Friday, February 8, 2013

Author Interview: Oddities & Entities' by Roland Allnach

Describe your book in five words or less.
A trip beyond everyday reality.

How did the ideas for your books come to you?
My books and stories tend to evolve from the characters I develop in my head, and the various eccentricities they possess. Exploring those attributes, and then pushing them beyond the limits of the ordinary world, opens the door for stranger ideas that eventually lend form to plot and theme. For Oddities & Entities, the process started with a single line from one of the stories in the book, “Shift/Change”, and it happens to be the quote on the back of the book: “There’s more to this world than flesh and bone.”

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
There are several themes over the course of the book, but, as a singular message, it would be to keep an open mind that there may be realities beyond our own, just out of reach, but nevertheless intersecting our lives in ways we may not perceive or understand. In short, keep an open mind, and understand that what we know is not all there is to know.

What is the hardest part of writing for you? What's the easiest?
The hardest part, if I would call it ‘hard’, is the effort I invest in fleshing out my characters, so that I can portray them as substantive, believable people while writing their stories. The easiest thing I find, and perhaps the most enjoyable, is writing dialogue for characters that I feel have been realized in full. It’s an interesting mind game, splitting my thoughts between two voices, and then letting them engage in an interchange of ideas.

What's next for you? Are you currently working on or have plans for future projects?
I’m always working on several things at once, so that I never find myself with an empty slate. I separate ideas into two groups. First are ideas that are incubating, and so sitting in the back of my head, where I can explore them without any real commitment to form or substance. Second are the ideas that I’ve inhabited with characters that are ready to roll, and speak their part. Those are the ideas that engage the actual writing process, and become specific works. Right now I’m working on several pieces, including two sci-fi books, an anthology of published short work and unpublished fantasy pieces, and even some mainstream fiction.

Why did you choose to write for specific genre?
Even though the publishing world operates on genre classifications, and genre classifications are the easiest way for readers to identify works of potential interest, I don’t embark on any project with the idea of it inhabiting a particular genre. I explore what I want to do, and where it fits is somewhat of an afterthought. To me the only successful stories, regardless of their content and subject matter, are the stories that seem real to their characters, and so feel real to readers, thereby drawing them in to the written work. All that said, however, I know that most of my published work veers toward the speculative and strange, in all their wonderful incarnations. I just find it more interesting to take an idea and extrapolate it past the boundaries we know, to see where it goes. It’s an exercise of the magical question “What if?”, and it has no limits.

What's it like hearing that readers are eagerly awaiting your book's release date?
Feedback of that nature is perhaps the most flattering compliment for any author. For readers to await your next written work means that you have succeeded in communicating with people in your own unique way, a way that at the same time readers find interesting. Unlike movies or music, books don’t speak for themselves until they are opened, and they relate to readers on a much more personal level. I think that intimacy is what fosters the loyalty of readers, and perhaps is part of the motivation for authors to invest the effort required by the writing process.

What is one question that you've always wanted to be asked in an interview? How would you answer that question?
It’s something that is probably obvious to anyone involved in the creative process, but perhaps not so to those outside of that process. The question would be, given the challenges of the publication world, why take on such a goal? My question to that lies at the core of being an author. Writing is a passion for me, but of greater importance is that writing is something I feel compelled to do. Yes, seeing a work through to publication is a wonderful feeling, but even without that reward I would still write to experience the joy of putting the final period on a story. Writing isn’t just something I want to do; it’s something I need to do.

What was your road to publications like?
Well, I would say it’s been marked with aimless stops and starts--until I convinced myself to approach it as I would any other professional pursuit. In days gone by I was enamored with the big dream of getting an agent, nabbing a big book contract, and going on my way. That’s a fantasyland, more than anything else. When I finally looked at things from a realistic point of view, I realized I had the benefit of sitting on a stable of short stories. So, I figured I would build my writing resume by accumulating short story publication credits, perhaps win some awards, and then segue into books by showing myself as a market worthy author. It was a patient plan, but I think it’s worked out well. Since late 2007, when I started the whole pursuit, I’ve seen fourteen published stories, two published books, and received seven national book awards. I have to pinch myself sometimes, because what I’ve managed to accomplish seems too good to be true. Nevertheless, the persistence and diligence required for publication success is a humbling process, and I’m very grateful to everyone along the way who has afforded me the opportunity to present my work.

About the Author:

Roland Allnach has been writing since his early teens, first as a hobby, but as the years passed, more as a serious creative pursuit. He is an avid reader, with his main interests residing in history, mythology, and literary classics, along with some fantasy and science fiction in his earlier years. Although his college years were focused on a technical education, he always fostered his interest in literature, and has sought to fill every gap on his bookshelves.

