Writer Wednesday – Christopher Carroll

Let’s start with the basics. Who are you?
Christopher Carroll, second son and third child of a Quebec Irish family born and raised in Ottawa Canada

Tell us (briefly) about you…
Raised with a love of books. Bed time was extended if we were reading in bed. For every hour of television or video games we wanted to watch we had to read a book of some sort. Dad wasn’t picky. It could be a thick comic. As long as we were reading something. That started the love affair.

…and a bit about what you’ve written…
I’ve published about a dozen short stories in various mediums and have self published a half dozen collections of everything from pulp fiction mysteries to kink erotica and non fiction… self help pieces for alternative and risky lifestyles.

…and what you’re working on right now.
Right now I am working on a series of short (100 page) horror/thriller novels set around the concept of the empty miles of highways you find all over Canada. Ten minutes north out of any city and you find yourself on seemingly purposeless roads that look like they haven’t been travelled in years heading to parts of the country where there are maybe one person every ten miles.

What are your earliest book-related memories?
Picking out Winnie the pooh books from the public library after church on Sunday afternoons to read with my dad that night before dinner.

What are your three favorite books?
American Tabloid by James Ellroy (picked it up at Union Station in Toronto to read on my first trip to New York. Missed most of New York as my head was buried in the damn book)

Richard III by Shakespeare. I don’t know why I like that play so much but I really, really do. I keep envisioning it playing out in Nazi Germany but still…

The Magus by Jon Fowles. It was gifted to me by a friend in Huntsville with the caveat that I’d only be able to read it when I needed it. I tried about a half dozen times and couldn’t get past chapter one. Then, after dropping out of University and getting dumped I found myself pouring through it three times in a week. It was magic. It set me right.

I haven’t been able to open it since.

How many books to do you read at any given time? What are you reading now?
Five or six at any given time. If I read anything more then a hundred or two words of anyone writer everything I write for the next three weeks comes off like me trying to sound like them. And I can’t read Stephen King at all anymore or I end up mimicking.

Finish this sentence; when I curl up with a book,
I am gone from the world until I fall asleep or someone kicks me in the head.

To re-read or not to re-read that is the question.
Re-read. Some books are worth it. Some books are complicated. Danielwski’s House of Leaves and J G Ballard’s Attrocity Exhibition have been re read about six times each (and I still have no idea what the hell they’re about!)

How likely are you to read a book that’s been recommended to you?
Very. Unless it’s the in thing. Then I’ll read it later. I just read The Millenium Trilogy. I imagine I’ll get to The Game of Thrones sometime in 2014.

How likely are you to recommend a book (that isn’t yours)?
Very. My last job was special event coordinator for an independent bookstore. Pretty much my job was earning and recommending local authors. The only way we’ll survive these days as authors is through self networking… especially if we’re going the independent route and don’t have major publishing houses backing us.

What do you look for in a good book?
An interesting narrative voice. Someone with a good voice can write about their laundry list for a hundred pages and I’ll devour it. Someone could be talking about the end of the world by zombies and killer robots but if they write he said she said they did this he said this she said this they did this the sun rose they sat down he said this she said this they talked… ick.

Why do you write?
It’s therapy. It lets me close my eyes and shut off my ever critical brain and just vent out whatever is sitting inside me causing me grief. I know I’ll never get rich doing this. That doesn’t stop me. It gives me release and sometimes stuff I write sparks feelings in others. There is nothing more precious to me then that.

If you couldn’t be a writer, what would you be?
A monk Seriously. Cloistered in stone walls with books and quiet contemplation.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?
I honestly have no idea. Stories start for me with a monologue. A character starts talking. I let them talk. Then I close my eyes and see where they bring me.

What has writing taught you about yourself?
I am a terrible editor, and self critical to an insane degree. And I am a lot more clever than I thought.

How do the people in your life seem to view your writing career?
I think most of them are wishing I’d hurry up and get over it already. Even the most die hard of the highschool artists have settled down and gotten a decent paying job by now.

Are there any stereotypes about writers that you don’t think are true?
I’ve never heard a stereotype about writers.

What do you see as the biggest challenge today for writers starting out?
That first rejection shut me down for about twelve months. You don’t start great. Hell, you don’t even get great midway through. I think you get one really, really phenomenal story. The trick is to not ever let the last story you wrote be that one story. Always write one better.

Have you made any writing mistakes that seem obvious in retrospect but weren’t at the time?
Oh, no. I was an arrogant little twit when I started and I think I still kind of am. I just know, looking back on what I wrote then, that I was an absolute idiot. There is no such thing as pure talent. Don’t ever let anyone convince you there is. All talent needs three AM hammering it out on a keyboard practice. All skill needs refining. Back then I thought I could coast on talent.

Now I know talent is but a tenth of what is actually needed for success.

Is there a particular project you would love to be involved with?
The Walking Dead is awesome. I’d kill to work with Geoff Johns (DC COMICS) or Joss Whedon at least once before I die. Mostly, I would absolutely love to work on a Shakespearean revival. The Bard is cliche now and that irritates me because every single drama you can imagine he dealt with four centuries ago. Oh, and if anyone has the magic mojo to bring Lovecraft back from the dead for a book or two I’d love to work with him. He is the ONLY writer to ever give me the creeps.

How do you deal with your fan base?
With shocked awe. That anyone reads me stuns me. That people like what I write humbles me. They become my best friends. I try to be as nice as possible at all times.

Finish this sentence; my fans would be surprised to know I’m not actually a crazy serial killer. I’m a normal guy who drinks beer, screws up really badly and sometimes worries too much about oral care.

Thanks for this

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