Previous Guests

Guest spot

Each month, I intend to have a guest author, band or artiste interviewed on this page. If you fit the above broad category and would like to see yourself here, please contact me at mike [dot] amos at michaelamos [dot] net (replacing the at with an @, removing the anti-spam spaces and replaceing the [dot] with a .).

MJ Allaire

This month, I am proud to welcome my fellow author MJ Allaire to talk about writing, self-publishing and her new novel.

Tell us a little about yourself.

Well, I grew up in West Palm Beach, Florida… the youngest of four and the only girl. A few months after I turned 18, I joined the US Navy and within a few months, found myself stationed in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. In less than a year, I met and married a submariner. We lived in Hawaii for 10 years, during which time we had three children. In 1997 we moved to Connecticut, and after 18 years of marriage, got divorced. I still live in Connecticut and am now raising 2 of my 3 teenage children mostly on my own (the oldest has himself joined the Navy, following in both mine and his father’s footsteps).

You have a very positive attitude to writing. How did you come to write the Denicalis Dragon Chronicles?

I began writing for my children. My oldest son had a love of dragons and I struggled to find books for him. I would find books about sorcerers, castles, magic, etc, but nothing really with dragons. I decided to write book one, “Dragon’s Blood” for him, but ironically I did exactly what I was trying not to do… “Dragon’s Blood” has references to dragons, as well as magic, castles, and evil sorcerers, but it’s not really a story about dragons. It’s actually about four children who get lost in a cave and wind up finding magical stones, mysterious creatures and a very special amulet. The children quickly discover that not all of the creatures in this cave are good and are soon running for their lives from an evil cave resident.

Who's your favourite character in your books?

Having just released book three in the series (“Dragon’s Tear”), this is a difficult question to answer. In “Dragon’s Blood”, I really liked the character of the large snake, Muscala, because he comes off as a totally evil, self-centered, arrogant creature (there is more behind the scenes with this character, however, and I’m hoping that will come out sometime in book four). A few other characters that I also like are Lemures (a ghostly white dragon in “Dragon’s Tear”) and a hyper little bat named Nayr.

What are you working on now?

“Dragon’s Tear” just went live in mid-April, so I’m furiously working on sending out press releases, updating websites ( www.mjallaire.com, www.myspace.com/mjallaire, www.authorsden.com/mjallaire, to name a few) as well as trying to arrange book signings and school visits. I’ve also started working on book four, which will tentatively be called “Dragon’s Breath”, but haven’t gotten very far yet … one of these days I’ll find time!

Should fantasy novels be pure escapism or should they reflect on life?

I think fantasy novels should be a combination of fantasy and escapism. With my series, some of the characters are based on people in my life (my children and my daughter’s best friend, as well as others), but a large part of the whole story comes purely from my imagination. I think any good story provides the reader with an escape from day to day life, which is especially important as time goes on and life becomes busier and busier.

Rowling or Tolkien?

To be honest, I’ve never read either one! I’ve seen one or two of JK’s movies, but never read a Harry Potter book. The same goes for Tolkien .. I’ve seen The Lord of the Rings movies as well but have never read the books. They’re on my ever-growing to-do list, however …

What made you decide on the self-publishing route and what difficulties did you encounter?

I could probably write another book on what I’ve learned regarding self-publishing! Although it’s been a long, hard road, I’m glad I went this route because my self-confidence when I started wasn’t all that great and I really don’t think I would have continued writing if I’d gotten a pile of rejection letters by going the traditional route. As time goes on, I honestly believe that self-publishing is the better way to go, but there are aspects to self-publishing that any writer who is considering publishing this way should be aware of.

One of the biggies is that if you self-publish through one of the MANY self-publishing companies out there (AuthorHouse, Publish America, etc), you may believe you own the work, the rights, the ISBN’s, the cover, etc, but BE WARNED … you DON’T! In some cases, you may own the movie rights, etc, but in other cases, you may NOT for a certain number of years!! In most cases, the author owns the manuscript and I believe the copyright, but the ISBN’s and cover LIKELY belong to the company who published you (I just found this out a few weeks ago myself about my own books and it absolutely floored me). A good thing about this though is the author (and depending on the company you publish with), can play a large part in the decision-making for the book, like how the cover looks, or what type of font is used in the galley.

It all boils down to RESEARCH AND DO YOUR HOMEWORK!!! Learn about these companies and your different options before you decide to self-publish.

What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

Most importantly, do NOT expect (like I did) to write your book and believe it will magically get “out there” somehow. The writing is the easy part by far, and everything after that is where the real work begins! It’s a LOT of work to market your book, but trust me when I say this, the harder you work, the more you learn! Honestly, I was very intimidated at first thinking, “I don’t want to go out and push my book on everyone”. But do you know what? If you don’t, NO ONE ELSE WILL!! No one knows your book(s) like you do, so figure out who you’re going to market to and then do what you can to make it happen. You don’t necessarily have to be a pushy salesman, but definitely be committed to getting the result of all of your hard work out to the reading world! Also remember you have to spend money to make money!