Today on my blog I would like to welcome author of satirical fantasy, James Allinson.
James Allinson is a husband and father of two.
Initially a wannabe children’s author, James soon became sick of non-swearing heroes and the crushing restraints of morality and, driven by the maverick lack of focus that has dominated his entire life, stopped writing books for kids and instead started writing childish stuff for his own amusement. Fortuitously (for the world of literature although not necessarily his bank account), this resulted in the accidental birth of a hilarious – albeit apparently, unmarketable – comedic fantasy series about a poncho-wearing, vegan dragon named George.
Ideally, James would love his books to earn him a fortune, entertain his readers, and attract the absolute least number of violent threats possible (in that order).
Hi James, welcome to my blog! What made you decide to publish your books independently?
In all honesty, there was never a choice to be had. I know my books don’t fit neatly into one of the established categories – I write comedic fantasy which is a tough sell (unless you are Terry Pratchett!) – plus I produce quick(ish) reads (40-50k) which isn’t typical in the fantasy genre. These factors – combined with the fact that I am a new author – meant a traditional publisher was never going to take a chance on my work. Now it’s up to me to show them they should be looking wider…!
What are the benefits of being an indie author?
I love having complete creative control and being accountable to only myself. There is no substitute for this. (The rest of it is a massive nuisance, I won’t deny it!)
What challenges do indie authors face?
In a nutshell, everything falls to you! I need to vet editors, proofreaders, artists, beta readers and then make judgement calls based upon whatever output they provide to me… publishing houses have entire teams dedicated to this. One of the retailers inexplicably does something strange with the book price? – it’s my problem. Website traffic / sales fall off? – it’s my problem. There’s an issue with an advertising campaign? – it’s my… you get the picture. And this is before I can get around to actually writing something funny that people want to read – but that’s the enjoyable part!
What advice would you give to aspiring indie authors?
Don’t do what I did – don’t spend years writing a series without telling the world, and then release it with nobody waiting! Build your platform early. Also, maybe try ‘writing to market’, whatever that is!
I have heard that being said before. I suppose it is important to tease the prospective audience a little bit before launching the book. What have you learned from being an indie author?
That writing the books was the easy bit (seriously, I miss the days when my biggest concern was plugging a plot hole or searching for a synonym!). I guess being indie has taught me to project manage – I’m constantly ‘swapping hats’ to deal with whatever arises. From a technical perspective, I’ve become pretty good with a few of the graphics packages – and I’ve discovered more functions in Microsoft Word than I care to remember (next time I will definitely pay someone to format my paperbacks!) – so much for the romantic notion of a writer’s life!
Well, learning new skills is never a bad thing! What can we look forward to seeing from you next?
If I can drag myself away from shameless social media self-promotion, hopefully another couple of Chickpea Chronicles books will be appearing. I’ve also got an idea for a ‘serious’ fantasy adventure so I might have a go at that – although I’m not convinced I’ll be able to stop it from becoming a full-blown farce… we will see!
I like the idea of a full-blown fantasy farce!! Thank you so much for taking part in this Indie Spotlight, James! Good luck with your upcoming projects!
The Chickpea Chronicles
Fast-paced satire for fans of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld.
The Chickpea Chronicles – an adult, comedic fantasy – follow the adventures of George, a poncho-wearing, five-ton, fire-breathing, vegan dragon who is desperate to fit into woke human society. You probably shouldn’t laugh but you will…
Add to your To Be Read List here:
The Quest For The Holy Hummus – The Vegan Charade
Despite being a regressive and unhelpful stereotype, it was nevertheless accurate to say that dragons were aggressive, bloodthirsty brutes. Not George, though. He’s a self-professed ‘decent’ individual with a penchant for organic cookery, gardening, and making his own clothes. Oh, and he’s a vegan, you know!George’s adventure begins when he decides he wants some hummus. However, as Dragonville definitely isn’t the sort of place to find chickpea-based snacks, he sets off towards People Town to visit his favourite place in the whole world, the glorious Farmer Fred’s feel-good, local, family, fair-trade, organic wholefoods store.
Follow George as he traverses Dragonville, desperately tolerating the idiots who wander into his path – before continuing on towards lovely, civilised People Town where unfortunately our heroic, massive, fire-breathing reptile encounters further unwarranted prejudice.
Will George get his delicious dip? Will he make any new friends? Will years of suppressing his true instincts make him have a terrifying and very-public nervous breakdown? Find out!
The Vegan Charade
Now established in People Town, George is enjoying his new, civilised life. However, back in Dragonville trouble is brewing.
A war has been declared! Sworn enemies, the Ogreton Ogres have heard that a huge, poncho-wearing dragon refuses to eat people and also, that it won’t let the other dragons eat them either. There can be only one explanation for this nature-defying dietary-finickiness: They have all gone soft!
Tasked with averting the conflict, George is dragged back from his idyllic existence. His only hope is to convince the ogres that they’ve got it wrong; that dragons are still mental monsters who will happily gulp down anything put before them without making a huge fuss. But actual people-eating isn’t an option, because he’s a vegan, you know!
