By nature a do-it-yourself type of personality, his creative inclinations started with art and evolved to the written word. The process of creativity is a source of fascination for him, and the notion of bringing something to being that would not exist without personal effort and commitment serves not only as inspiration but as fulfillment as well. So whether it is writing, woodwork, or landscaping, his hands and mind are not often at rest.
Over the years he accumulated a dust laden catalog of his written works, with his reading audience limited to family and friends. After deciding to approach his writing as a profession, and not a hobby, the first glimmers of success came along. Since making the decision to move forward, he has secured publication for a number of short stories, has received a nomination for inclusion in the Pushcart Anthology, built his own website, and in November 2010 realized publication for an anthology of three novellas, titled Remnant, from All Things That Matter Press. Remnant has gone on to favorable critical review and placed as Finalist/Sci-fi, 2011 National Indie Excellence Awards; Bronze Medalist, Sci-Fi, 2012 Readers Favorite Book of the Year Awards; and Award Winner-Finalist, Sci-Fi, 2012 USA Book News Best Book Awards. Roland’s second publication, Oddities & Entities, also from All Things That Matter Press, followed in March 2012. It, too, has received favorable critical review, and is the recipient of four awards: Bronze Medalist, Horror, and Finalist, Paranormal, 2012 Readers Favorite Book of the Year Awards; Award Winner-Finalist, Fiction/Horror and Fiction/Anthologies, 2012 USA Book News Best Book Awards.
His writing can best be described as depicting strange people involved in perhaps stranger situations. He is not devoted to any one genre of writing. Instead, he prefers to let his stories follow their own path. Classification can follow after the fact, but if one is looking for labels, one would find his stories in several categories. Sometimes speculative, other times supernatural, at times horror, with journeys into mainstream fiction, and even some humor- or perhaps the bizarre. Despite the category, he aims to depict characters as real on the page as they are in his head, with prose of literary quality. His literary inspirations are as eclectic as his written works- from Poe to Kate Chopin, from Homer to Tolkien, from Flaubert to William Gibson, from Shakespeare to Tolstoy, as long as a piece is true to itself, he is willing to go along for the ride. He hopes to bring the same to his own fiction.
Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life! Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process. Can we begin by having you take us at the beginning? Where did you come up with the idea to write your book?
It’s hard to discuss Oddities & Entities without mentioning that it’s an anthology. The guiding idea for the collection came in one of the stories, “Shift/Change”, which has a line that appears on the book’s back cover: “There’s more to this world than flesh and bone.” That thought lingered with me long after that story was written, and I decided to pursue it further. Out of that the stories of Oddities & Entities took from one by one. About half way through crafting the stories as individual pieces, I realized I was writing on a common theme, and so made sure to focus the last two stories to tie the book together. It was a very organic process. That's something I enjoy, because I love to feel that my stories are alive, writing themselves as much as I write them.
Q: How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?
The anthology, the form I decided to follow, is not something you see a whole lot of these days. There are many anthologies encompassing multiple authors, some of them using a common theme, and fewer single author anthologies, but not many anthologies by a single author with a thematic link. The idea of doing something a bit different interested me, but being different makes it difficult to relate to other sectors of the publishing market when trying to present the book. For other authors who want to embark on such a book form, I would advise them to be sure they stay true to their theme, and stay persistent. When readers take the plunge, they will be genuinely surprised, as I’ve often found with my books.
Q: Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self-publish?
I’m with a small publisher, All Things That Matter Press. My first book, as well as my second, follows the form of a thematically linked anthology, which I found was not all that popular among publishers. Except for All Things That Matter, who not only were open to this form of book, but were kind enough to embrace my writing and afford me the opportunity to enter the book world.
Q: Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published?
When my first book, Remnant, came out in the publishing world I soon found myself in the midst of every publishing misconception you can imagine. I believed that with the number of books sold every year that any book had a built in sales figure, only to discover that figure was a nice round zero. I had done some reading about marketing and publicity, but I had to quickly switch gears to be realistic about the rigors involved in getting my writing noticed among the many, many titles that see publication.
Q: Can you describe the feeling when you saw your published book for the first time?
As you can imagine, I was thrilled. Once I got word from my publisher that my first book was good to go, I was all but living inside my mailbox waiting for my author’s copy. By some strange curiosity of postal delivery, though, my parents received the copies they ordered before I received my copy. I remember my mom called to let me know, and in true cartoon style I grabbed my kids, flew out the door, and burned rubber all the way over to their house. It was well worth it, though. My wife was still at work, so I called her from my parents’ house. It was nice to share the moment with my family, after all their support over the years.
Q: What other books (if any) are you working on and when will they be published?
I have a number of projects I’m working on, but my immediate goal is to see through to publication another anthology, this one a mix of my published short fiction and some unpublished longer pieces. My hope is to display the range of my narrative voice by combining stories of different genres, different styles of prose, and different extents of descriptive language. As such, I’m considering a title of Prism, and I hope to see that published this year.
Q: Fun question: How does your book contribute to making this world a better place?
For all its oddness, its surreal situations and strange characters, I think Oddities & Entities encourages people to keep their eyes and minds open, and realize that there are different viewpoints in life. A big part of the book deals with characters trying to reckon a sense of order to the world after other-worldly realities intersect with their lives, so there’s an underlying philosophical perspective at work. One of the obstacles to human interaction is maintaining the reserve to understand the thought process behind the viewpoints of other people, and the failure of that reserve underlies much of the conflict we see in the world.
Q: Finally, what message (if any) are you trying to get across with your book?
Expanding on the idea of maintaining an open mind to varying perspectives, one of the underlying themes of the book is a sense of Naturalism, in terms of finding our place among the existence around us. In many ways reality is like the skin of a shark - find a way to move with the flow, and things can be smooth, but rub things the wrong way, and life can be abrasive. This is not to say to live life as a cookie-cut image of some societal construct or expectation, but more to express the need of finding harmony with the greater world, so that not only one’s life, but one’s place in the world, makes sense.
Q: Thank you again for this interview! Do you have any final words?
And I thank you for the opportunity to chat. In closing I would like to invite those interested in my writing to visit my website, rolandallnach.com, where they can take a gander at my published short fiction, excerpts of my books, reviews, and interviews. I respect the factors that go into the decision of what books readers choose to read, so I like to offer readers as much opportunity as possible to see if my stories match their tastes. That said, enjoy!