Normally I do my author interviews on Thursdays, but James let me know that this week he’s doing a free promotion of his stories on Amazon, so I’m sharing this early. You can find out more about James Chalk on Goodreads here:
The stories and other links:
The Meat Market: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00GFC8BPI/
Cyborg Spell Shop: A Harkon Colony Short Story: http://www.amazon.com/Cyborg-Spell-Sh…
The Twelve Children Of Christmas: A Baihu Short Story: http://www.amazon.com/Twelve-Children…
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/James-Chalk/e/B…
Facebook Author Page: http://www.facebook.com/JamesChalkBooks
1. What first made you want to write?
I don’t think I ever really thought I wanted to write. I always found it difficult. However, my head is filled with ideas, truths, and wishes and my heart is bursting with the need to share them. I have felt this way since I was a teenager. I was always an avid reader and I firmly believe in the power of fiction to convey truth and transform society. I believe in storytelling and the inspiration it can bring. Once I finally started writing, though, I learned it isn’t as difficult as I had thought. I really enjoy the unfolding of the plot with the constant twists and surprises my characters throw at me.
2. I understand you write science fiction. What about this genre interests you?
I’ve been in love with science and science fiction ever since I was a teenager. If you count fantasy in with the genre, my interest goes all the way back to early childhood fairy tales. I’m old enough to have watched the original Star Trek TV show. I was awakened by my parents to witness Neil Armstrong’s historic stroll on the Moon. I even had promo tickets from Pan American Airlines for the first commercial flights to the Moon. Early on, I recognized that science fiction has tremendous potential for inspiring innovation and to effect societal change. I believe that mankind’s only long-term hope for survival is to develop the necessary technology to colonize our solar system, and perhaps beyond. Ultimately, we either get off this planet or we doom its ecology and ourselves with it.
3. Your novella, “Meat Market” is listed as a science fiction tale, but it has a rather suggestive cover. What led you towards this kind of look?
“The Meat Market” is the first in a series featuring my Jonathan Harkon character. Ideally, I would have preferred a cover that featured Jonathan, but I haven’t yet found an artist to work with and develop a consistent style for the series and enhance my vision of the future. However, either way the cover would still have provocative elements. “The Meat Market” is an action-suspense thriller that happens to take place in the future. The protagonist gets caught up in an underground sex-slave operation and uncovers an even more terrible truth behind it. I chose a cover that conveys a feel for the world he has been plunged into, without being too explicit. My book is not even close to erotica, but it is adult and could offend some people. I hope that between the book description and the cover, those who would be offended have been fairly warned.
4. Who is your favorite writer and why?
When I was a teenager, Robert A. Heinlein was my favorite because of his liberal ideas and gusto for life. He inspired me about the future and encouraged me toward open-minded thinking. As an adult, I don’t really have a favorite. If I like the writer and I’m reading her or his book, then she or he is my favorite today.
5. What project are you working on next?
That’s an easy one. I’m working on “The Sword of Yahweh” – book two of the Jonathan Harkon adventures. It takes place in an entirely different setting than book one and will hopefully capture somewhat more of an epic fantasy feel, while still maintaining scientific plausibility and the techno-thriller pace established in the first story.
6. What kinds of information do you wish was more accessible to new writers?
There is no dearth of information out there. A plethora of websites and other publications exist providing all of the information you need. The hard part is deciding who to trust and avoiding the scams. One of the more difficult things to research is which promotional outlets would be best for targeting your specific audience. First you have to know who those people are!
7. How has your background influenced your writing?
It actually seems I have spent my entire life preparing to write science fiction. I went to engineering school specifically so that I would have a strong enough technological and scientific background to write it. It is important to me that my stories are realistic, both scientifically and socially. I spent decades working in science and engineering, but I didn’t ignore the rest of life. I raised my daughters and built a life of love and commitment with my wife. I became an expert martial artist and a whitewater kayaking instructor. I volunteered my time teaching others and helping with wounded veterans. I exposed myself to the wonderful variety of ideas one can only accumulate through inquisitive interaction with others. I studied politics and society for years before daring to spin a tale. I can only hope that my maturity and experience informs my stories and that I can pass along some small measure of my passion for truth and social justice, without mucking up the pace and enjoyment of the plot.
8. What advice do you have for other writers?
A huge secondary market is emerging that seeks to profit off of the independent writer/publisher. Some of these services are very valuable and others are a waste of money and time. I wish that new writers had a more reliable way of telling the difference. So much depends on the specifics of the situation and the people involved. My advice is trust your conscience and your intuition. Remember there is no such thing as a free lunch, so when someone offers you one, look for the hidden price. Otherwise, don’t let your marketing efforts steal too much time away from writing. Be authentic and always ask your characters what they would do.
Thanks for taking the time to interview me.