Thursday, 15 December 2016

Author Interview - Bret Allen

Hello everyone! I am here today with my very first author interview!

Bret Allen is an author and a copywriter. His first published work, Strange Matters, is a collection of stories and poems, and they cover themes of magic, fantasy and myths. I came upon his website by chance and the fist thing that caught my eye was that he has worked in the video game industry as a writer. Being a gamer myself, this immediately sparked my attention. He was kind enough to answer a few of my questions regarding his work and his writing experiences. Keep reading to find out more about him!

So, if you were in an elevator with your favorite writer and had to tell about yourself in 60 seconds, what would you say?

Wow, difficult one! My favourite writer is Neil Gaiman and I’ve sort of been in this situation when I went to one of his signings a few years ago. The place was really packed and it overran, so we were getting things signed fast, like a conveyor belt. I said something like ‘hey you’re great I like this and that and I’m a writer too and stuff and please sign my book okay thanks’ – just like that, with no pauses. He wrote ‘WRITE!’ in my book, to remind me to keep at it!

What is your currently published/to be published work? What inspired you to write it?

My latest work was Strange Matters, which is a collection of 20 stories and poems themed around fantasy, myth and magic. In other words, they all have either an outright fantasy setting or they have a little bit of magic somewhere. This started just as an exercise, but after I’d spent a few months writing short stories I thought ‘I need to DO something with these!’. I also took the opportunity to write little pieces in settings of my own creation, testing the water a little. Inspiration came from all over the place… one of the poems was inspired by table salt.

How do you develop your characters in your stories?

I try to make them well rounded, though in my short stories they tend to take on a certain archetypal role. One technique a friend suggested is to come up with a strength, flaw and quirk for each character, just as an exercise to help you get a sense of who they are. For example, they might be very loyal, but have a bad temper, and always fidgeting with something.

Apart from writing, what are some other things you are into?

I’m a big gamer, whenever I can afford games. Mostly RPGs, anything with a solid storyline. I like retro games too, plus of course I love to read. I suppose you could add podcasting to the list too, as I co-host a comedy news show called Don’t Lose Your Headline!

You mentioned in your blog that you have some experience in the gaming industry. Could you say a little bit about your experiences?

Sure, I’ve worked on a handful of projects now, but it’s a very difficult road. Developers don’t seem to need writers much, or they need someone who can write as well as code and design the game. My first paid gig was writing for a hidden object game called The Sleeping Palace, where they had a rough idea but needed a back story and some things for players to find. The tricky part is adjusting how you think, to tell a story in short bursts. You often have to get character development and plot across in the space of a text message!

If you couldn’t be a writer, what would you be instead?

I would gladly be a game designer or coder, as I’m big on games and computers, but I can’t see myself doing that without some serious brain training. My last full time work was as a bingo host for an online gambling site, which was interesting. Maybe I’d go back to that crazy world!

What are you working on nowadays? Any new works coming out in the future?

Right now, I’m working on a choose-your-own-adventure game called Hipster Quest, which is in the testing phase. It’s entirely text based and I hope to publish to Kindle. It’s like the old books where you turn to X page to decide what your character does, except a bit more short and sweet. It started as me and a friend joked about Hipsters and roleplaying; would they prefer organic healing potions over store-bought potions?

What are some good ways to reach out to you to let you know your work’s appreciated?

The best ways are mentions on Twitter and Facebook. My pages can be found at and You can also leave a comment on any posts on my blog, Lastly, as I’m sure you would agree, reviews are priceless! Amazon or Goodreads reviews, even a sentence long, help us out a lot.

What advice would you leave for those who want to write?

I’d parrot Neil Gaiman’s advice: WRITE! Practise and experience are the best ways to get better and hone the craft. Reading is also invaluable too. If you don’t enjoy writing just for the sake of it, you’re going to have a hard time going forward.

Lastly, how about a laugh? Leave us with a favorite joke!

Ha, what a great idea. Okay, this is one of my personal favourites:
I was walking through a graveyard, when I saw a man crouched down behind one of the gravestones.
“Morning,” I said.
“No”, he replied. “Just having a poo.”

Thanks to Bret for answering all my questions. It was fun to have these discussions with him. I have been reading his book, Strange Matters, myself, and thoroughly enjoying it. I will be coming up with another blog post soon where I'll review it. Stick around!

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