Join me in welcoming Christopher Powers (Chris), otherwise known as author C. Michael Powers, who has dropped by to answer my questions today.
1 - When did you first start writing?
I started writing at about the age of 16. I'd just learned to type and found myself bored out of my mind, hanging out in my grandfather's house in Oklahoma. With Grandpa snoring away on the couch, I started snooping around the house until I found an old typewriter covered up in a bedroom corner. I uncovered that thing, sat down to play with it a little, and never stopped. I wrote several chapters of my first novel that day.
2 - Do you read much? If yes, have you always loved reading?
I love to read. Especially at bedtime. It's hard for me to fall asleep without reading a book. I've always loved reading, which made it very difficult when I first moved here, to Panama, my wife's country. Books in English are hard to come by and I refused to buy a Kindle, just because I love having a book in my hand. Something about the smell of the book and the feel of the pages as you turn them just can't be replaced by an electronic device.
I eventually gave up and bought a Kindle and I'm so glad I did. I still can't figure out what being 38% finished with a book means. I miss being able to just look at the actual book and see how close I am to being finished. When I read Game of Thrones, I had no idea how big the actual book was. So reading it on the Kindle, I just kept thinking, "My God I must be a slow reader. How am I only at 40% finished?" Later I saw it in a store and laughed. No wonder. That thing is monstrous...but outstanding.
3 - Who’s your favorite author? What’s your favorite book?
Wow, this is a tough one. I seem to like a different author in each genre.
Horror: Stephen King and Bentley Little
Action: Stephen Hunter
Fantasy: George R.R. Martin
My favorite books would have to be Pale Horse Coming by Stephen Hunter, A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin, The Stand by Stephen King, House by Frank Peretti and Ted Dekker, Desert Places by Blake Crouch, and Without Remorse by Tom Clancy.
I've recently been on a Blake Crouch and J.A. Konrath kick. I love the way those guys just do their own thing. Some of their characters are just sick and twisted.
4 - What writers have influenced you the most?
I've been influenced by a few writers. Stephen King is like the Godfather to me. He stays so true to who he is. George R.R. Martin has taught me so much about character development. Every character he writes is just so damned cool. And if you don't mention Dr. Seuss as an influential writer, chances are, your books are lacking in imagination. Dr. Seuss was the king of imagination. I can't read Fox in Socks to my kids without cracking up.
5 - Do you have a favorite fictional character? Either from a book or movie or a tv show?
I think my favorite fictional character would have to be The Joker. He's just such a diabolical maniac. He's awesome. And Tyrion Lannister from the Song of Ice and Fire books. Oh, sorry, and I have to add Bob Lee Swagger from Stephen Hunter's books. That's a bad ass dude.
6 - What are you working on right now? Can you tell us something about it?
I'm finishing up Mirror Images Book 2: Sons of Man, which I'm really excited about. It's full of action, more colorful characters (some of the great ones from book 1 too). I have a few other dark urban fantasy style novels that I'm working on too. Circus of Purgatory, about a circus owner who has been blessed with the power to turn souls banished to purgatory into an army against evil. It's going to have some bad ass characters. I can't wait!
7 - Is there anything in particular that you do to get in the mood to write, or to get in the ‘zone’? Any particular pre-writing routines?
I usually put on a movie scores mix, grab a cup of coffee, and just get to it. In reality, it's quite boring. I work full time and have 4 kids, so it usually consists of frequent interruptions in the evening (or forcing myself to stay awake once the kids have fallen asleep). At some point, I'd like to move to one of the mountain towns here in Panama, find a back bedroom that faces the woods or mountains, and turn it into a writing studio. It will happen...someday.
8 - Where do you do your writing?
At my living room computer, right in the thick of things. The same place my kids do their homework.
9 - How do you approach your writing? i.e. - Do you do outlines? Character bios? Etc.?
I've tried a little bit of everything. With my Mirror Images series, I first wrote the story as a set of screenplays, with no outline or anything. Now that I'm turning the story into a novel series, the screenplays are great outlines. Honestly though, because all of the info is there already, it gets a little bit boring. I think I like writing on the fly. I love when I get to a part of the story I want to add something to. Then, I just set the screenplay down, and punch out a chapter or two.
With the two new novels I'm working on, I've done kind of a short, sloppy outline. I've jotted down key points I want to make sure I hit, but then just do the rest as I work. I'm a horrible verbal storyteller. My wife loves to randomly ask me to tell her a story or say something beautiful to her. My mind doesn't work that way. I just freeze up. When my fingers touch a keyboard, it all just comes to life. Most of the time I have no idea how my book will end. It just happens when I get there.
10 - Do you have any advice for other writers?
Just write. Don't worry about the rejection letters or even the grammatical errors. Most people, who have great stories, say they don't write because they don't know how to write. They didn't do so well in English class. Do you have any idea how many established writers make grammatical errors? Thank God for editors. Just put your story down on paper. If nothing else happens with it, at least you can self publish it on Amazon and Createspace. With Createspace you can have a physical, paperback book put together for only the cost of buying the book yourself. I think I paid $10 for mine. And now my book is sitting on my shelf. It feels great receiving that book in the mail.
11 - Are you a morning person or evening person? Day or night?
I force myself to be a morning person (for work and the kids) but naturally I'm a night owl. When I was in the military (security forces) I always worked the night shift. Something about darkness helps me write. I can relax and just sink into it. During the day I feel like I have too many other things I should be doing instead.
12 - Do you have any pets?
I don't, but I want to. I grew up with dogs and I'd love to have a dog. Maybe when I move to that mountain home I'll get a dog. I feel like a dog should have a place to run around and exercise. Here in Panama City, that's just not realistic.
