Thursday, September 13, 2012

Author Interview: Allan Leverone (Revenant)

Today as part of the Partners in Crime Tour I welcome Allan Leverone, author of Revenant.  I have a wonderful interview with Allan today so enjoy and come back next week for my review of Revenant.  Welcome Allan!

How did you come up with the title?

REVENANT represents the first time I’ve written a book as a followup to another. The first book in my series of supernatural suspense novels set in Maine is titled PASKAGANKEE, and that title alludes to the name of the tiny town where the action occurs. There is a significance to that name, but you’ll have to read the book to find out what it is!

When I set out to write the second book in the series, I had a couple of specific goals in mind: I wanted a one-word title, in keeping with the title of the first book, I wanted it to be hard-hitting, and I wanted to tease potential readers with a little taste of what they might get if they read the book. The dictionary definition of “revenant” is “a person who returns as a spirit after death,” and the novel’s plot centers around a power-hungry con man who steals a sacred Navajo object imbued with a mystical and terrifying power, so you can probably see where we’re going here…

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

My number one goal when I sit down to write a book is to entertain. I’m a genre writer through-and-through, I write mostly horror and thriller novels, and if I can transport the reader away from the problems of her world for a little while, and into a world of action or danger or fright or intrigue, I feel like I’ve done my job. That’s not to say you won’t pick up on a theme or two when you read my work—we’re all products of our environments, after all—but my overriding goal when I write is not to push my world view on anyone else, it is to make your pulse pound and to keep you turning the pages.

How much of the book is realistic?

That’s a great question, and the answer really comes down to your expectations as a reader. REVENANT is a supernatural suspense novel dealing with an amoral sociopath who finds in his possession a sacred object with the ability to reanimate the recently dead. It’s a situation most people probably would agree could not happen, or at least is not likely to happen, so in that sense, it’s not realistic at all. But the entire horror genre consists of books dealing with events and occurrences most people would agree could not happen or would not be likely to happen.

In that context, REVENANT is as realistic as any other book in the genre. It’s all about suspension of disbelief. And in a broader sense, the book is totally realistic when you consider it deals with a sociopath so power-hungry he is willing to stop at nothing to achieve his goal. You can turn on the television news every night of the week and see similar stories.

If you had it to do all over again, would you change anything in your book?

I’m an inveterate tinkerer, and whenever I read one of my novels or novellas I always find sentences, paragraphs and even entire chapters I feel could be changed for the better. But you have to draw the line on rewriting and revising somewhere or else you’ll never produce a product, and eventually you reach a point as a writer where you’re just changing things for the sake of changing them, rather than seeing any improvement in the end product.

But as far as storyline is concerned, I’m very happy with how REVENANT turned out. The characters are believable and sympathetic, and the plot moves along nicely, bringing the reader to (I hope) a satisfying conclusion. I wouldn’t change any of that.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?

Finding the time to work on it every day. Thrillers and horror novels rely heavily on their pacing, even more so than novels in other genres, and I feel like I lose momentum and have trouble maintaining the proper pace to the story if I don’t get between 1500 and 2000 words down on the page every day.

But I work a full-time job as an air traffic controller, forty hours a week, and have a family I would like to make sure remembers what I look like, so it’s really easy to run out of hours in the day. I’m not complaining, though. I love to write and setting aside the time to do it is a sacrifice I’m happy to make.

Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

Another tough question. REVENANT is the sixth full-length novel I’ve written, including a couple which are still unpublished, and every time I start working on a new book I’m absolutely convinced there is no way I will be able to manage 75,000-85,000 words of coherent fiction that anyone will want to read.

I manage my terror by approaching the story one scene at a time. Instead of telling myself “You need to write a book”—which seems damned near impossible—I tell myself, “You have to write a scene,” which feels a lot more manageable. Eventually, after enough scenes, a lot of hard work, the passage of time and maybe some smoke and mirrors, I emerge out the other side with what is (I hope) a quality book.

The biggest thing I learned from REVENANT is that I can actually do that. It still amazes me when I think about it.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

I’ve always been fascinated by the power of the written word. As a kid I was always reading, Hardy Boys novels, Edgar Allen Poe, Sherlock Holmes stories, you name it and I read it. It was not at all uncommon for me to be in the middle of three or even four books at a time. Yes, I really was that strange.

