A month or so back, I caught sight of a post on my favourite authors Facebook page. It called all bloggers to sign up for this event.
The event is amazing and huge. I immediately signed up and sent a e-mail to the organisers begging them to let me have Christopher Buecheler!
We are always told that if we ‘meet’ our heroes we’ll be disappointed.
Not this time
Ok, I haven’t met Chris, but he sends lovely e-mails. I just know he’s a great guy! I’m so happy to have virtually ‘met’ him :). If he thinks I’ve forgotten that he’s offered me a signed copy of his freshly released novel ‘The Broken God Machine’, he’s sadly mistaken ;).
On with the interview:
1. The II AM Trilogy is written mostly from Two’s POV. How difficult was it for you as a male to write from a female POV?
Not terribly difficult, to be honest. I recently saw a George R. R. Martin quote about this kind of thing which I really liked. Someone asked him how he was able to write believable female characters, and he replied, “You know, I’ve always considered women to be people.”
That’s really all there is to it. I’ve known a zillion women in my life and each one has been different from the next. The idea that all women are the same and all men are the same and thus men can’t write believable female characters is just nuts. Treat them as people – unique, individual people with strengths and weaknesses, fears and hopes, loves and hates – and you’ll do fine. Maybe every single note won’t ring true for every single reader, but the majority will, and that’s good enough.
2. How on earth did you come up with the idea to create different types of vampire and their associated traits?
Truthfully, it wasn’t any one moment where I went “Oh, I gotta do this.” It was a combination of having absorbed a ton of vampire stuff since I was a kid. Considering how vampires behave differently in different stories, and thinking that multiple strains of vampirism would be a good explanation for that.
3. How long did it take you to write The II AM Trilogy?
Oh, jeez … OK, well, ‘The Blood That Bonds’ started out as a comic book I envisioned when I was in my early teens, maybe 1991. Two was a homeless girl who encountered a serial killer, realized he was a vampire, and eventually exterminated him.
When I was maybe seventeen, that morphed into a new comic – hastily drawn during breaks at a summer job – that more closely resembled the eventual novel, except the Theroen character wasn’t named Theroen, and he was the bad guy (there was no Abraham). By that point, 1994-ish, Two, Tori and Melissa/Missy were pretty much the characters they ended up being. Samantha, too. But Theroen didn’t come along until I wrote a novella version of the book at age 19 (1996).
I then left the whole thing untouched for years, and picked it back up around 2002, starting over from scratch and rewriting the story to be a full novel. I finished that up around 2004, after multiple drafts, and spent a couple of years shopping it to publishers with no luck. Finally in 2009 I cleaned it up, improved a few sections, and self-published the thing as an eBook.
By then I’d already started (and abandoned) the first draft of ‘Blood Hunt’. When TBTB took off on Kindle and people started clamoring for the sequel, I realized I had to get serious. So I finished ‘Blood Hunt’ up and release it in 2011. ‘The Children of the Sun’ followed in 2012.
So … it either took about five years, or about twenty-one, depending on how you look at it!
4. Your next novel, ‘The Broken God Machine’ is a sci-fi novel. Are you concerned that you may lose some fans due to switching genres?
Quite concerned, yes. I know a lot of fans get annoyed when an author jumps genres. I’m not a best-seller, but I do have an audience, and I do worry that they’ll be like, “Science Fiction? Eew!”
My hope is that they’ll give it a shot. I think they’ll like ‘The Broken God Machine’ even though it doesn’t have any vampires in it. I’m also hoping to attract some new readers, or win back some folks who took one look at the II AM Trilogy, dismissed it as a Twilight ripoff (which it’s obviously not) without reading it, and moved on.
We’ll have to see how sales go. If it helps, the book isn’t a “spaceships and aliens” book … it’s about as close to fantasy as Science Fiction gets. Heck, it’s even got monsters!
5. Do you plan to ever go back to writing about vampires?
I would say I plan to, exactly. I never really know what I’m going to write next until it’s time to start something new, though I always have several ideas kicking around in my head. That said, I do have a couple of ideas for books set in my vampire universe. They won’t star Two or Theroen, but they may feature some of the II AM Trilogy folks as side characters. Mainly though they will involve new people, in new places, doing new things.
There is a hint at the end of the II AM Trilogy Timeline [http://iiamtrilogy.com/timeline.php] about the next story, actually. Warning, that timeline is obviously full of spoilers for the trilogy, so read the books first!
6. How did you plot The II AM Trilogy? Did you know what was going to happen from beginning to end?
Not exactly. I would describe the plotting for the trilogy in this manner: it was like I spreading out a big map, and I stuck pushpins into certain destinations I wanted to hit (major plot points), but I didn’t specify a route to get there. I made that up as I went along. This resulted in some weird twists and turns, and actually I missed a few plot points … basically deciding on the fly that I liked some other destination better.
