Welcome back, you Eyeballers. Once again I am extremely happy to present an exclusive interview with published author Chris Davis, who released an awesome vampire novel called ‘Takers’ last year and is preparing to release its sequel in the next few months.
This interview is being released in three parts.
Part Two: Inspiration and Publicity
Chris Davis resides in Memphis, Tennessee with her cat, Ramses. She has a Master of Science degree in Project Management and is a novelist, aspiring screenwriter and currently stretches her journalism muscle working for Hawaii Five-0 Online. Chris’s first published novel, a bloody twist on traditional vampires called “Takers,” is now available on Amazon and Smashwords and her personal blog can be found here.
After yesterday’s discussion of the writing process, today Chris Davis shares her opinion about inspiration and the trials of publicity when you’re an indie author.
Haunted Eyeball: Did you have a favourite author growing up?
Chris Davis: You know, I had several sets of books that I read over and over and over again. Largely it was the “Little House” series by Laura Ingalls Wilder and the Nancy Drew mysteries by Carolyn Keene. My favorite book of all-time, however, was “The Secret Garden” by Frances Hodgson Burnett.
But while I can tell you what I read voraciously as a child, I have to caution you that I honestly can’t possibly name one single author as having been a favorite, either as a child or now in my adult years, any more than I can state I have a single favorite musician/band. My tastes in books are as ridiculously eclectic as my taste in music, and have been since the time I was able to read. So for me, it’s always been more the book itself (or certain series of books) that I liked rather than all the works of Author A or Author B.
Favourite author now? It’s funny, just a week or two ago, in a group I’m a member of called Tracy Island Writers Forum, there was a lively multi-post discussion on everyone’s favorite authors. If I’m not mistaken, they were geared mostly toward the sci-fi genre (which makes sense considering that most of the members of that particular forum are gathered there because of a television series that leans strongly toward that genre). But I sat there reading everyone’s responses thinking to myself, “You don’t even have a favorite author anymore.” And it’s true, I don’t. Because I’m a hypocrite. I write books that I want people to read, but I don’t often take the time to sit down and read books myself these days. Isn’t that awful?
I think that stems from the fact that between the ages of about seven and twenty-five (give or take), I read – and I’m not exaggerating – thousands of books. And I don’t mean little kids cute books with only four words per page. I’m talking novels the size of Stephen King’s “It” or “War and Peace.” Classics from Shakespeare and Hemingway. Science fiction that bordered on incomprehensible for all its terminology when you’re the tender age of eleven. Fantasies, C.S. Lewis, horror, true crime. Biographies of the famous and infamous. Books based on television series like “Star Trek” or “Murder, She Wrote” or “Knight Rider.” (Yes, I grew up in the eighties, what can I say.)
I spent the first half of my literate years reading every free second of every day until I also started writing, and then it was probably a fifty-fifty split of my time. I think I filled myself to the brim with input, and now I can’t do anything but output. If I sit down to read it’s usually something a friend has given to me either because they thought it was really good, or because they want my opinion or critique.
So modern-day authors? Well…I honestly don’t have a favorite one out in the paid/published novel world.
Favourite type or particular area of art?
Just like my taste in book and movie genres or in music, my taste in art has little to do with a specific style or type. If I see something I like, I know it. I could have an abstract hanging on the wall next to a black-and-white inner city photograph because I like what I like irrespective of whether anyone else thinks it goes together!
Do any TV shows or films inspire you?
Two television shows: “Thunderbirds” and “Hawaii Five-0.” “Thunderbirds” has been a love of mine for about a decade now. There’s just something about the characters and their relationships, as well as the central idea of there being this family who has dedicated itself to anonymously saving the lives of strangers with unbelievably advanced technology at their disposal that makes the blood sing.
As for “Hawaii Five-0” (and we’re talking the reboot that premiered in 2010, not the original series with Jack Lord), what inspires me hands-down (other than the sexy silver Chevrolet Camaro who’s the true star of the show, of course) is the bromance between characters Steve McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) and Danny Williams (Scott Caan). I guess I just have a thing for bromance!
I have to give credit to actor/writer/producer/director Scott Caan’s movie “Mercy” for giving me the screenwriting bug. (Well, either give him credit or blame him for thrusting me into that world, one or the other.) I initially started watching movies containing the lead actors from “Hawaii Five-0” as part of my work as Head News Writer for the website Hawaii Five-0 Online, and “Mercy” happened to be the first one I saw. Not a month later I had my first completed screenplay.
There was something about how the story was told that fascinated me. It was non-linear, it was “real life,” it was a combination of things that it would take too long to explain here that made me say, I want to write like that. I want to do that. So…I’m trying. I call myself an “aspiring screenwriter” still because I have yet to actually get anywhere with it professionally! But it’s great fun.
