- a multi-award-winning author, activist, and public speaker from the great state of Alaska.
Readers! Let’s give a good, hearty welcome to Christiane Joy Allison!
Christiane Joy Allison is a multi-award-winning author, activist and public speaker who now serves as President of the Alaska Writers Guild. Her disability and life-long battle with chronic illness, hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (hEDS), inspires the characters in her cyberpunk series, The Infinitus Saga. Sometimes she walks with a cane, sometimes she rides in a wheelchair, and sometimes she goes without. Her disability is as unpredictable as her life. In activism, she fights for criminal justice and prison reform and aspires to give prisoner families a voice.
Christiane, thanks for agreeing to be here today. While most interviews start off with bios and such, and while I’ll get to that as always, let’s start with the important stuff!
If you could have any pet (real/fantasy/no-allergies/no worries about feeding it) what would it be?
If I could have any pet in the world, I would probably have a bat. I’d love a large fruit bat like a flying fox. Of course, bats make terrible pets in real life as they are very social creatures, but with no limitations that would be my honest first choice. That is probably why my main character has a pet bat in my cyberpunk novel series.
And what’s not to love about bats? They’re incredibly soft with adorable faces. They fly and feed themselves (usually fruit or pesky insects). Bats are also important pollinators, and they’re facing a threat that’s making them disappear, just like the bees! You can support bats in your local ecosystem by putting up bat houses. Just search for “build a bat house” on the internet and you’ll find all kinds of resources, including bat houses you can buy.
Bats are pretty awesome. I love taking evening walks and watching them swoop by my street lamps — I mean, the local buffet.
What do you write? And how did you get started?
I’ve written science fiction, children’s picture books, essays, poetry, romance, spiritual works, and I’m working on a memoir. I grew up in a home of storytellers. I believe I started writing my first book in the seventh grade, and participated in writing classes and clubs in middle school, high school and college. After entering the workforce, I took a break from writing for a few years before I realized I could no longer live without it.
My current novel series, The Infinitus Saga, is dystopian science fiction, specifically cyberpunk. Cyberpunk worlds tend to be dystopian and futuristic by nature, and they include a global or regional computer system that manages or controls aspects of day to day life. One of the things I love the most about it is that a couple of main characters have the same chronic illness I do, hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (hEDS). The stories are written in first person, present tense so the reader can experience facing the challenges of the
adventure from within a body that’s working against you. I also love my colorful cast of chimera characters, born as animal-human hybrids because of genes that are reemerging from earlier generations of genetic experimentation.
I also have an award-winning series of children’s picture books dedicated to children who are facing the adverse childhood experience (ACE) of the incarceration of a loved one. Why Can’t Uncle Come Home? is the first children’s picture book to address the subject of wrongful conviction for very young children. And then in Timmy and Kate Go To Visit, we go with a couple of young children to visit their uncle in prison for the first time. My family was impacted by a wrongful conviction and I watched the effect it had on all the children. The books in this series draw directly from those experiences.
I love cyberpunk stories. We need more stories with characters whose bodies aren’t in default working condition. I know from loved ones that Ehlers-Danlos and other chronic illnesses can have such an impact on one’s life. Like most chronic conditions, for now, the only treatment is for the symptoms, not the disease.
Thank you for writing stories for young children dealing with incarceration.
What do you like to read?
I love to read romance, but the stories never follow the characters far enough through life for me. That’s why the romance that you’ll find in The Infinitus Saga will span across the entire series. I also love thrillers and suspense which I write heavily into my stories. If these elements are included, I’ll read anything in science fiction, dystopian, and fantasy. The Infinitus Saga is a cyberpunk story.
It sounds like your series is right up my alley!
Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that doesn’t work for you.
I am a “pantser” versus a “plotter” if using National Novel Writing Month terms. This means that I do not write by planning out story elements in advance. I learn and discover the story as I write it, and my characters often surprise me. The challenge in this is I often do not know an element of the story until after I’ve written it. Sometimes, I have to write additional scenes that will never be published simply because I need to know what other characters are doing behind the scenes, and I have to rewrite what I’ve already written because I discover an element while writing that changes something fundamental to the story. I often still attempt outlines in the beginning, but by the end the story looks nothing like it did during that attempt.
People who are full pantsers are like magic to me. I recently tried my first exploratory novel writing experience, and realized it’s not for me. I usually ignore my outlines, but that doesn’t mean they’re not in the back of my head.
Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that they can pry out of your cold, dead hands.
First drafts don’t have to be perfect.
First drafts are crap and that’s okay! Silence your inner editor and power out that first draft in all its ugly glory, staying as true to its heart as you can. Then you can go back, reorder, revise, and refine to your (or your editor’s) heart’s content. Think of the first draft of your story as the bones, not the full body. Layering on the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and skin takes time and effort that doesn’t belong in that first skeletal draft.
So true! I know many people who really like their first drafts, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t things we can make better. We have high standards for ourselves, and what comes out in that rough draft doesn’t look like we intended in our heads.
Shameless Self-Promotion time!
In the cyberpunk series, The Infinitus Saga, Earth was once in chaos, divided between hundreds of warring nations. Now, united in peace and maintained through a worldwide computer system known as the GRID, the Global Fellowship provides all citizens free access to food, housing, education, and medical care. In return, citizens allow the GRID to use their brains as temporary servers. Those who don’t contribute are the disconnected, shirkers who live destitute and on the edge of starvation in a world where GRIDcoin is beyond their reach.
Among them are the Mallorey’s who are forced to live outside the GRID to hide their genetic disability, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, or risk being never seen or heard of again.
HE HAS NO CHOICE.
SOMETIMES, DOING WHAT’S RIGHT
MEANS RUNNING AWAY.
After his parents’ sudden death, Arthur Mallorey, a severely disabled teenager living in the largest shirker camp in Central Continent, knows he has to find a way for him and his sister to survive. Battling pain and exhaustion, he looks for salvation in the very heart of the Community he was raised to fear. The Global Fellowship is the prelude novelette to The Infinitus Saga.
THE COMMUNITY NEEDS CONFORMITY.
THE SQUIDS ARE OUT TO DISMANTLE IT.
NOW BOTH WANT WHAT’S IN HER HEAD.
Gina Mallorey is a young freedom-loving tech dealer living in the Dregs on her own terms, hiding her disability from the Community. When an explosion forces her into the GRID, powerful forces make her a target. The Community operative sent after her hides a genetic secret of his own, but only time will tell if he’ll choose to be friend or foe.
Timmy, and his little sister Kate, struggle to understand why Uncle can’t come home despite all the hard things that are happening. Momma helps explain that it’s not Uncle’s choice to stay away. Uncle was wrongfully convicted, and sometimes people are punished for things they didn’t really do. This story is designed to help address the hard questions of children who are struggling with the wrongful conviction of a loved one.
Kate, and her big brother Timmy, have not been able to see their uncle in a long time, and are excited to visit him at the jail. Auntie and Momma help them face fears like: whether there are monsters at the jail, walking through the metal detector, and whether the guards are the bad guys. This story is designed to help address the fears and questions of children visiting a loved one in prison.
Check Christiane Joy Allison out across the web!