From the youngest age I loved the way a well-written story could transport you into a totally foreign world filled with danger and intrigue. I can remember thinking as a young boy how cool it would be to write books and be able to do transport other readers into the worlds of my imagination. I wrote my first story when I was probably eight years old or so, about a guy who gets lost in the woods in the winter, and as spring approaches, his body is found huddled against a tree, one tear frozen to his face.

I didn’t get serious about writing fiction, though, until about six years ago, but I still love knowing my work can take people away from their problems, even if only for a little while.

Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

I wish I had only one favorite author; I admire the work of so many different people I must have at least a couple of dozen favorites!

If you held a gun to my head and forced me to pick just one, I would have to say Lawrence Block. The man has been making a living writing genre fiction for longer than a good many of us have been alive, and his work is still as fresh, interesting and exciting today as it was four decades ago. He has created several different series characters which are distinctive and different, and writes dialogue that is crisp and cutting.

There are plenty of other authors I admire, though, including (but not limited to) Lee Child, Tom Piccirilli, Robert Gregory Browne, Sophie Littlefield, Vincent Zandri and many others. Anyone who has managed to carve out a career writing fiction over a long period of time deserves admiration and respect, in my opinion. It’s not an easy thing to do.

Tell us your latest news.

Well, my big news would be the release of my fourth novel and second in the PASKAGANKEE series, titled REVENANT. It’s the book I’m currently blog-touring to support and one of which I’m very proud. And if you’re considering giving it a try, be aware it works perfectly fine as a stand-alone; it is absolutely not necessary to have read the first book to read this one.

The publication of REVENANT makes two horror-ish books in a row I’ve written, and I love thrillers as much as horror, if not more. So I’m taking a short break from the supernatural and have finished roughly two-thirds of the first draft of a more traditional thriller which takes place in the mid-1980’s, at the end of the Cold War. The book is titled PARALLAX VIEW and tells the story of a kickass female CIA agent who is tasked with a very simple mission: the delivery of a top-secret communique from Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev to U.S. President Ronald Reagan. Someone is determined to prevent the communique from reaching its destination, however, and soon our hero finds herself on the run, chased by nameless assassins, with no one to turn to for help but a perfect stranger. It’s filled with action and has been a lot of fun to write.

Additionally, I plan on writing a horror novella to submit to DarkFuse Publications, which has released two of my previous three novellas, and I am scheduled to write a horror short for an upcoming charity anthology being edited by one of my favorite people, Katherine Tomlinson of Dark Valentine Press. It’s not my place to release the details of the anthology, but I’m really looking forward to it.

Whew. I guess that’s it for now!

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

I sure do. I would like to thank each and every single person who has spent their hard-earned money on my work, whether it be a full-length novel, novella or short story. There are plenty of options for readers to spend their entertainment dollars on, and plenty of books written by more well-known authors than me. I am humbled and honored when people purchase a book of mine.

Believe me when I say you are never far from my mind when I’m writing, and I welcome the opportunity to hear from you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for checking out my work. You can connect with me at my website,, as well as on Facebook and Twitter, @AllanLeverone.

About Revenant:

A sacred Navajo artifact, imbued with a shocking and dangerous power.

An amoral con man, willing to stop at nothing to achieve his goals.

And a tiny northern Maine town, isolated and vulnerable.

Last November, Paskagankee, Maine was shaken to its core, held hostage by a centuries-old curse, terrorized by a brutal killing spree stopped at the last possible moment by new police chief Mike McMahon and beautiful young patrol officer Sharon Dupont. Now, just as the pair - and the town - is beginning to recover, a new horror comes calling.

Billionaire Seattle software designer Brett Parker is in Paskagankee to check on the progress of his newly-constructed summer retreat. But he's not the only new resident in town.

Max Acton, murderous sociopath and Arizona cult leader, has gained possession of a long-hidden sacred Navajo artifact with the ability to reanimate the dead. Acton aims to use the stone in a murderous plot to kidnap Parker and steal his revolutionary new software design developed for the U.S. Department of Defense, selling it to the highest bidder and making millions.

He doesn't even need to get his hands dirty. All he needs is a victim to kill . . . and reanimate . . . and force to do his bidding. All he needs is a revenant.

And the revenant is angry.

And he's deadly.

And he's unstoppable.

And the town of Paskagankee will once again become a battleground between the living and the dead . .