If you could run an obstacle course with 5 dead authors, who would you invite? Would there be a tasty drink involved?
Well that depends. If I’m competing against these other authors, I think I’d invite the weakest ones, ideally ones stricken by consumption. Kafka, Orwell, Chekhov, Keats. I think one of the Bronte sisters had it. And yes, for their own safety, I’d make sure they had plenty of fluids.
But if I’m cooperating with these authors, and physically rubbing up against or hoisting them places, then I’d probably steer clear of the sickly ones, because I don’t really need tuberculosis in my life right now. Let’s say the drinkers then. Hemingway, Chandler, Fitzgerald, Hemingway (again), and Faulkner. And sure there would be beverages, but only at the end of the course.
Reality in my fiction: how important is it? Lengthy travel, cussing, and bathroom breaks happen in real life. How do you address these mundane occurrences in your writings?
First and foremost, you have to give the reader a reason to turn the page. Whatever it is about your book that’s grabbed the reader by the neck, you have to keep giving it to them. If your readers are there for your fast paced plot, then no, there usually isn’t time for bathroom breaks. But if these mundane occurrences serve to illustrate some important aspect of character, theme, or setting, then yeah why not set something in the bathroom? Something interesting, which usually means something humiliating. Explosively humiliating perhaps.
What has been your worst or most difficult job? How does it compare to writing?
I briefly held a job where I had to call people on the phone and ask them to take a survey. I’m like a solid 2 or 3 out of 10 in terms of comfort level on the phone, so this wasn’t something I was very good at, and I spent an awful lot of my time there doing anything but. “I don’t think this is for you,” my boss told me. “And your crying is upsetting everyone.”
Writing is almost the exact opposite of a job like that, involving so much time sitting alone in a quiet room. I love it.
More and more we see fiction being multimedia – a book, a TV show, a PC game, a graphic novel. How do you see the publishing industry evolving to handle this trend? Any plans to take your works in the multimedia realm?
Almost every work which ends up crossing different medias is still very much designed for one specific format first. It’s a movie first, then come the tie-in novels or games. Or vice versa. When writing something you can put in hooks, or design a setting that can be exploited by other media, but you still have to get that original work right first. And as far as I know, that’s what publishers are looking for: good books.
So yeah, my sole intent thus far has been to write good books first. And sure, I always have kind of dreamed about one of my novels getting turned into a really great breakfast cereal or something, but I haven’t let that affect my writing to the extent of putting in berry or marshmallow themed villains or anything.
In writing your bad guys, do you want the reader to enjoy hating on him/her, or do you want the reader to be waiting for that magical moment when they redeem themselves?
I’ve always tried to make antagonists their own character first. They’re the hero of their own story, and should have all the motivations and characterization needed for that. So I want the reader to hate them, while still kind of relating to, or even sympathizing with them. An antagonist who’s occasionally likable is a lot more memorable. Also villains, and generally anyone who get to color outside the moral lines, are great props for basing comedy on. They’re often the funniest characters in my writing.
Redemption is something I wouldn’t employ casually when describing an antagonist’s arc. It can happen, and it’s certainly worthy of depicting in a book. But a reversal of character like that is big, and really deserves to be treated as the primary thematic thrust of a book. I could see doing a whole book about redemption, but for most of my antagonists? Nah. They’re hilariously rotten to the last page.
If you were asked to create the syllabus for a college class in SFF literature, what books would be on there as required reading? As passing discussion?
I guess the important thing would be to explore the key features of SFF – so, wildly varied and imaginative settings, with a strong focus on settings which reflect some aspect of our real world. Beyond that, I’d make an effort to show a broad range of subgenres and styles. So…
A Canticle for Leibowitz
Rendezvous with Rama
A Game of Thrones
And then in reading those, also mention The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Dune, Starship Troopers, Ringworld, A Brave New World.
Care to share an awkward fangirl/fanboy moment, either one where someone was gushing over your work…..or one where you were gushing over another author’s work?
I haven’t had to deal with too much gushing yet, having spent most of my writing career cowering behind the Internet. There’s been a bit though, and I still find it strange when friends and family members quote back to me pieces of my own writing. Although I’m conscious that I am writing for an audience, they’re normally always separated by computers and phone lines and bits of string and the whatnot. Not up in my face.
Also I use a lot of grown up language in my writing, and it’s weird imagining mom and dad reading that, and laughing and showing it to their friends, all beaming with pride about how I managed to cram “fuck” into a sentence eight times.
What is a recurring or the most memorable geeky argument or debate you have taken part in?
Because getting rid of a mattress is a pain in the neck, I once tried to win an argument with my wife about mattress longevity by changing Wikipedia to make it read they should last 70 years or so. This didn’t actually win the argument, because I didn’t marry an idiot, but it does mean I’m not allowed to use my computer or phone during any more arguments.
What is the first book you remember reading on your own?
I was reading long before I can remember anything, so that’s tough. The first things I can distinctly remember reading, probably because I read them one thousand times each, are those old Tintin books. They instilled in me my lifelong love for adventure, and are also probably responsible for the unusually high number of sea captains I’ve befriended.
Finally, what upcoming events and works would you like to share with the readers?
Well I’m glad you asked. My first novel, Severance is coming out on December 9th. It is hilarious and can be pre-ordered here or here:
During my day job, I’m a writer for Stardock, and the lead writer for Galactic Civilizations III and Sorcerer King. Both of those are in public beta right now, with full releases scheduled for some time in 2015. And of course, there’s my hilarious and educational column up every week at Cracked.com. http://www.cracked.com/blog/author/Robotman/
Severance, the debut novel from famed Cracked.com writer Chris Bucholz, the inhabitants of a generation ark find two unlikely heroes who fight to keep everything together.
After 240 years traveling toward Tau Prius and a new planet to colonize, the inhabitants of the generation ship Argos are bored and aimless. They join groups such as the Markers and the Breeders, have costumed orgies, and test the limits of drugs, alcohol, and pain just to pass the time.
To Laura Stein, they’re morons and, other than a small handful of friends, she’d rather spend time with her meat plant than with any of her fellow passengers. But when one of her subordinates is murdered while out on a job, Laura takes it as her responsibility to find out what happened. She expects to find a personal grudge or a drug deal gone wrong, but instead stumbles upon a conspiracy that could tear the ship in two.
Labelled a terrorist and used as a pawn in the ultimate struggle for control, Laura, with help from her friend Bruce and clues left by a geneticist from the past, digs deep into the inner working of the ship, shimmying her way through ductwork, rallying the begrudged passengers to rise up and fight, and peeking into an unsavory past to learn the truth and save their future.