An Interview with Christopher Slayton, author of Chaos Company
Everyone has a ‘first novel’, even if many of them are a rough draft relegated to the bottom and back of your desk drawer (or your external harddrive!). Have you been able to reshape yours, or have you abandoned it for good?
I’m glad you asked! I’ve had a rough draft of my first attempt at book writing still saved in my files and I’m currently finishing it in hopes to have it published this fall! I wrote the first few pages back in 2009 while in college but didn’t feel confident to write a full manuscript for it. The story follows a young man who is forced to become a masked vigilante after his brother, a gun-wielding batman-like hero suddenly dies. I think with the complexity I wanted to put into this story was more than I was able to handle then. I believe that after writing Chaos Company I have what it takes to deliver a complex story within my first manuscript.
Some authors are able to pump out a novel a year and still be filled with inspiration. Is this the case for you, or do you like to let an idea percolate for a couple of years in order to get a beautiful novel?
Well, the truth is I know I have a number of stories from start to finish I can’t wait to get to! I even have a dozen of them outlined! I can’t speak for other writers, but inspiration isn’t a problem for me. I try to find it everywhere, from current events and life experience to traveling. The biggest issue for me is time. Until a year ago I didn’t have the time to write, mostly because after working a 40hr/week job, exercising and being social I didn’t have enough to put my ideas down. But now since I work for myself I have the time needed to put my ideas into writing.
I have heard of writers that could only write in one place – then that cafe closed down and they could no longer write! Where do you find yourself writing most often, and on what medium (pen/paper or digital)?
I often write on my laptop either in my bedroom or the living room. That being said I have written in other places such as the common area of my former college, and even at my old job while I was on break. Heck, I’ve even written when I was on vacation in Spain lol. To me there isn’t really a special place for me to write. There is however a mindset I like to put myself in through music in order to write. For example, if I’m writing a lot of dialogue I like to be listening to alternative rock or instrumental music, and when it comes to me writing action scenes I find it easier to do so while listening to hardrock or EDM.
Before going on to hire an editor, most authors use beta-readers. How do you recruit your beta-readers, and choose an editor? Are you lucky enough to have loving family members who can read and comment on your novel?
Unfortunately I can’t trust my family to read for me because most of them see critiquing me as them being rude. When it comes to beta-readers I have only one. Her name is Tessa. She’s been a friend of mine for seven years now and I can trust her to not only tell me exactly how she feels about my work, but also provide ways on how I can improve on a story. I trusted her taste in storytelling and her suggestions when I had her take a look at Chaos Company, and I know I can trust her going forward.
Now when it comes to hiring an editor I am very picky on whom I choose. I got lucky with Chaos Company. Before being let go with publisher Desert Breeze Publishing they had already edited my book for me and had spent over five months and two editors on the project. But now that I am on my own again I’ve learned to ask various questions before hiring an editor, and have them edit a chapter of my work before hiring them. That way I know what I’ll be getting from when they are working on an entire manuscript.
I walk past bookshops and am drawn in by the smell of the books – ebooks simply don’t have the same attraction for me. Does this happen to you, and do you have a favourite bookshop? Or perhaps you are an e-reader fan… where do you source most of your material from?
I am an e-reader. My mom got me a device years ago and I’ve been using it ever since. That being said, I am a sucker for having a physical book in my hand from time to time. I usually get my physical copies from amazon and the same for ebooks.
I used to find myself buying books in only one genre (fantasy) before I started writing this blog. What is your favourite genre, and do you have a favourite author who sticks in your mind from:
1. childhood? – Dr. Suess. His work was and still is a great stepping stone for young readers. I could do without the films made from his work though lol
2. adolescence? – R.L. and the Goosebump books. Especially the choose your own adventure stories. I remember when I choose the wrong page and quickly flipping back to the previous page to try again! I also remember reading the Halo series based on the video game because I wasn’t allowed to play those games as a kid so I thought reading the stories was the next best thing.
3. young adult? – The Alex Rider novels by Anthony Horowitz. That series really got me through high school and inspired me to try my hand at writing, which I would later fall in love with. I read somewhere that Mr. Horowitz wrote a James Bond novel and I can’t wait to get to it!
4. adult? – As a fan of The Walking Dead show and Graphic novels I am currently making my way through the tie-in novels for the comics. The novels are written by series creator Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga who both do an excellent job portraying a dreadful and cruel world in these stories. I’m almost done the second book now and am grateful to have 6 more books in the series to go!
All that being said, I am a sucker for a good action novel. If it has anything to do with spies, bad-ass one man armies, super heroes or epic individuals, I am all over it!
Social media is a big thing, much to my disgust! I never have enough time myself to do what I feel is a good job. How do you manage it?
If I’m being honest I don’t spend too much time on social media. I have a facebook and twitter account so that’s about it. And my facebook is used mostly for personal reasons, which only leaves me with twitter to promote myself and my work. I may put 2hrs towards social media a month because I just don’t have the time for it right now. With my schedule the way it is and how many projects I want to release by next year I have to put social media on the back burner. When it comes to twitter I at times feel like I’m just yelling into a void hoping people catch wind of my words. That is why I tend to stay away until I’m ready to promote more material and announce when I will be making appearances. Hopefully when writing is my official full-time job I’ll be able to be more active with social media. But until then I refuse to be a part of something I believe has gotten out of hand when it comes to making it as an artist. A true artist’s work should be based on their artistic merit and vision and not how many followers they have.
Since you don’t use social media to promote your work, what do you do? What do you do instead?
– I work as a driver for Uber/Lyft and do odd jobs through the website Taskrabbit. Both jobs require me to meet so many new people on a daily basis and to me that’s a potential new reader/fan I can introduce my work to. It may seem like a slow way to draw in a fanbase, but I get to have a one on one conversation with potential readers and fans and I believe that is worth more in the long run. But, with this method only time will tell if it works.
Answering interview questions can often take a long time! Tell me, are you ever tempted to recycle your answers from one to the next?
No. Well, at least not yet lol. When people are kind enough to interview me the least I can do is be as authentic as possible when answering them. Now if someone asks me a question I’ve had before then yes there will be a few points I may repeat from a previous interview. But I do not just copy and paste an answer and I will do my best to never do that in an interview. It’s not fair to the people interviewing, or the people who have read previous interviews I’ve been in.