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Chris Robertson lives in the community of Niagara Falls in Ontario. I wondered how long he has lived there.
“I’ve lived pretty much my entire life here in ‘The Falls’ as locals call it. I was born here, married here, and all three of my children were born here. In my mid twenties my family and I moved to Peterborough, Ontario, but moved back here after only eighteen months. There really isn’t all that much to say about likes and dislikes though. Other than a whole bunch of falling water and ‘tourist traffic hell’ in the summertime it really isn’t any different than other places. No matter what happens it will always be my hometown.”
He doesn’t see his writing as a career:
“Not the way I look at it anyway. It’s really something that started off as a joke. Tom Rotella (co-author of Sparks in the Dark) and I were talking about entering a short story contest one day. He showed me the story he wrote, I thought it was good so I wrote one for fun. That turned out good as well so we both just continued writing and reading each other’s stories until one day I realised there were enough of them to put together a book. I approached him with the idea, he said yes and the rest is history I guess.
I love writing short stories, probably because I have always been partial to reading them as well. I feel like a lot of authors ‘pad’ their works with over-descriptive nonsense. In a spot where I would write His grey hair was moving in the gentle breeze. Other authors take three full pages to describe that very statement. I feel like any full length novel on the market today can be condensed down to eight to fifteen thousand words and still be just as good (or bad) of a story as it is full length. The pacing would just be more exciting.”
On the surface his latest book is about the topical subject of sexual abuse but
“It is actually the biography of someone very close to me and I felt like it was a story that needed to be heard. Other than some minor changes throughout, it is a true story and that is probably the most disturbing thing about it.”
Chris’s short fiction is inspired by song titles:
“How I choose my subjects is totally unorthodox and most people will probably laugh but here it is. On a day when I know I am going to be writing, I set my music player to random. The first song that pops up is now the basis for whatever I want to write. I just take whatever the song title is, mull it over and over in my head and usually within minutes I have a full story in my head based on the song title alone. If you look into the anthologies you will see titles such as Joey, Welcome to the jungle, Crazy Mary, According to You, The promise, These Days, I Don’t Love You Anymore, and Airplanes, which are all stories that were created simply by thinking about the song title for just five to ten minutes.”
Chris is mainly a “plotter” but admits to occasionally being a “pantser”
“Sometimes when the ideas come I will start with just bullet form. After that frame is down I start at the top, look at the first two and figure how they get from one point to two and add a few more points in between. I continue this all the way through then start over again. Eventually there are enough bullets to start to form sentences and paragraphs with them, and then the story is born. Other times I just start writing and see where my mind wanders off to and just make it all up as I go. Those ones tend to be darker and more twisted.”
Chris plays bass in a heavy metal band and enjoys cooking so
“I really don’t have a [set] time [for writing]. I just do it whenever I can. Between work, playing bass in a band, and my family I don’t get near as much time as I would like. As for a place, I have an office adjoining my bedroom at home. That’s where ninety percent of my writing is done. The other ten percent is when I am lying in bed with my laptop.”
Asked about his favourite writers, Chris admits to having lost his early admiration for Stephen King and Dean Koontz:
“I grew up on Stephen King, Edgar Allen Poe, and Dean Koontz. Those guys were the be all end all for me. I couldn’t get enough. As I got older though and I read some of their newer stuff, (King and Koontz) I find that their style has changed and I am finding them harder to read now. It goes back to the ‘padding’ that I spoke of earlier. Their newer books have so much of it that some I have tried to read have been absolute snorefests. Some I’ve had to put down after only a couple chapters because they totally lost my interest just droning on and on.
I have recently started reading Edward Lee and Jack Ketchum and I am impressed with them in the sense that they hold nothing back. They don’t care if something is offensive or disgusting if they feel it belongs in the story then they put it in there. That’s something that I have now integrated into my own writing as well. I held back on the first book so as to not scare people away but in the end I felt I wasn’t being true to myself so no more holding back.
