Interview with Jeffrey B. Allen

Jen: This week we welcome Jeffrey B. Allen to Book Talk. Jeffrey, will you please share a short bio with us?
Jeffrey: Born: New Bedford, Massachusetts, 1953.

After moving with my family nine times, I graduated High School from Central Bucks East in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. It was 1971.

I studied art at Bloomsburg University for two years before attending Boston University where I majored in history and minored in set design and fine art. A one year hiatus in the form of a hitchhiking trip helped appease my restless and inquisitive nature. I attribute that early journey to laying the foundations for my strong views on politics and religion. Later, I traveled through Europe and Mexico forming some strong opinions concerning the interpretation of historical fact that obscures the truths underlying foreign and American cultures and the tangled relationships they have and have had to religion. Those years of learning, searching, and questioning have contributed greatly to the philosophical depth of my writing.

I graduated from Millersville State University in architectural design and taught for two years while also working toward my Masters degree at Temple University in Philadelphia. After a brief teaching career, I created my own architectural woodworking firm in 1980.

By 1982, I was owner and president of Artistic Furnishings Incorporated, a design house and manufacturer of custom architectural millwork. The company employed designers, artisans and support staff. My work can be seen throughout eastern Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey in private residences and businesses.

Today, I reside in Bethlehem Pennsylvania where I still work in the field of interior space planning, although much of my time is devoted to writing.

Jen: Tell us about Gone Away Into the Land and where it’s available.

Jeffrey: Gone Away Into the Land is about a twelve year old boy, John, who suffers under an oppressive and abusive father name Daniel Greber. After a horrific episode of violence, John awakens in a confusing place. He is conflicted by his memory of what happened and the account given him by his mother, who also suffered a beating during the episode. Paramount to this is that Greber stole away with John’s younger sister, Marny.

From that point on in the book the reader is slowly pulled into John’s vow to avenge the abuse, find his sister, Marny and bring an end to his father and the reign of terror. He appropriately names his father, the Beast. The journey begins. As others who have read the book say: “Allen’s writing is extremely powerful, particularly his imagery and masterful descriptions such as when John meets up with “The Beast.” And when all’s said and done, we have a novel that is not only amazingly fitting for our times, but one that is rich and rewarding for anyone, young or old, wishing to ponder over insightful questions pertaining to our existence and journey through life.

John steadily grows more confident, indicating that he is growing older. The layer of horror that was the history of his mother Ellie’s life and his own, slowly peal away, further drawing the reader into a philosophical story that transcends the usual fantasy novel. Again I quote: “Using his own unique style and voice, Jeffrey B. Allen with Gone Away Into the Land has really stretched the limits of the traditional fantasy novel. Shifting in and out of fantasy, Allen cleverly intertwines the theme of child and spousal abuse with a land of the unknown.”

The book can be purchase from Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble.com and many independent bookstores around the country. If they do not have it on the shelf it can easily be ordered. ISBN-978-1-933300-52-3

Jen: At what age did you discover writing and when were you first published? Tell us your call story.

Jeffrey: I was first published in 2008. Gone Away Into the Land is my first novel. I always enjoyed writing and I took a lot of time to self teach myself the techniques of good writing. I wrote all through my schooling. I wrote for the newspaper, the school newsletters and I wrote extensively within my field of architectural design. I am still a long away from where I want to be as a writer, but the reviews and comments coming back from my readers are very encouraging, telling me that many are surprised that this is my debut novel. As one reviewer put it:

Gone Away Into the Land is a riveting tale of not just John’s epic journey, but also our journey through life. The vivid description of “The Beast” is incredible. The remarkable journey is chilling, haunting, and mysterious as it takes the reader to a place with unforgettable consequences. John Greber tugs at the reader’s heart as much as Trevor does in PAY IT FORWARD.

Jeffrey B. Allen’s Gone Away Into the Land transforms into an action – packed adventure that explodes with spectacular special effects, and the reader will indulge into an awe-inspiring experience as if viewing one of Steven Spielberg’s finest!

Jen: Describe your writing in three words.

Jeffrey: Honest philosophical fiction.

Jen: Do you have a writing routine?

Jeffrey: Yes, I write when I feel emotional, distraught, sad, angry, elated, and repentant. I edit when I feel complacent, tired, uninspired, and lazy.

