2020 wasn’t what any of us expected. Certainly not the 2020 that Billy Allen, the beach volleyball player turned author, expected.
In 2019, the 6-foot-2, 39-year-old defender from Fallbrook, California, with one fiction novel already published, played in six AVP events and 12 international events with Stafford Slick. They finished third three times, at AVP Seattle, and in two FIVB three-star events in Sydney and Edmonton.
In the abbreviated 2020 season, they played one international event and then the AVP Porsche Cup, where they tied for fifth. But by the time they played the AVP series in Long Beach, the volleyball world had all but shut down, which allowed Allen the time to finish his second novel in the Descendants of Terene trilogy, Dark Blood. It comes on the heels of Good Blood.
Dark Blood became available Friday on Amazon and is the second installment of the story of the world of Terene, where fate is determined by your blood.
“The book picks up where Good Blood ended and is split into two stories,” Allen said. “Ara is venturing up into the Ghost Mountains trying to figure out his past, where he came from, how he got to the beginning of Good Blood.
“The second story is the Rebels at the temple, who are now trying to govern a world that doesn’t want them there. The story is broader in scope than Good Blood. I don’t know if that makes it better or more complicated.”
From the Amazon.com description:
“After defeating the Highfather, Ara ventures into the uncharted Ghost Mountains in search of answers to his past. But what he finds in this harsh new land will put him to the ultimate test.
“Competing in a series of deadly trials, Ara must fight not only for his own survival—but for the fate of all Terene.
“All the while a growing darkness threatens to consume him.”
At first Allen was appreciative of the opportunity to spend quality family time with wife Janelle (we profiled their love story here) and work on the sequel to Good Blood, taking time out to be with their 5-year-old Ketch. Janelle competed in five AVP events in 2019, getting a fifth with Kerri Schuh in AVP Austin.
“This is a horrible year for volleyball and a great year for my writing,” Allen said. “I had plenty of time to write other than having a kid at home. I think I might have gone crazy if I hadn’t had this project to shift my focus and energy to.
“At first it was nice, but after a while sitting at a computer I started to miss volleyball again. I thought it would be a temporary thing where I had March and April to write, but it turned out that I had a year of it. I’m glad I had a project to work on.”
With Good Blood, Allen’s writing came in small blocks on international flights and in the wee hours of the morning before Ketch woke up. This year he was able to focus on Dark Blood.
“I’m pretty proud of it. With both Good Blood and Dark Blood, I basically wrote the book that I would want to read. It’s exciting, it’s got a lot of action in it, hopefully it’s a page-turner, and it has some broader themes sprinkled in there.
“Dark Blood is a lot cleaner than Good Blood was, I’ve learned from the first book and have some friends that have helped me polish it up. It’s a better product than Good Blood was. I’m hoping my books can keep trending that way.”
If you’re a fan of Good Blood and are waiting for your Amazon shipment of Dark Blood, Allen recommends a quick read of his Requiem for House Octavian, which was a prequel to Good Blood.
“A lot of people haven’t read House Octavian. I recommend reading that one before Dark Blood, because it sets up the background for one of the characters in Dark Blood.”
(I enthusiastically recommend Good Blood. It is one of my favorite books of the year, and still holds a prominent spot on the nightstand. It’s imaginative and well-written.)
Allen hopes that his writing will again take backstage to his beach volleyball career as he waits for confirmation of AVP and FIVB schedules. His plan is to partner with Slick again, although he moved from Redondo Beach to Post Falls, Idaho, in September. Post Falls is in northern Idaho between Spokane and Coeur d’Alene.
Janelle got a job in Idaho working at a civil engineering firm.
“After the AVP season, we weren’t doing anything in Redondo, so my wife got a job up here until my enormous book sales take off,” Allen cracked.
One of the benefits of Post Falls is that Ketch is able to attend school rather than being quarantined in Redondo Beach.
“It’s definitely a different change of pace from Southern California. To start with, there’s not a lot of beach volleyball, there’s snow on the ground,” Allen said. “It’s definitely more open as far as COVID restrictions, which is good and bad.
“Ketch is able to go to school. That’s nice for us to have him out of the house for a little while rather than being trapped in our tiny apartment in Redondo Beach for most of the summer.”
They’d like to buy a house in Post Falls, but …
“All those darn Californians are buying everything up. We’re currently staying with Janelle’s mother, and we were looking for a place, but the market’s pretty crazy right now, so we’re in a holding pattern.”
When there are AVP and FIVB schedules he’ll be back in Southern California. While his Terene writings will take a break, he said — the third of the trilogy will be Royal Blood — he and John Mayer plan to finish a couple of coaching book projects they’ve put on the back burner. They already have one book available on Amazon called Coach Your Brains Out, titled after their podcast.
“I haven’t touched a ball since October,” he said. “I last played at a guy’s sand court, in tights and beanies, freezing your toes off with temps in the high 40s. They were used to it but I was suffering.
“This is the least amount of volleyball I’ve ever played since I was 10.”