Saturday, November 26, 2011

Featured Author: SHAUN ALLAN


“SIN” – by Shaun Allan

About the Book
Review
Author Interview
Links to Shaun’s Pages

“SIN”

What would you do? Could you kill a killer? Does the death of one appease the deaths of a hundred? What about that hundred against a thousand?

What if you had no choice?

Meet Sin. No, not that sort of sin, but Sin, crazy as a loon (you ask Sister Moon), and proud of it. Sin locks himself away in a mental home and, every so often, gets violent. That’s only so they’ll give him those nice drugs, though. The ones that help him forget.

It’s a pity they don’t work.

Sin, you see, has a serious problem. Well, it’s not so much his problem, as ours – yours, mine and everyone else’s. People die around him. He doesn't like it and he can't help it. But someone else knows, and he has to stop them... and himself...

Flip and catch...

REVIEW for “SIN”
by Books4Tomorrow

Sin. That's my name, don't wear it out, as I used to say once upon a very long time ago.’

When I received this book for review and read the blurb, I thought to myself that this sounds like it’s going to be a dark, disturbing read, exploring the mind of an “I-was-abused-as-a-child” sorry-ass psychopath. That was my very first impression of “Sin”. With trepidation, I sat down to read, preparing to wrestle my way through to the last chapter, (I mean really, who wants to read about a crazy ol’ coot locked up in a padded six by six cell?). Well, all I can say, is that I couldn’t have been more wrong!  By the time I got to page four, I was so absorbed in the story and intrigued with the main character – yes, Sin – that I couldn’t fathom not reading to the end.

Contradictory to the impression generated by the blurb of it being a journey into the mind of a serial killer, I experienced Sin as quite the opposite. In my opinion, Sin could’ve been my next door neighbor: a man just going about his daily life and minding his own business - until that unfortunate incident in the street in front of Woolworths, which changed his life for the worse. It took a few thousand deaths, but Sin soon catches on to what is happening and how the coin – or the ‘not-so-proverbial bad penny’ – affects him and the lives of the people around him. Subsequently feeling that he will be much less of a danger to others and himself, he voluntarily has himself locked up in an asylum, under the care - or what he perceives as such - of Dr Connors. Biiiiig mistake!

'Sin-sin-sirree, there's no place for thee,' I was Sin. Not a superhero but... but good. Yes. I'd plead my case to that jury and I'd convince them. I wasn't a big bad wolf, ready to eat the little piggies. But, Dr. Connors, I was going to blow your house down’.

What I enjoyed most about “Sin” is the way the author tells the story as though he is having a conversation with you. As a big fan of the books of both Stephen King and Dean Koontz, I instantly recognized the author’s writing style of that similar to both these authors; and thus enjoyed the book even more. The story is recounted through Sin’s inner-dialogue and point of view; and has so much skillfully interlaced humor in it, that most of this book I read with a smile on my face. 

I wondered if, in a court of law, murder in absentia was a punishable crime. If I had an alibi tighter than Jacob Marley's business partner, even though I admitted to having done the crime - and thanks to Mental Homes R Us, done the time - would I still be sent down, joining the chain gang on a one way trip along the Green Mile? Maybe I could get Tom Hanks' or Michael Clarke Duncan's autographs. I doubted a defence of "I wasn't there m'lud" would be sufficient to get me off. But death by proxy. What would be the maximum sentence for that?

“Sin” is not what I dreaded it would be. Dark? Yes. Disturbing? Sure. Boring? Heck, no!. Quite the opposite. It takes you into the life of a man whose parents thought it a joke to give him a name that caused him to be the butt end of ridicule; and who found it equally hilarious to name their daughter Joy. But a name such as Joy could not possibly be on the receiving end of beatings, name-calling and being made a fool of, now could it?
‘Ask me another.’

If you enjoy reading thought-provoking books that punch you in the chest with unpredictable shocking twists, “Sin” should be at the top of your list. I personally, am not into the whole inner dialogue thing and as laugh-out-loud funny as it was at times and heartbreakingly sad at others, I found the inner-dialogue, although relevant to the story, a bit lengthy - and therefore the 4 star rating. Other than that, I would highly recommend this expertly written book to anyone looking for a superb read. I can say with certainty that Shaun Allan is on his way to best-seller status!

