Everyone, please welcome Chris Marks to the blog. She was kind enough to let me probe into her life, and provide bonus picks of her pimped up ride! Enjoy, as I did!
1) In Elfhunter, two heroines are the lead characters. Was it a conscious decision from the beginning to have 2 female leads or was it something that came about from a more nebulous idea?
I started out to write a short story, having conceived the idea of the villain and wanting to explore it. I needed protagonists, and wanted to have both male and female characters in leading roles, but I really wanted an understated heroine whose strengths could be revealed as the story progressed. Being female, it’s a natural choice. In 2000, when I first started writing the tale of the Elfhunter, there were far fewer “fantasy heroines” than heroes, and precious few worthy ones. I dislike weak female characters, and I wanted to portray my own vision of feminine strength. These books really aren’t about feminism or gender issues, but they are about being true to yourself–knowing who and what you are. Gender issues, when they happen, are a consequence of that.
I play at being an illustrator, but I do enjoy making art. I have done a lot of sketches of the characters, and a few paintings of Gorgon which shall never be made public, as I don’t want to color the readers’ perception of what he looks like. The only one of my drawings of Gorgon appearing in the original Elfhunter is the one of his eyes. Once I am into a writing project, I rarely stop to do illustrations until I have finished it. If I wanted to make a living at my art, I’d do nothing but dog and horse portraits on agate. Dog show people and equestrians love them–I could be busy for the rest of the year. Then I guess I’d have a real “dog and pony show”, eh!
Interesting question. Let me see–if the term “creatures” includes humanoids, my top five (six!) would include: Wood-elves, Wolfriders (from Elfquest), Dire Wolves (from Game of Thrones), Unicorns/Pegasi, friendly dragons, and the eagles from LOTR. Boring, I know. The ones I would avoid: Bodvari, Ulcas, Orcs, Ulfar (read Elfhunter to find out what those are–I outdid myself with them!), and those nasty earwig-things from The Wrath of Khan–you know, they burrow into your brain through your ears? In fact, let’s just include anything that burrows into your brain. 😛
Yes, there is an Elfmobile. In fact, there are two. I have included photos of the old and the new–the older vehicle (original Elfmobile) is covered with my own art from the original covers; the new one is from newer covers by Hope Hoover. 🙂 The response–well, I’m lucky no one has been involved in a wreck while trying to photograph it on the interstate. I have come out of restaurants to find people having their photos taken with it. It’s like a rolling billboard–one of the best promotional ideas I’ve had. There are pictures of it on cell-phones across America!
5) Having worked with horses (an intelligent animal species) for years, what are your thoughts on humans as the superior intelligent race on Earth?
Hmmm. Sometimes I wonder. I work really hard to earn money so I can feed my horses, build them a first-class stable, give them a warm, dry bed, take good care of their feet, provide heath care, and in general give them everything a horse could want. Granted, they do have to work for a few hours once in a while, but who’s the intelligent one? By this standard, the only being more intelligent than my horses would be my spoiled rotten Border Collie, Bob.
We humans are intelligent–no doubt about that–but sometimes I wonder whether we’re only intelligent enough to be dangerous. The human mind is a phenomenal thing, capable of creating incredible beauty, but also capable of ugliness unsurpassed by even the most savage of creatures. I hope we can keep pace spiritually with our own technology, or we might be in trouble. We already are, in fact. We might need to remember that intelligence is nothing without loyalty, sacrifice, empathy, love…
I love the classics such as Dickens and Shakespeare, and have always enjoyed mythology (my third grade book report was on The Iliad). As far as modern authors, I adore Tolkien (he introduced me to epic fantasy, and is the undisputed master of the genre in my opinion). I also enjoy Stephen King (as long as he’s not killing off the dog in the story), Larry McMurtry, and Richard Adams, but my real “comfort read” is James Herriot.
7) Please let me pry and tell me what are some of your upcoming bookish projects and/or events?
As a fan of Blazing Saddles, I cannot resist the following:
Well, if you must pry…
(I must! I must!)
There’s so much happening in Alterra right now, I can hardly stand the excitement. Elfhunter will be available in print soon, The Fire King (first Alterra Histories novella) is already in print. Fire-heart is due for re-release this spring, a new novella (Fallen Embers) to follow shortly thereafter. Ravenshade re-release will come along later in the summer, and another new novella (Shadow-man), which I have started work on already. There’s a table-top RPG in the works for late summer. THEN there’s the graphic novel version of The Fire King (provided Hope can bear to do the artwork–she still can’t read the final scenes without getting emotional). And I haven’t even mentioned the NEW Alterra series, Undiscovered Realms. I wouldn’t look for the first one until 2014, though…it’s been written for a while, but we can’t release it until after Ravenshade. I’ve got a reasonably full convention schedule planned, as well. Comic Con, GenCon, DragonCon…(whew!)