Please welcome, Paul Allih and his latest book, PLACEBO. Today, he shares his inspiration, why he chose to publish independently, and news about his upcoming book.
Paul Allih is a writer residing in a small Florida town with his girlfriend and son. Influenced by the likes of Chuck Palahniuk and Hunter S. Thompson, his characters linger on the outskirts of social acceptability within tales that exploit the dark side of American life.
His first book, Lost Cries from the Emerald Triangle has gained critical praise from Skunk Magazine and Book Pleasures.
Thank you for joining us today, Paul!
Q: What inspired you to write your first book?
A: My first book is a novella named “Last Cries from the Emerald Triangle”. In short, it is about a family of marijuana farmers in the mountains of northern California that are infiltrated by the federal government.
The story was inspired by certain atrocities that have taken place in America on the behalf of our government like the Waco standoff and the assault on Ruby Ridge.
It was something that I felt I had to write to shed a different light on the subject of marijuana’s criminalization and the damage that it doing to this country as whole.
Despite the fact that the people of California have voted to make medicinal marijuana legal, the government is over riding the state by kicking down doors, harassing dispensary owners and making life harder for the patients. We can’t afford to fund NASA for space exploration, but somehow we can find money to keep kicking water up this hill? It’s just insane.
You can’t take pride or claim to live in a free country if you can be arrested for smoking a plant in your back yard in that said country.
Q: Where do you get the ideas for your books?
A: It depends. I get some of my ideas from following the current events of the world and I get others while sitting on my back porch at night, sipping on some whiskey. Usually I come up with a brief idea for a character first and let the story unfold around them by thinking of some of the most hellish things that I can put them through. I like writing about the darker side of things, exploiting my fears and the fears for others. It’s like a coping mechanism for me. My biggest fear is what human beings are capable of doing. Some people go to work, do their jobs, punch out and go home to their families. But what lurks inside of their minds?
How many of them harbor the thought of going home and killing their families? How many of many of them go home and sit down to eat dinner with their loved ones while smiling and thinking about returning to work the next morning with a machine gun and taking out as many people as they can? You might think these thoughts are disturbing, but these things happen and why they take place is something that enthralls me for some reason.
Q: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
A: I would say Chuck Palahniuk. I read a lot of different authors, but between Palahniuk’s Fight Club and Survivor, those books really made me want to write. His work is character driven to the extremes. His characters are strange and might repulse the average person, but at the same time you know that they are human and you find yourself sympathizing with them. That kind of power displayed by a writer is something that deeply I respect.
Another thing that I like about Chuck is that his favorite part of writing is the research aspect. That is my favorite part as well. I like to explore different subjects and educate myself while I create. Everything that I put out will always be thoroughly researched, depending on the subject; it will defiantly be to the best of my abilities.
Q: Can you tell us about your latest book?
A: My latest release is named Placebo. It is a gruesome parody on the Young Adult Paranormal Romance books. The story is about a young girl named Emma who lives a very strange life. Her mother is a heroin addled prostitute and her older sister, Kelly is a modern feminist and politically tuned mind that sacrifices her youth to keep the household from falling apart. There is a lot of conflict between the sisters. While Kelly works a crap job, Emma really has no drive to do anything. She just consumes herself in the world of her Paranormal Romance novels to escape from her home life, pinning to meet someone that will whisk her away. And then she meets Matt, who goes from being the crowned prince of her dreams to the compulsive maniac of her nightmares.
My inspiration came by seeing Twilight fans from the ages of 12 to 35 arguing over who would make a better lover, Edward or Jacob. I thought to myself, “What would happen if one of these fan-girls began a relationship with a real life vampire?”
Vampires really do exist, not in the paranormal kind of sense, but in the ritualistic sort of way.
I had an experience with one quite a few years ago when I met a girl on one of those adult meeting sites. We went out had a few drinks, some getting to know you chit-chat, and then went back to her place and we had sex. After we were done, she asked me if she could cut me and drink my blood from a cup. I was drunk and ambitious so I said “sure”. She put a tiny slice in my wrist, drained enough to swallow into a small high ball glass and drank it. When she brought me a bandage, I asked her why she did it and her reply was, “It makes me feel alive.”
At that point it was just one night stand and I was and didn’t care. It did however lead me to loosely base Matt’s character from my experience that night. On the outside he is an attractive man who comes off as a gentleman with confidence, but on the inside, he is a violent, sexual deviant with a growing lust for blood. When Emma meets him she falls in love with him, almost immediately. As his true self starts to emerge, she knows that she should leave him, but doesn’t want to be alone again. She’s a girl who thinks her dreams have come true in being with him and she doesn’t want that to end because she really has nothing else.
Q: How does this book express your thoughts?
A: Placebo is ultimately a story about addiction. Whether it is drugs, money, or the company of another person, we are all addicts in our own ways because addiction is a part of being human. Sometimes these cravings are harmless, but other times, they are not only detrimental to you, but they affect everyone around you.
Writing this book allowed me to express this thought and truly explore how people deal with their demons on an individual level. Some of us battle them successfully while others allow them to reluctantly take over. And then there are those, like Matt, who willingly become one with them.
Q: Why did you choose to publish independently?
A: After looking into it, I saw it as a challenge. The way I looked at it, I could spend months emailing agents and shipping out printed out chapters of my book in the hopes of getting it published or I could just write and take a stab at doing the marketing my myself. There are so many avenues to present your work now that even traditionally published authors are trying their hand at self publishing.
I have put three books out since January 2011 and I wouldn’t have been able to do that through a traditional publisher as a new author. The way the business operates, it would have taken up to a year to publish my first book and I would have had to wait another year to publish my next book.
Some would say, “Well, they’d do all the marketing for you and could sell more books.” Not necessarily, just because they put your book out does not mean they will market it or market it properly. At least this way I know that it is all in my hands and if I sink, then it’s my fault. I design the covers the way I want them, set up the chapters how I see fit, and put out whatever content I like. At this point, it’s all win for me.
Q: Can you tell us about your upcoming book?
A: Sure. The working title is Suffering Makes Great Stories and it’s about a burned out rock star named Daniel who is trying to hold on to his fame in the ever-changing music business. During his plight of trying to cleanse himself from drugs and alcohol and getting his career back on track, he is being stalked by a mentally disturbed, transgendered fan, named Michele. She is convinced that all of his songs are written for her and believes that they are destined to be together. But that is only a fraction of the tale.
The main theme is personal perseverance and whether it is for the better or for the worse. It is a number of characters that are intertwined in some way as they are wading through the obstacles of their lives to follow their dreams, not matter how twisted some of their goals might be.
Placebo is available at: