Today I had the wonderful opportunity to interview the beautiful, and oh so talented, Allison M Dickson for her latest short story titled, Number One Angel, featured in Wrapped in Black by Sekhmet Press. Come check out what fun things Allison does to relax and her favorite way to kill a character. Beef stew, anyone?
Tiny bit spoilerish … If you haven’t read the story, you might want to skip down to Allison’s dream Cast for this story.
Number One Angel feels as if you created an anti-hero in Phelan. Even though he was wicked to the end, all he cared about was his ladies and giving life to Louise. I love how this was a twisted change on a classic prince charming ending.
How did you come up with an evil HEA?
I’m all about trying to invert the reader’s expectations whenever possible. It’s kind of like the show Hannibal. The killer has these lavish dinner parties, where people unwittingly dine on human flesh, and they’re loving every bite. And Hannibal is sitting there with this fiendish smile in his eyes the whole time. When people read my stories, I want a similar effect.
You’re witnessing murder, for crying out loud. Murder is wrong! So are demons! But in this context . . . it feels so right. Moral ambiguity, for the win! In the case of NUMBER ONE ANGEL, I wanted to take a coming of age story and make it about embracing darkness rather than light, but I also wanted to tell a story about what happens when parents hold onto their kids so tight it strangles the life out of them and erases any notion of who they might have been if they had been given more freedom to explore themselves.
Louise was in such a desperate and pathetic place that she would have latched onto any man that showed her the least bit of positive attention. That’s the tragedy of Louise and of people like her. But she did get her happy ending, in a way. She just had to do something very dark to get there. It would have been so easy to keep Phelan one-note and make Louise one of his victims, but I wanted more of a story between those two, and I wanted to give the reader a little something extra to chew on afterward. Of course, a character like Phelan is also going to be out for number one. What else is driving him? That’s what I hope to explore in other stories related to this character.
The Mama character would have to be Kathy Bates.
Have you considered your main character landing his/her novella or novel one day?
Actually, yes! This story is part of a larger apocalyptic metaverse I’ve been pondering for quite a while. My two short stories, “Devil Riders” and “The Last Wedding in the Midnight Chapel” are parts of it, as are two stories I’ve started but haven’t finished called “Saints & Sinners” and “Gardening in the Apocalypse.” Phelan, the devilish character in “Number One Angel”, is in both of those. At some point, my brain will start pulling all of the elements together into one giant STAND-like epic, but I’ve been waiting to feel worthy of it.
What should Sekhmet Press produce next?
WRAPPED IN RAINBOWS: 13 Tales of Unicorns, Leprechauns, and Pride Parades
What is the “must have” or “must do” before you sit down to write?
I don’t have too many rituals other than I prefer to not be wearing pants. Pants completely restrict my creativity.
How do you relax?
By taking off my pants. Also, I would say most of my life is pretty relaxed. My writing relaxes me. Just getting my feet up in my big comfy recliner does it for me. Occasionally, I add a video game controller or a tasty beverage to the mix and just let the whole world fall away for a while.
Pretty much, though if I was going to really make it work, I would have to have internet. I’m already a pretty introverted person, but I can’t be completely cut off for the long term. However, having a place that would allow me to provide my own energy needs, something green, sustainable, and completely in harmony with the earth? I’m very much into that. The “tiny house” movement is something I really aim to be a part of one day, when my husband and I are looking to settle down in a place for the long haul after the kids have moved on to their lives.
Silly Question: Essential oil or Poison – which one would you be and why would you be beneficial or harmful to people?
Poison is tempting, but I think that goes against my basic nature. It seems predictable for someone who writes dark stories to have this “poison” persona, but I’m at heart an optimistic and hopeful person who wants to help people. As for which oil I would be, I’m fond of juniper berry. It helps with mental alertness, which is one of the goals I hope to achieve with my stories, and also because gin is pretty much my signature liquor, and gin ain’t gin without juniper.
What is your favorite meme?
Very Doge. Such meme. Waow.
Probably the happy and/or satisfied writer. What? Okay okay, scratch that. Magical dolphins. Are those a thing? If not, they really should be. For real though, one that has always tickled my fancy is the Bakhtak, a creature from Iranian folklore that is invisible, sits on your chest at night, and causes sleep paralysis and nightmares. So next time you have a really bad dream, think of some invisible ghoulish creature sitting on your chest.
What is the best killing scene you have ever written?
Ah man, so much to choose from across my body of work. Some just plain visceral, some completely absurd. I’ll probably have to go with the killing scene in “A Concealed Hand,” where the long-suffering Bernie snaps during a game of cards and drowns his wife in a tureen of beef stew. Good times.
Have you ever killed your boss or a co-worker in a story because you didn’t want to go to jail for actually doing it?
Actually, no. Killing the people who frustrate us is too easy. I like to dissect them (metaphorically) and bring out the thing about them that makes them unlikable, then make the audience hate them with a passion. And then I let them live in the end, because the truth is the worst people often live the longest. Everyone loses!
What is your worst FEAR? How do you handle it?
My worst overall fear is probably something happening to my husband or one of my kids. I handle it by trying not to dwell on horrible potential scenarios, because you can’t live your life in service of the things trying to kill your joy.
My most phobic (and completely irrational) fear is probably low-flying aircraft, or this idea of dying as the result of a plane crash. Either from being in the plane or having one fall out of the sky on or near me. When I was a kid, I remember freaking out every time a plane flew over me. I’ve had dreams about planes falling on me. Watching footage of planes crashing fills me with terror.
Where can we learn more about Allison?
My website is allisonmdicksonbooks.com
Twitter handle: @MsAllieD
Allison M. Dickson writes dark contemporary fiction, covering both speculative and realistic realms. Her debut psychological horror novel, STRINGS, released to rave reviews in 2013 and has topped Amazon’s bestseller lists several times. She is also the author of an abundance of short stories as well as the 1940s sci-fi noir Colt Coltrane series. Readers can look forward to her upcoming dystopian epic, THE LAST SUPPER, releasing on 12/13/14. When she isn’t writing, she can usually be found wandering the urban sprawl of Dayton, OH with her husband and two rapidly growing children, or crawling some dungeon in search of good loot.