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Saturday, June 15, 2024

Creating Your Protagonist: Author Interview with Allen B. Boyer

You’ve now published several books, but what inspired you to write that first one? How long did it take you to write your first book that was published?

My goodness, Arthur Ashe and Me goes all the way back to 2003. It was published by Perfection Learning and they really took their time considering it. It took me a year to write, then it was a two year process before the book finally got published.

That book was inspired by a lovely place. Every summer my Dad and I would play tennis on two clay courts next to an abandoned barn that served as a clubhouse. The courts were next to a corn field. The property was surrounded by trees and fields. There were no houses. No powerlines. Not even the sound of a car or a person talking in the air. I just remember going there, looking at the surroundings and thinking magic could happen here and no one would know.

You have 3 mystery series with 3 different protagonists. How do you go about creating your protagonist’s characteristics?
The first two series were inspired by actual people. The Bess Bullock Retirement Home Series was based on a dear aunt of mine who was very charming. She could charm the socks off anyone at her retirement home. So I took that quality, and combined it with my wife’s grandmother, who was a very bright person and did many things to challenge her brain as she grew older. Whether it was reading a book a week, or being shuttled from her retirement home to proctoring college classes. She lived to one hundred and was always challenging her brain. So those two ladies really combined to make up the character of Bess Bullock.

As for The Dupree Sisters Series, the character of Charlotte Dupree was based on a good friend. This friend, also named Charlotte, worked on Capital Hill in Washington DC during the 1950s and 60s. She knew John Kennedy when he was a representative. She also remember Al Gore’s father celebrating his birth. This friend had a very pleasant personality when you met her but she also had a sharp tongue when it came to politics. So, when I write about Charlotte Dupree, a lot of her qualities were based on this friend.

How do you go about plotting your mystery? 
I know every writer is different with plotting. There are a good many that like to outline every detail. For me, a story is an organic thing. It is like a movie I see in my head when I write a story and that’s what leads me to plot twists and scenes. In the case of my latest book, I did think about the victim first and that really helped to get the story flowing.

What’s the best encouragement you’ve had in your writing? 
When I was in college, I received praise from professors for short story writing. Their comments really helped me to realize I was a pretty good author. I got some short stories published before I thought about trying to write a book. Arthur Ashe and Me was my first attempt at writing a novel and I got very lucky that it was picked up by the only publisher I sent it to.

Marketing is the biggest key to getting sales. What is the best marketing source you've used that has produces more sales rather than just clicks? 
I've had good experiences with BookBub, Fussy Librarian, and AllAuthor. For this latest release, I've done a variety of blog sites like this one. And, of course, social media sites. It is the "blue collar" work of writing a book that you have to roll up your sleeves to do. However, it is nice to meet people you'd normally not meet and talk to.

What do you know now about writing you wished you had known sooner? 
That's a hard question. Back in 2020 when we were all in lock down, I found a story I began to write twenty-five years earlier. I dusted it off and began to re-write it. What I found was how much my writing style had changed. It was like collaborating with someone else. Back then I'd go off on creative passages about character and setting. Now, I think my writing is more balanced between the narrative and details. Also, I have better pacing with my writing than I did years ago, but balance would be the thing I learned.

What is the best writing advice you’ve received or could give? 
Enjoy your story. I think readers can tell when a writer is putting in the work without having any pleasure in what they are creating. I spend anywhere from nine months to a year writing a book. If I didn't like the story or the characters it would be a very miserable experience.

Are there any other points about writing you would like to add? 
I think itt's important to really engage the senses of a reader when I write. The sights, scents, sounds and tastes are elements I try to be conscious of when writing. I think it helps to keep the reader engaged.

What is the next book coming out?
Can you give me a short synopsis? 
One series I write centers on two elderly sisters, Charlotte and Ruth Dupree, who live in Washington DC. They are also two of the oldest socialites in Washington. In each of their three books, the Dupree sisters use their social connections to solve mysteries. A year ago, I was interested in writing a fourth book for this series. I was doing research on two places in Washington DC. My research focused on Ford's Theatre and Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School, which is the oldest girl's school in the country. In June, the book was finally released. A Fall at Ford's Theatre begins with the Dupree Sisters attending a show at Ford's Theatre when a body drops from a balcony and lands right in front of them. Their investigation into what happened leads them to their old school, Georgetown Visitation Prep, and a decades old mystery that was never solved.

Sounds intriguing. If you'd like to learn more about Allen's writing, here's the link to his author page on Amazon:

And here's a bonus for my readers, leave a comment on this post and we'll pick one reader who'll receive a copy of one of  Allen's eBooks. So do that now. It can be as simple as I want to be in the giveaway. We'll chose a winner next Friday!

1 comment:

  1. Great interview. I would love to win an ebook.