Fortunately, People Town’s largest resident isn’t alone in his laborious, meat-free charade. The members of the Amateurish Amateur Dramatics Society / Production Company are waiting for their curtain call.
Will George’s thespian abilities be up to the challenge? Will he be able to find his motivation? Will all terrifying losses of self-control be strictly as per the script? Tickets available now!
Free on Amazon – download here!
Free audiobook – download here!
100% Organic (The Chickpea Chronicles Book 2)
Organic or non-organic? Refined or reasonably-priced? All the rage or affordable? There’s only one way to settle this – George The-Decent Dragon enters The People Town Annual Fruit And Vegetable Growing Competition. Fast-paced, irreverent satire for Pratchett and Python fans.
With a celebrity dragon at the helm, Farmer Fred’s has become successful. Very successful. Its delicious, organic specialities are the talk of the town. But unfortunately, this new-found popularity has attracted some unwelcome attention…
A rival from Julian’s past returns and opens a non-organic greengrocer, and then challenges him to compete in the annual fruit and veg growing contest. However, treachery is in the air. There’s far more to this than who can grow the best marrow.
Unsanitary allotment holders, scheming local councillors, and illicit performance-enhancing substances – all stand between Team Farmer Fred and the trophies. Fortunately, though, they have a secret weapon!
Will George triumph and save the day? Will he emerge with his dignity intact? Will his big, beautiful pumpkins gain the appreciation they deserve? Find out!
An Inappropriate Burger (The Chickpea Chronicles Book 3)
In Farmer Fred’s things are unusually quiet, and that can mean only one thing – an evil fast-food business has brainwashed the population of People Town, turning them into ravenous burger zombies! Someone needs to do something, and guess who it is?!
Constantly fighting against his crippling ‘meat allergy’, George, accompanied by sidekick Julian, has to go deep undercover into the Lucky Dip Burger factory to find out what has happened to all his beloved customers.
Addictive additives, mind-control technology, and inadvertently being culturally offensive, George must try to return the townsfolk to a well-meaning, profit-filled, roughage-rich diet.
Will George save everyone from their love of junk food? Will he end up getting turned into a vegan burger? Will his tinfoil hat stay on during his projectile vomiting? Find out!
Last Presenter Standing (The Chickpea Chronicles Book 4)
Following a spell of financial irresponsibility, George is forced to take a second job. Fortunately, the perfect opportunity has just arisen: People Town Television need a new presenter for the 2pm-at-weekdays cookery show – and they would be more than happy to sign up the town’s most famous resident!
‘Hard-hitting’ interviews with local ‘celebrity’ guests, dealing with manipulative executives, tolerating his new daytime-demographic fan base – to the surprise of even himself, George proves to be a natural.
However, the people of People Town aren’t the only ones who are watching. Nefarious non-human attention soon threatens an outcome far worse than just poor ratings.
Blackmail! Monstrous format changes! A vending machine containing absolutely nothing which is vegan-appropriate! Can George see this one through to the credits? Tune in and find out!
V is For Volunteer (The Chickpea Chronicles Book 5)
In his latest bid to signal his virtue to everyone, George embarks upon some voluntary work – this time helping awful, disadvantaged youngsters with their considerable shortcomings – at Dragonville High, his former school!
Unfortunately, however, shadowy dealings have led to the school’s planned closure. Only one thing can save it – victory by the fireball team over the Ogreton Maniacs. And guess which sport-hating, poncho-wearing dragon has inexplicably been appointed the new manager?!
An ability-free ‘inclusive’ fireball technique, a squad based strictly upon diversity – they’re winners already, in the eyes of his online stalkers!
Will George’s benevolent behaviour have the desired effect? Will his progressive approach impress anyone worth impressing? Will he save the school and more importantly, secure for himself some premier-level altruistic bragging rights? Find out!
An Artisan Abroad (The Chickpea Chronicles Book 6)
Following the need to close Farmer Fred’s for a week of pest-extermination, all-creature-respecting vegans George and Julian have to find a means to occupy themselves. And how better to do this than take a hard-earned holiday to Foreign Island!
Unfortunately, however, this tropical paradise isn’t all sandy beaches, stifling temperatures, and filthy hotel rooms – unwittingly, George unpacks his dragon bag directly into the centre of an ongoing neighbour dispute.
But all is not what it seems. And soon George received a ‘royal’ invitation which changes things dramatically. Now George must find a way to force two sets of islanders to get on – because the fate of hairier one of them, not to mention his reputation as a mediator, depends upon it. Luckily, he’s got just the thing!
Will George’s plan to bring together these two vastly different cultures work? Will he be able to resolve centuries of difficulties before his return flight? Will he manage to get through the week without consuming anything derived from a goat? He’ll ruddy-well do his best!
Who’s next on Indie Spotlight?
Dorian Hart is the author of the Heroes of Spira epic fantasy series. The fifth and final book in the series will likely be out in 2022.
Dorian graduated from Wesleyan University with a degree in creative writing. This led to a 20-year career as a video game designer, where he contributed to many award-winning titles including Thief, System Shock, System Shock 2, and BioShock.