My favorite book of all time though is Faerie Tale by Raymond Feist. I have read that book fourteen times and counting. I tweeted about it once and he replied that he didn’t even read it that many times while proofing it.”
And that taste in literature is reflected in his movie choices, except for one:
“My wife and I are movie nuts and watch a lot of them. I love the Jurassic World, Transformers, Avengers and almost any horror movie that comes out. As for older movies I think my favorites are Jaws, Cujo, Carrie, Rocky, Class of 1984, and there are a ton of others as well but my all time favorite, don’t laugh now, is Seven brides for Seven Brothers.”
It is hard to find anything about Chris on-line, even reviews of his books so I asked him to sell himself and his books to you, my readers.
“It’s funny that there are no reviews online but all the reviews that have been told to me in person have been fantastic. I’ve had people come up to me in the store and say ‘Hey, are you the guy who wrote that book?’ When I tell them ‘yes’ they usually say nice things and tell me which story was their favorite.
I guess one of the things that I can honestly say is that you will never be bored reading the books. They are an absolute roller coaster ride from one story to the next. As for According To You, I think that everyone should read it to get an insight into what happens to kids sometimes right under our noses. Even as neighbors and relatives we don’t always see what is happening but there are signs, and we as a general public need to be more aware of them.
One thing I will say is that no matter what genre you normally read, there is something in the collections for you. I am so proud when I talk to people and they all have a different favorite story. To me that speaks volumes on the strength of them.”
Despite being short of time for writing, Chris is presently working on
“Four different writing projects at the moment. I have a new collection coming out this year. I am also working on taking an old book from the public domain and modernizing it. I am having a lot of fun with that one. I am working on putting together a cookbook which hopefully will be available this year as well. There is one more going on but I am going to keep that one under wraps for now.”
That means that his wife will be kept quite busy, too, because
“My covers are all designed by my wife and myself.”
Chris describes himself as “just a simple family man who loves to weave words into short tales. I also play bass in the metal band ‘Oath of Secrecy.’ We have just finished recording our first album and that is yet another thing to look forward to releasing this year.
Another thing about me is that I really enjoy cooking. I don’t do it nearly as often as I would like to. My wife does most of it. Between the two of us we have come up with some great dishes. We tend to not stick with a certain cuisine though. We just enjoy food.”
I enjoyed my chat with Christopher Robertson (There is at least one other author called Chris Robertson on Amazon, not to be confused with this one!) I hope you did too. Next week I shall start updating last year’s “dates” with what they have been doing over the past year.
Here are links to his books at Amazon.com:
Sparks in the Dark (with Thomas Rotella)
As you should know by now, I have a story in this. The choice of narrator was undertaken jointly by all of the authors. Dan posted samples from all the applicants on Facebook (in a private group) and we each listened and indicated our preference. I had no hesitation in choosing Kasi and am not surprised that the majority of the other authors agreed.
Meanwhile, I have recorded my own reading of my story and that will be posted in a virtual Halloween Party next week.
My “date” this week has an “adults only” ending. I’m talking to Lacey Lane who lives somewhere in the West Midlands of England, the seat of the Industrial Revolution.
“It’s not a busy town, but not quiet either. I love the sea, but unfortunately the nearest beach is about 3 hours drive away. Sometimes, I think it would be nice if I lived closer to the sea. When I was younger, I sometimes wondered what it would be like to move to Germany.
There’s a great open air museum not far from where I live. It’s called The Black Country Living Museum. I highly recommend it. It’s my favourite West Midlands attraction.”
She loves gardening and is planning a major re-design of her garden this year.
“I usually grow a mixture of vegetables and plants. It’s not unusual to find potatoes, carrots, cucumbers, herbs, tomatoes, and lettuce growing in my garden. This year, however, I have a bare garden. I’m planing on completely re-landscaping my garden. I’m still not completely sure how I want the finished garden to look, but I would like a new patio area and a pond to attract some frogs. In the past, I’ve gone for a wild meadow look with my flowers, but next year, I’ll be going for a more organised look.”
