Today's special guest author is
J. C. Allen
This blog is a little different than what I normally prepare because it is much longer in content.
J. C. Allen wrote me a letter, and I felt compelled to print it in its entirety. As a mother of two daughters, I know that this letter will pull at any parent's heartstrings when they learn the reason behind J. C. Allen's inspiration for becoming an author.
More than just breathtaking - breath catching!
I just finished M.O.D. by J.C. Allen, and now I have to take a nap. I'm exhausted. M.O.D. sucks you in from the very beginning with fast paced action, and never lets you down. There are many thrills to be had reading this book.
Are you a techno-idiot like me? If so, don't be afraid to read this book. The details for hacking that are explained in the book, are geared to a techno-idiot character, so nothing is above the reader's head. That pleased me very much, as it was a real concern of mine.
Who's the bad guy? I wish I could tell you. I must say, though, that by the end of the book, I was bouncing in my seat and cheering for the New USA.
This is a great read, and I highly recommend it!
In September 2004, during a rather bitter divorce and custody battle (aren't they all) my ex-wife decided that since I had taken care of our two children their entire lives, and no court in the world would grant her custody, she would find a way to steal them. And she did. She set me up.
A year later, and a railroading Conrail would have been proud of, I was arrested and subsequently ground into pulp by our mighty legal system. A decent lawyer required $125,000 as a retainer so I had to make do with a public defender, who would receive $3,000 from the government. That was basically enough pay for him if I would plead guilty. I was doomed.
"But I'm not guilty," I protested. After he finished laughing he informed me that guilt is irrelevant; the prosecutors would make me guilty. Of course, I was naive about our legal system (everyone who hasn't dealt with it is). I was under the impression that the Constitution protected me. Now I realize that a withered old piece of paper doesn't offer much sanctuary from a relentless prosecutor. With no defense effort, and a blood-thirsty prosecutor who couldn't resist piling on lie after lie since she knew there would be no investigation, or resistance, I was summarily smacked around and plastered to the inside of federal prison.
I probably don't have to explain this, but some people still believe the United States is high on human rights, so I'll explain: There's nothing in prison to do but exist. The conditions are so bad that Nightline would do a two-week sob-story about the oppression of its citizens - if it were happening in China. But it's the United States, so it's okay. You have two options in prison: socialize and get involved in stabbing and killing; or read and stay out of it all. I read. Roughly ten books a week. Anything I could get my hands on (even romance and westerns if there were no other options).
During this time, I decided my story had to be told. Now, for your reference, I barely passed English all through both high school and college. Obviously, my English skills are adequate, and I'm (humbly) reasonably intelligent; I just wasn't interested in the subject - I'm a math and science kind of person. So, when I wrote the first part of my story, which concluded with my train ride on the underside of the locomotive, I was shocked when my mother said something on the order of "WOW! I had no idea you could write so beautifully!" This praise, coming from a woman who has read literally thousands of books in her lifetime and has impeccable English skills, blew me away. I sort of dismissed her praise as that of a mother for her son, by requirement, not inspiration because of my aforementioned lack of corroborating grades in anything literate. Then a few others read my story and confirmed her assessment. Again, I sort of dismissed this by the simple determination that "a good story is always more interesting than good writing." Nobody cares how well a bad story is written, or how poorly a good story is written. But more and more people kept insisting that it was both a great story and great writing.
At this time, I was only allowed phone conversations with my daughters, and being bored on the phone, we began discussing writing as well as other subjects such as reading and history. They were equally thrilled about those subjects as I had been in school (not at all). I was determined then to use this as an opportunity to get them involved in these dreadful topics. I started by trying to get my oldest daughter into history by bringing up some long-held misconceptions - and propaganda - about such hot topics as religion, government conspiracy, etc. She was truly engrossed with some of the revelations. Encouraged, I went on and on, until we got into the subject of reading. "Reading is boring," she had said. "Not if it's about something you are interested in," I told her. Then she spontaneously came up with the idea: "It would be interesting to read something about kids my age going back in time to all these places and finding out what really happened." And the "Chronicles of Time" was born.
