Pro-File: Doug Allyn
1. Tell us about your current novel or project.
I tend to work on several things simultaneously, and have just finished a pair of not-so-short stories, (12K words each.) They’ll simmer a bit before a final edit, then off into the ether.
2. Can you give us a sense of what you’re working on now? For openers, I’m basking in the glow of the term ‘sense.’ being used in reference to my work, even peripherally. I’ve long been convinced that some of my stories do make sense… But I digress. At the moment, I’m assembling a cast for a new novel. The villain’s already in view, the others are still lurking in the shadows. I hope they bring a story with them, because at this point, I haven’t a clue what it will be.
3. What is the greatest pleasure of a writing career?
Actually, this moment is pretty close to it. A novel in its embryonic stage, when all things are still possible. The plot and characters are fresh, the dialogue crackles, and the scenes are falling neatly and inexorably into place, one after another. Bob Parker died at his desk. I hope his story was working. I can’t think of a better way to go. Really.
4. The greatest displeasure? That would be the feeling that follows the initial creative rush, when you’re halfway into the book, and realize that your brilliant shipwreck scene was done better on Gilligan’s Island and your heroine is way too Xena Warrior Princess. The cure? More work. If this gig was easy, everybody would do it. And like sex; even when it’s bad, it’s still pretty good.
5. Advice to the publishing world? Enough with the vampires. On New Years Eve my love nibbled my neck and I ran shrieking from the room.
6. Are there any forgotten mystery writers you’d like to see in print again?
Sure. Stephen Becker (Covenant with Death) John O’Hara (And Other Stories) A wonderful thing about the Net is that you can find almost any book ever printed, if you’re willing to pay shipping costs from New freaking Zealand or wherever.
7. Tell us about selling your first novel. Selling any novel is a major rush, but that first one? Wow. Ruth Cavin of St. Martin’s bought my first book. When my agent gave me the news, I was over the moon. But… A few weeks later, I had dinner with Ruth in the City to seal the deal, and she was so charming, and so erudite, that I realized how unprepared I was, and that I would have to raise the level of my game to have any hope of success. I’m still working on that.
PS. What I said about dying at my desk? I meant that. But I’m no hurry. I’m having way too much fun. Every aspect of the entertainment industry, including publishing, has been disrupted by the colossal impact of the Web on lifestyles world wide. In time, it will sort itself out. (Maybe.) But in the meanwhile, all writers can do, is write. Which is what we do anyway.
On good days, I feel like a lone Tatar warrior with a strong bow and a sturdy pony, wending my way through the chaos of Beijing in flames, squinting against the smoke. Looking for opportunity.