By nature a do-it-yourself type of personality, his creative inclinations started with art and evolved to the written word. The process of creativity is a source of fascination for him, and the notion of bringing something to being that would not exist without personal effort and commitment serves not only as inspiration but as fulfillment as well. So whether it is writing, woodwork, or landscaping, his hands and mind are not often at rest.

Over the years he accumulated a dust laden catalog of his written works, with his reading audience limited to family and friends. After deciding to approach his writing as a profession, and not a hobby, the first glimmers of success came along. Since making the decision to move forward, he has secured publication for a number of short stories, has received a nomination for inclusion in the Pushcart Anthology, built his own website, and in November 2010 realized publication for an anthology of three novellas, titled Remnant, from All Things That Matter Press. Remnant has gone on to favorable critical review and placed as Finalist/Sci-fi, 2011 National Indie Excellence Awards; Bronze Medalist, Sci-Fi, 2012 Readers Favorite Book of the Year Awards; and Award Winner-Finalist, Sci-Fi, 2012 USA Book News Best Book Awards. Roland’s second publication, Oddities & Entities, also from All Things That Matter Press, followed in March 2012. It, too, has received favorable critical review, and is the recipient of four awards: Bronze Medalist, Horror, and Finalist, Paranormal, 2012 Readers Favorite Book of the Year Awards; Award Winner-Finalist, Fiction/Horror and Fiction/Anthologies, 2012 USA Book News Best Book Awards.

His writing can best be described as depicting strange people involved in perhaps stranger situations. He is not devoted to any one genre of writing. Instead, he prefers to let his stories follow their own path. Classification can follow after the fact, but if one is looking for labels, one would find his stories in several categories. Sometimes speculative, other times supernatural, at times horror, with journeys into mainstream fiction, and even some humor- or perhaps the bizarre. Despite the category, he aims to depict characters as real on the page as they are in his head, with prose of literary quality. His literary inspirations are as eclectic as his written works- from Poe to Kate Chopin, from Homer to Tolkien, from Flaubert to William Gibson, from Shakespeare to Tolstoy, as long as a piece is true to itself, he is willing to go along for the ride. He hopes to bring the same to his own fiction.


About the Book:

‘Oddities & Entities’ is a surreal, provocative anthology of six tales within the supernatural/ paranormal/horror genres, exploring a definition of life beyond the fragile vessel of the human body. The stories are: ‘Boneview’, in which a young woman struggles to balance her ability to see through people with the presence of a supernatural creature in her life; ‘Shift/Change’, in which a hospital worker struggles to regain his memory as he is confronted by a series of desperate people; ‘My Other Me’, in which a lonely college student finds himself displaced from his body by his alter ego; ‘Gray’, in which a frustrated man is stunned to discover a little creature has been living in his head; ‘Elmer Phelps’, in which a brother and sister find themselves linked in a strange reality by a bat bite in their youth; and lastly, ‘Appendage’, in which a cynical mercenary is hired by his son to protect a research lab on the verge of a stunning discovery.

Praise for Oddities & Entities:

“Oddities & Entities” by Roland Allnach, categorized as horror fiction, is unlike any other horror fiction I have ever encountered. The book is comprised of six stories, each of which is written a cut above the norm. There are no recognizable monsters in these stories, no sophomoric zombies, no evil ancient vampires, and none of the standard fare I have become accustomed to in the horror genre. I do like the usual run of the horror genre, but this book is written with thoughtful intelligence, for an intelligent adult reader. I do not mean to imply sexual situations or coarse language. What I mean is, any intelligent reader, capable of deep thought, will find this book irresistible. The six individual stories are as unlike as any six stories can be, yet each one is so sufficiently well-written that, if sold as individual short stories, I wouldn’t hesitate to award 5 stars to each of them.

To say I like this book is a crass understatement. Each story drew me in and evoked my empathy for various characters. These stories forced me to actually think beyond what I was reading. Each premise was unique, at least in my experience; I have never encountered any other stories that even approach the situations these present with authority and authenticity. If I could boil down my perception of this book into a single word, that word would be WOW! Roland Allnach’s first anthology, “Remnant”, which I have also read, was placed as a finalist in the Science Fiction category in the 2011 National Indie Excellence Awards. I absolutely expect “Oddities & Entities” to follow suit. If you read only one book this year, make it this one. Be prepared to have your comfort zone challenged.

– Readers Favorite (


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