She does not have a favourite flower, “but forget-me-knots and honesty plants remind me of my Nan’s garden when I was a child.”
She is married, has neither children nor pets although she has previously owned “a dog, a rabbit and 5 hamsters.” She has “a passion for pole fitness and nail art.”
Her fiction is short, aimed at young people, and involves aspects of horror. “I’ve loved horror since I was a kid. My mom used to tape the late night horror films and we’d sit and watch them together. As a teenager, I used to love to read Goosebumps books and Point Horror books.”
She has a love for making things and her non-fiction reflects that.
“I like to do things to keep active. I’ve also organised craft fayres for my church. Since releasing my 2 craft books, I’ve rekindled my passion for nail art. I spend more time now on nail art than crafts. I guess some people would also consider nail art a type of craft.
I love searching the internet for inspiration and I love painting my friends and families’ nails. I’ve lost count of the amount of polishes I have. It must be at least 300. I have all sorts of nail art brushes and tools. I love looking for nail art related bargains on eBay. I’m actually working on a nail art book. I have no idea when it will be released. Hopefully some time next year.
My craft fans will also be glad to hear that Christmas Crafting with Lacey will be out by the end of October.”
Lacey works in a supermarket: “It’s far from glamorous but it’s well paid and pays the bills.” She also makes and sells jewellery. “It’s a nice little hobby. I’ve also released a range of horror themed jewellery to go alongside my horror books.”
She is happy being a part-time writer and loves getting feed-back from her fans. She is self-published and thinks “being traditionally published would be too stressful. I can write every day for weeks and then other times I can go months without writing. I like that flexibility.”
She can’t afford an editor but appreciates the support she gets from other members of the Independent Authors Support and Discussion on-line group. “Members of the wonderful IASD group beta read for me and point out any issues they spot. Sharon Brownlie has made some of my book covers and I’ll be sure to use her again in the future.
I love being a part of the IASD group. Everyone is friendly, helpful, supportive, and great fun.
I’m really not very good when it comes to marketing. I plan on starting up a blog some time soon, although, I’ve been saying that for at least a year and still not started it. I also plan on creating some new marketing images.”
She loves reading, especially the works of IASD members.
“There’s so many great authors out there, especially in the IASD group. My favourite horror author is John Hennessy. I read Murderous Little Darlings and I was hooked instantly.
When it comes erotica, Tom Benson is the king. John and I could talk about ways to murder and torture people. I could give Tom some pole dancing scenes to put in one of his books. I’m sure meeting either of them would be awesome and we’d talk about anything and everything.
I’ve also been lucky to meet Sylva Fae, Suzanne Downes, and Barbara Speake. I would love to meet them again. I would also love to meet Sharon Brownlie and Susan Faw. In fact, I would love it if we could get everyone from the IASD group together and have a big party. I’m sure there would be lots of cheesecake, beer pools, and naked dancing lol.”
I would certainly be up for that, but first I need to find out what tips Lacey has for would be writers.
“My main tip would be if you love writing, just do it. Create the story that’s deep inside you. It doesn’t matter if you’re not good at spelling or if you’re hopeless at grammar. There’s people out there who can help with that. Just write and have fun.”
Great tip, Lacey. Now, did you say something about a beer pool somewhere? I’m on my way.
Here’s how one of my fellow authors in the anthology The Box Under The Bed was excited by the prospect. Hers is the first story in the book. Called ‘Passion’ it describes the experience of a young medical student on holiday in Cancun and the ‘fun’ she has with two ‘up for it’ holiday makers. It will make your skin crawl.
Source: What A Fun Opportunity!
Be warned, there’s lot’s of hyperbole in this colourful sales pitch about the anthology that includes my tale about a real ship called Francis Spaight. However, if all the marketing effort around The Box Under The Bed results in sales – and more people noticing my other books – who am I to complain?