A marine biologist in a former life, Allison Pang spends her days in Northern Virginia working as a cube grunt and her nights waiting on her kids and cats, punctuated by the occasional husbandly serenade. Sometimes she even manages to write. Mostly she just makes it up as she goes. She also loves Hello Kitty, sparkly shoes, and gorgeous violinists.
drey: Hello, Allison! Welcome to drey’s library, and thank you for taking the time to stop by. I, and my readers, appreciate it.
Could you start us off with a short introduction? Who is Allison Pang, and when did she know she wanted to be a writer?
Allison: Nothing like starting with the small questions. LOL.
drey: Well... Where would the fun be in that?? *wink*
Allison: I don’t know if I ever knew I wanted to be a writer, honestly. I told stories to myself a lot when I was growing up and sometimes I’d write them down, but I was always first and foremost a reader. I read all the time. (I was one of those lonely, bullied kids, hence a lot of alone time. *shrugs*). I think the idea of writing a book always lurked in the back of my head, but I had no real way of knowing how to do it. It wasn’t really anything they taught at school and even when I took writing classes in college, it wasn’t the sort of thing I was looking for. So, I pretty much put the getting published idea on the backburner for over 12 years. Didn’t write a thing until I got involved in some play-by-post games a few years ago and A Brush of Darkness was my experimental “let’s see if I can really do this” book.
drey: Share a bit about A Brush of Darkness with us. How did this story first make itself known to you? How long did it take to tell it?
Allison: It happened in pieces. A few of the secondary characters actually showed up in a short story I wrote back in college (that subsequently got eaten when the floppy got corrupted). Over the years after that, I had an itch to go back to that particular little town I’d started writing in, but it wasn’t until I had a dream (such a cliché, I know, right?) where I was wandering through this abandoned house looking for someone (*cough* yes, that’s where one of those last scenes in the book comes from), that I became intrigued enough to really start scratching out some notes. Eventually I decided to try writing for “Real” and I went back and started putting it all together. However, I am not really much of a plotter, so I just started writing the first chapter initially with no idea of where it was going.
At the same time I was taking a lot of online workshops and I often used the writing exercises to write small 500 to 1000 word scenes, most of which I fit into the book in some fashion. In fact, BoD was written in mismatched chunks like that for the first few months, but I think I was procrastinating a lot because I was terrified of failing (and success, I guess.) After about six months, I had maybe 30k written and then I went and signed up for RT 2009 convention.
Essentially I told myself that if I was going to spend that kind of money to go, I’d be damned if I didn’t have something to pitch. So in four months I wrote the additional 70k and pitched it. (And was rejected. LOL)
drey: Wow. I am in awe that you managed to write 70% in four months! You go, girl!
Were there any editing casualties? Will he/she/they appear in a sequel?
Allison: Yes – there were a few editing casualties. I originally wrote BoD as a paranormal romance, so there was at least one sex scene that was cut and one that was shortened considerably when I was asked to rewrite the book as an Urban Fantasy. I suspect one of those scenes will show up in a sequel, yes. :) (Or maybe I’ll just do a “director’s cut” of the scene for free on my website.)
drey: I like "director's cuts"... I like free, too. But that's probably a symptom of this reading (i.e. book-hoarding) problem I have, so ignore that, will you?
Where did you find Phineas? I mean, how many pervy unicorns have you come across in your underwear drawer? *grin*
Allison: No unicorns – but my cats? Oy. Growing up, I had one cat who always slept in my dresser drawers. And I currently have one who’s a total pervert. Runs around dragging my bathrobe around the house and humping it. And there’s Phin for you. LOL.
drey: Oy. Thanks for that image in my head... But I guess I asked for it, eh?
Time for some fun(ny?) stuff:
drey: Smackdown: Phineas vs. Hello Kitty in the UFC ring. Who wins? What about Minnie Mouse vs. Hello Kitty?
