Friday, December 9, 2011

Guest Post: Author Anne R. Allen

 Anne R. Allen is the author of five comic mysteries debuting in 2011 with two publishers: Popcorn Press and Mark Williams international Digital Publishing. FOOD OF LOVE, originally published in the UK in 2003 by Babash-Ryan, made its US debut in September 2011. THE BEST REVENGE, also first published by Babash Ryan, (2005) will be relaunched by Popcorn in December 2011.

Anne’s titles with MWiDP include: THE GATSBY GAME (October 2011) GHOSTWRITERS IN THE SKY (October 2011) and SHERWOOD, LTD (December 2011.) These titles will also be available in paper from Popcorn Press. She is also working on a self-help guide for writers with PAY IT FORWARD author Catherine Ryan Hyde. Anne has a popular blog for writers at, where she blogs with NYT bestselling author, Ruth Harris.

-How/why did you start to write?

I think I’ve been writing since I could first hold a crayon. I named all the people in my coloring books and made up stories about them. I loved stories about witches and dark things, so I always ran out of the black crayons first.

When I was about six, my mom built me a puppet theatre, and I wrote plays and put them on in the back yard. Then I graduated to writing plays for my friends and my Brownie troop.

And I guess I never stopped.

-How did you become an author?

As I said, I’ve always been a writer, but I guess when I first thought of myself as an actual author was when I got my first novel published as a serial in a local California entertainment weekly. It was crazy—I contracted to write one chapter of exactly 700 words every week. (It had to fit opposite the astrology column.) Every episode had to incorporate the news of the week. I got paid $50 an episode. But hey, I was an “author”—getting paid and everything.

-What was your first published piece?

My very first published piece was a poem I wrote in seventh grade. It was a very dark revenge sonnet about watching all the cool kids burn up in a fire while I stood outside and laughed at them. I was very Goth at age 12.

-Where was it published?

It was published in our school literary magazine, which was had the suitably pretentious name of Finnegan’s Awakening.  It was edited by an upperclassman who later went on to become a well known screenwriter and essayist: Michael Ventura. (One of his most memorable films was Roadie, starring Meatloaf.) He’s the first person who ever told me I could write. The beginning of a life-long crush.

-How long ago?

Uh-oh. Do I have to say? Seventh grade was, um, long ago and far away.

-What did you do before embarking on your writing career? Was it an asset to your writing? How?

I spent twenty-five years in theatre and film, acting and directing. And yes, the two are perfectly matched. Preparing for a role is very like creating a character. You learn that every character in every scene must have a goal or a motivation. I specialized in comic cameos, so I also learned that even the most minor character can have an interesting character arc.

I also supported myself by working in bookstores. As you can imagine, that taught me a whole lot about the publishing marketplace.

-What inspires you?

Everything and anything. But I guess I’m most inspired by the absurd. Life is absurd. It’s wildly silly and funny. I love to point out ironies and show people how to laugh at themselves. I often base my villains on versions of myself—or the way I imagine other people might see me.

-Please share one of your successful marketing techniques

I wish I knew if it was really successful or not, but I devote a good deal of time to social media, especially my blog, which is pretty popular. I got 11,000 hits last week (a record.) I blog mostly about writing and publishing, so I’m speaking to other writers, but since most of my novels are about the publishing business, I figure that’s good marketing. But my books have only been for sale since October and I don’t have any sales figures from my publishers yet, so I don’t know if it’s working.

-Parting words

My latest comic mystery, Sherwood Ltd, is due in mid-December and is a sequel to Ghostwriters in the Sky, which came out on Oct 31st. Sherwood is based on my adventures living and working in a wild and crazy erotica publishing house in the English Midlands, near the real Sherwood Forest. I had a wonderful time fictionalizing the charming town and its eccentric inhabitants and putting my heroine, Camilla Randall there to solve a murder mystery.

GHOSTWRITERS IN THE SKY (Romantic comedy/mystery: Mark Williams international Digital Publishing, October 2011) After her celebrity ex-husband’s ironic joke about her “kinky sex habits” is misquoted in a tabloid, New York etiquette columnist Camilla Randall’s life unravels in bad late night jokes. Nearly broke and down to her last Herme s scarf, she accepts an invitation to a Z-list Writers’ Conference in the wine-and-cowboy town of Santa Ynez, California, where, unfortunately, a cross-dressing dominatrix plies her trade by impersonating Camilla. When a ghostwriter’s plot to blackmail celebrities with faked evidence leads to murder, Camilla must team up with the dominatrix to stop the killer.

SHERWOOD, LTD. (Romantic comedy/mystery: Mark Williams international Digital Publishing, November 2011) Suddenly-homeless American manners expert Camilla Randall becomes a 21st century Maid Marian—living rough near the real Sherwood Forest with a band of outlaw English erotica publishers—led by a charming, self-styled Robin Hood who unfortunately may intend to kill her. When Camilla is invited to publish a book of her columns with UK publisher Peter Sherwood, she lands in a gritty criminal world—far from the Merrie Olde England she envisions. The staff are ex-cons and the erotica is kinky. Hungry and penniless, she camps in a Wendy House built from pallets of porn while battling an epic flood, a mendacious American Renfaire wench, and the mysterious killer who may be Peter himself.

Food of Love (romantic comedy/thriller)—Someone’s trying to kill the Princess—because she got fat? Unfortunately, they have a nuclear bomb.

Buy Links:

The Gatsby Game (romantic comedy/mystery)—Based on a real unsolved Hollywood mystery. Chick Lit noir. The nanny didn’t do it!

Coming in December from Popcorn Press (ebook and paper): The Best Revenge: A suddenly-broke NYC celebutante runs off to California with nothing but her Delorean and her designer furs, looking for her long-lost gay best friend.