D. Allen Rutherford Author Interview
D. Allen Rutherford is a former army officer and decorated veteran of the First Gulf War (1990/91). He holds a B. S. degree in management and an MBA degree. After leaving the Army he and his family lived in the Middle East where, for several years he worked as an independent consultant facilitating industrial development programs in developing countries throughout the Middle East, North Africa and Asia. After returning to the United States, he settled down in central Arkansas, where he taught a year as an adjunct professor and three years as a science teacher in secondary education before deciding to devote his time and energy to writing science and historical fiction novels.
Combining his interest in science and history with his love of writing, D. Allen attempts to create exciting and refreshingly unique fiction novels layered with controversial issues associated with fringe science, history, and political intrigue, leaving the reader to wonder, "Is this really possible? Could this really happen?".
Who is the real D Allen Rutherford?
This is a tough question. I guess I would say D Allen Rutherford is an idealist who envisions a world where science and technology are governed by a strong sense of moral responsibility and ethical conduct. As a writer, I suppose my novels are an extension of my idealism.
For many years you worked in the army, then in consultancy around the world, including Africa and the Middle East. How much of that has influenced your writing, if at all? How long have you been writing and do you now write full-time?
My background has provided me an opportunity to see the world from a variety of perspectives. As an officer in the U.S. Army (Infantry & Military Intelligence) I have witnessed war and to quote from Robert Burns “Man’s inhumanity to man.” As an international consultant, traveling throughout the Africa, Middle East, and parts of Asia, I’ve seen the richest and poorest among society and I’ve been privileged to have met many truly unique and interesting people. Yes; I would say that my many and diverse experiences do influence my writing, both in creating interesting characters and the world they live in.
You have a fantastic artist in the fantasy illustrator Collette J. Ellis tucked away in northern Wales. How did you find her and what made you settle on Collette? Did she create the wargs based on your mental description and then did you write the book, or did the book come first followed by her illustrations?
Collette is a truly wonderful artist to work with. While writing “Wargs: Curse of Misty Hollow,” I started browsing the internet for conceptual ideas for the cover. I came across some examples of Collette’s work and I was immediately attracted to her unique style and originality. I was lucky to be able to track her down and contacted her via email to discuss the prospects of her creating the original artwork for the Wargs Trilogy. After exchanging some thoughts/ideas, Collette worked up some sketches for me to look at. She has this gift of translating my mental ideas into unique and visibly striking images. I love Collette’s artistic style and she has a wonderful imagination.
Your published Wargs Trilogy is science fiction fantasy. You also have a number of new works in the pipeline, each of them very different. Legacy of the Unseen is a supernatural thriller, Bloodlust is a novel based on the true story of the conquistador Hernando De Soto, and The Cabin Boy is another historical fiction novel you are working on based on the true story of Michael A. Healy, an African-American who became the first naval officer in the US Coast Guards back in the 1800s. Will the historical fiction writing win out, or do you think you will keep oscillating between the two genres? Is there a new genre that you wouldn’t mind trying, and if so, please explain.
Although my stories fall within more than one genre, there is a common denominator – each story involves human drama revolving around deeper, more complex, moral and ethical issues that are not readily recognized by society. In the process of writing/telling these stories I find that each has an underlying spiritual dilemma that serves to challenge our views and perspectives on how we look at history or the prospects of scientific research. In general, I enjoy writing science fiction and supernatural thrillers. I find historical fiction a challenge in that I strive very hard to ferret out the facts and do justice to the trials, tribulations, and injustices experienced by the real people of history who are at the heart of these stories.
Would you describe your Warg Trilogy as allegorical? At face-value these books deal with exciting situations where people are battling an invasion of animal hybrids. However, on a much deeper level, as the story progresses, you raise a number of social issues until finally the last story culminates in the realization that the real enemy is man himself and his greed for exploitation with a weak moral compass and lack of spiritual beliefs. Would that be a fair assessment? What was the drive behind such a story?
Yes, the Wargs Trilogy is allegorical, subtly weaving into the story the spiritual dilemma associated with the ramifications often associated with fringe science. In the way you posed your question, you have very eloquently surmised the essence of the Wargs Trilogy. I used to teach science in secondary education. A common element within my classroom curriculum was the pursuit of the truth, hidden within veiled agendas. The Wargs Trilogy was born out of an idea to make people aware of the technological advances in the field of transgenics and to highlight the moral and ethical challenges that exploitation of this field of science can lead to. The science behind the Wargs Trilogy is real and the moral, ethical, and spiritual elements associated with the exploitation of this science has been downplayed in favor of the potential benefits heralded by the scientific community.
The books are based on the concept of transgenics, so more Modern Science than Science Fiction. How much research went into writing these books from a scientific point of view?
