Monday, 9 March 2015

Guest Author Interview - Allen Miles

Allen Miles joins me in this week's Guest Author Interview to tell us about his latest release - 'This Is How You Disappear':

Click on image to buy from Amazon

Please introduce yourself, who are you and what do you do?
My name is Allen Miles, I am thirty-three years old and I work for the NHS. I drink too much, barely sleep and write stories.

What first inspired you to start writing?
I was drawn to the written word because I was a prolific reader when I was a child. I was quite precocious in primary school but quickly lost interest in education when I hit my teens, except for writing. I realised by the age of about thirteen that it was the only thing that I was really good at. I was never really cut out for a career, and if I was ever going to be a success, it be through something out of the ordinary. I've written obsessively ever since. When I was eight, I wanted to make people feel the way that I felt when I read Roald Dahl books. Now I want to make people feel the way I feel when I read Bukowski, Fante and McCarthy.

Where did the idea for 'This Is How You Disappear' come from?
This Is How You Disappear is the first line of a Scott Walker song called Rawhide. I loved it as a title because the stories that I was working on had a common theme of escapism. I wrote about twenty-five shorts and narrowed it down to ten. They are all quite dark but there is a thread of black humour in most of them. Subject matter includes a wayward jazz fan who's girlfriend has left him, a shmabolic punk band who go crazy when they get their first sniff of fame, a computer geek who creates a whole new persona to get a woman, and a hopeless young drunk who has to be rehabbed by a kindly colleague of his. The one that I've had the most accolades for is a short autobiographical piece called "Blue And Yellow Stripes", which is about a few memories from my childhood. I'm very proud of it indeed.

If you could spend a day with anyone from history, who would it be and why?
Without a doubt, my all-time hero, the late great Peter Cook. He was amazingly cool as a young man, very handsome and immaculately dressed, and the greatest comedy writer this country has ever seen, but I think he did his best work towards the end of his life. I know I shouldn't really idolise someone who spent years hidden away with a lake of vodka, but the fact that he would from time to time appear on turn up on TV and fire off these works of absolute genius just like he was flexing a muscle and then disappear again is incredible to me. The series that he did in 1990 with Ludovic Kennedy, A Life In Pieces, is one of the greatest works of the English language ever as far as I’m concerned.

What was the last book you read?
Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahnuik. He’s such a great writer. He does that “hitting bottom” thing so well. I’d certainly describe him as an influence.

What makes your stories stand out?
I’m told they have the ability to resonate with one’s emotions in a very strong way. In a large number of reviews and also in person a few times I’ve been told that lots of people have cried whilst reading my stuff. When I wrote a lot of them I thought they'd appeal to the "angry young man" demographic that I suppose I'm part of myself, but the best feedback I've had has been off women. I never expected that.

What is your favourite song lyric?
I think it’s probably either “Are You The One I’ve Been Waiting For?” by Nick Cave or “Faster” by the Manic Street Preachers. I take a lot of influence from lyrics. I wrote a whole blog about it here.

What are you working on at the moment?
I’m basically just making the most of opportunities such as this one to raise awareness of my latest release. I have a crime novel called Dick about a third of the way done but it's taking a long time; I've also written a few scenes of a dystopian future story about two public sector workers who stand and rant together on their lunch break every day. Somehow after a social media campaign gets out of hand, they get elected to political office and it all goes horribly wrong.

Tell us about your latest release and how we can find out more.
This Is How You Disappear is my first paperback. It is a collection of short stories, prose and novellas that are mostly set in my home town of Hull, I'm told they are quite bleak but there is a vein of dark humour running through them all. Actually, not the last one, that one has made dozens of people cry.

Anyway, you can get it on Amazon in both paperback and for your Kindle, and we're currently in talks for WHSmith's to stock it.

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