Author Interview: Christiane Allison

Christiane Joy Allison

1. We’ll skip the “tell us about yourself” because coming up with something on the spot is, truly, the bane of an author’s existence. So, let’s start with something a little easier! Tell me what you’re working on at the moment.

I’m currently working on the sequel to my new novel, Infinitus. Infinitus is Book 1 of The Infinitus Saga, so I’m working on Book 2, Chimera Rising. In this book, the chimeras make a move to form an independent nation while my main characters continue to be hunted across the globe. Spoiler Alert! Below is the teaser for Chimera Rising.

For three months the world has held its breath with no word of the Red Queen after her bombshell broadcast exposed the horrific Community exploitation and maltreatment of chimeras—human-animal hybrids born of the reemergence of Old World genetic experimentation. Word of their unexpected champion’s message spread like wildfire through the GRID and galvanized chimeras worldwide to unite against Global Fellowship control. Loyal chimeras spurn the Red Queen’s message and fight, in the name of their fallen comrade-in-arms, to safeguard their Community from the anarchy unleashed by her mind. As the Global Fellowship deploys scorched-earth tactics to eliminate her, an uneasy alliance forms between the traditional freedom fighters and the very Community operatives and assassins they have fought for so long.

Hector ‘Hawk’ Warrenson, former covert chimera operative, waits at the bedside of the woman he failed to protect. The Global Fellowship wants her dead. The rebels want to control her. He wants her free and safe. But is he already too late? As Hawk fears his deterioration into Obsessive Attachment Syndrome, he’s determined to find a way to protect her—no matter the cost.

2. In as much detail as you would like, tell me about your book(s) that are already out/on the way.

The Infinitus Saga is a series of cyberpunk adventure novels following the Mallorey family’s struggle to survive in a world run by the Global Fellowship and their Global Reform Interface and Database (GRID) computer system. The series is jam-packed with futuristic technology, tech-savvy rebels, and genetic animal-human hybrids known as chimeras.

The Global Fellowship rescued the Earth from the chaos of hundreds of nations at war. Now, united in peace, all Community citizens have free access to food, housing, education, and medical care. In return, for a few hours a day, they contribute their brain power to the worldwide computer system known as the GRID. Those who don’t contribute are the disconnected, shirkers who live destitute and on the edge of starvation in a world where GRIDcoin is beyond their reach. Among them are the Mallorey’s who are forced to live outside the GRID to hide their genetic disability, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, or risk being never seen or heard of again.

The Global Fellowship is the prelude novelette for the series. After his parents’ sudden death, Arthur Mallorey, a severely disabled teenager living in the largest shirker camp in Central Continent, knows he has to find a way for him and his sister to survive. Battling pain and exhaustion, he looks for salvation in the very heart of the Community he was raised to fear.

Infinitus is the saga of Gina Mallorey, a young freedom-loving tech dealer living in the Dregs on her own terms, hiding her disability from the Community. When an explosion forces her into the GRID, powerful forces make her a target. The Community operative sent after her hides a genetic secret of his own, but only time will tell if he’ll choose to be friend or foe.

The world of Infinitus brings together several of my favourite elements into a single story. First, the main characters from the Mallorey family have my genetic condition, hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (hEDS). Their experiences are drawn from real life stories of struggling with that disability and persevering. The story gives the reader the perspective of what it’s like to live in a body like that and connects with those of us who live with the condition. The story also takes place in a society where such disabilities are put away or hidden by the government, putting the characters at additional risk.

Secondly, the world of Infinitus is full of a colorful cast of chimera characters that are human-animal hybrids born from emerging genetics from Old World super soldier experiments. You get to see both their advantages and disadvantages.

Thirdly, the world explores the relationship between people and technology. In the world of Infinitus, people are literally wetwired to the world’s computers and their brains are used as temporary servers. Think about what it would be like to close your eyes and dim the lights or turn up the temperature in your apartment. What would it be like to have an AI that was attuned to your every whim? What happens when there’s no tactile form of money? All of these amazing things and more are explored in the story.

