Allison M. Dickson is a writer of dark contemporary fiction living in Dayton, Ohio. Though STRINGS is her debut novel, she has been writing for a number of years, with several short stories (including “Dust” and “Under the Scotch Broom”) available on Amazon. Two of her stories were featured The Endlands Volume 2 from Hobbes End Publishing. In 2014, Hobbes End will also be releasing her dystopian science fiction novel, THE LAST SUPPER, and she is independently producing her pulpy dieselpunk noir novel, COLT COLTRANE AND THE LOTUS KILLER to be released in November of 2013. When she isn’t writing, she’s one of the co-hosts of the weekly Creative Commoners podcast. She might also be found gaming, watching movies, hiking the local nature preserve with her husband and two kids who also serve as willing guinea pigs for her many culinary experiments.
About the Book
After four years of turning tricks in a mob-run New York brothel to pay off a debt, Nina is ready to go back to a quiet life in Iowa. Just one more client and the whole nightmare will be behind her, but this last trick turns into a battle for her soul. Meanwhile, the brothel’s sadistic Madam has been hiding away money in order to move up in her family’s organization, and she only wants the half million dollars the reclusive millionaire pays for the girls. But her driver Ramón has other ideas, making off with the money left behind when Nina’s last trick goes unexpectedly awry. The theft comes at a great cost to the Madam, setting off a horrific chain of events that changes them all. The hooker. The driver. The Madam. All of them on a collision course to a place where only madness holds sway.
Q: Welcome to The Examiner, Allison. Tell us, what’s inside the mind of a horror author?
A: To be clear, I don’t just write horror. My genres also include science-fiction and suspense, though I would have to say it all veers to the darker side of things. Even my attempts to be funny are a little sinister. I’m always searching for what lies beneath the surface or behind the veil or the ordinary. I have my worries and insecurities, but for someone who writes some pretty grim stuff, I am actually a pretty happy-go-lucky person. Maybe it’s the geek in me, but I revel in enthusiasm for trivial things and I have a great sense of wonder about the universe. But I like being riveted and challenged and moved very deeply, and so I guess when I have to point to what’s really in the mind of a horror author, it’s a very strong desire to make people feel things on a profound level.
Q: Why do you write?
A: Because it is the only way I’ve ever been able to effectively express myself. It is also my quickest path to feeling at peace, whether I’m writing a story or a letter or a blog. Never could sing or draw or paint, and the words always tend to fumble out of my mouth when I try to speak, but they flow from my fingers.
Q: How picky are you with language?
A: If we’re talking about general language, I tend to keep things simple. Use words you know. If you find yourself reaching for a thesaurus, there is a problem. If we’re talking about swear words, I’ve been accused more than once of using indecent language, but I have to remind people that it isn’t me using indecent language. It is the characters.
Q: Do you get the feeling you’re playing God when you write fiction?
A: Very rarely. I don’t like being in that sort of position, because it involves a lot of ego, which can result in stories that feel very contrived, with lots of deus ex machinas popping out of nowhere. I’m a servant to the story. I’m a team player. I go with the flow and let it guide me along. It sounds a little silly, but I really feel less like God and more like a record keeper. Or maybe a member of the paparazzi if we want to sound more glamorous.
Q: When you write, do you sometimes feel as though you were being manipulated from afar?
A: Almost always.
Q: What is your worst time as a writer?
A: That bridge from the first act into the second is a real doozy for me. It’s that lull between the excitement of introducing all new characters and working the setup and then settling into the long ride where my enthusiasm tends to flag if I don’t keep pressing on. I have a lot of unfinished stories sitting at the 15-20K word mark just waiting to make that leap to the next energy level.
Q: Your best?
A: Beginnings. Always the beginnings. It’s new love.
Q: Is there anything that would stop you from writing?
A: At this point? No. It’s inserted itself into my very identity. Okay, losing my hands in some freak industrial accident might stall me for awhile, but I’d power through learning dictation software before too long.
Q: What’s the happiest moment you’ve lived as an author?
A: Every time I finish something is my happiest moment.
Q: Is writing an obsession to you?
A: No more than breathing is an obsession. It’s just a part of who I am. Obsession indicates an unhealthy fixation, and I don’t think of it that way.
Q: Are the stories you create connected with you in some way?
A: Absolutely. Each one contains a good bit of my DNA.
Q: Ray Bradbury once said, “You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.” Do you agree?
A: That’s a bit too grim for my blood, which is odd considering some of my work. Often times, when I emerge from the darkness of what I write, I find reality to be a blessing.