Alan Loewen brings his own special brand of magic with a short, sweet, hauntingly beautiful tale of a kindly craftsman who may be more than he seems.
Yet, if you enter with a cold heart and see my dolls only as an old man’s eccentricity, then I will smile and welcome you with open arms. – “Dollmaker” by Alan Loewen
* What inspired your piece in The Refossiling?
AL: Dollmaker has an odd genesis and came about when doing research on missing persons and sexual trafficking. I found an article in The Independent dated October 11th, 2009 that made the claim that 275,000 Britons go missing every year. That comes to an amazing 750 people a day in a country that is smaller than the size of Texas! Where do they go?
Admittedly, the problem of missing people is an actual tragedy, but being of a mental bent that leans toward dark fantasy, I dreamt up a tale of an evil creature that plays a role as to why some of these people are missing.
* Where can readers and fans find more of your work?
AL: Writing under the pseudonym, Alan Loewen―I have a reputation to hide―simply Google my name. Though there are some bad people out there that share my moniker simply look for the web pages that lean toward writing.
My Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/CAlanLoewen.
* Who are your main creative influences, literary/artistic or otherwise?
AL: I have always been an avid reader and I can rattle off a number of writers who have inspired me without pause. In no particular order, H. G. Wells, Jules Verne, Lewis Carroll, C. S. Lewis, Alan Garner, H. P. Lovecraft, Robert Holdstock, and William Hope Hodgson easily top the list.
I cannot tell you how many times I have read Journey to the Center of the Earth or War of the Worlds, but I read them to this day and always with great joy.
* What’re you working on, what is your process/routine like?
AL: Dollmaker is actually the final “chapter” in a braided novel with the working title of Doll Wars. The first segment of the book is a short story entitled In The Father’s Image and was originally published in an issue of Morpheus Tales in Great Britain. Rowan Dreaming is an unpublished novella and forms the second part of the work and the third piece is a 50,000-word work that ties all the mysteries of the first two stories together. Dollmaker is the final segment that reveals the final fate of the antagonist.
Unfortunately, my current occupation is crisis-oriented and being on call 24/7, my routine is nonexistent. Writing when time allows, my goal is to have Doll Wars completed by the end of this year.
* What is the weirdest object you own?
AL: In my office is an old trunk on wheels and it contains several thousand dollars worth of stage magic props. In the mid 70s, I covered a four-state area doing stage shows that included a levitation illusion and a gimmicked guillotine. Unfortunately, though my act was well received I was no David Copperfield and lack of income forced me to retire.
Today, it is very easy to get me to come out of retirement, but I now restrict myself to smaller venues that in the magic business are called parlor shows. I no longer use the big props, but my mentalist routine and closing illusion of penetrating a volunteer’s body with thick ropes held by other volunteers keeps my name and reputation in circulation.
* Most useless advice you have ever seriously been given?
AL: Though there are some published authors who made their first sale within the few months after putting hand to keyboard, for me it was twenty long years of collecting rejection letters. All of them were well deserved and I have done the world a great service by taking my first attempts at storytelling and shredding them. However, there were a few rejection letters that were amazingly brutal, all of them telling me that my writing was so inferior to give up all hope of ever having a story published.
And I ignored them. There’s something to be said in favor of dogged stubbornness.
* What kind of question do you always wish these questionnaires would ask, and how would you answer it?
AL: Why do I love Brian Keene’s writing so much? Because amidst all the trappings of his horror novels he touches on two of the noblest elements of the human condition: hope and sacrificial love.
Whether he is destroying the world with zombies or an evil sentient darkness or the Rapture or giant earthworms, even when he fills his work with some of the most loathsome examples of humanity, an undercurrent in his works stands defiantly against the despair.
One of his most powerful scenes for me (possible spoiler alert!) is in his Earthworm Gods: Selected Scenes from the End of the World. A father stands among the rising waters and in desperation holds his young son high above his head trying to give him a few more precious moments of life even at the cost of his own, standing against all hope, against all reason, and doing it only because of how much he loves his son.
I bawled for hours. You see, I have four sons. Only three are with me today.
In that example and others, Brian shows he clearly understands the human condition. Great storytellers know how to craft a good tale and Brian is among the best, but a master wordsmith aims straight for the heart and for me Brian does that time and time again.