Thursday, August 05, 2010
By Chris Well
About the book:
WHAT'S THE WORST THAT COULD HAPPEN?
What's a grouchy old man to do when two women drag him from his assisted-living apartment to a clandestine chili party? He almost has fun -- until someone drops dead. But Earl Walker is the only one suspicious of the way the partygoer met his demise. Can he solve the puzzle -- and figure out his relationship with his new lady friend -- before the state shuts down the home and all the suspects move away?
DOWNLOAD THE FIRST CHAPTER FREE
About the author:
An award-winning magazine writer and editor, Chris is founding editor of FamilyFiction, a news source launching Fall 2010 with a bimonthly digital magazine, weekly email newsletter, and comprehensive website. He has also edited and/or contributed to the likes of Bill and Gloria Gaither’s Homecoming magazine, CCM magazine, Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, and, yes, Christian Bride.
Welcome, Chris. How much of yourself do you write into your characters?
I think for me, to some extent, all fiction writing is simply a sophisticated variation of the kind of play-acting we do as kids. So I’m pretending to be other people, because I don’t know how else to figure out what they’d do in a given situation. Even so, some characters are more “me” than others ... in my earlier books, Det. Charlie Pasch was a kind of caricature of me. (But he’s in much better fighting shape.)
What’s the quirkiest thing you’ve ever done?
It depends on what you mean by “quirky.” Probably the geekiest thing is that every month or so I have friends over to watch a movie with a giant monster in it. (Usually something Japanese.) I’m sure I’m guilty of geekier things, but that’s all that comes to mind right now.
When did you first discover you were a writer?
In the first grade, I wrote a Christmas story for class -- that’s the earliest I remember really connecting with storytelling as words on paper. (Of course, in the first grade I also thought that I could grow up to be Batman, like it was just another occupation like accountant or sales clerk.) In the third grade, I read one of my stories to the class and they liked it so much they applauded. That sealed the deal for me.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
What other fiction have you written, whether published or not?
My wife, Erica, and I collaborate on the comic strip serial Best Mann for the Job. It stars Grace Mann, a woman with a complicated past who goes back home to Hope Falls to serve as the small town’s new sheriff. That updates weekly online at http://www.titletrakk.com/ .
My second Earl Walker mystery, Burying the Hatchet, comes out January. The third one is scheduled to come out July 2011.
I also have three crime thrillers in the Kansas City Blues series -- Forgiving Solomon Long (2005), Deliver Us From Evelyn (2006), and Tribulation House (2007). They’re sort of comedy-mobster-police procedurals. And one is (sort of) an end-times thriller.
I’m currently working on a couple of different manuscripts right now, which occupy that space between my Kansas City shoot-em-ups and my new whodunit-driven series.
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
My wife keeps me grounded, as does my church family. And I have always found a powerful shelter in stories – reading them, watching them, and writing them.
How do you choose your characters’ names?
I wish I had a better system. Coming up with good names is hard. I usually make some kinds of list – people I know, names listed in credits of TV shows, names in the phonebook, sometimes names with certain meanings – and then change them into something different. (If only for legal reasons.) My process uses way more math than necessary.
What accomplishment are you most proud of?
At the moment, being part of this big launch for FamilyFiction. It’s a news source for Christian fiction. As a magazine editor over the years, I’ve been part of a lot of good product launches – but this one has me more excited that just about any of them. It’s the culmination of everything I’ve done professionally ‘til now. Folks can sign up for our weekly email newsletter and bimonthly digital magazine at http://www.familyfiction.com/
If you were an animal, which would you be, and why?
Probably a bear. Because you get to eat and sleep and everyone is afraid to wake you up. That would come in handy at the office.
What’s your favorite food?
I love toasted ravioli. Back when I lived in the St. Louis area, you could find it pretty much anywhere. Until I moved away, I never realized now how much I took toasted ravioli for granted.
What problem with writing was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
My biggest problem has been and continues to be time management. I allow way too many things to take up my time. (And I have SO many stories in my head tying to get out.) Any time I am able to shut it all out and focus on one story at a time, it goes much better.
What advice would you give to an author just starting out?
Do the work. Pay your dues. Stop looking for shortcuts. Finish every story. Remember that nobody owes you anything. Keep going until you get published. And then keep writing.
What would you like to tell us about the featured book?
It was a thrill to write my first real-deal mystery in the classic vein of Nero Wolfe and and Murder, She Wrote. It was also a lot of fun getting to know my protagonist, Earl Walker. Over the course of Nursing a Grudge and the next two books, his journey really gets him to a different place -- while he (eventually) ends up in a happy place, I drag him there in the most awkward, most humiliating way possible. It’s great to hear that so many readers enjoy getting to know Earl.
How can readers find you on the Internet?
Chris, thanks for dropping by.
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