The most important characters in an author's universe...?

Today I'm delighted to welcome John F Allen to my blog, author of The Best is Yet to Come. Not long ago, I read and enjoyed his Ivory Blaque novel, the God Killers, which if first in a fascinating series. The Best is Yet to Come contains one Ivory Blaque short story, so I wondered, how do authors combine writing series with strong, memorable characters, and then writing short stories... So, over to you John...


I find that depending on the idea surrounding the story I want to tell, determines whether it ends up being a standalone novel, a novella, novel series or a short story.

Sometimes the ideas and images which come to me for a project have an overarching goal which begins with a single character and/or event. And when this is the case, a series is my choice to carry the narrative through. For me, another factor in determining whether a story idea will be a series is the character themselves.

Some characters are more endearing to me than others and I want to maximize the time I spend with them. In the case of Ivory Blaque, the heroine of The God Killers, my novel series, she is the most important figure in my literary universe, affectionately dubbed the Ivoryverse.

When I first created the Ivory Blaque character, early on I’d concluded that her past, her heritage and her destiny would be an integral part of my literary universe. Ivory’s presence and influence would touch all the other characters in her world, so for me there was no other recourse but for her to have her own series.   

There are times, when story ideas take place in a short time span and further, extensive world building and character development isn’t necessary, thus short stories are the best vehicle for them.

I also use short stories as a vehicle to introduce new character creations and determine, either through my own fondness of them or reader response, whether to continue exploring their adventures in additional short stories, novellas or novels.

I sometimes use short stories and novellas as a means of expanding the narrative of a novel series or to fill in the gaps between them. This practice also serves to keep the characters ever present in the minds of the readers of the novel series and allows them to get a small fix until the release of the next novel in the series. And, I’d be remiss if I didn’t take the opportunity to expand on the world building and character development for those characters which writing short stories affords.

However, I refrain from writing the short stories as necessary reading between novels for my readers. I feel doing so would be a cheap way to keep readers invested to simply sell more books. I believe that when the short stories fill in gaps between novels in a series, but are recapped throughout the next novel, it gives the reader options. By handling it in this manner, I give the NEW reader something shorter to read, as they determine whether they want to invest their time into a series. I find readers appreciate options quite a lot.

An example of this is Book I in the Ivory Blaque series titled, The God Killers and Book I in the Knight Ranger series titled, Codename: Knight Ranger. Each book contains the same scene, told through the eyes of the protagonist of each book respectively. This allows for an introduction of a new character for the reader, without having to buy the books of the guest starring character. The reader can determine if that character is interesting enough to them to pursue their adventures further.

In conclusion, I use novels and short stories as independent compliments to each other, as opposed to required reading. But I also use them to give the reader options on how they’re introduced to my characters, on their own terms.   

Thank you John. So... I'm looking forward to Ivory's Christmas story, and to meeting her again in other books. But perhaps I should look out for Knight Ranger too. I grew up on Michael Moorcock novels and loved how the character arcs were intertwined.

About the author: John F. Allen is an American writer born in Indianapolis, IN. He is a founding member of the Speculative Fiction Guild and a member the Indiana Writers Center. He began writing stories as early as the second grade and has pursued various forms of writing throughout his career. John studied Liberal Arts at IUPUI with a focus in Creative Writing and Literature, received an honorable discharge from the United States Air Force and is a current member of the American Legion. John’s debut novel, The God Killers was published in 2013 by Seventh Star Press, and he has had several novellas, short stories and articles published since. He is also an avid reader, accomplished visual artist and Jazz music aficianado.

John currently resides in Indianapolis, Indiana.

You can find him here:


About The Best Is yet To Come:   Featuring ten stories collected for the first time ever, The Best Is Yet to Come, presents nine years of creativity spun from the mind of John F. Allen. Action and adventure are ever present in these stories, but be prepared for some drama, horror, fantasy and science fiction as well.

This volume includes a holiday story, “An Ivory Christmas,” featuring Ivory Blaque, Allen’s bold heroine from his acclaimed urban fantasy series The God Killers, and the center of his literary universe, The Ivoryverse.

Also included are:

  • “Forest of Shadows” the debut of a fabled, ancient warrior named, Jaziri, Prince of Kimbogo Province.
  • You may want to think twice before venturing out into the dark woods of rural Indiana in “The Legend of Matchemonedo.”
  • A young, set assistant of a 50’s science fiction serial gets to embark on the journey of a lifetime in “The Adventures of Star Blazer.”
  • A young woman in late 1970’s Indianapolis, learns to be careful what you wish for in “HoodRatz.”
  • When a woman struggles to care for her ailing father, she discovers the truth behind her troubled past in “The Sweetest Autumn.”
  • Long ago, a noble samurai finds forbidden love with a beautiful, ebony skinned princess in “The African Princess.”
  • A mysterious, military operative is sent on a covert mission in Egypt, when he encounters an alien monster bent on revenge in “Lazarus.”
  • Forty years ago, a young boy discovers that family means everything in “The Chocolate Malt.”

The Best is Yet to Come also features the special bonus short story, “Witch Way is Up.”
Explore the words of John F. Allen today!

You can find them here:

Kindle Version:
Amazon Print Version:
Barnes and Noble Link:

Find out more; Follow the Tour

1/13     MyLifeMyBooksMyEscape       Author Interview
1/14     Jazzy Book Reviews           Author Interview
1/15     Sheila's Guests and Reviews        Guest Post
1/16     I Smell Sheep            Top Ten's List
1/17     Beauty in Ruins - She Leads he Reads    Guest Post
1/18     The Literary Underworld     Guest Post
1/19     The Seventh Star Blog                Guest Post
1/20     The Book Junkie Reads . . .     Author Interview
1/20     Willow's Thoughts and Book Obsessions            Review


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