Bryce Allen, author of the meta-thriller The Spartak Trigger, stopped by to chat writing, the Maritimes and telemarketers.
Welcome to Every Read Thing, Bryce. Has writing been something you’ve always wanted to pursue?
Thanks for having me! I can’t say it’s something I’ve always wanted to pursue but it’s definitely something I’ve always done in one form or another… In high school I wrote a lot of (super-pretentious/awful) short fiction and when I was at university (Dal/King’s) I wrote a lot of shitty songs for the misc. shitty bands I played in… I started tackling longer fiction after I’d been in the ‘real world’ for a few months and it took me about seven years to get my first novel published. I wrote two versions (one in the first person and one in the third person) of an unpublished (for good reason!) novel before I started working on THE SPARTAK TRIGGER. It was a bad Jack Reacher/Bob Lee Swagger knockoff so a lot of my frustrations with being unable to successfully put a mainstream thriller like that together ended up going into TST in satirical-form. I wanted to write something totally over-the-top, like most thrillers are, that realized it was over-the-top and ridiculous.
I’d like to think I’m pretty well read but I haven’t had a lot of experience with metafiction outside of Marvel’s Deadpool. Were you worried that you’d turn off more conventional readers in having your protagonist argue with the narrator?
I honestly just wanted to write something cool that I would want to read myself. Turning off readers wasn’t really a concern for me since I’d already (twice!) tried to write something mainstream and failed miserably so I figured I might as well write something that is different and something that I’d actually enjoy writing… It did get a bit tough digging my way out of the meta-meta-meta stuff to form a semblance of ‘plot’ but I think I managed to do that to a certain degree and there’s at least a modicum of ‘structure’ to TST, even if it’s wholly untraditional and bizarre… I’ve always enjoyed transgressive/meta-fiction and satire as well as action so I guess I was trying to create a cocktail with all of those ingredients included. At the time I was working on it, I was typically alternating between reading transgressive fiction a la Charles Bukowski and old school spy/action novels a la Ian Fleming so I suppose TST was a kind of amalgamation of those two disparate styles, both of which I enjoy.
Did you plan out the majority of The Spartak Trigger or like Shane Bishop, did you just go where the story took you?
I started out with two major plot ideas: the set-up agency concept and the whole ‘kill-the-internet’ device/mcguffin thing… I wasn’t entirely sure how I was going to fuse them when I started, but luckily it didn’t need to be a smooth/organic transition since the book is *supposed* to be somewhat bad/ridiculous haha. I did want there to be a certain level of discomfort in the reader, not knowing where the hell the plot was going, which is why Shane was such a perfect vehicle to convey such a haphazard storyline.
The Spartak Trigger’s protagonist Shane Bishop seemed like a really fun character to write, despite the fact he’s an awful human being. Did you find it easy to step into his shoes when writing from his point of view?
Yeah, it was definitely fun writing from his perspective. A few of the random situations he finds himself in were based on things that happened to me actually. The telemarketer subplot actually came about after I ordered some Mighty Putty off of an infomercial and was subsequently berated with calls from various agencies trying to get me to sign up for their ‘savings’ clubs and such. I would’ve loved to have been able to respond to them the way Shane does but, alas, my Canadianness negates my ability to be anywhere near that rude in real life so I channelled that annoyance into the book.
Being a Haligonian like myself, have you ever considered setting a novel on Canada’s east cost?
Absolutely. I love the Maritimes and try to get back as often as possible. The region definitely has a unique vibe that would be great to be able to convey in a work of fiction. I’ve always wanted to do a Canadian alt. history novel as well so if that ever comes to fruition I’m sure there will be some Nova Scotia elements in there for sure.
What is the best book you’ve read in the past six months?
I have to give a plug to my fellow Necro Publications/Bedlam Press writer S.A. Check and go with his debut novel WELCOME TO GREEN GRASS. It’s also a cool genre-splicing experiment, with an action hero-type protagonist dealing with crazy conspiracies and violence galore on a strange planet filled with hilarious aliens and such. It’s very entertaining and imaginative.
What’s next for Bryce Allen?
Right now I’m working on a sequel to TST as well as a more mainstream thriller that will hopefully turn out better than my first effort at commercial fiction. It’s cool to be able to work on both at the same time and nurse the creative process by having ideas feed off of one another. At the end of the day, as long as I’m writing SOMETHING, I’m happy.
I want to thank Bryce for stopping by to answer a few questions about his novel, The Spartak Trigger.
If you want to read my thoughts on his book, check out my review!
You can follow Bryce in Twitter: @Bryce_E_Allen
Buy The Spartak Trigger!