Q&A with Allison Chaney Author of Love University
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About Allison Chaney
Allison Chaney Whitmore was born in Los Angeles and loves to tell coming-of-age stories with a hint of romance, fantasy or adventure. She enjoys a good gothic horror story, too. Allison holds a master’s in English education and a bachelor’s degree in English and writing. Outside of writing, she enjoys classic films, genre television, a good book, hiking and spending time with family and friends.
On to our interview!
Q: Tell us who you are and what inspires you to write in 100 words or less.
A: I am a screenwriter, novelist, and comic book writer from Los Angeles. My imagination has always been filled with stories. One day, I realized it was time for me to learn to write them down. What truly inspires me to write is the real world. When I watch people, I want to tell their stories. Not in a biopic way. Tales of fiction to me are the stories of the human condition — yes, fantasy, sci-fi stories, too. The seeds of our experiences plant the richest themes. And theme, to me, is the heart of any good story.
Q: How did you get to this place in your life? Share your story!
A: As a child, I wanted to tell stories in front of the camera as an actor, but things changed. I was always writing, but I began taking it more seriously when I moved to New York for school. Eventually, I wrote a very bad book that I rewrote after teaching for eight years. That was my first published novel. In grad school my second go-round, I realized screenwriting was my true passion. Recently, I’ve begun writing comics. It’s a medium I never knew I’d love but makes total sense for me — visual storytelling, teamwork — right up my alley.
Q: What are you most passionate about?
A: Story. Movies. TV. Travel. Living a good life. Story.
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process, routine, and/or rituals around your writing?
A: I typically come up with a character first. I think about theme next. After that, I come up with the world and the basic premise, then I let it sit for however long it needs to. Once it’s time to work on that particular story (there are typically several at various stages I am working on), I sit down and write a logline, then I create a beat sheet, then an outline (sometimes by the scene), then I get started. I don’t always stick to the outline.
Some new idea just really might work better once you’ve gotten going. I like the map by my side because I have a tendency to go on tangents. I started off very much a pantser, and I think it’s easy for me to go in that direction. So, I give myself the structure, then move around within that space naturally. Other rituals, I have: I love to create playlists for each story that I write — one with lyrics and one without. If I’m feeling particularly, slow or need to get a certain amount down, I’ll either do writing sprints on my own or find a fellow writer to do sprints with online.
Q: What are a few challenges you faced in creating, marketing, or publishing your creative work? And your solutions to them.
A: My first book was published through a larger small press (oxymorons woot!) that eventually shut down, but because they had so many authors and such a routine for going the indie route in terms of promotion and working with other authors, I really learned a lot. That said, when I was left on my own, I really didn’t know how to function. I need a team.
I admire those indie authors who reach such wide audiences running their own shops. That definitely requires a special type of savvy and skill. I, however, believe in the caveat, “Know thyself.” What works best for me is working with teams, so I stick with small press. The experience is hands-on and collaborative. I like the feeling.
As a screenwriter, things are a little different for me. It’s similar to traditional book publishing with the queries, the pitching, and seeking representation. In that world, I just continue to write, build relationships, and take lots of freelance writing jobs. I have a literary manager who is now helping me work through it all, which makes everything so much easier. There goes that teamwork again. Also, be supportive of the other writers. It’s important.
Q: What do you wish you had known before you started writing fiction?
A: Plan. Know what publishers are looking for. Don’t just assume they will take your 120,000 word book because it’s good even though their limit is 80,000. Research your market. Don’t assume your first book is going to make you a star. Remember there are more stories to tell, and you have to build up to the level you want to be. Also, commit to being better. You can always improve.
Q: What’s next for you in your creative work?
A: My comic Love University’s first issue premieres on Kickstarter this week. That’s how my publisher runs things. Kickstarter for 30 days then the book is available online after the campaign. I just finished the script for the second issue and am on to the third. I’ll also be writing another series at the end of this year about a female pirate, called Drop Dead Red. In addition to that, I am pitching my TV pilot series, Poe, and working on a romantic comedy feature film idea.
Q: Is there anything else you wished I’d asked? Please share!
A: While I work, I am helping other writers. I coach and consult – primarily in screenwriting and now comics and graphic novels. I work a great deal in adaptation and teaching the nuts and bolts of scriptwriting. Because I have a teaching background, I feel this is my second calling. Blending the worlds of fiction with helping others makes a lot of sense. Other than that, if I’m being random, I love old movies and fantasy, sci-fi, and historical drama. I’ve traveled enough, but I’d like to travel more. I’m an LA native. I love tacos and as I kid, I used to think I was going to buy an island and marry Brad Pitt (the River Runs Through It version).
If you’re a budding screenwriter or seeking to adapt your work into a TV series, movie-of-the-week, or feature film with a mentor who’ll help you take your project to a professional level, contact me at: [email protected]
Love University is a comic book series about a hopelessly romantic fangirl who discovers she’s a Cupid and everything she and her new friends have to go through: from love bans to secret relationships to finding their places in a world where hate is always knocking at their door.
Issue #1 is a 22-page volume that will be available in digital format and print through Evoluzione Publishing! Kickstarter starts us on our journey 9/25/19!
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