Interview with fantasy author Martha J Allard

Fantasy
author Martha J Allard has
stopped by today to talk about her contemporary fantasy, Black Light.
Bio: 
Martha
J Allard is a writer of contemporary and dark fantasy. Her short fiction has appeared
in magazines like “Talebones” and “Not One of Us.” Her
story “Dust” won an honorable mention in “Year’s Best Science
Fiction,” 19th edition, edited by Gardener Dozois and her story,
“Phase” was nominate for a British Science Fiction Award. They are
both collected in the echapbook “Dust and Other Stories.” You may
also find a selection of her previously published works on Wattpad.com. She was the editor of “Nice
Tattoo, the Magazine of Shadow Fiction.” Her nonfiction has appeared in
the anthologies “Lend the Eye a Terrible Aspect” and “Deaths
Garden.” Her novel, “Black Light” is a tale of love, sacrifice
and rock and roll in the 1980’s is out now and available on amazon and bn.com. You can find her on her blog, marthajallard.blogspot.com.
Welcome,
Martha. Please tell us about your current release.
Los
Angeles, 1983. Trace Dellon knows exactly what he wants: the white heat of the
spotlight. When his band Black Light is offered a record deal, Trace grabs for
it. He will do anything to make it. Bass player Asia Heyes knows what he wants,
too. It’s not fame or the adoration of groupies. It’s Trace. It’s always been
Trace. Though it’s been unspoken between them, Trace’s other lovers—his
audience—push Asia aside. With the record contract, Albrecht Christian comes
into their lives. He has everything but what he needs to live: the energy that
runs just under Trace’s skin. When everything crashes with a bullet, they all
learn the truth. Rock and roll, like magic, requires both love and sacrifice.
What inspired you to write
this book?
When
I was a kid, before the internet, things were very different. I grew up in a
small town in Michigan. I knew I was queer, and in love with my best friend,
and thought I was probably the only one who ever felt that way. Then, one night
I saw David Bowie’s video, “I Am A DJ.” In the video, he kisses a woman, and
then a man (later this was cut out before aired on MTV). At first I was
shocked, then I felt everything in my life click. I wasn’t alone. 
Black Light was very nearly the first
thing I ever tried to write, and it does owe a lot to David Bowie’s music. I
started it because it was the book I wanted to read back then. I put it away
for decades, but the characters never left my head. Trace and Asia were always
in the shadows, waiting for the rest of their story. Bowie’s death, coming less
than six months after my father’s hit me with surprising force. I pulled Black
Light out because I couldn’t concentrate on much else. I began to revise
without even meaning to. It’s still a book about music, but it’s also about how
important it is to become the person you really are, and learning to step out
of the shadows. 
Excerpt from Black Light:
1983, Los Angeles 
Trace Dellon stands in the wings backstage at the Refugee Club, a
narrow shadow. He lights a cigarette, shielding the flame with his hand to
protect the dark. In the full house beyond the curtain, he counts dozens of
reflections of himself. Boys or girls, hair cut spiky with spaghetti-o colored
dye-jobs, all waiting for him. He exhales a lungful of smoke. Every night
there’s more, but it’s not enough, not yet. 
“Trace.” Asia Heyes, Black Light’s bass player calls him from the
doorway to the basement dressing room the band shares. “Weird’s real sick.”
“No he’s not.” Trace turns.
“Yeah. He is. He’s not gonna
be able to play tonight. He should be–”
“He should be shootin’ the hell up, Asia. He’s the guitar player,
and this isn’t fuckin’ Charity’s Place back in Ann Arbor anymore. It’s the
Refugee Club where somebody important could be listening.” Trace moves farther
backstage, past Asia, down the rickety stairs. He smells it, bitter on the air
before he hits the bottom step. Then he hears Weird choking.
Asia is right behind, protesting. “He’s almost clean. Don’t fuck
it up for him.”
Trace doesn’t answer. Instead of going down the short hallway to
the bathroom, he heads into the dressing room. Weird’s guitar case is propped
against the broken down leather couch that sags in one corner. Trace flips it
open. Tucked inside, along with the instrument are Weird’s works, just like
Trace knew they would be. He grabs the pouch and steps around Asia to cross the
hall. Without knocking, Trace opens the bathroom door.
It’s a re-modeled storage closet, too small for three people. Tommi,
their drummer, hovers outside, worry lining his pretty face. 
Weird’s on the floor, back against the wall, arm draped around the
toilet seat, like it’s his best friend. In the buzzing fluorescent light, he