Allison: Heh. Phineas would probably just try to sleep with her. Not sure who would win in that situation. *cough* And Hello Kitty would totally have it all over Minnie Mouse. After all, just look at all the awesome Hello Kitty stuff out there! www.kittyhell.com
drey: Oh wow... I'm, um, speechless?
Ok... Next!! Violinist beauty pageant: Who takes the crown, and who’s Miss (Mr?) Congeniality?
Allison: Is this a trick question? You *do* know I have a David Garrett fetish, right? (Don’t believe me? Just check out the blog I run: fuckyeahdavidgarrett.tumblr.com.)
drey: Hahahahahahahaha! Nope, no doubts at all... Talented fella, there... *grin*
If A Brush of Darkness started with “It was a dark and stormy night”, what are the next few sentences?
Allison: It was a dark and stormy night. Of course, my impression of the weather was a bit dampened by the fact that it was pretty dark and stormy in my bedroom too. Or at least wet. And smelly. Stupid unicorn.
drey: OMG, I just snorted water out my nose. Thanks a lot! :P
Thank you so much for playing along, Allison! Come back and visit again!
Y’all, find Allison online at her website, Heart of the Dreaming.
Title: A Brush of Darkness
Author: Allison Pang
ARC: 343 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, 2011
Purchase at IndieBound, Amazon, The Book Depository
Source: FinePrint Literary Management
Six months ago, twenty-six-year-old Abby Sinclair was struggling to pick up the pieces of her shattered life. Now, she has an enchanted iPod and a miniature unicorn living in her underwear drawer. With her lack of OtherWorldly knowledge, Abby needs all the help she can get. So when her Faery employer and some of her friends go missing, she must team up with the sexy and mysterious incubus who’s been haunting her dreams. As Abby’s sucked deeper and deeper into this dangerous world she barely knows—filled with daemons, angels, and faeries—she finds herself trapped at the center of it all. And she might not be able to escape…
I have to admit, I picked up A Brush of Darkness multiple times, and never quite got past the first 15 pages. When I finally did get past that "hump," I couldn't understand why I'd gotten stuck. I mean, I've just barely met Abby at that point... AND the book's really really good. I'm not just saying that, either.
This urban fantasy is more fae-focused than were or vamp or other-types-of-paranormal. And it rocks.
Character: The characters are interesting, and not just Abby and Brystion either. Abby's friends are cool, her pet unicorn is hilariously perverted, her boss' bodyguard is a sanctimonious angel, and the big bad dude's big. And bad. Abby is perfect as the unsure-of-herself but tries-to-do-right heroine, and she uses her smarts, even if she doesn't really know enough of the big picture to be, well, smart... I loved the WoW reference, too. Guildies! *grin*
Pace & Plot: The storyline looks pretty simple at first. Abby's boss disappears, but she's not sure if she should panic. After all, she's still pretty new at this... Then Brystion shows up, and life as she knows it goes to hell in a hand basket... Or maybe it was already there, and she just didn't know enough to know that? In any case, Abby's dragged into a web of lies, confusion, and danger, as she tries to find out what's happened to her boss.
Allison doesn't give much away as she unravels the storyline for you, rather she feeds you just enough bits and pieces to keep reeling you in... And every so many turns 'round the square, you get another piece of the puzzle. Some of 'em open your eyes, and some of 'em confuse you a bit more. On purpose, I bet. *grin* Before you know it, though, all the pieces come together, and you're done with the book! Phew!
drey's rating: 3/5 Good: Awesome addition to the urban fantasy genre! With a sense of humor to boot!
Have you read A Brush of Darkness? What did you think?
2011 Challenge: New Author
Thanks to FinePrint Literary Management, I have one copy of Allison's A Brush of Darkness for you! This one's for those of you who live in the US only, and the one-book-per-household rule applies.
To enter, comment below and either ask Allison a question, or share your Smackdown! match-ups against either Phineas or Hello Kitty (along with who wins, of course!). Remember to include your email address. And do it all before 6pm CST February 19th. Good luck!