In the series of Mythrill Author Spotlight we are introducing J.L. Allred — the author of Hunting Misfortune.
Tell us about your writing? What is your process?
I tend toward what you would call discovery writing, so a lot of my process starts with having a thread of inspiration that I sit down and try to follow with actual prose. It may be a character’s internal monologue, or it may be the history of a town or the world itself. I have to write it in story form to actually experience the inspiration needed to find my way.
Once I have something to work with, I’ll come back to it at the beginning of my next writing session and read through it and edit. That process is something like sculpting. I find what feels right and develop it or cut out what feels wrong.
The last step is grammar and punctuation and an episode title and then it goes into you, the reader’s hands!
Who would you say are your influences in writing?
My first influence would be J.R.R. Tolkien. Besides the impact his Middle Earth Legendarium has had on me, his essay "On Fairy Stories" has been extremely influential on me as a writer and I commend it to all writers in the fantasy genre.
The next would be Brandon Sanderson. Before I'd ever read one of his books, I found his BYU Creative Writing class lectures online for free and devoured them. The way he taught those classes made writing, editing, and publishing feel like something within this amateur's grasp. When I finally got around to reading his books I was shocked to find them affecting me in a way I didn't think possible for a book not written by Tolkien.
Last but not least is Andrew Peterson, a singer/songwriter and author. His perspective about the intersection of art, faith, and community has ennobled writing in my mind to not only be about pursuing my dreams but about loving my neighbor as well.
What or who usually inspires you to write and create new episodes?
I suppose it is a mixture of things. Reading, watching, or listening to great stories is often times a big inspiration to want to tell my own. My characters inspire me to allow them dignity to explore who they are in the context of my story. My readers inspire me because they have trusted me with their time and imaginations and so I want to give them a story that on one hand tells them something beautiful and on the other is a satisfying trip for their imaginations.
Do you believe in writer’s block? If so, how do you usually overcome it?
I think writer's block is real. But it can have multiple different causes. Sometimes you are burnt out and need to give yourself a break. Other times you just have to get your butt in the chair and give yourself time to find your way into the story. And then other times writer's block happens because there is something you aren't understanding about your characters or your story that you need to figure out in order to move forward. Most of the time though the fix is just Anne Lamott's butt-in-chair method.
Did you have previous experience with Serialized Fiction before you partnered up with Mythrill or did you have to adapt to the format?
I had not written serialized fiction previously, but adapting to the format wasn't too difficult. The original short story of Hunting Misfortune was around 11,000 words and when breaking it up into the approx. 1000-word episode format for Mythrill, I quickly discovered the action naturally rose and fell within about 1,000 words and even some natural cliffhangers were already there at the right spots.
I definitely think writing with that format in mind helps me take advantage of the format and I'm looking forward to growing and getting better with serialized fiction.
What has been the experience like seeing your characters come alive in Lore Cards?
Seeing the Mythrill team's interpretation of my characters and concepts has been such a treat and one of the biggest joys of being a part of the platform. Having Mythrill to help bring the imagination into reality brings a different kind of energy to my writing. Still can't get over the Pillar of Light!
You got 2 sentences to hook a reader into your story. Go!
An obscure banehunter named Rowan takes pride in his scars, except for one. A routine banehunt, a hellcat, and a rival hunter that's not what he seems will force him to confront an old wound and a larger threat than any he's ever faced.
How did you come up with the idea for your story?
Before it was for Mythrill, the original story was going to be much shorter, so I needed to keep the number of characters and locations small. The banehunters were an interesting worldbuilding element that I thought would be fun to explore and then the idea of a sort of competitive hunt between a banehunter, another hunter, and a wildcard (the hellcat) came about.
The original story ended on with the beginning of a different kind of hunt. A hunt to save someone from themselves. Once the story was expanded to continue on Mythrill it was logical to pick up there and continue exploring the relationships that had developed between the characters in the original story.
Are there any themes in the story that you enjoy exploring?
Themes of redemption, corruption, and self-sacrifice. The tension in how far you go to protect those you care about. And a painful theme of sometimes being unable to save those we care about.
Any interesting facts your readers should know about you or your story?
I'm a husband and father to my three kids; two sons one year old and four years old, and my sweet seven-year-old daughter. Can't leave out my two pups, Lady and Lilly. I also have a podcast I co-host with my brother-in-law called Bridge of Two, where we bridge the sci-fi and fantasy realms we love into a nerdcast of epic proportions!
Are you also a reader on Mythrill? If so, what are you reading right now?
I am, though when I'm in a writing mindset it is difficult to take time to sit down and read something. The last thing I read was the prologue to A Tapestry of Fates by M.J. Lindsey. I'm a sucker for prologues and hers was quite the powerful scene between a father and daughter. I'm a sucker for those too.
Finally, tell us why you partnered up with Mythrill? What made you go for it?
Even though I was trying to get my novel ready to be published at the time, I had this other story sitting here waiting to be shared with the world and Mythrill wanted to work with me so I couldn't pass up this real tangible opportunity to go for it. It's been a great partnership so far and I hope it will continue for many episodes to come!
You can read Hunting Misfortune exclusively on Mythrill by downloading the app.