What inspired you to write Abnormally Abbey?
After writing several adult thrillers, I wanted to write something my kids could read. I decided to name the main character after my daughter Abbey and use several of her friends’ names as well in the book. Also, at the time we shared our home with a number of otherworldly spirits. We even had paranormal investigators out to, well, investigate.
So it would be safe to say that you believe in ghosts?
Ghosts have been a part of my life for a while. Though I no longer live there, my last house was haunted. Let me tell you a story.
I was sitting at the kitchen table writing when I heard something behind me. Since I was alone there shouldn’t be any noises.
Something was moving behind me in the kitchen. It was a slow creak that sounded like a kitchen cabinet opening ever-so-slowly. I didn’t turn around, but kept writing.
I couldn’t help but shiver as I wondered what could be moving behind me. I really didn’t want to turn around. What if I saw someone—or something? I kept trying to write, but my brain wasn’t having it.
Not again. I could feel my heart thudding in my chest. It was like my heart wanted to pound its way out just to get away from the creaking sound. I knew how it felt.
“Abbey,” I tried to call out to my real life daughter who was upstairs. The word barely made a sound as my throat was so dry that my voice sounded like two tree branches rubbing against each other.
Knowing she’ll never be able to hear me all the way upstairs, I had no choice. I was going to have to turn around. I grabbed onto the edge of the table with both hands. Sliding my chair back, I pulled my feet underneath and shakily stood up. Then came the hard part.
I turned around.
Are you curious about what happened? I’ll tell you at the end.
Okay, so how many books did you write before you were first published?
I’ve written eight books, and Abnormally Abbey was the third. My upcoming thriller (coming in February 2021 from Immortal Works), Killer Blonde, was my fourth.
When do you find time to write:
When I first started writing novels, I tried to write every day. “A writer writes.” However, life quickly got in the way and I eventually modified my writing schedule to an hour or so Friday evening, several hours early on Saturday and about an hour and a half on Sundays.
How many drafts did this book go through:
Abnormally Abbey has been through easily a dozen revisions and two name changes. At first it was called Spooky Girl, but along the way, I realized Ghost Girl was a stronger title (I love alliteration!). However, Immortal Works already had Grace’s Ghosts and Dead Girl, and they recommended changing the title to have the book stand out. Abnormally Abbey was the result.
My first draft originally began with Abbey introducing herself and giving her background, which wasn’t a strong beginning. If the book is about ghosts, let’s put one in the first scene to set the tone! I added an action scene to start the story and then peppered in her back story throughout the first chapters. The result was a stronger beginning that grabbed from the opening lines.
Throughout the revision process, I printed out triple spaced copies that allowed plenty of room to make notes and changes. I read the entire thing out loud, first to myself and then to others. The goal was to have the writing and dialogue sound natural. After that, I turned to beta readers to get feedback on pacing, character development, and the overall story. Throughout the polishing of the revision process, the writing got better, and as the writing got better, a more distinctive personality came out in the writing. The magic truly happens in this process.
What is something unique you learned while writing this book?
I learned I shouldn’t bring up ghosts in a job interview. As much as I was excited about the ghosts that surround Abbey—and the real-life ones that inspired the book—there’s a right time to talk about them.
Have you actually brought up ghosts in job interviews?
That is a true story. I’d mention the book I was writing and talk of the real-life (death?) ghosts that inspired the writing. My wife would shake her head when I told her. “They don’t want to hear about ghosts. Talk about your accomplishments instead.” After several rejections, I left ghosts out of my interview banter.
What is something odd you researched for your book?
I researched the theology of ghosts.
What surprised you most about writing this book?
When I started writing about Abbey, I wanted her to be likable and engaging with a healthy dose of sarcasm. As I developed her character traits and her background, I was excited to get into her story. What I hadn’t realized was how much fun it would be to write the supporting characters too: Stacia, Abbey’s roommate; Carrie, the most feared girl at camp; and of course her bad boy love interest, Turner. Supporting characters bring life to the story. Think about the Harry Potter series. Where would it be without Ron and Hermione, as well as Hagrid, Dumbledore or Snape?
So I gave each supporting character plenty of personality and it made the writing that much more fun. As I was writing, I found I was curious about what Stacia would say or do next.
Having interesting people surrounding your character brings out the best in them. The issue that can come up with is you don’t want your main character to be the bland straight person (in this case, think comedic foil). With that in mind, I made sure Abbey’s personality and sarcastic take on life were always present.
The creaking cabinets conclusion:
When I turned around, the kitchen was completely empty, but several cabinets were wide open. Cabinets that were not open earlier. I walked around the island, looking for whoever—or whatever—had opened the cabinets. There was no one there. There wasn’t anyone hiding and no sign of anyone being there. Except for the open cabinets. That wasn’t the only time strange things happened or ghosts appeared. It happened so often I could write a book about it…
Abnormally Abbey is a story about ghosts, but it’s also the story of a fourteen-year-old girl who finds the strength to stand up for herself and become so much more than she ever expected.
Meet the Author
Allan Evans has always dreamed of writing and seeing his work up on the big screen. That dream finally came true when his bowling team asked him to keep score. Nevertheless, Allan loves to write. An advertising copywriter by day and a writer of fiction by night, he enjoys telling a good story. Allan grew up reading thrillers, science fiction and horror novels. He’ll always have a place on his bookshelf for John Sandford, Stephen King and Orson Scott Card. He’s excited to have his debut novel, Abnormally Abbey, published by Immortal Works Press. His thriller, Killer Blonde, is also being published by Immortal Works and will be available in early 2021. Having lived in an actual haunted house has helped inspire his writing. Allan lives in the Twin Cities of Minnesota with his blended family and three unruly dogs. A youth soccer coach, you can usually find him on a soccer field somewhere.