Author interview--chris stevenson
by, February 9th, 2010 at 07:31 PM (356 Views)
Questions for Chris Stevenson
First off, Chris, thanks for agreeing to do this. The 13 Questions interviews has rapidly become my favorite segment of this blog. Itís especially nice when I get to interview a friend who is having a measure of success. For those who donít know, Chris has recently sold three books to three separate small presses, almost at the same time. So at the moment heís drowning in edits, contract talks, and rewrites, never mind trying to write. So itís very generous of him to take time out to join us here in McAfee Land.
OK, down to business.
1) So tell us a little about yourself, Chris. Where are you from, what sort of books do you like to read, etc?
Thanks, Dave. I like McAfee Land! Can I be the 13th warrior? Iím originally from California, raised on the coast of Huntington Beach, the so-called surfing capital of the world. I spent some time in the lower Bay Area, and thatís where the writing bug hit me. I was an auto mechanic for twenty years, then fell into law enforcement, hired on as a federal police officer, then a guard for the U.S. Geological Survey. I now live in Hemet, California, better know as the dig site of the ďValley of the Mastodons.Ē Itís a quaint little retirement community.
2) How long have you been writing?
Iíve been writing on and off for thirty years. Solidly for about eight years.
3) Have you always wanted to be a writer? Was there anything else you wanted to do before you started writing?
I never thought that I would be a writer. Even with my fatherís success as a non-fiction author, it never occurred to me. I wanted to be an airline pilot, a paleontologist, and even a veterinarian at one point. I fell into writingóit was an accident.
4) Youíve sold three books recently: PLANET JANITOR, THE LUPUS STRAIN, and GATE WALKER. Can you give a quick summary of each?
PLANET JANITOR is a SF tale about a crew of misfit environmentalists who are enlisted to perform a cleanup operation in a distant star system. Theyíre unaware that the job entails disposing of millions of skeletons, in order to prep a settlement for habitation. They soon find out what killed the local inhabitants, and end up caught in a fever-pitched battle for their lives. Cross Starship Trooper with Robison Crusoe on Mars, and there you have it.
THE LUPUS STRAIN (thriller) is my dedication to Michael Crichton, plain and simple. Itís about a DNA experiment that goes terribly wrong. A geneticist attempts to cross the genes of a man-eating ice age dire wolf with a contemporary. But the genome soup is contaminated. Poof! We end up with a very strange litter, one of which is a Paleolithic female who carries the genes of her ancestors, but also has a good amount of wolf in her. Another littermate is a ferocious monster bent on mating with her, and will kill anyone who gets in his way. A lonely forest ranger finds her, and spends the entire time in the story trying to keep her out of the hands of law enforcement, the crazed monster, a warped cryptozoologist, and every nutso vigilante in state of Wyoming. Itís a total twist on the werewolf taleóa gender reversal of Beauty and the Beast, mixed with shades of The Island of Doctor Moreau.
GATE WALKER (paranormal) is about a woman on death row, who has a last-minute visitation by Janus, the God of doorways, gates, and new beginnings. He impregnates her, and she gives birth to herself (nine months later) right before her rescheduled execution. The child survives as a demigod, harboring some very special time-traveling skills. Her mission is to find out who really killed her motherís husband, and bring the guilty party to justice.
5) Of the three, do you have a favorite? Why?
Everybody loves PLANET JANITOR. I landed my agent with it. He adored it. It has sold three times to three different publishers. Nine different editors have raved about it. Frankly, I donít see all the hoopala, but then again, Iím the author of it. So Iím proud of that fan base, even though it hasnít hit the shelves yet. My favorite is THE LUPUS STRAIN. God only knows why. It takes place in the expanse of the Wyoming wildernessóitís rugged, itís nail-biting. But most of all, I wanted desperately to tear the heart out of the reader. I wanted them to cry for the hybrid werewolf, Melinaóa woman who has a lot more than just an identity crisis.
6) Personally, I canít wait to finally read PLANET JANITOR in its entirety. Itís been an interesting road to publication for that particular title. Care to share that journey with us?
Oh woe was PLANET JANITOR! But it survived nicely. Well, it got me my agent. Then it sold to a publisher who gave me a nice little advance and a cool contract. The publisher later fell on its face, so I had to pull it. It sold again to another publisher, who offered, should I say, a pretty lousy contract. I declined. The third publisher, who I brought up-to-date on PJís history, said, ďThe hell with those others, I give you what you want within my limits.Ē So I finally settled.
7) Do you have any favorite authors? I know thatís a hard question because there are so many great ones out there, but who really inspires you?
Favorite authors would be Crichton, of course, with the addition of Joseph Wambaugh, Alan Dean Foster, Poul Anderson, Clive Cussler, Heinlein, and many more who are known for large SF epics and off-planet tales.
8) What has been your favorite aspect of being a published writer to date? Is there a downside?
Imagination that leads to pure creation is the driving force. Iím the God of my worlds, dictating every facet of the environment, adventures, and outcome. The downside can be the glacial movement of the publishing industry. Thereís no instant gratification here. The process is slow, and so competitive, you wonder why you ever put fingers to keyboard sometimes. For me, my most elusive prize has been the big ticket sale. Small press seems to love me. But I canít go on forever selling to the smaller markets.
9) What is a typical day for Chris Stevenson?
Editing like crazy, answering emails, submissions, more editing, trying to squeeze in time on the WIP, following my agentís directions, and a hell of a lot of waiting combined with hundreds of rejections.
10) Do you have any hobbies? How do you relax after a long day?
Iím a DVD movie buff. I love to study plot and structure. I play video games to relieve tension and dejectionókilling all the beasties, who I envision are heartless editors. Iím an amateur astronomerólove the stars.
11) So whatís next for Chris Stevenson? What can we expect to see from you in the coming years?
Probably more spec fiction, unless I try to play it straight with thrillers and more mainstream stuff. My ultimate goal is to have one of my books made into a movie or special of the week. That means my task is really cut out for me.
12) What advice would you give to any aspiring authors out there who might be reading this?
If somebody asked me what itís like to be a writer because they were thinking about doing it, I would tell them to take a few aspirin, go lay down in a dark room and waiting for the feeling to pass. Seriously, this is not for the meek or faint of heart. You have to gird your loins and prepare to slug it out, possibly for years. The never give up, never surrender motto applies here more than with any other vocation.
13) OK, last question: give us one line from your book. Donít put it in context, just give us the line.
Yet something of purity and innocence had snuck through the gate with the grandfather wolf. The pure spirit carried the blood of the old human beings. Broken Feather clearly saw the visage of this spirit as a female. He believed she needed guidanceóshe required the services of a pathfinder.
He called her daughter of the wolf.