Friday, February 26, 2010

First Sale: An Interview With First-Time Author Allison Pang

I met Allison in my Fantasy, Futuristic & Paranormal chapter of RWA - she made the fab graphics for the website and then took over the web diva position in January. When she told us she was shopping for an agent to help her with some big publishing decisions, we were psyched. Then on the same day our own Audra Harders got The Call, Allison landed an awesome deal. She's agreed to let me annoy her periodically over the next year to see how this first year, between The Call and her book on the shelves, changes her perspective and outlook on the publishing industry.

What can you tell us about your book?
The working title is Shadow of the Incubus, though that may change before it goes to print. It’s an Urban Fantasy – I wanted to do something fun with a bit of snark, but I also wanted to be able to break the rules of “normal” and the fantasy aspect allowed me to play around with that. Plus I wanted to do my own spin on things, so instead of vampires or werewolves, I have an incubus and a tiny, ass-biting unicorn.

How on earth did you come up with the idea for an ass-biting unicorn? A dream? A random comment? Or did it just happen organically as you wrote the book?
Well, it’s a combination of things. I had run a variation of the character (Phineas) in an online game for a short while, since I liked the contrast of having something that is supposed to be pure being written as a sort of dirty old man. When I started writing the book, I wanted to give the heroine some sort of animal companion – a small one, but something a little funkier than a cat, so I shrunk Phineas down and that was that.
The unicorn in question also rolls around in the heroine’s underwear drawer, and that was directly inspired by one of my own cats (the one that also used to drag my clothes around the house and do unspeakable things to them). Although he was originally only supposed to be there as comic relief, about half way through the book he decided he needed to talk and I just ran with it.

How many books have you completed prior to this one?
This was my first.

Um. We have a word for people like you. Want to guess what it is?

What was the deciding factor when you signed with your agent?
I ended up with offers from three agents and a short period of time in which to make up my mind. It was a very tough call, as all of them are excellent agents. I interviewed some of their clients and scoured their blogs, talked with them on the phone and did everything I could do to get a feel for who they were and if they believed in my vision for the book. In the end, I went with my gut and I’m certainly not disappointed!

What are your goals for this year?
Well, I’ve got deadlines now, so I need to buckle down and start organizing my time better. I’ve got revisions for Book 1 due soon, and Book 2 is due at the end of the year, so my immediate goals are to write my butt off!

What are your immediate plans for marketing? Besides appearing frequently at the Five Scribes blog, natch.
I’ve got my own blog, of course, but I will probably be looking at setting up a more professional website as a base of operations. At this point in time it’s going to be the blog/facebook/twitter trifecta for right now. Once I get closer to having the book released I’ll probably be a bit more proactive about pimping it via blog tours, etc.

How has your daily schedule changed since selling?
It hasn’t really. I still only find time to write in the evenings after the kids are in bed.

Have you ever tried penning them in the back yard? Works great in the spring. Ahem. Or so I hear.

Do you plan to hit any cons this year?
RWA National for sure. I went to RT last year and had a blast, but I don’t think I’m going to be able to fit it into the schedule this time around. (Though I’m hoping that might change at the last minute).

Favorite snack during writing time?
Smartfood popcorn. I have to limit myself to the little bags of it, though – I can eat my way through an entire big bag in a single setting easily. (But I’m a bit of a stress eater anyway, so the key here is to not really have too much lying around the house).

Favorite excuse to stop writing?
Heh. It’s funny, when I’m not really ready to start writing, I let little things distract me, so pretty much anything can get me to stop, but once I’m in the zone, I can usually work through whatever my goals are. (I aim for at least 1000 words a day). But as far as favorite? I admit to being easily swayed by games – World of Warcraft, Dragon Age, Mass Effect. I’ve had to institute a policy where I am NOT allowed to touch any of the gaming consoles until the words are done. Otherwise it’s far too easy to fall into that “Well, let me just kill this last zombie horde” and before I know it it’s 1 AM and I haven’t done anything. LOL.

Where will you be when the zombie apocalypse happens?
Practicing my Double Tap from the roof with my AR-15.
(Yes, I actually do own one.)

Favorite exercise to atone for your procrastination and snacking?
Dancing. As noted above, if I’m not quite ready to work and a good song comes on the iTunes, I’m pretty likely to just get up and shake my booty around the office for a few minutes. Sometimes that’s enough to clear my mind and get me to be serious about focusing.
I just had spinal surgery in September, so I tend to keep any other exercise fairly low impact – walking, etc. Sometimes I drag out the DDR mat and hop around. I suck at it, I’m afraid, but it entertains my kids to no end to watch me struggle.

Thanks to Allison for sharing her time with us. We'll see her again as the release date gets closer.


Dawn McClure said...

Awesomesauce. I'm not sure that's the word she was going for, Allison. rotfl

Great interview. Love the ass-biting unicorn, and can't wait to read the book. :) Congrats again on your first sale. woot!

Danica said...

Yup, I hope that blog tour will include my own humble (but kick ass) blog *cough*.

Great interview. The awesomesauce could be could so attack the publishing industry from two sides! It'd lead to an invasion of hyped up authors churning out books left and right. How friggin' cool would that be?

Congrats again, Allison :)

KAK said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
KAK said...

"Practicing my Double Tap from the roof with my AR-15."

I can only hope the zombies don't attack with a booty-bouncing theme song; otherwise, somebody's aim is going to be a wee bit o...::blam, blam::

Donnell said...

Great interview, I love learning about processes. As one who loves to interview also, I hope you don't mind if I feed off of KL's questions.

You mentioned you wanted to do something with a bit of snark. I'm finding, and perhaps I'm wrong, that most Urban Fantasies have a bit of snark. Am I correct, misinformed?

Also, for those of us who need a translation ;) would you define awesomesause?

Congrats on your first book. I've love most of the UFs I've read; can't wait to get into your world building.

Thanks, KL for bringing Allison to us!

mynfel said...

@Dawn - You're silly, being that you read it in one of it's earlier incarnations. ;-) *hugs*

@Danica - Just tell me when and I'll be happy to stop by. :)

@KAK - There is a Zombie DDR song. It would work just fine for Double Tapping. ;-)

@Donnell - You are correct - lots of snark in UF. But I always pegged myself as a High Fantasy sort of writer (at least that's what I originally wanted to do, and the book of my heart is one like that). But I like the snark aspect also and I think it's a little more marketable right now, hence me going towards UF.

Awesomesauce? Urban Dictionary has some great definitions -->

"Like applesauce, except made with awesomes."

~Sia McKye~ said...

Yay Alison. I have to admit, I've been greatly entertained by your blog the past year. :-)

I'm hoping to see you at least at Nationals, altho I'm doing RT too. Hubs is freaking out at the cost, but tax refunds are a wonderful thing. especially after the storm repairs we had to do this year and loss of the hay crop.

I gotta to say, I love the idea of Phineas. Oh, I can't wait to read this one. I'm thrilled to see you succeed, Mz. Awesomsauce!

mynfel said...

@Sia I'll definitely be at Nationals - we'll totally have to hook up for lunch! :D

Mary Marvella said...

Allison, looks like you totally got it right! Good interview. My unicorn bites all the time, especially when he shifts into a handsome horny guy!

Donnell said...

I'm so excited to have the Urban Fantasy dictionary! Thank you for the translation and the reference!

Dawn McClure said...

Allison - I only read the first 200 pages. Such a tease!