I spent more than a year researching transgenics and I endeavored to incorporate every aspect of the science into a real-to-life story. I wanted the story to not only be entertaining but incorporate a degree of reality that would leave the reader wondering if the story could very well happen; if not now, maybe in the very near future. Although the Wargs Trilogy is a work of fiction, I wanted the reader to relate to the underlying scientific elements of the story and truly believe it did or could happen. To me, this is the essence of science fiction, to take the reader to a place where their figurative imagination can become a literal reality.
What is the part that you enjoy about writing and which do you dislike the least? How do you tackle this downside to writing?
I truly enjoy getting into the flow and letting my imagination take control of my fingers and watch the story evolve on the screen in front of me. The part I like dislike the most is editing. I typically spend five times a much time editing as I do writing. I try to take a systematic approach to editing and set goals for each phase of the editing process. Personally, I struggle with having the patience to allow each phase of the editing process to take its course before pressing on to the next phase. Good editing is predicated on patience.
You have a large presence on Twitter supporting indie authors. In fact, you and I both met through chatting on Twitter, before I invited you over to our Facebook group. How has Twitter worked for you in selling more books and what other social media platforms do you use and recommend?
Although I maintain a Facebook, Google+, and Tumblr accounts, Twitter is the primary tool I use to direct traffic to my website. However, I continue to research and evaluate other platforms. Social media appears to be the rage of the age in terms of marketing/promoting products and services (including books/novels) to the consumer market. There are so many channels available to the indie author, it is difficult to say one is better than another. Though much of my success comes from Twitter, other authors tell me they favor other platforms, such as Facebook, Google+, Tumblr, Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc. The key is finding a platform that reaches the largest possible audience, is sustainable, and works for you even when you are not online. I see a direct correlation between the amount of time I spend online, interacting in Twitter and my book sales. “Out of sight, out of mind,” is never more true than with social media and the level of book sales.
You are an author who has gone wide. You books are even on the Google Books platform. So what made you decide to take yourself away from the Amazon KDP select program and try other platforms and will you continue to do so for all your books, and why?
I wanted to ensure that I achieved the widest possible distribution for my novels, worldwide. My novels are available anywhere you can purchase a book and to date, I’ve sold novels in five countries in various formats. In researching the market dynamics, I found that Kindle dominates the eBook market in the U.S. accounting for more than 60% of eBook sales. But, Kindle’s market dominance begins to weaken quickly outside the U.S. Also, other formats such as iBook and Kobo are more popular in the international community and are represented in more 200 countries. Kobo appears to be the format of choice among many European countries. Also, I have published my novels in audio book edition through ACX and not only have the audio books sold better than other formats, the royalty payout is much better. In the future, I will probably self-publish through Ingram Spark. I can still achieve the broader, international distribution I have with Lulu, but Ingram has a much stronger channel of distribution to the independent bookstores, libraries, and schools.
For your next books, will you be doing anything differently with regards to pre-release campaigns and methods of publication to what you have done in the past? What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
Yes, definitely. I ventured into self-publishing much like a child stumbling around in the dark. Lulu Publishing Services was a great partner to help me get my first novel into print and I’m very appreciative to the level of support I got from them. Subsequently, I elected to self-publish my next two novels on my own and enjoyed the experience. With each novel I published I learned a new aspect of the indie, self-publishing business and I’m still learning. However, in hind-sight, I have come to realize the true value of a well-planned book launch. This is an aspect of the business that I’m focusing my attention on now and formulating a strategy for a comprehensive launch program while writing the next novel.
What does literary success mean to you?
Literary success to me is defined by the readers’ level of engagement in my novels. When I get feedback from readers that tell me they were so engrossed in my novel, they couldn’t put it down and can’t wait to read the next novel in the trilogy/series; then I feel I have been successful as a writer. Comments like; “Wow, I didn’t see that coming,” or “You had me guessing all the way until the end,” are what fuel my desire to continue to write the next novel.
In conclusion, what invaluable advice would you pass on to fellow authors?
Oh wow, where to start. If I could only offer one piece of advice, it would be this; don’t take yourself too serious and ignore what other authors, who have gone before you, can teach you. To grow as a writer is to be open to learn from the success and failures of other authors who are willing to share their hard-earned insights with you.
Wargs: Curse of Misty Hollow
Werewolves are no longer creatures of myth and legend; today, human-animal hybrids are being created in labs around the world. Imagine a hybrid creature with human cognitive intellect, with no soul. When Dr. Matthew Kershaw is asked to investigate a strange wolf attack on a forest ranger, he hopes to discover a new cryptid wolf species. What he finds is beyond belief and soon finds himself in a desperate struggle for survival.
Wargs: Outcast is the heart pounding and gripping conclusion to the Wargs Trilogy. It’s been three years since the bloody and gruesome battle in the remote wilderness near Misty Hollow. A battle Matt believed ended the harrowing threat against the peaceful residents of Misty Hollow. Since then, they have learned to maintain a peaceful co-existence with the wargs. Meanwhile, sinister forces have been working to resurrect a program to create the ultimate transgenic human-animal hybrid, bringing possible new threats to the valley’s residents.