Finally, even though this is not a romance novel, there is romance. The story explores the draw and connection between these characters in a world where long-term relationships are considered mental illness.

Aside from The Infinitus Saga, I have also published two children’s picture books in my Where is Uncle? series. The series is designed to help children who are experiencing the adverse childhood experience (ACE) of the incarceration of a loved one. The first book, Why Can’t Uncle Come Home?, is the first picture book to address the subject of wrongful conviction for very young children. The second book, Timmy & Kate Go To Visit, addresses prison visitation.

3. As far as the writing process goes—including such things as conception of idea all the way through to money in the bank—what is the least favourite bit? (Everyone has one!)

My least favourite part is formatting the book for print. There are so many details that influence other details, and you end up going back and forth a lot trying to get your files just perfect for each book format. It’s very time consuming, but the end result is worth the effort.

4. Conversely, what is the bit of the writing process that gets your writery brain grinning?

Writing the first draft is the biggest buzz of the project for me. It helps that I know from the beginning that it’s going to need a lot of work, and let’s me explore without my inner editor screaming at me. Because I’m a “pantser” in writing lingo, I’m often discovering the story for the first time as I write each scene. My characters often surprise me, and I have as much of an adventure writing it as any reader will have reading it.

5. If you could steal any author’s ability to improve your own work, who would you steal from and why? (e.g. Tolkien’s language skills, Douglas Adams’ humour, etc.)

I would steal Dean Koontz’s skill with description. He has beautiful skill when describing details from the weather to the character’s clothes. In my first drafts, my books are detail and description poor. I always go back in and layer the description in with the dialog as part of the editing process.

6. Now for some fun! The main character of the book you’re working on (or have recently finished) has kidnapped you for ruining their life. How will you explain that what you’re doing is for the best?

Wow! My character could definitely make that claim. I would have to explain that they need to have faith. By the time they arrive at their final destination, all the pain and challenges they’ve been through will lead to a life they couldn’t have dreamed of before I started messing with it.

7. You, your main character(s), and the protagonist of the last book you read are playing poker. What are the stakes? Who will win and why?

Hawk will definitely win, but he’s probably only winning freedom from chores. He’s one of the main characters from my novel and he’s a chimera with heightened senses who’s spent his lifetime as a covert operative. He’s playing against: me, who hates household chores; Gina Mallorey who has no money and has the same illness I do, thus hating chores; and Cate Nightingale from Linda Howard’s book Cover of Night, who owns a Bed and Breakfast and has to do extra chores every day. However, if you throw the hero of the book in, Calvin Harris from Howard’s book, then we’ve got another operative at the table and things get dicier. Overall though, I doubt anyone could beat Hawk’s heightened senses and familiarity with living in the global underworld.

8. Let’s face it, writing is hard. What do you think are some traps to avoid in your particular area of expertise? (Whether that be your genre, your knowledge of plot, your character building, your world building, etc.)

I tend to write sagas, where the characters and conflicts carry across multiple books. One of the pitfalls to avoid in this style of writing is knowing what the conflicts will be one, two, or even more books ahead. Weaving those details into the first book and throughout the series will make a much richer experience for the reader and help avoid you suddenly throwing in conflicts or changing the world rules you’ve established to make your story work. Trust me, readers notice.

9. Anything else you’d like to add? Plots to take over the world, for example. Upcoming release dates, links and things, maybe even your favourite chocolate cake recipe.

In addition to being an author, I’m also a criminal justice reform activist and public speaker. I’ve been personally affected by wrongful conviction and encourage everyone to learn more about the issue and how you can become involved in positive change in your community in this battle for justice. You can find out what the nearest Innocence Project is to you by visiting Donate, volunteer, talk to legislators, and support local exonerees in their fight for freedom and transitions home. You can make a difference.