I spent nearly a year researching four specific times we had found a mutual interest in: Ancient Rome, the Salem Witch Trials, JFK's assassination and Jesus’ birth. I based the characters on us, as well as some friends who had practically lived with us. We created an adventure story that ended up some 1200-1500 pages long. (We are currently trying to hack it into three parts, the first of which is nearly ready to be published.)
I read each chapter to my oldest daughter over the phone and the result was communication on the level I wholly recommend to any parent. We were already close, but now we were partners on this story. It had its own life. Again, people complimented me on this story, and their praise blew me away. I started trying to figure out then, analytically, why it was so enthralling, and came to this rather simple conclusion: the characters were real, and their reactions were equally real. It was intimate, unforced, spontaneous. Real. I realized then that I always had a fascination with how everyone reacts to things differently. I used to study people, and I now apparently understand them well enough to make authentic characters.
After enjoying this story so much, I then wrote into a sci-fi space opera that was a little more believable. In this story, there was no warping away in an instant halfway across the galaxy, but slow, steady, long, long, long hops between destinations to explore. The story was more of a study of character - how people coped with the decades-long journeys and missions that their children would complete. The first book, Generation-One, was again received with incredible praise and I started on a second one. But by then I had a thousand unique ideas floating in my head. I wrote three scathing, vicious stories in a series called "Guilty of Innocence" in which a psychiatrist frees an innocent man, then they take on all forms of corrupt government to free other innocents from the grinder in everything from injustice to exploitation. I was just plotting out the fourth in this series when MOD hit me like a ton of bricks.
MOD was the easiest book for me to write, it had everything I know in it: computer hacking, government distrust, and debate of ethics involved in both. Mind you, I never really edit anything. I don’t use outlines, I don’t go back and insert paragraphs – I write in one long stream. I wrote MOD in about ten days, total. No editing. This was the reason we decided to release this story first: it was basically finished. It took longer to get it from paper to digital copy than it took to edit it.
After MOD, I went back into another epic young adult novel - Edge of Knight - about a boy destined to save the world with his new-found magical powers, I’m working on Episode 5 now.
I then wrote another long, deep novel about a man trying to put his life back together after 14 years in prison for a crime he didn't commit. Then one about the future of literature and what happens when the last original ideas are gone.
All of my novels have a deep, personal connection. I don't adhere to any rules because I don’t want to write a generic story! At this time, I've written 20 novels in roughly four years, and my mother - who works full-time as well as caring for my daughters - can't possibly keep up with publishing them as fast as I write them. I hope to keep the Edge of Knight series going to its conclusion, and Chronicles of Time and the Guilty of Innocence series indefinitely (I want to see how long I can do them without turning into a Keebler elf), and I have a sequel planned to MOD as well as a few millennia worth of Generation One's relative drift through virgin space.
I use writing to pass time that I shouldn't be serving, but would still trade a thousand best-sellers for that time back. I wish to be able to become a success at it, however, for the sole purpose of providing my daughters with at least a sliver of the wonderful life they deserve - a life they had before a few vile, ruthless, unscrupulous people stole it from them. In a perfect world, I would be exonerated and compensated for the crimes committed against me (and all those involved in convicting an innocent man would be punished).
But I now have no faith in our legal system doing the right thing. Ever. When they freely admit, "Yes, you're innocent but we followed proper procedure in falsely convicting you, therefore you get to stay in prison for a couple decades," something is very, very seriously, wrong. You and I don't stand a chance against this type of power. This loathing of such tyranny is very evident in my writing, as you can see in MOD. In reality, I'm reduced to writing as a desperate attempt to make the best of a horrible situation for myself, my family and friends, by using my fantasy of a just world to create stories.