GoneAway Into the LandJen: What’s the most challenging aspect of writing? Easiest?

Jeffrey: The most challenging aspect, I thought was the construction of a series of sentences that would hold a reader’s attention and inspire him or her to read more. I found out that promoting a finished novel is much harder; yet it is made easier if the book is well written and timely. Unfortunately, most first time authors do not find that out until we promote our work.

The easiest thing is to say: someday I want to write a book, and then never follow through on that goal.

Jen: What’s the most rewarding aspect?

Jeffrey: I would have to say having people tell me that they cannot put the down after the first one hundred pages, and that they absolutely will refuse any and all interruption during the last one hundred pages.

Jen: Do you do anything special to celebrate a sale, new contract, or release?

Jeffrey: I am looking for an agent. In the absence of a good agent I am enlisting the help of a publicist.

Once the ball is rolling in either of those directions I am sure I will learn the fine art of celebrating. I have never celebrated any of my achievements because I cannot bring myself to view them as achievements. A goal achieved is only a platform for another goal unachieved. It is the way I live my life. It is for that reason that the word retirement is so repugnant to me.

Truthfully, I have as many failures in my life as successes, and I view all as rewarding experiences.

Jen: Is there a genre that you’d like to write?

Jeffrey: Philosophical fiction. My novels will always deal with the infinite spaces I believe exist between life and death. I am a strong believer in the journey of life extending into a timeless experience that, if embraced, brings into question the world we think of as reality. The most striking thing about human existence is that we use the knowledge of our own mortality against ourselves and our fellow man. The instant, in our evolution, when we became self aware altered our existence as a member-species of our planet. Many of us look at our personal achievements as they break down into the decades of our anticipated longevity.

My stories will bend that awareness and take away the fear and the worship of our mortality as we transcend this life and move to another plane of existence without the knowledge of having ever done so. My novels will also explore the past life and the energy that fortunately or unfortunately follows us where ever we go. In Gone Away Into the Land, John, the twelve year old boy must reconcile his life, and find answers to deeply seated questions that have haunted him. His problems become universal to the human condition making the story relevant. One last thing. My novels will always be fun to read. I am never preachy. In fact it will be difficult for many readers to find the subliminal messages embedded in the story. This, I think is another reason why so many readers are finding different ways of describing there experience of reading Gone Away Into the Land.

Jen: Where do you draw your inspiration?

Jeffrey: From my own life. My tragedies, my childhood, my triumphs, my loves and loves lost,

My fears, and last but not least my imagination. My imagination has always slanted toward the surreal.

Jen: Do you have a favorite character or one that you identify most with?

Jeffrey: In Gone Away Into the Land, I became intimate with every character. I still think about them as if they exist in my life, as if at any time I could sit down and write a conversation with one of them and they would answer me back as if they were sitting across the table from me.

My favorite character is the hero, John. He is the one the takes the journey, and he is the one who will ultimately fail or triumph. I live with John everyday.

Jen: What’s next for you?

Jeffrey: I am writing another book called Beneath the Quarry Waters. I hope to have it published by the end of the year.

Jen: Where can you be found on the web?

Jeffrey: I have a website. http://www.jeffreyBallen.com. From there one can link to all the online booksellers. My publisher’s web site, facebook or myspace.

Jen: Do you have anything you’d like to ask our readers?

Jeffrey: Yes. Is it really true what the publishers are telling me? Is the American reader so impatient that it has become risky to publish a book with more that 100,000 words? Gone Away Into the Land has 153,000 words and most readers are flying through it and enjoying the experience, however, when I initially sent out my manuscript, Gone Away Into the Land, to publishers, I received back plenty of letters telling me that they were only considering manuscripts of 100,000 words or less. I hope the American reader is not becoming so impatient with reading to such a degree that unless the story grabs their attention in the first fifty pages they will put it away and go for something else. And I hope that if they see a book that is over 300 pages long they will not opt for something shorter. Just a hope that reading stay alive in our electronic society.

Jen: Thanks so much for being our guest at Book Talk this week. Readers, Jeffrey will be here to answer your questions this week and is giving away an ecopy of Gone Away Into the Land to a random commenter. Leave a comment before Thursday, January 15 and you’ll be entered in the contest. And please consider leaving your email address in your post or subscribing to the followup comments so it will be easier for us to reach you if you’re the winner.