looks ancient, every one of his thirty-seven years are etched into his face.
His skin is the color of spoiled milk. His long red-blond hair is stringy with
sweat. He wipes a hand over his beard, looks up at Trace through slitted eyes
and grins. “Hey Dellon, you gonna hold my hair while I puke some more?”
“Are you’re gonna? I mean, you are gonna be okay, aren’t you?” Tommi’s
face turns even paler as he squeezes himself against the sink to let Trace all
the way in.
“Oh sure.” Weird groans, sucks in some of the sour air. “Yeah, I’m
great.” Then he looks up at Trace again. “Gimme my damn smack.”
“No.” Tommi gasps. “No, Weird.”
Weird stares hard at Trace. “Gimme m’ works, Dellon. Neither one
of them will.”
Trace nods. He hands the pouch over and turns away. 
Asia is leaning against the hand railing of the stairs, shaking
his head as Trace exits the bathroom. “So let him go back to killin’ himself?”
“You think he can play clean, Asia?” Trace says. “You gonna take
that all away from him?”
 “That’s such bullshit.” Asia laughs. “You don’t even care as
long as you get what you want and that’s all that matters.”
Trace looks into Asia’s rust-green eyes and takes a breath. All he
ever gets from Asia anymore is anger and disappointment. Trace won’t apologize
for telling the truth. He reaches up to brush a stray lock of wavy ginger hair
back from his face, but Asia flinches.
 “Whatever you need to
think.” Trace says softly. “It’s done. Get ready for the show.”
He goes back upstairs without waiting for Asia’s answer.
Asia shakes it off. He moves to stand in the doorway. “Wait,
Weird. I can play your shit tonight and Trace can play bass.”
Weird is up, unsteadily leaning against the sink, already cooking
his shit, Tommi looking on, stricken. Weird snickers. “How you think he’s gonna
do that? faggot can’t even walk and chew gum.”
“I don’t care.” Asia knows he’s pleading. He wants to knock the
smack out of Weird’s hand, shake him. Don’t make Trace right, he wants to say.
But he goes back to begging instead. “We can do it.”
“Asia, look, Dellon’s a bastard, but he’s right.” Weird says. His
hands don’t shake at all when he pulls the plunger back on his syringe to suck
the liquefied drug up. “You think that bein’ a junkie’s ruinin’ my life, right?
That I’m tryin’ to kill myself? See, no, because it’s all I am, Asia. No junk,
no music. I’m not giving that up.”
Weird is tying a piece of tubing around his upper arm. He looks
from Asia to Tommi. “You guys got shit to do before we go on, right?”
Not really, Asia thinks, but feels himself give in. He turns away
and Tommi follows him.
What exciting
story are you working on next?
I
am working on a novel called, at the moment, The Night Was Not. It’s a Neo-Victorian story about an airship
Captain, grounded in the one place he never wanted to come back to, his home
town. He lands to investigate the death of a friend, but is drawn into the dark
world of alchemy and freak shows. 
When did you first consider
yourself a writer?
Minutes
after I walked out of Star Wars as a teenager. I walked across the mall hall to
by a notebook and a pen.
Do you write full-time? If
so, what’s your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how
do you find time to write?
I
have a day job. I work at a bookstore. I love being around books, but I spend
every minute of every day that I’m not writing trying to figure out when I can
write. 
Right
now it’s days off or, middle of the night. Waiting in line at the store. I’m
not a very fast writer, so any time I can move a story forward is a good day
for me. 
What would you
say is your interesting writing quirk?
I’m
pretty odd about my notebooks. Spiral bound. They can’t be too thick because my
hand falls off the bottom of the page. They can’t have margins….Oh, and they
have to fit in my bag. And pens. Yeah, use a fountain pen, and I love certain
color inks. I use purple ink as my every day color, and pink for sex…. Also
gray for ghosts. Black Light was notebooks full of pink and grey. 
As a child, what did you
want to be when you grew up?
I’m
not making this up, but a writer. I mean, briefly in high school, what I really
wanted to be was a personal assistant to a rock star. But eventually I realized
that you needed to talk to people to do that, so I went back to writer. 
Anything additional you want
to share with the readers?
If
you’re a reader, thank you! It’s always scary to share something you’ve kept to
yourself for so long. But, by and large, you’ve all made it so easy. And if
you’re also a writer, don’t stop. That’s the lesson I’ve learned. As my friend
Loren Rhoads told me recently, “You’re the only one who can write your story.”
And we need all the stories we can get.
Links:

Thanks for being a guest
today, Martha!

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