Publishing

Briefly describe your journey in writing your first book. 
My first, 100% me, book was/is Seeker, which is the first of four books in The Garden Saga. I’ve been writing professionally on and off since 2004, which a few dippings of the toe into ePublishing along the way via my own series of novellas called The Legacy, and then as co-editor (and co-founder) of the genre eZine, Pantechnicon. It was while working on the eZine that I decided to take off and focus on writing my book. This took me three drafts and year to do, after which I optioned it out to a Writing Agency. Nothing came of this, but that was ok since by then I had had some fantastic response from a BBC Script Editor friend of mine (we were provisionally working on turning Seeker into a TV proposal - which we will get back to one day).  After I removed myself from the agency I heavily re-wrote the book (pretty much from scratch) and self-published a trial version. My promoting of this edition led me to Jay at Untreed Reads who showed interest in my work, and so I pitched several stories out. And so far he’s accepted all but one of them, the first of which is the long-short story Off Flesh which has just been published by Untreed.

What genre are your books?  Do you write in more than one genre?
I’ve tried my hand at all kinds of genres, but I tend to gravitate more towards horror. Not of the blood and gore kind, but rather the macabre, observing the world through a shattered piece of glass. That said, I have written science fiction, too (most prominently with my Doctor Who work, as well as my audio drama for Noise Monster Productions). My longer work, the novellas up, are usually cross-genre, since I love to dip in and out. Genre today is not as easy to pigeon-hole as it used to be, which is a fantastic thing, since by throwing so many different genres into the pot we get to create brand new sub-genres.

Did you query agents and traditional publishers?  Did you receive an offer of representation or a book contract?
I’ve been quite lucky so far in so much as I’ve not needed an agent. As mentioned, I did once sign up to a Writers’ Agency, but that proved to be no big shakes so I soon returned to doing it myself. With my Doctor Who work I got to know the range editor of the anthologies, and he learned about my writing and so offered me a chance to submit some work. Which I duly did, and ended up writing three short stories for Big Finish Books. With my audio drama I pimped myself out at an industry party, and almost got the gig for a four-CD series, but that fell through, and as a consolation prize I was asked to write for Noise Monster’s fledgling Space 1889 series. As for Untreed, that all came from me pimping my wares on Facebook, and bumping into Jay there. So, yeah, so far so lucky.

What factors influenced your decision to sign with Untreed Reads?
I first emailed Jay about my work, offering my services up for editorial duties, should he require an extra eye. This led to him suggesting I submit some stories, which I did. I prefer indie publishers, since they tend to look after the authors more, are much more personable and not driven by the big buck sign. Not to say it’s a free ride, ‘cause obviously it’s not, but indie publishers like Untreed are more focused on the passion of the art, getting to know their authors. Untreed offer a great deal for new authors, and are willing to take risks. They also push their stuff out to pretty much every eBook retailer out there, and that kind of exposure in an author’s dream.

How involved are you during the creative process for your book’s cover?
You know, it’s funny, since when Jay accepted Off Flesh a cover never even occurred to me, it being to my mind a short story. At the time of commission Untreed’s policy was that any story over 5k was a novella, and thus since Off Flesh came in 700+ words more it was considered a novella by Jay and thus it needed a cover. Jay emailed me and asked if I had any cover ideas – a bad thing to ask me, do have I have ideas? My brain is teeming with them! So, yep, I did, but the idea I came up with was a little too gross for Jay who didn’t think some readers would appreciate it. So he had came up with another idea, which I liked and we went with that.

How did you feel when you got your first sale? 
Ah! 2004. I was ecstatic, you couldn’t shut me up! I told everyone, kept on about it constantly. To the point where a slightly-jaded author kind of came down on me about it. I told him, “if you lose the fire and the fun of writing, then maybe you ought to give it up”, and that’s a creed I still live by. Every subsequent sale, be it with Big Finish, Noise Monster, Untreed Reads, always fills me with joy and a sense of success. If I didn’t love writing I wouldn’t carry on. And I’ll never lose the love for the craft, thus I’m going nowhere.

What kinds of social media [twitter, Facebook, webpage, blog, writing forums] are you involved with trying to garner attention for your book(s)?
Primarily I stick with Facebook (!/pages/Andy-Frankham-Allen/349512661191) and Good Reads (, but I’ve just started my own blog (, so we’ll see how that pans out. I’m terrible at keeping a blog, it’s too much like keeping a diary and I tire of it easily. The way I see it is if I get too involved with internet communities then I’ll most likely end up spending too much time on them and not enough on actually writing. Which would be self-defeating. That said, I recently joined two genre forums to peddle my works, so I don’t know, maybe over time I’ll become more and more involved.

How do you feel about the world of digital publishing?  Do you think it will replace traditional publishing one day?
At first I was a bit ambivalent, despite the fact that I’ve been involved in electronic publishing since 2001, but it’s a growing market so it can’t be a bad thing. Anything that gets more books out there has to be a good thing. I’ve been a reader my whole life, and there’s little that’s more enjoyable in this world than escaping away from the chaos of life than with a good book. As for will it replace traditional publishing? In all truth, no I do not believe it will. There’s something intricately personal about print publishing; holding the book, smelling the freshly printed pages! Electronic books cannot compare. Totally different markets and different experience.

What’s next for you?
Well, hopefully next month will see the release of two more long-shorts from Untreed; Reflection and One Mistake, both macabre little tales about life. Untreed and I have only recently signed the contract for the electronic rights for Seeker, so that will be along in a few months – which is a HUGE deal for me, since The Garden Saga is my love affair with all things real and supernatural. I cannot wait to see that out worldwide; I have some amazing feedback on it so far (people have cried over it, argued about characters, and one author wrote a review in which she said it was the best book she had read this year – which left me speechless. A very rare thing!). I’m hoping to interest another indie publisher to pick up the print rights, so fingers crossed on that. On top of all this, I have some more proposals with Untreed, and I’m currently working on four short stories, a novella (which I’m co-authoring with Noah Bogdonoff), as well as writing book two of The Garden Saga. There’s also one more hush-hush project in the wings, but I’m not allowed to talk about that until the contract is signed, but I have high hopes for it, so keep those eyes peeled.