Saturday, April 9, 2016

Chris Waltz Interview

First off, tell us a little bit about you, Chris

Well, I am a middle school language arts teacher and writer. I grew up in Columbus, Indiana and moved to Indianapolis after graduating from college taking a job with the American Red Cross. I got to do weirdly exciting stuff for someone who had just graduated and had no experience; responding to fires, helping people who had lost everything… I even spent a few weeks in New York the day after Hurricane Sandy hit, which was a very humbling experience. When I wasn’t responding to disasters, I was sitting at a desk, which was a stark contrast and pretty boring. It was sitting at that desk, though, where I finished my first novel. After my contract with the Red Cross ended, I started teaching 7th and 8th grade language arts.

Tell us about your books/What genre do you consider your books?

My first two novels, Ivy League and Old Habits are actually young adult crime/thriller type stories. I got the idea about a high school student who couldn’t afford college, so he turns to selling drugs while I was actually in college. I started writing it my junior year and finished about two years later. After that, I decided to transition into horror, a genre that I love, but was always too afraid to attempt writing because there’s so much good stuff already out there. It kind of stuck, and I’ve been writing almost exclusively horror since.

When did you start writing? 

I started writing (for fun) when I was about eight-years-old. The first thing I ever finished was ten or fifteen-page sequel to the movie Jumanji. I wrote it and illustrated it, and then I wrapped it and gave it to my mom for Christmas. I had no idea it would turn into something I would be doing for the rest of my life at the time… it was just a way for me to be creative.

Why do you write? 

It’s weird that this question is so simple but so hard to answer. I write, mainly, because it’s something I love doing. I’ve always been very interested in grammar and linguistics, even before I really knew what those things were. I was also always into telling ghost stories, so eventually it all just came full-circle and turned a hobby into a passion.

What would be your choice for a superpower?
If I could choose any super power, I would probably choose weather manipulation, like Storm from the X-Men. It’s not the most exciting power out there, but since I was a little kid, she was my favorite X-Person, so it would be definitely fun and interesting to have her abilities.

Who is your favorite author? 

I have some typical favorites like Stephen King and Chuck Palahniuk, but right now, I am completely obsessed (not in a creepy way) with a young adult author named Andrew Smith. He writes these amazing, emotional, gut-wrenching stories, and I’m pretty sure he is the only author who I’ve ever had to buy his books the day they come out. It’s actually been since the fall that one has come out, and I think I’m going through Andrew-withdrawal.

What are you reading now? 
I’ve been reading a lot of graphic novels lately. I’ve just been going to the public library and picking things that look good… I get some duds sometimes, but right now I’m reading the New 52 incarnation of Nightwing and Kick-Ass, and I really like both of them. I was really bummed to find out Nightwing only went for thirty issues before it was cancelled.

Who is your favorite character to write? 

Right now I am writing a serialized horror-comedy where a new chapter releases every two weeks. One of the characters is someone who comes from a small, closed-minded, right-wing town, but he is everything opposite of that. He’s kind of a punk-grunge-gay-carefree guy, and he’s really fun to write against this backdrop of a conservative town that basically hates him because he exists. He also has a pretty big secret (that I won’t reveal here) that also makes him fun to write.

Do you have a writing process? 

I write best when I’m not at home. I can be home alone with no distractions and I still won’t get any writing done. I usually pack up my laptop and some earbuds and head to this kind of dinky local coffee shop. The barista knew my order off the top of her head for the first time yesterday, and I wasn’t sure whether I should be happy that she remembered or sad that I’ve been there so many times recently. I also have to be listening to music—usually one of two or three albums. I don’t like changing up my music selection, because then I’ll be more focused on it than my writing.

What advice would you give to an aspiring author? 

That it’s okay to be “indie,” and that being indie doesn’t mean you’re a nobody or unknown, it just means that you want to have more artistic say over what you release. Don’t be just another robot churning out meaningless stories for a big publishing house. Also, don’t jump into anything too quickly. To this day, I regret publishing my first novel as quickly as I did, even though I’m happy with the novel itself.

What inspired you to pursue writing?

I honestly don’t know the answer to that question. I’ve always been fairly artistic, and writing was just the outlet I was best at. I can kind of draw, but kind of being able to do something doesn’t really get you anywhere. And I’m color blind, so that limits visual creativity a bit. It’s also a motivator to look at something you create and think, “Wow, I actually really like this.”

What are your favorite TV shows/Movies to watch in between writing?

I’m hooked on Shameless on Showtime. It’s an amazing show, and even though it likely only has a season or two left, I would kill to be able to write an episode. I’m also a huge Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan and will watch an episode or two of that every now and again for nostalgia reasons. I’ve also been really attached to the J.J. Abrams adaptation of Stephen King’s 11.22.63. Others include some darker stuff like American Horror Story, Bates Motel, Hannibal, and Weeds. If it’s dark and funny, then I’m sold on it.

What are your current projects?

I’ve gotten into a lot of short story writing since I was at the Stanley Hotel Writer’s Retreat. I’ve got two short stories coming out before summer that I’m really excited about; one in England, so that’s cool. I’m also building a podcast called Dead Oaks where horror authors write short stories that all take place in the same kind of twisted, evil town. We’re recording the first episode of that this week. I’m also checking out some comic book script writing options for a project I’ve kind of had in limbo for about four years.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to readers?

READ MY WRITING! (or, you know, just read. And read a lot.) You never know when you’re going to find something that you completely unexpectedly love. I was really hesitant about reading one of Andrew Smith’s novels, Grasshopper Jungle, and after I finally read it, it became one of my top five favorite novels of all time, so… take a risk. Read something you don’t think you’ll like.

Quick Fire:Cats or dogs? Dogs- I have a pitbull
Coffee or tea? Coffee. For life. I would take a bullet for coffee.
Favorite food? Chicken tacos
Vanilla or chocolate ice-cream? Vanilla. With butterscotch topping.
What are 3 things you never leave home without? My phone (ugh), some kind of necklace on, and a belt.
Laptop or desktop? Tablet, so basically a laptop.
Who are 3 famous people you would to hang out with? James Franco, Pope Francis, and Malala. All at the same time. PARTY.
TV or Movies?TV shows all the way, but only the ones you can binge-watch.

Visit me on my AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE to borrow any of my books for FREE!

Best-selling author of Wake the Dead! On Amazon Kindle here!

All Artwork and covers of my works by William J. Kenney & Carlos Cara

All maps, names and content copyright Ashenclaw Studios 2014 unless otherwise noted.

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