Author: Roland Allnach
Genre: Sci Fi
Publisher: All Things That Matter Press
Release Date: Mar 2012
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’, inwhich a hospital worker struggles to regain his memory as he is confronted by a series of desperate people; ‘My Other Me’, inwhich 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.
Where did you come up with the idea for your book?
‘Oddities & Entities’ had its origins in one of the stories contained in the anthology, a tale by the title of ‘Shift/Change’. There’s one line in particular in the story, which also became the tag line for the back cover: “There’s more to this world than flesh and bone.” I didn’t know it at the time, but it opened a whole spectrum of other conjoined thoughts and possibilities.
How did you come up with your characters?
For the most part, I rely on a method of story creation that centers on the character first, and the story second. As a result, my writing is compelled by the characters and their various inclinations. I try to keep a little roster of characters in my head, and I summon them by playing with different aspects of human behavior, and exploring how that might shape the rest of a personality. Once I have that basic impression of a character, I let it breathe in my head until I come up with a story idea that blends with the character.
Who did you show your first draft to and why?
My wife always gets the first peek. That’s her privilege after all the patience she’s invested in watching me plug away as an author.
Do you have plans to a follow up?
Absolutely. I already have a few stories for a second volume of ‘Oddities & Entities’, which I plan on giving the subtitle of ‘Vessels’. For this second volume I plan on exploring the nebulous space that both separates and binds consciousness with our physical forms. There will be more ventures into the supernatural, and paranormal, with a confluence of horror.
Open your book to a random page and tell us the first paragraph…
The pages fan by, my eyes are closed, and here I am at page 132. This lands toward the beginning of “Elmer Phelps”, the fifth story of the anthology. In this part Elmer, a shy young man who shares a strange past with his sister, is out on his own and struggling through his first encounter with a waitress who will later become his one anchor to sanity.
What do you like to read? Do you only read the genre you write in?
I like to think I have an open mind when it comes to fiction, but I have to admit that stories that have some edge of strangeness have a much better chance to grab me. So, in that regard, I do tend to dwell on genre material, spanning sci-fi, some fantasy, and a little old school Gothic horror. Otherwise, I go back to my mainstay of classical literature, which not only tutors my literary efforts but nurtures my appreciation for masterful prose. That said, I guess I have a somewhat eclectic reading list, moving from the likes of Homer and Tolstoy to William Gibson and Tolkien.
Where do you go to escape?
Nature is my escape. Whether it’s watching trees as I go for a walk or sitting on a beach watching the water, the tranquility of Nature never fails to still all the nonsense of the world crowding into my head so that the creative channels can open wide.
Do you have a favorite story in ‘Oddities & Entities’?
Of the six stories, I think “Elmer Phelps” is my favorite. While the last story, “Appendage”, sows the anthology together, I love the way the character of Elmer and the surreal madness in which he finds himself entwined blow things apart into a very strange, very twisted world.
What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
In a single word, persistence. The arc of publication is one filled with labors, but they should be labors of love. As an author one has the rare opportunity to fashion an entire world of people and events and share that with readers. When things seem insurmountable, remember the effort invested in what you’ve created, and use that to fire your will to push on. It’s a long road to write, polish, submit, secure a publisher, edit, see publication, and then pursue the endless craft of marketing the book. Be mentally prepared for the tasks at hand. Failure of resolve is probably responsible for the obscurity of more books and authors than any other factor.
Would you recommend self publishing or main stream publishing for first time novelists?
I would never say to turn away from the main stream, because the reality is that big publishers still have open access to opportunities that everyone else must work hard to reach. On the other hand, one of the heavy lessons I learned with my first book is that marketing a book is a huge undertaking, and one that has to be learned. Going a little smaller the first time around can afford more time to learn the ropes of the market, rather than going out on a prime time stage with no clear idea of how to utilize and exploit that opportunity.
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By nature he has a do-it-yourself type of personality, and his creative inclinations started with art and evolved to the written word.
Since making the decision to pursue a career as an author, he's secured publication for a number of short stories, 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, followed in 2012 by his second anthology, Oddities & Entities, also from All Things That Matter Press. Both books have gone on to receive a number of national awards, including National Indie Excellence Awards, Readers Favorite Book of the Year Awards, and USA Book News Best Book Awards.
His writing can best be described as depicting strange people involved in perhaps stranger situations. He prefers to let his stories follow their own path. His writing is 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's willing to go along for the ride. He hopes to bring the same to his own fiction.
Places to find Roland