And just to tantalize your appetite for this unusual first-rate book some more, here is another excerpt:

I didn't mind them staying away from me. I wasn't in the mood for company, and trying to hold a conversation with a squirrel was something I was too tired to bother trying. They can be skittish creatures and tend to have a short attention span, so any chat is liable to dip and dive from subject to subject faster than I could make a banoffee pie disappear. Rabbits are different but just as hard to please. They simply look at you with blank faces, making it obvious that, no matter how riveting your conversation might be, they just wanted to know where you kept the carrots. I couldn't blame them. My stomach was starting to growl so a carrot or two, while not banoffee pie, would have been quite welcome.

BOOKS 4 TOMORROW star rating:  4/5

MEET this week’s FEATURED AUTHOR


A writer of many prize winning short stories and poems, Shaun Allan has written for more years than he would perhaps care to remember. Having once run an online poetry and prose magazine, he has appeared on Sky television to debate, against a major literary agent, the pros and cons of internet publishing as opposed to the more traditional method. Many of his personal experiences and memories are woven into Sin's point of view and sense of humour although he can't, at this point, teleport.

INTERVIEW with author SHAUN ALLAN

ABOUT “SIN”

Q: What inspired you to write “Sin”?

A: Well, I’m not entirely sure.  I don’t get ideas for whole stories very often.  I get a first sentence or a character name.  I think that’s what happened here.  What if ‘sin’ wasn’t just a what, but a who too?

Q: What was the hardest part of writing “Sin”?

A: It took ten years.  From the initial short story that Sin started as, to finishing it this year, ten years had passed.  In one of those years I don’t think I wrote a single word.

Q: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in “Sin”?

A: I don’t think so.  It’s written in the first person, and I don’t think it could have been done any other way.  His mind goes off on tangents, but they’re (almost) always relevant.

Q: What were the challenges involved in bringing “Sin” to life?

A: Well, as far as research is concerned, I did look into relevant drugs and qualifications for psychiatrists and their treatments.  Sin is, sort of, my ‘dark half’, and his sense of humour and quirky thoughts – and general acceptance (I’m very laid back) of his situation – are very much traits I have.  It was almost like writing with my own voice, so I was surprised at some of the things that happened and that he thought.  But, for example, in the scene where he first meets his sister:  Without giving anything away, I can see myself reacting just like that.  Possibly the main challenge, though, was not knowing where it was going to go, and preventing myself from guessing.  I wanted it to just flow and not to pre-empt anything.

Q: Can you tell us more about Sin’s blog and why you started a blog for him?

A: In the book, Sin has escaped from his asylum.  As you can see, from the fact that he started out as a short story (which is now the prologue to the book), he’s very vocal.  He has been interviewed, had his own Facebook page (until Facebook disabled it as he’s, apparently, fictional) and has a sequel in the works.  He wanted to tell about his experiences and the people he met inside the asylum, so a blog, as his diary, seemed the perfect idea.  I can write quick pieces of around 500 words, each a self contained story.  It’s great fun!

Q: If you and Sin could sit down to dinner together, what would your topic(s) of conversation be?

A: Oh, I think we’d start talking and the conversation would wind every which way but sense!  Tangent would leap off tangent into an abyss of weirdness.

Q: Why did you choose the name Sin for your main character?

A: I didn’t.  He did.

ABOUT SHAUN

Q: Where are you from?

A: I’m from Grimsby, in the UK.

Q: What books have influenced your life most?

A: Well, the first, I think, was To Kill A Mockingbird.  Listening to our English teacher reading it to us in school was what prompted me to become an actual author.  Otherwise, I love the Odd Thomas books by Dean Koontz, and Stephen King’s offerings.  And, which is wonderful, Sin has been compared to both!

Q: What would your ideal career be, if you couldn't be an author?

A: My ideal career would actually be an author – as I do have a day job working in the inspection department of an oil refinery.  I’d love to be a full time writer.  Or work with children!

Q: If you were to do your career as an author again, what would you do differently, and why?

A: I’d have faith in myself.  I’ve started so many stories and books and been unsure of them, or just held on to them rather than trying to publish.  I should have pushed them out into the world.  I’m proud of Sin and I enjoy dipping in to different scenes or pages and reading some of the things I’ve written.  And I’ve actually been impressed with some of the phrases or ideas I’ve come up with!

