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Alan Williams Interview

Posted on 07 September 2015. © Copyright 2004-2024 WriteWords
A longer version of this interview is available to WriteWords Full and Community Members.
Click here to learn more about becoming a member.

WriteWords talks to WW member TassieDevil aka Alan Williams

Tell us something about your background.

I don’t really have a writing background,but a hobby that I’ve 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 I’ve 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, I’ve concentrated of short stories for the Womag market (Women’s magazines) as well as some children’s 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 children’s 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 I’ve just sold called The Vanishing. At this point I’d thank Catkin on WW for the throw away idea of this story and the support and encouragement of other Women’s 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 O’Neill, 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).

Women’s Magazine writers that I admire for their imaginations and skills in writing include Della Galton and Christine Sutton. I’ve 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 couldn’t 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 I’d made since deciding to be serious about writing. Although I’d 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 children’s story, it was accepted and I was paid immediately. Those two early successes have given me the confidence to continue writing and submitting.

I’m 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 can’t appreciate the elation of ‘acceptances’ without experiencing the pain of failures.

And the best?

Knowing that some editor appreciates your ideas, your writing talents and the characters that you’ve 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 ‘What do you do?’ and answer with pride, “I’m an author.”

Tell us what kind of responses you get from audiences\ readers.

I haven’t 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).
‘Alan,’ he said. ‘The most polite word I can use for your writing is quirky.’
And I’m happy with that.
In so far as that ‘quirkiness’ gives me a uniqueness, I’m not afraid to push the boundaries with any story ideas.

A longer version of this interview is available to WriteWords Full and Community Members.
Click here to learn more about becoming a member.

Comments by other Members

GingerTom at 15:35 on 08 September 2015  Report this post
Interesting that you mention loneliness as one of the worst things about writing, and I can certainly understand why. However, in my own writing I reckon loneliness is an essential element - I could never produce anything worthwhile when there are other people around. Maybe I'm just a bit strange. Anyway, great interview. Thanks for sharing.

TassieDevil at 17:38 on 08 September 2015  Report this post
Thanks Ginger Tom, I'm not talking about physical loneliness as I always write with my wife in the same room, watching Phil Secret Agent Spencer or doing puzzles. I might finish a paragraph or a page then have a chat about her strange taste in television or do some gardening together. I'm referring to the thoughts that come from within and the process of writing itself. I do appreciate your comments and taking the time to read my self-obsessed ramblings. I'm actually surprised and gladdened that anyone would read this.

Jennifer1976 at 17:42 on 08 September 2015  Report this post
Great interview, Alan. Hope you manage to crack the UK womag market. And I think quirkiness is definitely a great trait to have in life as well as writing! :-)

TassieDevil at 17:48 on 08 September 2015  Report this post
Thanks Jenny, Makes me feel better to have the support of other writers like yourself. We all have our unique outlook on life I guess. Nothing worse than being boring and predictable.

GingerTom at 18:01 on 08 September 2015  Report this post
The loneliness from within? Oh, yeah, that goes without saying!

Catkin at 23:47 on 08 September 2015  Report this post
Great interview, Alan!

Bazz at 12:30 on 09 September 2015  Report this post
Great interview, Alan, fascinating to hear about the near miss with Marvel and DC, always been a comic fan myself, some great writers there. I think a lot of writers will share some of the things you've touched on. Interestingly, when it comes to loneliness, (which I can certainly relate to), I'd say it's only writing that keeps it at bay. Words help you to be alone, I guess :) I hope you crack the UK market, I'm sure you'll get more work published with time. :)

TassieDevil at 12:39 on 09 September 2015  Report this post
Appreciate your comments, Catkin and Bazz. Thanks.

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