Earlier this year, author K.M. Allan released her debut novel into the world. Blackbirch: The Beginning, a mystery packed young adult story, with terrifying twists along the way. As a huge fan of the author and her work, I quickly pounced on the opportunity the interview her, to find out more about Blackbirch, and the exciting series K.M. Allan has planned. Take a look.
You’ve just released Blackbirch: The Beginning, but this isn’t by any means the start of your writing journey. When did you first start writing this story, and what was your initial inspiration?
I started writing it back in 2001, although those drafts are nothing like what the book ended up being. Back then, Josh still has his dad and Eve had actual friends. The initial inspiration, which popped into my head in 2000, was based on the idea of a girl saving a guy. This is a scene that readers will come across in book 2.
Did you plot much before you started writing, or are you more of a panster?
Definitely a pantser. I usually start with an idea or a piece of dialogue and go from there. Sometimes the words just flow, other times it’s hard to even knock out a sentence. I do eventually get a whole book written this way. Once the first draft is down, I’ll reverse outline it, which is creating an outline based on what I’ve written so far. This gives me an overall picture of the plot and I can then start the second draft knowing what needs to be added, removed, readjusted, etc.
Blackbirch is a fictional town, shrouded in magic, and yet it feels so real. Were you inspired by any non-fictional locations?
I moved to Melbourne 7 years ago and it’s a very green place, lots of trees and houses built amongst them, so that definitely helped shape the notion of a town surrounded by trees. There’s also certain parts of Blackbirch, like an industrial area that pops up more as the books go on, that was inspired by where I grew up in Sydney.
Blackbirch: The Beginning is exactly that – a beginning. How many books will there be in the series, and what can fans look forward to as Josh’s story progresses?
There will be four and they will take Josh through some more loss, but also events that will make him realize why everything has happened, to him in particular, and the role he plays in stopping something that should never have been part of the world.
You have a fantastic cast of characters. Who was your favourite to write, and why?
Thank you. There are aspects of each character I like writing. Max is always fun because I get to make up jokes and talk endlessly about food. Kallie has that real air of mystery about her in the first book, but probably my favorite is Eve. She knows what she wants and is never apologetic about it.
You’ve been working towards your publishing goal for some time, how did it feel to hold your book in your hands for the first time?
Very surreal. It still really hasn’t sunk in that the book sitting on my desk, crammed between books by my favorite author, is the book I’ve been working on for so many years.
Writing a novel isn’t easy, and publishing one is harder still. What advice would you give to unpublished writers reaching for the goal of publication?
Make progress toward your goal whenever you can. Give yourself plenty of time to learn how to do things. Don’t beat yourself up if it feels like you’re not doing enough because you are. Celebrate every little goal that you tick off that endless to-do list, and take regular breaks. It’s very easy to be consumed by the act of writing and publishing, especially when you love it with such passion, but it’s better for your book and your mental health if you see it as a journey that’ll take as long as it takes.
Alongside writing you also run a brilliant blog. How do you make time for writing?
Dedicated writing times. I get up at 6 am to write for an hour or so with the #6amAusWriters, and some days that’s the only time I get any writing done. I also have specific writing days, for example, I write blog posts on Tuesday and use Thursday’s to put them together for publishing. That leaves the other days of the week to write or work on marketing. I find having a schedule, even if it’s only loosely followed, helps to keep everything progressing.
And finally, where can readers grab a copy of Blackbirch if they haven’t already?
It’s available as a paperback and ebook from most places like Amazon, Barnes and Nobel, and Book Depository. You can find all the links here.
A huge thank you to author K.M. Allan for taking the time to answer these questions. Have you read Blackbirch yet? If not, don’t hang about! This riveting story is just waiting to be uncovered by more readers. Click here to find out how to get a copy of the e-book or paperback in your country. Then come back here to share your thoughts!
Keep writing (and reading!!)