13 - What’s your favorite ‘I need a break from writing’ activity?
I'm a huge movie buff. Usually I'm either hanging out with my kids, watching movies with them that they shouldn't be watching (we love horror movies) or we're playing Playstation.
14 - How do you approach writing sex scenes? They can range from mild to wild. Where are you on the mild to wild meter?
In the Mirror Images books, so far, I've been somewhere in the mild (or just barely beyond) range. The first sex scene I wrote in one of my newer novels was a bit much. I've had to re-read it a few times and I'm still not sure if it's pushing the boundaries. Don't get me wrong, most of the erotica stories out there are much wilder, but for a non-erotica book, I think it's pretty wild.
15 - Do you write in one genre? Or more than one?
I've started out my novel writing with what I'm calling Kick Ass Urban Fantasy. It's kind of dark fantasy, set in urban environments, minus the vampires and werewolves. I have tons of cool creatures and characters, but not the sappy romance. I'm getting a kick out of this genre. I do write in other genres though. I've written horror, redneck action, romantic comedies, and even musical screenplays. I have ideas for about 50 more books, in all different genres.
The question I have now is, do I write in different genres under the same name, or use different pen names for different genres, so I don't upset readers?
16 - Are you self-published or with a publishing house?
I'm with a small publishing house called GMTA, Great Minds Think Aloud.
17 - What are your thoughts on getting a literary agent?
Ha, I tried. I still have a stack of rejection letters somewhere. I don't know, to me this is a Catch-22 because agents want an established, published author. Yet, the reason you need an agent is to get established or published. And I've found that most (I'm sure not all) agents seem to be very full of themselves.
Right around the time that Facebook was just starting to catch on and social media was kind of a new thing, I read online about an agent making his way from NY to LA and how he was looking for new authors to represent. He wasn't some mega-famous agent.
So, I thought, "Hmm, I wonder if anyone has tried to reach out to him through social media." I punched his name into Facebook, saw his photo, and sent him a message. His response? One sentence. "Don't ever approach an agent this way." What a dick. I know there are right and wrong ways of going about landing an agent or a publisher, but when the traditional ways don't work, sometimes you have to take chances. Apparently this guy was above my level. At that point I decided to self publish. And eventually published with GMTA.
18 - What about marketing? How do you approach that area?
My kryptonite. I honestly suck at marketing. I want to be better at it, I truly do. I have a website at www.cmichaelpowers.com and I use Facebook and Twitter, but other than that, I don't do a lot of marketing. I'm working on the second installment to my Mirror Images series. I feel like once I finish that book, I'll be more inspired to work on marketing.
19 - What about beta readers? Do you use them? How many do you have? Where do you find them?
GMTA, my publisher, uses beta readers. I don't have any that I use personally.
20 - What’s your favorite food?
I love Mexican food. Chicken enchiladas are my favorite. And coming from an Italian family, when I cook, it's usually Italian. I make a pretty good baked ziti. Chicken parm too, mmm. Is it lunch time yet?
21 - What’s your favorite color?
Blue. Royal Blue is my favorite.
22 - Is there a particular website or facebook page or blog that you, as a writer, find very helpful?
Lately, I've been reading author J.A. Konrath's blog "A Newbie's Guide to Publishing" at http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/. He's really down to earth and gives a lot of great tips. He's even allowing writers to write stories based on their own characters, mixed with his, and share the profits. He's basically franchising his characters. It's a cool idea.
23 - What’s your favorite time of the year?
Fall. Sadly, there really isn't a fall here in Panama. I moved here from Columbus, Ohio, and fall there was simply breathtaking. I miss that. My favorite holiday is Halloween.
24 - What’s your most recent book about? And where can people buy it?
When an average Joe's reflection in the mirror switches places with him, he finds himself trapped in a strange mirror world, battling his way back to the other side so that he can stop his reflection from destroying the life he knows. “Have you ever wondered why so many people in prison claim to be innocent? It’s ‘cause most of ‘em are,” Dozier whispered. On the other side of the mirror, lies a horrific world where each of us has an image, our violent replica, capable of fulfilling our darkest desires, and only released into our world when we’re unable to follow through with an evil deed. Gabe Cutter, an average paper pusher, has his life ripped out from under him when his image switches places with him, hell bent on destroying the life Gabe knows, and killing his cheating fiance’. Now, stuck on the other side of the mirror, Gabe must join together with a band of stranded survivors and find a way to get back to his world before his image destroys it. Along the way he battles his way through maniacs, monsters, and ultimately his own heart, as he realizes that the woman he’s been trying to save...wasn’t worth the price of admission. ***BE ADVISED. THIS BOOK CONTAINS FOUL LANGUAGE, STRONG VIOLENCE, AND SOME SEXUAL CONTENT. DON'T SAY I DIDN'T TELL YOU SO***
You can buy Mirror Images Book 1: The Darkness of Man at Amazon for Kindle and paperback at:
25 - As a writer, what do you feel is your strongest gift or talent or skill that you have, that helps you the most as a writer?
Creativity is my strongest gift, but can also be a real pain. Oftentimes I have so many ideas that I can't focus on one of them. Some writers can write one book and that's it. I know I don't have that problem. My biggest challenge is just mastering grammar. I'm okay, but again, thank God for my editor.
26 - Please share some of your links with us - facebook author page, website, where people can find your books --
Sure, my book is available at:
My author website is: www.cmichaelpowers.com
Facebook is: www.facebook.com/CMichaelPowers
Twitter is: https://twitter.com/CMichaelPowers
My profile at GMTA, where you can also find other great writers, and maybe even submit your book to GMTA is at: http://www.gmtapublishing.com/authors4.html