One would think that the life of an international beach volleyball player and the father of a 3-year-old would be a busy enough life, but Billy Allen is now a self-published author.
Allen released the fantasy novel “Good Blood (The Descendants of Terene, Book 1)” in November on Amazon.com.
The novel is the first installment of a trilogy in the world of Terene, where your blood determines your fate. The rulers of Terene have enslaved the Descendants, who carry blood that can heal illnesses and rejuvenate the body.
The book is centered around Ara, who has remarkably pure blood in times of diluted bloodlines, but is plagued by amnesia. He seeks clues as to his identity, while the rules and rebels of Terene battle for control.
Imaginative and creative, “Good Blood” is a page turner. The character development draws the reader in, with plenty of plot twists along the way. Allen strikes the perfect balance, giving the reader just the right amount of detail and keeping the plot moving.
Allen, a 6-foot-2 defender, has competed professionally since 2004, with two domestic wins in Seattle, 2016 (with Theo Brunner) and 2017 (with Stafford Slick), and has four ninth-place finishes on the international tour.
This year Allen will return to former partner Slick after playing 2017 with Ryan Doherty. He lives in Redondo Beach with his wife Janelle, who also competes on the AVP tour, and son Ketch.
Allen and Slick’s next event is the Sydney three-star March 6-10, followed by the Doha four-star, March 12-16, pending country quotas.
VBM had the chance to chat with Allen and discuss his latest book.
VBM: “True Blood” is an impressive work for a first-time author. What made you decide to write a novel?
Allen: Writing is something I’ve always done. When I was growing up, it was comic books. I had my own comic book company with my brothers. I studied English in college (Allen graduated from CSU Northridge), creative writing, and it was always something I wish that I had done more of, and never actually finished anything.
After college, I was working on screenplays and movie ideas, things that I filmed myself or with friends, I got actually about actually finishing something, I was happy to actually write something that I could actually finish and show people instead of just exist on my hard drive.
VBM: Who are your writing influences, and why did you select the fantasy genre?
Allen: When I started getting into genre stuff, fantasy and scifi, Kurt Vonnegut was always my favorite from college on.
Originally the book was going to be a sci-fi novel, I was thinking about different blood types that people have, and how some people are universal donors that are more valuable, and extended that to what if certain people had blood that was really valuable, and could actually heal other people, and how the government would handle that, would they try to control their blood, would the people with good blood take the responsibility of helping others, it became more of a sci-fi idea, and then I read a book “The Name of the Wind” (by Patrick Rothfuss), and thought that it could reside in more of a fantasy setting.
VBM: I enjoyed “Good Blood”, and can hardly wait for the second installment. Are there any tidbits on book two that you can share with our readers?
Allen: Book two will be two different settings, because the main character Ara is split up from his friends, so it will jump back and forth between him and his pursuit of finding out about his past and family, and then Cambria and Geyer and other characters are back in Terene dealing with the repercussions of winning their revolution. By the end of the book I hope to have them meet back up again.
VBM: Do you have a date set for book two?
Allen: I have books two and three outlined and part of book two edited, but I’m just finishing up some other writing projects now (Allen is currently writing a volleyball coaching book with John Mayer), and then will get back to the fantasy world.
I’m hoping to have the second book around Christmas time next year, or perhaps the spring.
VBM: Between fathering a 3-year-old and a pro beach career, how do you find time to write?
Allen: It’s something I had to balance. The volleyball player side made the writing fit a little more, because I had some free time. Long flights, a lot of time in FIVB hotel rooms, instead of watching movies over and over, I could get some writing done. It’s actually the parenting that is more of an issue. Once Ketch woke up, and was slamming on my laptop, making it hard to get some work done.
I was pretty fired up and diligent on the first draft, and was getting up at 8 a.m. and getting an hour of writing done before I had to head off to practice, or during his nap, or heading to the library. I never really had a writer’s retreat weekend, it was more about carving out a half-hour or hour every day.
The first draft took me six months, and I was working pretty strong. I started in November, which is National Novel Writing Month, and got a good start then, and finished six months later. I sent drafts to friends and family for feedback, and then to an editor. It took me about two years from start to finish.
VBM: Are any of the characters in the novel modeled after volleyball players?
Allen: No, there are no tall, bald evil villains, or anything like that. (Laughs at Phil Dalhausser reference). They’re more created based on your standard roles, the rogue, the wise mentor, etc.
VBM: Was it scary for you, putting your first book out publicly?
Allen: When I finished, and I was putting it out there, it was a little more scary for me, I guess you could equate it to playing on stadium court in front of a lot of people, except if you had only played volleyball for about a year. I felt a lot more vulnerable when releasing this first book than I had felt in a long time.
I was both pretty excited to be finished and show it to people not only because I had worked on it so long, but nervous that people would find mistakes or think that it was silly.
VBM: How has the book performed compared to your expectations?
Allen: I didn’t really know what to expect. On the sales front, I’ve made my money back for editing, formatting, and cover. It’s kind of nice to get a few bucks every day. The reception has been really positive, but I think it’s mostly people that I know that have read it. Every time that I get a good review on Amazon from someone that I don’t know I get fired up.
I don’t have a lot of friends that read fantasy, so guys like John Mayer, that read it because they’re my friend, and they don’t really read that genre, and say that they enjoyed it, I guess that’s a compliment.
Editor’s note: Allen’s short-story prequel to Good Blood, entitled “Requiem for House Octavian,” can be downloaded for free here.
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