Class Act Books publicist Toni V. Sweeney recently introduced me to author Beverley Bateman, who kindly interviewed CommWealth’s resident anti-hero Allan Larson on her May 24, 2018 blog along with glorious snippets of my bio, novel excerpts, and buy links. Thanks so much, Beverley! I wanted to reproduce the interview itself not only because was it fun to write and deepened my understanding of Allan (yes, this can happen to an author long after a book is written), but also because I’d just completed the twelve character interviews for a projected Jack Commer Seven science fiction novel and this opportunity just fell out of the sky in weirdly Jungian synchronicity.
Beverley: What’s your name?
Allan: I’m Allan Larson, the leader of the Forensic Squad theatrical troupe in CommWealth. The other actors pretend I’m not really the leader and they say Steve Constantine, who owns the coffee shop where we put on our plays, is really the leader, but really, he’s just a like a business manager, he knows zilch about the theater. I write the plays, I motivate the actors, everyone knows it’s me.
Beverley: Where did you grow up?
Allan: Right here in Linstar, this fictional town on the Texas coast south of Houston that our dear author has milked before in at least one other novel. That’s another reason I’m the leader, because I know this town and what makes it tick. When I was a kid this place had maybe 20,000 people, now it’s grown insanely to something like 180,000. I’ve seen this place grow up, like a teenager who has to get bigger and bigger shoes every couple weeks. It’s an off-balance, frantic, immature sort of town, and I’m right at home here.
Beverley: During what time period does your story take place?
Allan: We have it set as just contemporary America. Turns out that dear author used the 2017-2018 calendar just to keep his facts straight, like December 14 falls on a Thursday, you know, but all the characters made him not use any actual year dates, because we wanted to keep this thing timeless.
Beverley: What’s your story/back story? Why would someone come up with a story about you?
Allan: See, I starred in this long involved dream the author had a while back and I was such a fascinating character that he knew he had a novel practically already written from this dream. So I’m playing the part of anti-hero in this dream, but you know that even though the author claims that he was somehow observing the Allan dream character from afar, you know how the psychological Shadow works and so obviously when I’m playing the anti-hero in this novel there’s Shadow stuff of the author’s going on. Anyway, in the dream I play this supercilious guy who’s really adapted well to this new property-less society that’s just been set up, and I grab cars, computers, everything I can, and bring all my loot back to this cool mansion I’ve claimed. Meanwhile I’m writing all sorts of obscene poetry and betraying my girlfriend and all that sort of crap. Shadows have to do that sort of thing, you know. There were more parts to the dream, like I get ordered to work in Australia as a detective on a murder mystery case, and later I get sent back to the U.S. because I’m supposed to be emotionally shattered and all that, but those two parts weren’t used because the whole premise of the property-less society in part one was more than enough for a novel. There’s so much stuff about Shadow, paranoia, hoarding, human sexual manipulation, and raw survival, and it’s all centered on me. So dear author had no choice but to write my story.
Beverley: What’s your goal in this story?
Allan: Well, I’m a creative guy, and really, everything I do in this novel is in furtherance of my playwriting and acting career. Like, if I’m going to write a play about fast cars, I need a twelve-car garage full of ’em, you know, and so I need a really big mansion to store ’em in. So while everyone thinks I’m just a Hoarder, which is against the law and which I would never, never do even though the author thinks otherwise, really all I’m doing is trying to survive on a day to day basis. And of course I miss my fantastic relationship with Lisa Arlington and when she won’t get back together with me, really I have no choice but to invoke the laws of CommWealth and demand her to be my sex slave for the next thirty days. I mean, it’s a test case for CommWealth laws and really I don’t know why everyone’s so upset about it. In any case it didn’t work out and that was fine with me, because I never guessed Lisa was so psycho. That was definitely a major stressor for yours truly, by the way. She almost murdered me!
Beverley: What conflicts are you facing?
Allan: Well, for one thing, just to keep my life flowing right for my art, I need to stay a step ahead of this CommWealth inspector who’s investigating me for Hoarding. He has me pegged wrong but issues all these legalistic threats against me. And everyone comes unglued when I bust my chops to get Richard Stapke’s entire literary output published. Sure I didn’t get his permission beforehand but I think he was secretly pleased, and anyway the world needed his art whether he wanted it out there or not. And trying to get Forensic Squad to calm down and concentrate on getting my play Cabaret done is a major headache, because they keep resisting my leadership and meanwhile Richard and Jill are having this affair and Jill’s husband Steve finds out and I’ve got to keep everyone happy, you know, so we can get on with the play.
Beverley: Do you have a plan for resolving them?
Allan: All I can do is just keep exercising my leadership talents, directing the play and all. But then Steve goes off the deep end after learning about Jill and Richard, saying he wants to start this revolution against CommWealth, which anybody can see is flat-out suicide. So I have to exercise my leadership talents there as well, because the only reason I seem to go along with Steve–no matter that dear author supposes it’s just because I have no place to go after Lisa dumped me outside my own mansion at gunpoint, me with no clothes on the middle of a freaking thunderstorm–anyway, the only reason I go along with Steve’s crazy plan is to calm him down, stop this stupid revolution talk, and get everybody in Forensic Squad focused on the important thing, which is my play Cabaret. I still don’t know why people can’t just see that basic fact.
Beverley: Is there anything else you’d like us to know about you?
Allan: Yeah, people get the wrong idea about me. Okay, so I’m supposed to function as the anti-hero in this thing. I get that, but I do feel the author has constantly misrepresented me as some snivelling coward manipulator, or that I have these head problems everyone has to tiptoe around. I admit our dear author quoted me correctly in the novel–my lawyers have advised me to say this–because after all anyone can order the book right off Amazon and read all my lines right there–but I still feel it’s all, like, out of context or something. Sure, when the cops opened fire on us when we were holed up in the farmhouse, that was stressful, but really, to make me out to be such a coward about it? C’mon, I have leadership talents, I wouldn’t really start freaking out like that, would I? So my lawyers are talking to the author right now. He’s resisting writing any sort of sequel to CommWealth, but we just might have to force him to do it to set my character straight.
Anyway, any jury would see the author’s bias against me. He painted the cover of the book and although I’m front and center, he made me look like I’m about to throw up. And in this illustration he did on his website he makes me look nasty and petty. Look, guys, I’m an actor, playing the part of an anti-hero, I’m really a talented playwright leader of a great theatrical troupe. Why can’t people see that?
copyright 2018 by Michael D. Smith
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