Alan Williams Interview
Posted on 07 September 2015. © Copyright 2004-2024 WriteWords
WriteWords talks to WW member TassieDevil aka Alan Williams
Tell us something about your background.
I donít really have a writing background,but a hobby that Iíve chosen to focus on about three years ago. My degree is in Biology and my career paths have been in Science teaching (Australia) and Financial Services Management (in the UK).
In my youth Iíve written plays that were performed in outback NSW, produced articles and edited a corporate magazine. I also was on the fringe of writing for DC comics with a character I dreamed up however both I and the editor moved on before it went anywhere. I did manage to visit both Marvel and DC offices in New York and discuss story lines with various editors. It was one of those What If scenarios. I chose a more profitable steady paid job in the end.
Since deciding to follow my dream of being published in 2012, Iíve concentrated of short stories for the Womag market (Womenís magazines) as well as some childrenís stories. I write across most genres; romance, humour, fantasy, crime, ghost/supernatural, science fiction (without the space ships), dramas, heart-warmers, thrillers, twists and probably a few others.
My active list at the moment include some light, fluffy Womag stories about dating, lost loves, teenage drama, as well as a childrenís adventure where a girl goes into the Dreamworld to prevent a disaster in the real world.
My main focus today is a compilation story called When Gravity Went Wild using the same characters in a follow up science fiction/adventure/thriller/crime to a story Iíve just sold called The Vanishing. At this point Iíd thank Catkin on WW for the throw away idea of this story and the support and encouragement of other Womenís Fiction members and FFD members. I owe a lot to WW members.
How did you start writing?
Like most other writers the answer would have to be as a child. My parents encouraged reading widely although I must acknowledge the inspiration, imagination and, surprisingly, the vocabulary I found in comics. I wrote my first SF story in fourth grade as a school project on canals involving time travel. Yeah boring canals.
By ten I was writing and illustrating my own super-hero comics. I guess that influence still comes through in my more imaginative tales. I had an ongoing comic strip published in Australia that I wrote and illustrated. Writing is much easier than sketching.
Who are your favourite writers and why?
Many of the comic writers of the sixties through to the eighties. Gardener Fox, John Broome, Stan Lee, Denny OíNeill, Alan Moore, Roy Thomas (whom I had the pleasure of meeting). Gardner Fox was an acclaimed SF writer as well as doing comics. He wrote an early Justice League story called When Gravity Went Wild. I took this same title for the inspiration of my latest story. Titles are very important to me.
Adventure writers like Burroughs, W E Johns Biggles books, SF writers such as Asimov, Harlan Ellison, Fred Hoyle, Jules Verne, H G Wells, John Wyndham and my strongest influence, Ray Bradbury.
Recently Cussler and Clancy for their off the wall adventures and a little known writer, Brad Meltzer for skilfully crafted novels like The Zero Game and Graphic Novels like Identity Crisis (a comic that redefined the Justice League in a controversial adult world).
Womenís Magazine writers that I admire for their imaginations and skills in writing include Della Galton and Christine Sutton. Iíve learnt a great deal from their writing and continuing friendship.
How did you get your first agent/ commission?
I forwarded two stories to an Australian magazine in May 2012 and couldnít believe it when one was commissioned a month later. I still have the e-mail and memories of my elation from that initial sale. It was the first submission Iíd made since deciding to be serious about writing. Although Iíd won various comps this was the first time I realised that I had the skills to write seriously. If someone thinks enough of your work to pay you then that is the best endorsement I could hope for.
Eight months after my first submission of a childrenís story, it was accepted and I was paid immediately. Those two early successes have given me the confidence to continue writing and submitting.
Iím now a regular contributor to that Australian magazine despite two changes of editor.
What's the worst thing about writing?
The loneliness. In reality the only chance to share my ideas and successes are with my family and Write Words. France is not a hotbed of writing groups. Obviously the rejection letters are disappointing but as Harlan Ellison wrote in Pain God, (and I paraphrase here) one canít appreciate the elation of Ďacceptancesí without experiencing the pain of failures.
And the best?
Knowing that some editor appreciates your ideas, your writing talents and the characters that youíve imbued with life. To have recognition, albeit on a small scale. To realise others might read and hopefully enjoy your work. Finally to be able to hold you head up when asked ĎWhat do you do?í and answer with pride, ďIím an author.Ē
Tell us what kind of responses you get from audiences\ readers.
I havenít been fortunate enough to have feedback from the general public. However friends indicate that my writing style is similar to other Australian authors and this might explain my particular success in that continent. I acknowledge that a lot of my writing is unconventional.
Reading one of my stories aloud to a group of English writers resulted in stares of amazement and no comments at all. I felt like leaving the room at that point. My writing is not for everyone.
Probably the best observation that sums up my work was from an editor (the one who gave me my first commission).
ĎAlan,í he said. ĎThe most polite word I can use for your writing is quirky.í
And Iím happy with that.
In so far as that Ďquirkinessí gives me a uniqueness, Iím not afraid to push the boundaries with any story ideas.
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