Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
My name is Chris Walters, and I am 50 years old.
Fiona: Where are you from?
I was originally from Southern California, U.S., but am now in Colorado, and am moving to Connecticut soon.
Fiona: A little about your self (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
I went to various colleges, but still don’t have a degree. Most of my life, I ran small businesses for other people and then did some consulting and brokerage. I have been married for just under 26 years, and have two adult children.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
I don’t have a lot of news right now. I have been working on some other mediums (teleplay, screenplay, comic book) but nothing is ready for a reveal at the moment. The fourth book in the Saga of Mystics should be out in a couple of months, but it is still a work-in-progress.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I began writing when I was a kid, and wrote my first novella in High School (it was bad – about a drunken caterpillar). My first published work was a poem I wrote at 16 which was published in a journal for young poets. From there, I went into writing plays. I had to produce them myself, but five were produced. After I got married, I began writing screenplays, rather unsuccessfully. A few years ago, my kids were involved on NaNoWriMo, and encouraged me to join them. I wrote a novel which I didn’t like. But I liked the process. So, I wrote another, which I also didn’t like. The third novel was Age of Mystics, and I really liked that story. I considered traditional publishing for all of three weeks, before I decided that self-publishing was for me. I released it in late March of 2016, and then released three more novels and two short stories last year.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I think I have always considered myself a writer, or at the very least a storyteller. But a professional writer? The first time I produced one of my plays in the 1980’s. In my opinion, you are a writer as soon as you finish something, and a professional writer as soon as you can make any money off of it. I do mean any money. It isn’t a field which yields huge money for most of us.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
My kids. I would make up stories for them to illustrate points. By the time they were in High School, they practically begged me to write. They are both very good writers also, though neither has chosen that path in life yet.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
I went through a lot of variations. My daughter was standing by my side while we talked titles. She had already read the manuscript, as had my wife. As I went through the ones I thought might work, I got to “Age of Mystics” and I heard my wife shout from another room, “Yes! That is it!”
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
I write conversationally, and unlike a lot of authors, I will repeat a phrase to make a point. That all comes from writing poetry when I was young. I want to write in a manner in which readers won’t get caught up in the words, but will rather lose themselves in them. I want people to see themselves in the story. I also try not to get to much into the character’s heads. I want readers to experience with them, and I trust my readers to be able to understand nuance, deceit, flirtatiousness, etc.. There are parts of fantasy I find challenging, but I avoid them. I am not a world-builder, so I write contemporary fantasy. I use recognizable reality to ground people before I change the universe around them. I have a lot of respect for world-builders, especially those who do it with such flair that you don’t notice them doing it. I recently read Tapasya, by David Gilchrist. His world-building is amazing.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
The Saga of Mystics is a techno-apocalyptic epic which happens right where I live right now. I do not have any magical powers, and technology still works for me, but the characters are pretty straight from my life. When writing, I place a face on every character, or an attitude of someone I know. It helps me see how they would act. Sometimes I use a celebrity, but most of the time it is people I know. Almost every writer I know tells me they use situations from real life somewhere in their fiction, and I am no exception.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
I do a lot of research, but most of it is on the internet. When I wrote Kelvin the Elven, there is a scene where he is walking down Broadway in Manhattan in 1982. I used both Google Earth, and pictures of the area from 1982 to take in what he might see on that walk. I would prefer to visit, because (so far) you can’t get what it smells like over the internet. Every sense a writer can describe brings more reality to the reader. I just don’t have the money to travel right now.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
My lovely wife, Cathy Walters. She is a very successful artist and photographer whose work sells all over the world. I am lucky to have her help.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Not intentionally. I am telling stories. Stories are an art form, and art is subjective. Each person will get what they get out of it. But, I do hear themes of what people are getting. Power gives people choices. They can choose to collaborate, or choose to dominate. I think that is different in my world then those of other apocalyptic writers. The concept of a brutal world making you brutal is common sense. But somewhere deep inside, I believe that one may choose to be kind in a brutal world. I guess I like to show that. It doesn’t always turn out well, but that is life.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
Yes, of course! There are many. I don’t read as often as I would like, as I spend a lot of time working on my own stories. But, as I mentioned before, I recently read David Gilchrist and thought he was very good. I am currently reading some work by Grant Leishman. I also have a lot on my to-read list, including work by Alex E. Carey, Nyasia Maire, Kim Ross, Tammy Loshaw-Berg, Amanda Markham, Natalie Bennett, and Caitlyn Lynagh. I have been impressed with the work of independent authors lately, but also with the perseverance. My favorite writer is a tough one, as I have many for different reasons. The one who comes to mind the most is probably Stephen King. He also writes conversationally, pushes out books rather quickly, and doesn’t take himself that seriously. These are all traits I find in myself and find myself wanting to emulate.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
I have had two influences that have risen above others in helping with information and guidance. One is the blog of best-selling author Joe Konrath, “The Newbie’s guide to Self-Publishing”. The second is both the Books Go Social Author Group on Facebook, but also the small group I am a part of which came from that large group (11,000+) in which nine of us support and encourage one another through the process. It has been invaluable
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Of course! More than that, it is a passion.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
My last book was Kelvin the Elven, and at the moment I wouldn’t change much. However, I made a mistake in the last Mystics book which I released in September of last year. I am not a cliffhanger guy. I like to wrap the tory up and move on to the next, while still alluding to a greater story which is unfolding. JK Rowling did that beautifully in each Harry Potter book. Plague of Mystics sort of ended the story told within it, but it isn’t wrapped up enough. When I finish the fourth book in that series, I will wrap up most of the loose ends I left, so it is correctible. But, what I have found is that the cliffhanger (of sorts) boxed me in. I have thrown out chapters and chapters, and it has taken me too long to finish, because I don’t like my options after boxing myself in. If I could do it again, I would tie the end of that up with a bow, and perhaps tease something, rather than doing a semi-cliffhanger.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
I learned a ton, but I wouldn’t know where to start. I learned things about reader habits, since it was the first non-Mystics book I released. I learned things about covers, since it has a more blank, and stylized cover. I learned a whole host of information about 1981-82, and east coast U.S. locales. Every book teaches us things if we are open to learning them. I don’t know that any of the lessons would be particularly interesting or enlightening to anyone other than me though.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
I have thought a lot about this, as I am trying to get a pilot produced for TV of a Mystics series. The books don’t have a lead, much like George RR Martin’s books, or at least it is hard to tell who that lead is. I see Ben Affleck as Eric Fine, Jonathon Groff as Kyle Ward, and a few other casting possibilities. But the most challenging role to cast would be Maxine Craven. Finding a ten-year-old girl who could switch from sweet-as-pie in one moment, to vicious and brutal in the next, will be tough. There is also a lot of martial arts in the series, which means you have to cast people who have a movement background (either dance or fighting). If I can get that made, the casting will definitely be a challenge.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Drink in the good reviews, ignore the bad ones. Nod your head politely when people offer unsolicited advice, then ignore what they said. Most of them have no idea what they are talking about. Keep writing. The best marketing you have is a new book release. It is frustrating to see people you know unwilling to spend $2.99 (or even 99 cents) to download your book, but they will take you to coffee or a beer to talk about the journey. Oh, and you will never be successful by getting your friends and family to buy your books. Let it go. The true path to success is getting people who have never heard of you to read your work. Then, when you take off in sales, the friends who told you they would buy your books and don’t will tell everyone they read it when it first came out. Avoid the temptation to call them on their lie. Let it go. It was never about you anyway.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
Thanks so much for immersing yourself in my vision of the world, just askew of the real world. Thanks for asking “what if” right alongside me. If I could ask one thing of you, would you engage with me? It means the world to an author to hear what you liked about the work. Be a fan, not a critic. Not just for me, but for everyone. Don’t be defined by what you are against. You are so amazing, and encouraging, and you make my life bright and cheery. Thanks!
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Grant Leishman’s “The Second Coming”. It is a different kind of apocalypse from the ones I write. It is more traditional, biblical apocalypse, but funny and not at all what one would expect. I like it!
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Not really. I know I loved the literary comic books. I read “The island of Dr. Moreau” in comic book form. The first box set of books I ever received was maybe 1974, I got the Chronicles of Narnia.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Something real. It could be in a book, a film, or a TV commercial. A real moment will either bring tears to my eyes, or make me bust out laughing. Truth in fiction is like that.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
I would be honored to meet Stephen King. I didn’t realize how much his books influenced my writing until readers started mentioning it.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
I play video games, and practice martial arts.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Game of Thrones, of course. The Walking Dead. Preacher. Silicon Valley. Westworld. House of Cards (US Version). Broadchurch. All of the Marvel shows on Netflix, or the movies. Wonder Woman was amazing. I loved True Blood, Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Heroes, and the 4400, but those shows are all gone now.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
Food: home-made tacos; Colors: nope; music: a lot. I am really digging the Hamilton soundtrack right now.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
Still tell stories. I don’t know how I would do that. Maybe verbally? I love being a storyteller. It makes me happy.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
“Here lies an old sack of lifeless skin and bone. There is no one here, why are you staring at this stone?”
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
The links to my books are:
Age of Mystics: http://amzn.to/2mGLmln
Fear of Mystics: http://amzn.to/290ySOQ
Plague of Mystics: http://amzn.to/2bUK1hi
Kelvin the Elven: http://amzn.to/2fL2ezZ