Interview with Jeffrey B. Allen, Author of Gone Away Into the Land

After moving with his family nine times, Allen graduated High School from Central Bucks East in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. It was 1971. "Yes, growing up in the sixties was, in retrospect, the most incredible time to be a teenager,” said Allen, in a recent interview. “I realized how fortunate I had been when I had two teenagers of my own, because teenagers perceive the world entirely from a self indulgent point of view. I loved and hated every minute of the sixties and early seventies: there was no in-between. I indulged myself to the fullest, I absorbed everything, I contributed in my small way, but very little in the grand scheme of things, but it didn't matter and it doesn't matter because those special years are now and forever engrained in me, imprinted into who I am and what I have become as an adult. Although, clearest in my mind are the memories of the war, my draft numbers, the protest marches on Washington, and my friend, Scott, who was shot in the back of the neck by American forces on the Ohio campus of Kent State.

Allen studied fine art at Bloomsburg University for two years before attending Boston University where he majored in history and minored in set design and fine arts. A one year hiatus, in the form a hitchhiking trip, did little to appease his restless and inquisitive nature. Allen attributes those early journeys to laying the foundations for his views on politics and religion and the
relationships they share with historical misrepresentations. "Misrepresentation," Allen explains, "that are authored, in most cases, as suppot for a self serving political agenda and thus go to
the junk pile of propaganda.

Later, Allen traveled through Europe and Mexico where he learned more about his compulsive curiosity with historical fact, especially he said, “the interpretations that obscure the geopolitical truths underlying foreign and American cultures.” Jeffrey Allen became obsessed by the way events are twisted and misconstrued within historical writings because of current religious beliefs or political power brokering. Those years of learning, searching, and questioning
contributed greatly to the philosophical depth of his writings. Allen continues to this day to study, research, and philosophize about the positive and negative effects on our culture due to an over abundance of perpetrated misrepresentations.

Allen graduated from Millersville State University in architectural design and taught for two years while also working toward his Masters degree at Temple University in Philadelphia. After a brief teaching career, he created his own architectural woodworking firm in 1980.

By 1982, Allen was the owner and president of Artistic Furnishings Incorporated, a design house and manufacturer of custom architectural millwork. The company employed designers, artisans and support staff. His work can be seen throughout Eastern Pennsylvania, New York and New
Jersey in private residences and businesses.

Today, Allen reside in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, where he still works in the field of interior space planning, although most of his time is devoted to writing.

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Can you please tell us about your book and why you wrote it?

GoneAway examines a twelve year old's seamless journey into the space that exists between life and death. It is a place where there no time references of universal cycles. It will be a journey of
our own making but one none of us will ever escape. We will all take it. Where we go and how we handle it is all up to how we lived in this world.

John, the main character spends the entire novel reconciling what went wrong in his short life. Much went wrong for John and his family. When reading Gone Away, it is important not to loose site of the fact that, as the reader, you are following along with a twelve year old boy, thus with a twelve year old boy's perspective. But read between the lines, because there is much for every reader to grab onto and relate to while contemplating that inevitable journey we will all
embark upon when the electricity of our life, as we know it in this world, switches off.

I wrote Gone Away as children's story first, but found a depth inside the story I could not ignore. For my own sake, I needed to examine the issues brought out in the book. It is a fairly long book and I feel my reader must embrace the challenge of experiencing the hurt that John goes through in the beginning chapters and then the transition into his strange Land before what will become evidently redeeming and make the reader transition into the state of absorption
all novels eventually hope to bring their reader into. Gone Away does just that, but not without the necessary pain that is a part of life, thus a vital part of this story.

What were some of the biggest challenges you faced writing it?

Writing a novel is similar to composing a symphony. The author, like the composer, is carefully constructing pathways of emotion that he wants the reader to follow. The skill, or should I say difficulty, is to have practiced and studied the craft well enough to be able to absorb your listener into a personal experience that has no rest stop, no period of questioning or confusion, only a willingness and compulsion to move onward, to listen more intently, and to read without seeing words on the page; to be carried away by carefully crafted prose, and in the case of the composers, brilliantly joined musical phrases. Where this emotional experience ends up is
the genius of the great writer or composer. I prefer to leave my reader with a feeling of fulfillment, of hope, of satisfaction. Not all questions answered, but enough to give the reader pause and a reason for contemplation. To become that good as a writer is my biggest challenge. Everyday I write for several hours, and I believe, no, I am sure I am getting better all the time.

Do you have a press kit and what do you include in it? Does this press kit appear online and, if so, can you provide a link to where we can see it?

Yes, I have a press kit. It is found on my web site and consists of a poster, reviews, articles, excerpts, photos of the author, and the book jacket.

Have you either spoken to groups of people about your book or appeared on radio or TV? What are your upcoming plans for doing so?

I am scheduling for time on a local radio show, and I was interviewed recently by the News Harald. I spend every summer, during the first 10 days of August at the Wired Cafe in Bethlehem, PA, during our music festival, signing books and talking to people as they stop
to ask me questions or share something with me and then, hopefully, buy a signed copy. I have done numerous internet blog interviews and I have an extensive one coming up in June of this year, 2009.

Do you have an agent and, if so, would you mind sharing who he/is is? If not, have you ever had an agent or do you even feel it’s necessary to have one?

No, I do not have an agent, My work needs to be marketed by my publisher and I before an agent would consider me. Once that time comes I will probably not need an agent.

Did you, your agent or publisher prepare a media blitz before the book came out and would you like to tell us about it?

My current publisher prepared nothing. I have been left entirely to my own devises. I am starting with a new publisher this spring. All indications are that this publisher takes marketing to much higher level. Here's hoping.

Do you plan subsequent books?

Yes, I have a new novel almost done, called Beneath the Quarry Waters, and of course, the sequel to Gone Away into the Land which will be even more epic in nature and scope than its predecessor.

Thank you for your interview, Jeffrey. Would you like to tell my readers where they can find you on the web and how everyone can buy your book?

Absolutely. You may purchase Gone Away Into the Land on just about every major Internet bookseller's site out there. Obviously, Amazon.com and Barnes& Noble are the largest. For Libraries and Librarians, I have an OCLC number that is listed on my web site, and for Independent Book Stores, Gone Away is listed in Ingram and Baker and Taylor. Abebooks.com takes the buyer around the world for all nationalities who wish to purchase the book outside of the American Marketplace. My web site is www.jeffreyballen.com. There is even more links to
places where the book is either featured or for sale or both.

Thank you for your wonderful questions. I enjoyed the interview.
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