My latest book is Dark Places, a collection of thirteen short stories and thirteen poems, all with a dark theme. I’m not sure why I like to write this type of story, to be honest. I’m generally an upbeat, happy sort of person – too laid back to let things get to me. I’m always making jokes and having a laugh. Perhaps it’s because I write such things? The darkness is vented in my work so there’s only light left?
I doubt it, but it’s a thought. I’m normally a very positive person. I call Sin my ‘Dark Half’, so maybe he’s writing them!
The poems contained therein were, actually, written during a time where I wasn’t so positive. Things weren’t going well in my life and various things prompted various poems. The memory of how I was treated by my natural father. Loves lost. I’m sure everyone has these twilight periods to battle through. I didn’t exactly find solace in the words, but I couldn’t seem to write anything else at the time. The stories are different. I can be at my happiest (as I am now) and still produce a piece with shadows and death. I find poetry to be much more personal and so it reflects how I feel at that moment. With a story, I follow the path of the characters, and they have their own moods unencumbered by my own.
As I’m meant to be working on the sequel to Sin, my Muse thinks it mighty hilarious to put all sorts of other ideas into my head and I need to give them form to clear the mist for Sin to continue with his adventure. Hence, I wrote I Am Death. Like a lot of my work, it grew from just the first sentence. I don’t necessarily have any idea what the story will be as I’m writing. It turns out however it turns out. This happened with Sin and with the majority of his blog posts (he has his own diary at http://singularityspoint.blogspot.com).
I Am Death began with, simply, ‘I think...’ and the result was a tale of Death contemplating life as he prepares to take his next soul. My wife saw a writing competition in one of her magazines and said I should enter. The Last Dance was written for this. It didn’t win, but, when my wife read it, it brought a tear to her eye. A friend of mine told me that, when she was 9, her cousin said the sink overflow was where the dragons went in. I used her exact words for the beginning of ‘There Be Dragons’ without any idea of how it would go.
So, it can take very little to inspire me. I go with the flow, caught up by the current of something I’m not entirely in control of.
The idea of the collection came from a fellow writer. She asked me to look at something she’d written ‘while in a dark place’. I suddenly HAD to write using that title, and the collection came together soon after, with the addition of stories that I couldn’t stop writing. I had the bit between my teeth and was being led along at a real pace. The themes of darkness becoming real, of reality and surreality being intertwined, of the helplessness of being pushed to events you can’t control, were almost a whirlwind of words that were finding an outlet through my fingers.
If you know what I mean...
A friend at work created an original watercolour inspired by the stories, and this is featured in the book. It’s between the contents and the first poem and acts as a doorway to the darkness within.
I had started to write a prequel to Sin, intending it to be nothing but a short. I wanted to include it in Dark Places but was asked ‘what about Joy?’ I was halfway through what was to become Prelude, then, and stopped. They were right. What about Joy? Joy is Sin’s sister, and appears in the book as a ghost – either to help or hinder him. She disappears just when he seems to need her most and is unable to give him real information, so has to resort to guidance that frustrates and angers her brother. Suffering a mirror image of Sin’s ‘talent’, Joy has committed suicide. But what of her origins? I wrote Joy to give her that voice, that chance to tell it from her side.
Fittingly, I think, Joy became the final piece in the collection, a place she deserves.
The reaction to Dark Places has been wonderful, with comments such as: “The descriptive passages create fabulous imagery,” and “The author's portrayal of death could lead you to believe he'd actually experienced it.” I’m hoping it has the same success that Sin has enjoyed but, either way, I sincerely enjoyed creating it.
Dark Places can be found on Amazon at:
And at Smashwords at: http://bit.ly/ShaunAllanSW
And in paperback form at: http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/shaunallan
The ebook and signed copies are available from the bookstore on my website: http://www.shaunallan.co.uk/bookstore.php