What is your favorite scene in Black Light and why?
I have a couple that I really enjoyed writing, because they were surprising. They told me things I didn’t know about the characters, or the story.
The first one is when Tommi, the drummer, calls Asia and Weird in the middle of the night because his boyfriend, John, hurt him. Asia and Weird go to the boyfriend’s house and Asia is scared of what they will find. Weird, though, is pissed. He walks in prepared to kill John, but they only find Tommi, bleeding and barely conscious. Asia watches Weird turn into someone he doesn’t recognize. He’s gentle as he cleans Tommi up and carries him to the car. I loved writing that scene, because I didn’t recognize Weird, either. I also like that it’s about love that’s not romantic.
Another scene I really loved writing is when Asia meets Albrecht Christian for the first time. Asia knows that Albrecht is Trace’s new lover and that he’s paying for the band’s album. I think both Asia and I were surprised at how jealous he is. It might be the first time he feels heartbroken over the space it puts between him and Trace.
What was your writing process like as you wrote Black Light?
It’s funny, I think of Black Light as the thing that taught me to write in the first place. We (Loren and I) started it in 1983, which is the year the story takes place. We used to lay on the floor in one of our respective bedrooms and pass the notebook back and forth, each writing a paragraph, or a scene. That was back in the days when we thought we were cutting-edge with our electric typewriters. We stored the one copy in a typing paper box. This novel has been stored on floppy disk, on CDs, on flash drives, and now on sd cards. And literally hundreds of spiral-bound notebooks.
We wrote a lot in 1983. The bones of that story are still visible, at least to the two of us. But things changed. Loren moved across the country. You know, back in the day, when long distance was expensive. So, the novel got shelved and we wrote other things.
But for me, Trace and Asia never went away really. They hung out in my brain, walked through my dreams, and as I grew up, they had more and more to say. So, over the years, I pecked at it. I actually wrote the ending in 2002, then left it alone.
And then, you know, David Bowie died. I can’t really explain how much this affected me. My father had died less than six months before and I couldn’t bring myself to cry for him, but I cried for David Bowie. When I went out to write the next day, I couldn’t focus, and I ended up in the Black Light file. It was, finally, the right time to finally finish it.
What was the best thing that happened during your promotion of the book?
Well, that’s easy. The best day was at Wiscon, when you and I got to read together. That was as fun as it was terrifying.
Also, I work at the customer service desk at the bookstore and I hand-sell Black Light to customers that come in. Not a bunch, but some. Until last month, I’d never heard anything from any of them. At the height of Christmas, a man came up to the desk to ask me if I remembered selling him Black Light. I didn’t, of course, but he told me that he’s read it three times now and keeps it on his bedside table, because it’s his favorite book. Wow. I had to go in the back to cry. So that runs a close second.
What do you have planned next?
So many plans! I’m nearing the end of my next novel, which is called The Night Was Not. It’s a neo-Victorian story about an airship captain who falls in love with the star of a freakshow. Yeah, it’s as fun as you think it is.
I’m also almost ready to put out two novellas that are mm paranormal romance. The first one is called Speak My Name, about a demon bartender who falls in love for a second time. The second one, Your Cruel Fingers Close My Eyes, is about Albrecht Christian from Black Light, in his youth. And the Loch Ness monster. Yes, it’s a romance.
Martha J. Allard is a writer of contemporary and dark fantasy. Her short fiction has appeared in magazines like Talebones and Not One of Us. Her story “Dust” won an honorable mention in The Year’s Best Science Fiction, 19th edition, edited by Gardner Dozois. Her story “Phase” was nominated for a British Science Fiction Award. They are both collected in the chapbook Dust and Other Stories.
You may also find a selection of her previously published works on Wattpad.com. She was the editor of “Nice Tattoo, the Magazine of Shadow Fiction.” Her nonfiction has appeared in the anthologies “Lend the Eye a Terrible Aspect” and “Deaths Garden.” Her novel, “Black Light” is a tale of love, sacrifice and rock and roll in the 1980’s. You can find her on her blog, marthajallard.blogspot.com.
The back cover text from Black Light:
Los Angeles, 1983. Trace Dellon, lead singer, knows exactly what he wants: the white heat of the spotlight. When his band Black Light is offered a record deal, Trace grabs for it. He will do anything to make it.
Asia Heyes, bass player, knows what he wants, too. It’s not fame or the adoration of groupies. It’s Trace. It’s always been Trace. Though it’s been unspoken between them, Trace’s other lovers—his audience—push Asia aside.
With the contract, Albrecht Christian comes into their lives. He is a man with everything but what he needs to live: the energy that runs just under Trace’s skin. Even Trace isn’t enough, and Albrecht finds himself starving.
When everything crashes with a bullet, they all learn the truth. Rock and roll, like magic, requires both love and sacrifice. Then Black Light’s fragile trajectory to greatness really begins.