Q&A With Lawrence Allan

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Q&A With Lawrence Allan 

Tonight  I’m doing a Q&A with Lawrence Allan. I was connected to Lawrence Allan and 5 other authors through author and television/movie editor Eric Beetner. Lawrence Allan is the author of the novel “Big Fat F@ck Up”. On top of writing the novel “Big Fat F@ck Up”, his bio on his website is very interesting. Having grown up in Normal, IL, Lawrence Allan is Midwestern as f@!k, and loves heroes who use humor to cover for their emotional trauma! For a time he was the highest paid writer in Pakistanti TV, writing three serials, including Qaatil, Pakistan’s first tele-thriller. In the US, his work includes several pilots that have received interest from FOX TV, Warner Brothers, Warner Horizon, as well as USA. He has worked with Rick Cleveland, Emmy winner for The West Wing, and Ron Moore, creator of Battlestar Galactica, on a pilot for NBC. I find it very impressive when an author can multi-task. 


Q: What gave you the idea to write the novel “Big Fat F@!k Up?” 


A: The book began as a pilot and I have a very distinct memory of coming up with the idea… I was on a plane, coming back to L.A. and I was trying to think of the next script I wanted to write. My manager at the time was expecting a new script pronto. I was on the plane, notebook out, and searching for a really great idea. Something that would knock out network executives. Nothing came.

I started thinking about what would make a good idea. At least get me some meetings. Silence. Frustrated, I flipped the script — so to speak — and asked myself: what would be a terrible idea? What would the most embarrassing thing to pitch? That’s when it popped into my mind: a former child star as a private detective. I started giggling at the absurdity of it, adding more details and even how I would pitch it, “What if Macauley Culkin became a private eye?”  Soon, it was an idea that I couldn’t get out of my head. Free of the pressure of coming up with something “good,” I came up with something I fell in love with.


Q: What advice do you give to anyone wanting to write in the mystery genre?


A: I would say: get involved. Meet people. Read their books. This means going to conventions, going to readings (online if there’s nothing in your town. Of course, maybe throw your own…). The authors in mystery are an incredibly welcoming group. And there are no bigger fans of the genre than those who are writing it.

And you just might make some life long friends.

Q: What made you pivot from pursing TV to writing books?


A:  It was during the pandemic that I really put aside my TV career. It had become quite the cycle of write, meetings, more writing, more meetings that I had lost the pleasure of writing.

Luckily, I had come back to prose about nine months before the world shut down and had rediscovered the fun of writing — and a bit of success.

The pandemic put into high relief how I wanted to spend my creative time. And for me, it was those things that brought me real pleasure. (Since I’m still waiting for the big bucks, I might as well enjoy the hell out of what I’m doing…)

Q: What was it like writing for Pakistani Television? I know in certain parts of the world where you’re not allowed to air certain things due to cultural and religious beliefs. 


A: It was great, it was weird, and it afforded me to quit a 9 to 5 job for a while. 


I was living in New York City at the time, solely responsible for all of the writing, while the productions happened around the world. So there was a lot of pressure and the weirdness of sending out pages into the ether that would get made by someone else, somewhere else that I would never meet or see.

But, it was an important moment for me. It transitioned me out of playwriting into TV writing, which would bring me out to L.A.

It was quite the learning experience. I had to write a ton of pages a day to keep up with the demands of production, while managing a large story, and yes, keep cultural norms in mind.

Not just what I could and couldn’t show on screen, but also how a story was told. While all cultures tell stories, not all cultures tell stories in the same way.

Q: Are you writing a sequel to “Big Fat F@!k Up”? Or are you writing a standalone novel?


A: I AM writing a sequel! The book will be out sometime this spring and it’s called “Big F@!king Deal.” I’m super excited about it. I’ve never had a chance to write a sequel to anything before and it’s an amazing challenge. In some ways, I’ve learned more on this one than my first book.

My plan is to keep writing Jimmy Cooper books while mixing in another series or two with some standalone books that I have in mind. I’m aiming to have the 3rd book out later in 2023 and perhaps — perhaps — a Christmas novella that is a standalone.

But I have a tendency to be overly ambitious.


Q:  Are any of the pilots you wrote for those networks going to become shows soon? Or did they become shows already? Can you spoil the names of the shows and what they’re about?


A: Nope! Nothing is going to be a show soon. Though all those pilots just might become books. 🙂

Q: What was it like working with Rick Cleveland the Emmy Winner of West Wing and Ron Moore the writer behind Battle Star Galactica? Did you help them write episodes to both of those shows? 


A:  I worked as Rick’s assistant on a show he and Ron Moore were developing that, sadly, didn’t get picked up — which is very often the case. There are so many shows that public never, ever hear about that writers work very hard on. Which can be frustrating. But that’s the biz.

Rick and Ron both have deep knowledge of what makes a good show. But one of the things I really loved was their ability to talk story engine — that thing that will generate stories in a show. I would watch as they would talk about a choice and how that could generate five seasons worth of stories. Or not.

Those lessons I apply to my own work, even a book series. You have to have the characters and the conflicts that will keep readers engaged and wanting to come back.