Monday, December 21, 2015

Words With an Author | Allan Stratton

Hey guys, welcome to another Words with an Author. Today we get to interview Allan Stratton, author of The Dogs. I had the pleasure meeting Allan at BEA this past May and I'm super excited to read his book. Let's get into the interview! 

1. How did you get into writing? When did you first start writing?

I started writing before I could spell, sounding out the letters. I think I was instinctively trying to understand the world I was in, by making up stories.
In high school, I was cast in the original production of a play by James Reaney, a Canadian playwright. I showed him a play of my own and he published in his literary magazine. It was seen by a producer who asked me if I’d like to adapt it for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. That was my first break.

2. Where did you come up with the ideas for your books? Who/ what is your inspiration?

The inspiration depends on the book. Some come from dreams, some from real life. THE DOGS is from real life. My mom fled with me from my dad when I was a baby; he had a very violent side which people on the outside world never saw. We stayed on my grandparents’ farm and then in the nearby town of Kincardine, which is very much like Wolf Hollow.

3. Are any of your characters based on people you actually know, if so which ones?

Not exactly. For each character I ask myself, if I were this person in this situation what would I want? What would I do to get it? It's a bit like an actor's improv with me playing all the parts. I include details from real life - for instance, like Cameron, I talk to myself out loud - but the characters are always different from any real life models.

4. If you had to pick only five books from your bookshelf you could keep, what would they be?

i) The Complete Works of Shakespeare -- which is maybe a cheat since there are 37 plays plus poems. My favorite Shakespearean tragedy, btw, is King Lear; my favorite comedy is Twelfth Night.)
ii) Tom Jones by Henry Fielding
iii) Crime and Punishment (or The Brothers Karamazov, a tossup) by Dostoyevsky
iv) Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
v) Grimm’s Brothers Fairy Tales

5. How long did the writing process take for each of your books?

On average a first draft takes me nine months. That’s part of why I call my books my “brain babies.” (The other part is because they come out of my head; they have my intellectual DNA.) I then do about another two months of re-writes, spread over six months that include time for getting my editor’s notes.

6. Who are some of your favorite authors?

The authors who wrote the books mentioned above. I also really like Jonathon Franzen, Margaret Atwood, Robert Cormier and Teresa Toten.

7. What actors/ actresses could you see playing the characters of your book?

Too many to mention. I thought the film of my YA novel CHANDA'S SECRETS (film title: LIFE, ABOVE ALL) was very well cast.

8. How did you come up with the title and cover of each of your books? Did they morph as you wrote the book, or were they constant?

The titles come to me in the course of the writing. I don’t really know how. I guess it’s the way parents find names for their babies. 
My publisher comes up with the covers. I comment on the English language ones. My books are published in foreign languages with different covers. To see some of the range one can get for the same book, go to my website, click under “Books” and scroll down.

9. Are you planning to write any other books?

Oh yes, it’s what I do for a living. I’m working on one right now.

10. What would your advice be to someone who's aspiring to be a writer?

Read, read, read. Write, write, write.  Also, write because it’s what you love to do – what you have to do, as surely as breathing.

11. Finally, just to wrap things up, what's your favorite color and why?

Blue, because it’s the color of water and sky, and I find it very calming.

If you want to connect with Allan: