The next author in the Fall Conclave that I’ll be featuring is Chrishaun Keller Hanna, author of the Allazar Universe.
First, tell me a little about your book/ books and why you wanted to write it/ them
The Allazar Universe is a universe I created because I wanted an urban/contemporary fantasy series that happened during the day with dry streets and a place where I could explore just about any genre and have a solid foundation worldbuilding-wise. I have two imprints so far:
Tales of Allazar (that would be “Black, Gold, & Sage” and “Spilt Milk”) is an anthology imprint that explores life in Allazar through the eyes of normal people there. These are smugglers, young people helping their friends, etc. ToA is as close as I get to literary and it still is heavy fantasy flavored.
Allazar’s The Coursers is an action adventure imprint that features Duquesne “Duke” Cole as she chases down token that the dead use to return to the living. This is a more humorous running and gunning type series, like Stephanie Plum if she was a bit more skilled at her job.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated or did you always just know?
I was an early reader (about 3) and I always told stories and wanted to write, though that was not my first love. My first love was art and I wanted to be a comic artist.
What inspired you to write your first book and why?
As I mentioned above, I wanted to be a comic book artist and told this to the guy at the comic book shop that I went to nearly every day after school. We would talk about story and why that was more important than the art, how making subtle and bold changes in the traditional of stories changed the tone, and why the world needed that. I listened and started writing stories based on my D&D characters (and still do, but I will get to that in the next question) and I realized that I enjoyed it more than art, even though I never told that guy that. But he was Brian Michael Bendis, so I guess I didn’t have to tell him…
Are the experiences of your characters based in part on someone you know, or on events in your own life?
Yes… and no. A situation in the real world is always affected by the culture of the world and by the filter of the characters that live there. I enjoy taking a situation that I have gone through and exploring how someone in Allazar would react to it. For instance, if you asked the dudest, manliest man in Allazar if he was gay, he would have no idea what you were talking about. Not because same-sex relationships don’t exist – because they do- but it would never to occur to him that that was a line of demarcation. He would say,” that’s not a lifestyle, that’s a type” and leave it at that. And that’s because the big taboo is not sex, but greed and how much power you have. All that to say that experiences come from real life, into the filter of Allazar and sometimes end up being very different.
As for the characters, there are several that come from my real life, and I often asked the people that I based them on to name them. Once again, their character goes through the Allazar filter, and they end up very different people. Amani “Manny” Phallo for instance, is based on a friend that is a devout Christian but ended up being an atheist (that is, he doesn’t believe that he is a created character, while others are aware that they have been in other stories and D&d campaigns) in my books… but that is a story in and of itself.
Out of all the characters you’ve created, who is your favorite to write? Is this character a main character or one of the side characters?
My flagship characters (Micah Leigh, Amani Phallo, Duke Cole). They’re flagship (that is they drive a series) because they are fun to write and fun to explore Allazar with.
Micah deals with being once a revered warrior in her former life but now seen as a threat to this modern world and how that affects her identity and how and why she helps the world at large.
Manny lets me explore being a man in a matriarchal and matrilineal society. He was groomed to a leader, then became male during puberty (all Allazarians are born female) and lost a lot of privileges. Watching him deal with that and fight to have a full life in the face of the world’s culture and still fighting monsters is compelling.
Duke is my smart-ass and rebel that somehow fails her way upward. She lets me see how bad you can mess up a situation by yourself and still get the job done.
Is you book part of a series, and if so, how many will there be?
Tales of Allazar is an ongoing anthology series, so there will be other trilogies following other characters. Sage’s story will end with “Red Strand”, which comes out in December. From there, we will follow a young Deveron boy Madhur as he is compelled to “honor kill” (there is no honor there) himself and with the help of his friends, tries to return to the land of the living in “Ether Moon” and in late 2017, we will follow Phe-et “Phe” Union as she adjusts to her new life as she is falsely declared a Sanguine and loses her Citizenship in “Griefeater”.
The Coursers will also be ongoing series for now. I have six stories plotted out for Duke and the Team, including a crossover with Sage Allecoure.
What are you working on now?
Finishing up Sage’s story “Red Strand” which will be out in December and the second and third parts of Duke’s origin trilogy (“Instruction Manual” out in October and “Bound with Twine” out in November)
Who do you look up to as a writer?
Writers, famous or not, that put in the work consistently and publish consistently. What we do is not glamorous or easy, but for some of us, it is the only life that we want to have. And they are to ones I look to I need encouragement!
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your book?
So, so many things… but if I tried to change them all, I would be releasing a book a year, and I am all about that pulp writer life! At some point, you will just have to call the book done, give it a kiss on the forehead and push “publish.” Then you take the “should’ve’s” and use them to write your next book.
If you could be one of your characters, who would you choose?
I am one of my characters… I am the Story Mother, and I pop up in the books to determine what stays and goes in Allazar. The backstory is that in real life, all my notes and earlier stories were destroyed, and I needed to recreate it from scratch. So I talk to friends, other writers, and characters (except Manny…) about the book in the book.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Simply thanks for the support as I start my writing career! I look forward to hearing from you and encourage you to provide feedback through reviews and responses to the Gazetteer! And as the Etherians say, You Are a Bright Light!
You can find out more about the Allazar Universe and Chrishaun Keller Hanna, check out her Amazon Author Page:
Tales of Allazar: Black, Gold & Sage – https://www.amazon.com/Tales-Allazar-Black-Gold-Season-ebook/dp/B01F325JMI/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8
Tales of Allazar: Split Milk – https://www.amazon.com/Spilt-Milk-Tales-Allazar-Season-ebook/dp/B01GPKIW9O/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8