Q: Your ideal way to unwind?

A: I have a busy job and home life, so it’s SO nice to curl up on the sofa with my partner and watch nothing on TV!

Q: What are your hobbies / interests?

A: I love reading, films and am a total gadget geek.

Q: What is your schedule like when you're writing?

A: I don’t have one unfortunately.  I squeeze it in where I can, thankful, sometimes, to just be able to get a hundred or so words down!

Q: List four "fun to know" facts about you.

A: My first job was a lab technician, and I hated it.  The work was complete by just after lunch and we had nothing to do until home time at around 4:30.  I did manage to read a lot of books though!
I don’t like tomatoes, but my daughter thinks I’m scared of them.  So much so that she pretends to have one in her hand to freak me out.  Obviously I play along!
I’m rubbish at directions, and if I DON’T get lost on a journey then there’s something wrong!
Similarly, I’m terrible at time keeping, no matter my best intentions.  If I’m on time for something, I count that as being early!

Q: Do you have a favourite quote you want to share with your readers?

A: is there intelligent life on Earth?  Yes, but I’m only visiting…

ABOUT WRITING

Q: What inspired you to write your first book?

A: I’ve written from being very small.  I used to write stories and draw pictures to go along with them, so I’m told, so it’s always been there.

Q: Which books/authors have influenced your writing?

A: I’d have to say Stephen King and Dean Koontz.  I love the weirdness of their ideas.  King comes up with some bizarre stuff and makes it seem mundane!

Q: Which of your books was the easiest/hardest to write?

A: I think Sin fits into both of those categories.  It took ten years, but in Egypt last year I managed 15,000 words!

Q: Can you share a little about the next book you’ll be releasing, with us?

A: I have a children’s Christmas book just out.  It has a story in it about how Rudolph saves Christmas.  He’s accused of blowing up Santa’s sleigh and has to escape from North Pole Prison to find the real culprit.  It also has a collection of wacky poems in it similar to my Zits’n’Bits collection.  Things like The Fright Before Christmas and A Zombie Christmas.

I have about 40,000 words written on a children’s book about a witch called Puddlebrain who has to save her village (who wanted to burn her and her sisters at the stake) from a strange creature that’s stealing everyone.

And then there’s Sin’s sequel too!

Q: Name one entity that you feel supported you (outside of family members).

A: I have an old school friend called Tony.  He lives in California now but has been pushing me to finish Sin from the start!  Even now, he’s keen to help move the book on to the next level.  He’s been a star and Sin is partially dedicated to him.

Q: Have you ever hated something you wrote?

A: I have…

Q: What is your favourite theme/genre to write about?

A: I don’t actually pick the genre.  I start a story and it goes where it goes, usually incorporating an aspect of weird in there.  I do enjoy writing for children though.

Q: Do you read reviews of your books? If so, do you pay any attention to them, or let them influence you In any way?

A: I do read them.  Luckily, Sin has had amazing reviews and has been called ‘an incredible read’ and ‘a masterpiece of genuine creativity’.  If I’d had a bad review, well, that’s part of life.  People are completely entitled to their opinion.

Q: How many books have you written? Which one did you enjoy writing the most?

A: Sin is my first full length novel.  I have a number of stories and a couple of novellas.  Plus there’s Zits’n’Bits which is poetry.  I enjoyed Sin the most, I think, as I was almost walking in his footsteps.

Q: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

A: Thank you, for a start.  I sincerely hope you enjoy the ‘rollercoaster ride’ that one reviewer said Sin was.  I love to read.  I love being taken away to other times and places and, even, dimensions.

Q: Do you have any advice for other writers?

A: Keep at it.  It’s a great feeling knowing someone is reading your work, and even better knowing they’re enjoying it.  You will meet some wonderful people along the way too, not all of them fictional.

“SIN” is available for purchase from:

Amazon UK 
Amazon US 
Fantasy Island Book Publishing 

FOLLOW author SHAUN ALLAN

Shaun Allan’s website: http://www.shaunallan.co.uk  
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1 comment:

Wanda Hart said...

I love this interview and cant wait to read the book. Anybody that can even remotely sound like King or Koontz must have airtime. Gloom and Doom is like food and water. I must have them..... I love this. So want to read it now...