Writing About What's Left: Meet Post-Apocalyptic Author Allison Goodwin
Hiya! Welcome to Alley Writes Good, which, as you probably have already figured out is my blog... about the things I write. Anyways, let's kick this thing off with a good old-fashioned Q&A about what I write, why I write it, and how I do it.
So, why post-apocalyptic fiction?
Post-apocalyptic media isn't something that's new by a long shot, so it's kind of difficult for me to pin down just what got me into all things apocalyptic. I've always been comfortable with left-behind things––I grew up in the high desert of Southern California, where I spent vast amounts of time exploring abandoned mining camps and forgotten landmarks. I'd say though, that the Fallout franchise was an influence. Also that time I charmed my way into getting tickets to see Zombieland as an unaccompanied 16-year-old.
In short--I've always been fascinated with humankind's resilience in the face of overwhelming odds to just keep scraping by. It seemed only natural that my writing would play with what's been left behind after a disaster.
What authors inspire you?
My top two books of all time are On the Road and Fahrenheit 451, but I'd probably choose Dean Koontz as my favorite author. Truth be told, I'm dyslexic as hell, and reading is exhausting so I'm far more likely to engage with a story or series that I've already heard a lot about over an author whose work I've mostly enjoyed.
Did you always want to write a novel?
I mean, what writer doesn't? As a kid, I knew I wanted to write professionally and I've toyed with fiction off and on. I've also worked as a journalist, a curriculum creator, a research study author, and currently, I'm a professional content developer for a marketing company. To me, fiction writing has always been an outlet for stress, especially after a long day of creating marketing-heavy content. Now I'm simply balling up the stress-relief into something more tangible.
What inspired you to write Roadworn?
I like zombie stories. It's really about as simple as that. I guess we could circle around to the bit about me enjoying the way humans rise up to face the impossible, too. Much of the development of the plot and characters of Roadworn came to me during my time in Original Character roleplay groups. I realized I really enjoyed researching the aspects of survivalism and military culture. I also realized that I really hated it, because it's hard to be accurate at times. I've done so much of it though, that I decided to use it for something more concrete, and thus Roadworn was born.
What do you use for your research while writing?
I literally cannot say enough about the internet as a research tool. The world's knowledge at your fingertips. I do a lot of Googling. Keep an eye out for future "This Week I Googled..." posts, where I'll share some of my top searches of the week.
I also read military forums (haven't gotten up the guts to join one and start asking questions, though). I read gun forums, which is actually kind of a funny one for me since, while I was a competitive shooter and can still hit the ten ring most shots, I'm actually not that into guns or gun ownership. So there's a weird bit of contrast there. I also have a pretty fun collection of how-to books and USMC handbooks. I don't recommend the handbooks for research unless you're writing for a military audience though. That's some incredibly dry reading.
What's your writing method?
Mix-and-match. I like to have a solid idea of where my major plot points go. I like to have my characters largely outlined, or at least my key players (hello, DnD character sheets). I tend to store all of my info in Trello boards, using one for world-building and character building and one for my plot. I like to have a good understanding of some of the more research-heavy aspects, such as survivalism, military things, or epidemiology. Sometimes, I even really like to create a Spotify playlist for that work. And then I sit, and I write.
How often do you write?
Professionally, eight hours a day, five days a week. Personally, I also tend to clock two to three evenings a work-week, as well as usually most of one day on the weekend. Some days are more productive than others, but I try to sit down consistently to offer myself the chance to write.
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