Other than “Hawaii Five-0,” which shows, films or publications would you love to write for?
(laughs) What, I can’t say “Hawaii Five-0?” Of course that’s my first choice.
Other than that, I really would love to see some of my screenplays come to life, and I would also very much enjoy working with an experienced screenwriter to transform my novel “Takers” into a movie. I’m interested in writing more of my own original screenplays, but I really don’t follow any other current television shows besides “Five-0” simply due to time constraints. I have to choose what to spend my time on, and watching more than one hour of television a week isn’t conducive to my mantra of “Write, write, write!”
Sort of along the same lines, I’d enjoy collaborating with the aforementioned Scott Caan simply because I find the movies he’s written fascinating in terms of how the idea is both presented visually and told as a story. (And I’ll admit, he’s the one I know the most about because of the research I do for Five-0 Online.) I think working with, and learning from, anyone who’s gone out there and written a screenplay, and then actually made it into a movie, would be an invaluable experience because they’re not just the writer selling a script and then going and writing something else. Independent filmmakers know what comes after that script is written, and I think that helps a lot when you’re writing your screenplay because you can foresee things that someone who’s never actually gone through the whole process of making a movie might not know.
I’d also really enjoy working with someone who’s seen success in both books and television, like Trevor Munson (more about him later) or “Hawaii Five-0” Executive Producer Peter Lenkov, who’s done graphic novels. Once again, these men know the whole process, and Trevor especially is familiar with the differences between writing an actual book vs. a television script vs. a movie screenplay. The kind of experience these men and others like them have can’t be book-taught. It’s something you learn by doing, and the insights they’ve gained into what works and what doesn’t, and what types of things you have to think about writing a TV episode vs. a feature-length screenplay are the little things that fascinate me and make me want to seek out people like them. I’ll be honest: one of the original reasons I sat down to watch the new “Hawaii Five-0” to begin with was simply the success Lenkov had prior to launching it. I mean, the guy did “24” and “CSI: NY,” not to mention “La Femme Nikita,” all of which I enjoyed immensely as well-told stories with riveting characters. Who wouldn’t want to apprentice themselves to success like that?
How do you think social media has helped writers? Has it made it easier or more pressured to become a successful writer?
Well, for me, social media gets me out there as a writer, period – I’m a novelist, a journalist and an aspiring screenwriter, but if no one reads what I write or even knows I exist, what’s the point? Whether it’s tweeting or Facebooking my latest blog post, or giving people a sneak peek at my new book cover, or getting immediate feedback on anything I’ve written (whether journalistic in nature or fiction), I have people who know who I am thanks to Facebook and especially Twitter. In “the olden days,” people didn’t know who a writer was, necessarily, until they saw a book in a bookstore or on a library shelf that intrigued them, and then they’d read the blurb about the author on the back cover and that’s all they’d know. We Average Joes certainly couldn’t connect with television or movie screenplay writers, nor with their fellow novelists. Now, we can.
These days social media not only brings into the spotlight authors who aren’t already bestselling novelists, but it also allows them to communicate directly with those who read their work. My personal blog at authorcdavis.com gives people a way to find out more about me as a person (if they care to), if through no other way than seeing what it is I blog about. My work on Hawaii Five-0 Online shows off a different skillset, and social media is crucial to the success of websites like that.
I don’t know how other authors feel about social media pressuring them, but I do know that I have an awful lot of fellow authors who follow me on Twitter and whom I also follow, which tells me that lots of them are using it. Personally, the only pressure I face as a writer is whatever pressure I put myself under. If people don’t like what I’m writing, I love that they can tell me in 140 characters or less how much it sucked. If they think it rocked, it’s great fun to get that feedback as soon as they’ve finished the last sentence of the book. For an author to connect with their fans is for an author to find and keep their audience – the people who will keep coming back to their work time and time again. I’d much rather know what people are thinking and feeling about what I write, than get some stodgy report sent to me every six months telling me how many copies of something have sold. It’s personal, it’s real and it’s how I keep my finger on the pulse of whatever it is I’m doing.
What sort of process do you have for maintaining your blog? Frequency of updates, subjects, etc?
There we go with the process thing again. (laughs) My process is that I don’t have one. At all. Generally speaking, I write a blog post when a subject comes up that I want to talk about. At first, I was trying to post one new thing every day, but it’s difficult to maintain that kind of schedule around a day job and with all the other writing projects I have going on at any given time. So once again, I had to choose what to spend my time on, and unless an idea or event presents itself that I feel strongly enough about, I don’t push myself to update according to a certain schedule.
To be continued…
I look forward to see you Eyeballers here again tomorrow, when in the final part of the interview Chris shares some exciting news about Takers 2 and 3, and how it feels to write about the more erotic side of her character’s vampiric nature.