Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Writers' Wednesday: An Interview with Chris Stevenson

Thanks for stopping by...this week we have another author interview. Say hello to Chris Stevenson, the author of sci fi futuristic novel Word Wars, a tale set 100 years in the future where the written word has been banned by the gov't. Let's hear what Chris has to say about his experiences with the world of writing and publication:

1. Hi, Chris! Can you tell us a little about your background?

I've been a resident of Southern California all my life. I've had occupations ranging from auto mechanic and service manager, to Federal Protection Officer. I was once stationed at the United States Geological Survey in Palo Alto, where I became engrossed with science and paleontology. I served as a content editor for a monthly newspaper called The Senior Citizens Reporter. I've had non-fiction books, poems, short stories, novels, radio plays, articles and profiles published in the past 17 years.

2. When did you first begin writing? Was there an event or moment in your life that triggered your desire to write?

I first became interested in writing at the age of 26 (a little late for the average writer). I just happened to peruse a magazine called The Twilight Zone. I believe I read my first supernatural short story at that time and proclaimed that I could do that, too...just as easily as the other authors. I was in for a rude awakening as to how much time and discipline was involved.

3. Tell us about Word Wars.

I asked myself what would happen if the Middle East completely cut off their oil supply to the United States. How far would we go in retaliation? What would we do to stem the need for petroleum? How far would we go, in a national security sense? Remembering Fahrenheit 451, and how much I enjoyed that book, I decided to take it a step further and devise a cruel and overbearing United States government, that not only isolates itself from the rest of the world, but also terrorizes its citizens into complete obedience.

To guard against the discovery of recent technological advances in the field of friction-free electricity and anti-gravity, the Continental Security Agency bans the written words and installs the color bar language. The FCC and the U.S. Post Office, now have the authority to enter private residences, looking for contraband writing. They also have the authority to persecute the citizens, by inflicting horrendous civil rights abuses. I created a small rebel force, who've had enough of this subjugation, to ultimately put a stop to the cruelty and break down international barriers, which would bring about world peace.

4. How do you go about developing your characters?

Most of my characters are derived from real life instances, only I exaggerate their characteristics and traits, to give them more diversification. Sometimes I take this a little too far. I've used many past girlfriends in my stories, and for whatever reason, allowed happily ever after endings, despite of what might have occurred in the real life settings. I use a lot of irony in my "peopled" pages. Someone is always in conflict with another character. I not only throw rocks at my characters, forcing them to solve their own problems, but my characters throw rocks at each other, complicating the plot and making the collective objective all that much more impossible to reach. It's a miracle that any of them make it out alive.

5. Tell us about your promotion strategies. How do you plan on making Chris Stevenson a household name?

That's a tough one. I've now learned how to up set websites and Myspace blogs. I link just about every place that I can, without spamming. I think it's important to belong to the large writing groups on the net--to participate, gain respect and advise others on how to achieve their goals. Promotion from here on out will be nearly a full-time job, but it's a necessary evil, I guess. I think I'll wear my website on my sleeve every place I visit. Exposure is the name of the game. I can't rely on my publisher to do everything. I at least have to give it my honest and full participation.

6. What advice would you give to aspiring, unpublished writers?

Unpublished writers? Don't give up. This is a marathon. There is no instant gratification in this business. You have to be willing to put in endless hours of writing and editing, with no reward or recognition. And that's just the beginning hurdle. Getting someone else to read and critique your material is another obstacle. After that comes refining your craft, a constant and never-ending learning process. A young writer asked me a two-fold question once: "If I have the talent, can I be a writer, and how long will it take?" I answered: "You want to be a writer? Take a few aspirin, go into a dark room, lay down and wait for the feeling to pass. And it takes a long time, preferably a life time."

7. What kinds of books do you like to read? Who is your favorite author?

I've always liked science fiction and fantasy. Spec fiction. I like urban fantasy, too. I wish I could have written Bedazzled, Manikin, Date With An Angel, Splash, Click, Bewitched, Stepford Wives, anything in that vein. But I started off with lots of books by Robert Heinlein, and others like Ice Rigger, Virgin Planet, The Island, Jurassic Park, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Black Marble, The Onion Field, The Forever War, Ender's Game, Dune and many others. My favorite author amongst the lot is Poul Anderson--for his incredible irony and interpretation of the human condition. Next on my list would be Alan Dean Foster.

8. What do you find most difficult about writing? What do you find most exciting or rewarding?

Editing is the most excruciating part of the process for me. I loathe it. If I could afford it, I would hire someone else to do it for me. The most exciting thing is to find my books in stores and behind the tables at BEA. I've been there, and caught a little lime light, and there is really no thrill that compares. It's very romantic. I also love first drafts. I can knock out a 400-page story in 10 weeks, and find the journey entirely enjoyable--no blocks or complaints whatsoever.

9. How do you balance writing with the rest of your life?

Writing is my life, so the weights are tipped very heavily on planting my keester on a chair and applying fingers to keys. My sleeping habits are so bizarre that nobody knows the proper time to contact me, so I get away with a lot time spent in front of the screen. I'm truly the hermit writer and can subsist on almost nothing. I keep house and lawn for my rent, so when those responsibilities are over, I'm free to murder the keyboard.

10. Can you tell us about your next writing project?

The next project is finished and just about ready for my agent. It's a paranormal thriller, about a woman who is given a second chance in life--a deal with the Roman God, Janus. She has to solver her own murder, and she's given some very unusual skills to accomplish her goals. It's called Gate Walker, and just might end up at Juno Books.


Interested in finding out more about Chris's novel Word Wars? Visit his publisher here. And leave a comment to let us know you were here, too!


Marianne Arkins said...

Your story sounds fascinating... I can't imagine living without the written word! I'm going to go check it out.

Jim Melvin said...

I've read Word Wars and thoroughly enjoyed it. It's one of those rare books that combines deep inner meaning with a smooth kind of light-heartedness. I highly recommend it.

jerb said...

It sounds very interesting, Chris. I'm ging to read it.

Janet Bellinger

CindyH said...

Thanks for the insight, Chris! Here's to your name becoming a household name!

David L. McAfee said...

Woot! Way to go, Chris. Great interview. :)