Do you have a favorite place you love to go and eat? But when you’re there – you try different things on the menu? That’s the mindset I’ve used as a writer. I love writing in multiple genres – trying different things. Sometimes I believe rules can be ‘bent’ a little and I don’t always ‘write what I know’ or ‘stick to one type of writing’. My writing career starting for the stage. I was a playwright and composer of musicals. Interspersing an acting career in with it, I went on to write some short stories and then turned to a collection that had one thing in common: diversity. A novella about my half brother who was an addict and passed away at 34 years old. A novel about two brothers coming to terms with one brother’s sexuality and how religion played a huge part in their lives. A children’s picture book about autism awareness through the eyes of the child with autism. And coming up in April, a novel of a woman in search of her past so that she can move on with her future.
I love to set my stories in different locations and then study about that area. I change the religious and educational backgrounds of my characters in each story. I feel being a male writer should not preclude me from writing in the first person voice of a woman or the mindset of a child. Music also plays a huge part in my writing and I find myself listening to the music my characters enjoy. All of this is different from who Greg is as a person. Yes, there are pieces of me in what I write – but nothing excites me more as a writer than learning something new to share in my work.
All writers have different approaches to what they do. It seems with me, ideas always come as I’m about to go to sleep at night so I have to jump up and write some notes. (So much for a good nights sleep.) Sometimes I outline out the entire book, other times I let the story grow and develop as I write. But always inevitably, the characters lead the story where they want to go and something always changes from where I thought I was first starting out. For me, this adds great excitement to what I’m doing! It goes back to the ‘bending rules’ because you may not always get what you expect from a Gregory Allen story. A friend told me once that I tend to always add a twist so that readers can’t guess where it is leading. I don’t think I do it on purpose, but I’m glad to not tell the ‘guy gets girl’ story over and over. I love to see characters that are in some sort of adverse situation and watch how they can maneuver themselves through it. Sometimes they may be likable and you really root for them. Other times, you may want to shake the character around the neck – but still find ways to empathize with them.
It goes back to that favorite restaurant. My dream is that readers would say “I really love to check out what Greg has cooking up…and this time, I’ll try the spicy meal!”