Author interview with steampunk writer Chris Stocking

Chris Stocking’s blog Write to Perfect has thoughtful, articulate posts about writing that I’ve found useful, so we decided to do a little interview exchange. Currently, Chris is in school, majoring in journalism with a minor in English. He loves science-fiction and fantasy fiction and has written one science-fiction novel, a fantasy novella, and is working on his steampunk series.

How did you become a literary being? That is, how did you know you wanted to be a writer?

For as long as I can remember I’ve been writing basic little stories that were, in a way, fan-fiction of the fantasy books I was reading, and still do read. I never took it very seriously, though. I do remember one particular story I was working on; I was so proud of it. I remember it being Arial Narrow font size 8, and over 30 pages. I also remember how devastated I was when I lost it. But, I didn’t really know I wanted to be a writer until I had a dream, (cliché, I know), which would later be the main basis for my first book, ESTRA Corp., which is now retired.

What are the facets of steampunk? What (if any) sub-genres do you employ?

I fell in love with Steampunk a few months ago. It’s a mixture of science-fiction and fantasy in that takes places in the Wild West, Victorian London, or in the future. The basis of it is that many, if not all machines are powered by steam. So, gears, cogs, inventions, and “devices” play a large role in these books. The fantasy elements can consist of magic, or fey creatures. For example, in my upcoming novel, “London Darkness: Infernal Inventions,” the main character, Ryker, has red eyes, and a watch sewn into the palm of his hand; and his best friend, Wendell, is a gnome.

Do you listen to music while writing? Do you have writing schedule?

It depends. Sometimes I’ll turn on some music when I write; but I find that, on occasion, I end up spending more time singing along to music than writing.

I don’t have a writing schedule, but it is a fantastic idea. However, because my shifts at work aren’t consistent, and because I do go to college, I can’t really pick out a certain time to write, unless it’s very late at night or very early in the morning.

Since you are a student, have you found that other parts of your education assist in your ability to write?

Because I major in Journalism, it’s a little different. AP style certainly does not apply to writing books. My newswriting teacher referred to writing books as “feel-good writing,” which doesn’t work for journalism. But, the simple practice of writing does help. I also minor in English, so that helps more than my Journalism major does.

What book(s) are you currently reading?

I’m currently reading Showdown by Ted Dekker. I started reading it in high school but never finished it, so I thought I would take a break between Catching Fire and Mockingjay and finally read it.

How would you characterize your voice? If you were to be compared with another writer, who would your work most resemble?

I’d like to think that I have a semi-dark, sarcastic voice. Not as dark as, say, Poe, but the kind of dry-humored dark. It’s really a bit complicated for me to explain, apparently.

What are the downfalls of being a writer? How do you feel society approaches authors?

One of the major downfalls of being a writer is dealing with writers block, inspiration, and time management. I don’t care what anyone says—everyone gets writers block. Inspiration can be tough to deal with because it shows up at random, and you have no idea how long it will last. And time management is very difficult in the sense that writers are busy people. Many of us don’t live off our writing, and some have families. They are forced to deal with work, a husband/wife, offspring, personal health, and writing all at the same time. That can be very difficult.

As for society, I recently posted on my blog about how someone at work asked me where they could buy my book, and a friend of theirs immediately asked “You wrote a book? Why do you still work here? Shouldn’t you be famous?” I think this is one of the biggest misconceptions. People automatically assume that just because someone wrote a book, they should be famous.

What’s the best writing environment for you?

Wherever I can bring my laptop. As long as my computer is charged, I can write. Certainly environment factors how much I write. For example, I’ll get nearly nothing written if I have the television on and I’m trying to write. But for the most part, I can write basically anywhere. In fact, I often find that I write best in class, which I suppose it’s the greatest of places to write.

Favorite author, favorite book, favorite band.

Favorite author: Margaret Weis. I was fortunate enough to be able to interview her, which was very exciting for me.

Favorite book: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

Favorite Band: Opeth. I have the band name tattooed on my chest.

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