Allan Batchelder is the author of the Immortal Treachery series, currently at four out of a planned five novels. He’s a professional actor, former stand up comedian, and sometime emergency floatation device. Oh, and he teaches 8th graders. Talk about grimdark! He lives in Seattle with his wife, son – currently away at college – two cats, and delusions of grandeur. Minus the grandeur bit.
1.Why storytelling? What made you yearn to tell a good story, and how long was this story within you before it came out?
It started very early for me, with sequential drawings, detailing protracted battles. I think storytelling gives us more control over events than we have in our real lives, and kids in particular can latch onto that. There’s some comfort in finally, finally being able to dictate what happens and to whom. We can perpetrate horrible crimes, see justice delivered, and even play God for a while. As for the story at the heart of my series, I think it’s a combination of a lot of things that have been on my mind for decades – from Greek, Roman and Norse mythology to what it’s like growing old, failing at something, having rivals and lovers, etc.
I’m sure we would be cowering in corner and drinking heavily, hoping he didn’t notice us, wishing he’d take a shower or go somewhere else. Then we’d move on to praying and deal-making with whatever deity was appropriate – “Get me out of here, and I promise I’ll be a better person,” etc. Assuming my MC left, or we were able to depart, I’m sure we would immediately begin boasting about how we’d been in the same room and lived to tell the tale. I have no shame. When you’re old, fat, and bald, what’s the point?
3.Everyone has at least one specific challenge that holds them back. What is that challenge in your work and how do you overcome it?
I have an embarrassingly short attention span, and yet, I’m writing an epic. Go figure. In my younger daze, I could concentrate for hours on a drawing or a story. Now, I can’t even – squirrel!
4.You’re going to go back and visit yourself when you first started writing, at whatever age it was, and you can give yourself one piece of advice. What would it be?
Finish all those earlier stories. Write more. Write longer. Write for a larger audience. Have confidence.
5.Describe your workplace.
My house is a Tudor (in name only), built by a sea captain in 1927, along with the two houses on either side. It is extremely quirky. The entire upstairs looks like a cabin or hunting lodge, with dark, tongue-in-groove boards running horizontally up and across all the walls. My room spans the entire width of the house, and my computer is in a corner, next to an east-facing window (my bed is against the west-facing window), through which I can watch the sunset against the massive church on the corner. It’s both cozy and idyllic. Often, one or both of my cats sit on or near my desk, to remind me who’s really in charge, and it ain’t me. Sometimes, there’s a large, alcoholic beverage at hand; other times, I’m “being good,” and it’s diet soda. I haven’t noticed much difference in my writing either way. I should mention, too, that for many, many years, my house was a foster home. At night, I bask in the echoes of the tears of small children.
6.If you could live anywhere other than where you are, where would it be?
A couple of years ago, I vacationed in an industrial, working-class neighborhood in Oahu (but still on the beach). I’ve never liked resorts, so I LOVED Makaha. I fantasize about having my own waterfront shack in which to write, nap, and gaze at the sea. But that might work in Ireland, too.
7.If you could choose any other writer, living or dead, to be your mentor, whom would you choose and why?
Okay, I know how this is gonna sound, but I was raised on and in the theater, and I’ve always been a huge Shakespeare geek. This mentorship wouldn’t be so much about him teaching me anything, as it would about us hanging out together, me knowing he was real, etc., and perhaps having an inside lead as to missing manuscripts. If I could step through a portal any time I wanted, I’d definitely spend half my days in Elizabethan and/or Jacobean England. Duels, witchcraft, public executions, all kinds of wild rumors about the New World. Crazy times!
8.Can we expect an audio book from you, and if you had the ability to choose anyone to narrate it, is there someone in particular you would hire?
We just released mine on Audiobooks.com. I am actually trained to do this sort of stuff myself, but I am also smart enough not to represent myself in court. I am very proud and excited about my narrator, Christopher Selbie. Not only is he a master of the various English dialects, but he really made the story his own. I laughed so hard at the Long Pete stuff that I almost had a seizure.
You can check it out here.
9.Do you have any regrets about the story you told? Would you make any changes to its telling or did you capture exactly what you were looking for?
I was insanely – some would say naively – ambitious, and chose to do a pentalogy (?) right out of the gate, having never written ONE book before. I don’t regret the choice so much, but wish I’d had more of the overarching details in place before starting. Fortunately, I’ve had plenty of time to imagine the missing bits over the last five + years.
10.What element of this story can we expect in your future work?
I’m committed to do a steam-punk, next, with my son (who will do the artwork). It’s about a man who wakes up one day to discover he’s been turned into a goat, and the only two things in the world he can communicate with are a hat rack and a large rock. I plan to use the word “nefarious” a lot.
After that, I’m hoping/planning to write a horror novel, set in Georgia, before returning to Grimdark.
Since these two works will be so different from Immortal Treachery, I guess I’ll have to depend on my readers to find similarities. Having said that, I am a huge fan of absurdity and the ridiculous. Yes, even in Grimdark and horror.
11.You are forced to pick a fist fight with one of the characters in your book. Who would you choose and why?
Most are too powerful, or, if not, too likeable to fight. There is, however, a character in my current WIP, Book Five, who is loosely based on an extremely unpopular fellow of international infamy at the moment. HIM, I’d like to punch in the nose. Oh, and I would so win!
12.Do you have a uniform, a pair of shoes, a shirt, a watch or ring that you wear every time you work?
I have an enormous – enormous, I say – crystal codpiece that glows like a mood ring depending upon my emotional state at any given moment.
13.Do you share any vices or habits with any characters in your book? If so, what are they?
The list of shared virtues would be much shorter. As a younger person, I was a volcano of suppressed rage. I had a pretty turbulent childhood. And arrogant? Hoo-wee! Narcissistic? You betcha! But parenthood and the aging process do wonders for one’s ego, and I like to think I’m reasonably humble and humbled by now. If you’re asking which of my characters is most like me today, I suppose I’d have to say Long Pete – on the surface, at least, kind of an Everyman.
For more about Allan and his works: