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?
Hello. My name is Chris Stoesen. Just hit 47 last October. Ha, this sounds like one of those things that you do in the beginning of a foreign language class. “ Minombrees Chris.” Sad to say, that nearly exhausts my grasp of Spanish.
Fiona: Where are you from?
Originally Tampa, Florida.Been in Atlanta for over 20 years.
Fiona: A little about your self (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
Let’s see, I have been married for 25 years now. I have a son who is nine. I have a master’s degree that is collecting dust now for twenty years. It was fun but not useful.
I have books out under 3 author names at the moment. Chris Stoesen, CN Stoesen and G. Oldman. I did this to separate out the genres I am writing in.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
I launched a new sci-fi series at the end of last year – The New Glasgow War. It has been doing pretty good and it has been great fun to work on. The series started out as a trilogy that now will be a nine part series. Book 4 is being hammered out in Scrivener now.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I started writing for Graduate school. It was the research that I loved. That carried in to my hobbies. I have been interested in Alternative history and wargaming since I was a child. So my first writing started out as research into the British Defence of Greece in WWII. That led to me wanting to figure out how to make that into a game to play it out for myself. Once I put it all together, I published it through some great guys in England who gave me a chance – TooFatLardies. Rich has been a fantastic publisher and proven to be a good friend over the years. He has published a number of my scenario books over the years.
That turned in to Fiction through the encouragement of a friend. Since 2014, I have written more fiction than historical stuff.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I got that first royalty PayPal deposit from TooFatLardies. Honestly, I am still an amateur. I am really enjoying the writing and the feedback I am getting from readers pushes me to continue.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
My first fictional book came about from the encouragement of a friend and fellow writer Phil McClimmon. He had started publishing on Amazon in 2013 (I think) and challenged me. I took up the challenge and wrote CSS Appomattox. It is an alternative history following a Confederate Victory in the Civil War. I wanted to do something different so I picked up the narrative in the 1880s just prior to the historical Spanish American War. With Germany attempting Empire building and the Spanish Empire in its decline, what would happen if there was a Confederacy stuck between these two empires and the United States. I prefer to look at more personal encounters rather than the sweeping vistas of larger politics and actions so the book focused on a single naval unit and what happened to them. I could not resist and added some steam punk elements and it became an airship.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
I actually got some bad reviews from the name. I picked CSS Appomattox as I named the airship after the town where the historical Civil War ended. I know that the town itself was a nowhere backwater. But it was a tie in to the historical event that the story diverges from. In the prequel, the history divergence point is actually the Battle of Sharpsburg (or Antietam for those so inclined). The lead character of the series’ father fought in the Battle.
Titles are the part I hate coming up with the most. My books remain untitled until almost the end of the writing process. I end up bouncing ideas off of my friends until I find the one I hate the least.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
I like reading stories that are heavy on action and focus on specific characters. As such, this is what I try to write.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Hmmmm…. I have incorporated elements of my families stories into my alt-history books. I have parents that led far more exciting lives that I have lived. My Dad got a summer job as a mess man on an oil tanker after his freshman year of college. He told me about sitting on the deck of the oil tanker and watching Egyptian columns of tanks and troops cross the Suez Canal to invade Israel in 1948. My Mom grew up in Germany during WWII. She lived in a castle in Dessau with the Duke von Anhalt. She witnessed allied bombings and the city being captured by US troops then turned over to the Soviets. She then helped her family escape the East and got them to West Germany before coming to the United States.
My Dad told me stories of growing up in the Great Depression. His experiences in the Army during the Korean War. There is nothing I can come up with that can top those stories. Both my parents have now passed away and my only other source for those stories just passed in November last year (Dad’s brother).
My personal experiences pale in comparison. Yet I feel extremely blessed because of it. I know I don’t want to be in a city that is being bombed.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
I wish I could. But alas, no. I was working on some scenarios for the Battle of Atlanta in 1864 that I was going to do a walking tour of the battle fields for but I ran out of time to accomplish it for the 150th anniversary. I regret not doing it.
It would be a dream of mine to be able to travel for research. I would love to go to the Ukraine and visit the battlefields of WWII there. Especially around the city of Kharkov.Also, to go to Israel again and walk the Golan Heights. I just don’t see that happening anytime soon.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
For the New Sci-Fi series it was Aaron Miller of Miller Design & Marketing
He also did the cover for my book Hunting Season. He is a talented artist and a good friend from college.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I want to write books that are an escape from reality. I don’t want to hammer anyone with a message or an agenda. I want them to read the book and have fun with it for a few hours. Social Media and the news hammer us with agendas and messages 24×7. Not saying I don’t have opinions on such things but I just don’t see the need to push that on my readers.
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?
That is similar to what is my favorite music. I like a bunch of different types. The Honor Harrington series was fantastic. I am currently liking Chris Fox’s Destroyer series. The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings books I read probably every other year. I try to read as much as possible. I feel that it gives life more depth. I also like reading history as well. I am currently working my way through Russ’ Operation Fridericus in preparation for a scenario book.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
The Sprinters. It is a small group of writer friends of mine that I bounce ideas off of and we encourage each other. Finding that group that can encourage and help you is a fantastic resource.
Through them, I discovered Chris Fox’s books and videos that have been a great help.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Yes and No. One, I actually like my day job. I do writing because I love it and it is an outlet for my creative side. Writing does not pay the bills at this point but I can see it build to a place where it does. If/when that happens; I have tough decisions to make. I can’t see myself as ever retiring. I will always work or else I will drive my family batty with my non-sense. But it would be neat if I could switch from day job to writing about the time when I hit retirement age. That would be great fun. Until then, the bills are not going to pay themselves. I asked and they said no.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Probably.I think the important part is to not duplicate your mistakes. Making new ones that you can learn from is fine.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
Yes, writing to a schedule is hard but makes you disciplined. If I didn’t have the schedule that I let others know about, I would never get anything done. Such as book 3 of my Alt-History series. That is still sitting at the one third stage. But the sci-fi series is churning along.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
Honestly, someone unknown. If I got lucky enough for that to happen, I would want someone else to get a break as well. I think it would be fun to have the Rachel Duncan character from my sci-fi series played by a female Marine veteran (non-actor). It will either be fantastic or a complete disaster. Either way would be fun.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Find Chris Fox on Amazon and read his books and watch his videos. You will save yourself time and money. For marketing, Nick Stevenson wrote a good book that is still relevant on reader magnets. But the most important is to find another author that you can have mentor you. All they have to be is somewhat more successful than you are for you to learn valuable stuff. Work on making relationships with other others in your generes. Set up and build your mailing list. If you do multiple genres, have multiple mailing lists. Otherwise readers interested in one genere will get bored and unsubscribe as you send them info about stuff they don’t care about.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
I hope you have fun reading them and if you do, tell me about it. Tell me what you liked and didn’t.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I have several right now. Help, My Facebook Ads Suck (Great book), Operation Fridericus, Kharkov 1942 (Glantz), The Last Dragon Slayer (Martyn Stanley) and the second book in the Destroyer series by Chris Fox. I am sure there are others that I am in the middle of.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Nope. Getting to old to remember that far back. What I do remember was by the time I was ten, I had a library in my room over over 200 books that I had read. My parents always encouraged me to read. They almost never said no when I wanted to get a book. They often said no when I wanted a new toy. I had a library card as a kid and always had books out.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Crying… Hmmm, getting hurt? Random sappy commercials around the holidays.Being ill.Seeing my son grow up way too fast for my liking.
Laughing, things that are inappropriate to laugh at.Jokes, especially bad ones. My favorite is “two guys walk into a bar. The third one ducks.” It’s so horrible it never fails to make me smile. Fun dialog in a story. I actually like a section of dialog that I wrote in Hunting Season that makes me laugh. It involved two guys raiding a grocery store during the Zombie Apocalype. One of them stops to get a cart wipe and wipe down a cart before continuing. The other guy asks him about what he is doing and the response is about cold and flu season during the apocalypse.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
Great question. There are too many. Mostly historical figures that I want to ask “what were you thinking?” related to events that they were in. Mostly their blunders. Looking back in time, it is so easy to judge folks for what we perceive as mistakes. But to see things through their eyes at the time would be very interesting as their bad decision may have made perfect sense at the time in their position. I love looking at decision making under stress. Not saying I am good at it, just that it is fascinating.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
If you ask my wife, too many.I really like wargaming at the company and platoon levels. Especially rules that give you a grasp of the decisions that troops and leaders at the pointy end of things have to make. For my fiction books, I use this to help me decide what characters can or would do.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I grew up as a Star Wars kid. As such, I like science fiction. For TV shows, I don’t watch much except what I am finding on Amazon Prime and Netflix. Binged watched three seasons of Dark Matter recently. That was great fun. Some of the Marvel stuff has been great. Seeing how they are tying the TV shows to the MCU has been fun. Did not like Iron Fist. That was disappointing and enough that I have not made it through episode 1 of Defenders yet. I will give it a go but not just yet.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
Oh, my favorite foods are the ones I am no longer allowed to eat due to health reasons. I really miss freshly baked bread. (Gluten allergy) My favoritecolor is plaid (I am color blind). Music is a bit of a mixed bag. I love to laugh so Weird Al and Bob Rivers are up there in the top 10. I was an angry teen at one point so I am nostalgic to 80s Heavy Metal. Then there is Christian music especially that of Rich Mullins. I miss him and wish he had new stuff coming out. For a guilty pleasure I sometime s will just listen to 80s pop but rarely admit it. I hated it in high school but have a soft spot for it now for some reason.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
Tour guide in Israel.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
I told you I was sick, but no….
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
Absolutely. https://chrisstosenfiction.com is the website. Special offers are available through the mailing lists. I have one set up for each genre that I am writing in. It is a work in progress.