I wrote ‘The Blood That Bonds’ not really expecting to do a sequel, but when I decided there was more story to tell, I set to work figuring out what I wanted to accomplish. The initial plots for the next two books were quite different at the start (at one point, the Burilgi vampires were going to overrun the whole world!) but I pretty quickly figured out what story I wanted to tell and some major points that I needed to hit to get there.
‘The Broken God Machine’ was written in a similar manner, as were both of the unpublished novels I’m currently working on.
7. What made you offer ‘The Blood That Bonds’ for free for so long?
‘The Blood That Bonds’ has been free for basically its entire existence (and will always be free). It was $1 at Amazon for a short time because that was the lowest they’d let me set it, but as soon as they saw it being offered for free elsewhere, they price-matched it down. The plan was always to use it as a way to build up an audience, and then to charge money for my other work. I would say that plan succeeded well beyond my expectations!
8. What do you think of people that say that ‘All vampire novelists are attempting to ride the coattails of Twilight.’ (Or words to that effect).
I think they’re ignoring the century of vampire literature, movies, etc. that came before ‘Twilight’. I’m not riding Stephanie Meyers’ coattails … I’m riding Bram Stoker’s!
The biggest influence by far on ‘The Blood That Bonds’ is ‘Interview with the Vampire’ by Anne Rice. I didn’t read ‘Twilight’ until after I’d published TBTB and was well into ‘Blood Hunt’. Frankly, all respect to Meyer and to her success, but I didn’t enjoy ‘Twilight’ and I didn’t bother with the sequels. I won’t say mine are “better,” but I will say that I like them more.
Also, I wrote several drafts of ‘The Blood That Bonds’ years before Meyer had even started in on ‘Twilight’, so people who think it’s a rip-off can, well … bite me.
9. Is ‘The Broken God Machine’ going to be a standalone novel or is it set to become a series?
‘The Broken God Machine’ is a standalone novel, as is the book I will very likely be publishing in Fall 2014 (which doesn’t have a name yet).
10. What is your favorite and least favorite parts of the writing process?
Favorite part by a million miles is when the words are clicking, the story is pouring out of my brain, and I’m loving what I’m putting on the screen. Doesn’t happen that smoothly too often, but when it does it’s incredibly fun and gratifying. Second place is the whole second draft, which is the “easiest” – the story’s already there and now I get to replace all the crappy parts and make them good. Third place is working with illustrators on the covers, a process I love.
Least favorite? Formatting the manuscript for print. So annoying! Much, much worse than formatting the eBooks. I also don’t love final edit incorporation just because by then I’m usually totally sick of the book and have convinced myself it’s complete and utter crap that everyone will hate. The stress of getting everything out the door on time is also not much fun. So basically the last three months or so before the book’s launch pretty much suck.
11. What do you do for fun?
Lots of things! I am a student of cocktail history and mixology (I run a nightly cocktail blog, DrinkShouts, at http://drinkshouts.com) and read a lot of books on that subject. I also brew beer, follow the NBA and the NFL, and play plenty of video games. I manage to fit some novels, movies and TV in there, too. Sometimes I even find time to play my guitars.
I also love to travel (and explore areas close to home) with my wife!
12. Do you have a favourite book or author?
I have read more Stephen King than any other author, and he is probably the single greatest influence on my “voice” as a writer. I won’t argue that he’s high literature, but he tells a good story, and that’s always been what matters to me most. Other favorites include early Anne Rice, Tolkien, some of Arthur Miller and Tennessee Williams’s plays, Christopher Moore, Cormac McCarthy, George Orwell, early Michael Crichton, and many others.
If you asked me to pick the best book I’ve ever read, I might well choose Lord of the Flies by William Golding. It’s pretty much perfect in every way. If I ever wrote anything half that good, I’d die happy.
13. ‘The Broken God Machine’ launched on the 1st of September. Are you writing anything at the moment?
Oh, absolutely. As I mentioned above, I already have the first draft of next year’s release finished. It still needs a lot more work, of course, but I’m pretty happy with it. The book is set in the near future and is a revenge thriller – probably the darkest novel I’ve written since ‘The Blood That Bonds’.
I am also working on a set of Young Adult books in the Harry Potter vein. I expect there to be five books in that series. I have finished the first draft of the first one and will shortly be starting on the second draft. No publication date for those, yet. I think I’m going to shop the series to publishers.
14. The e-book covers for ‘The II AM Triology’ are out of this world. How involved were you in the process of creating them and who was the designer?
I was very involved. I handle all of the production of my books – both print and eBooks – myself. That includes hiring and managing illustrators for the covers, working with a professional editor, doing the layout of the covers, and creating the actual print templates and eBook files.
Adrian Dadich [http://adriandadich.tumblr.com/] did the cover for The Blood That Bonds, and Karla Ortiz [http://karlaortizart.blogspot.com/] did the covers for Blood Hunt and The Children of the Sun. Tomasz Jedruszek [http://morano.pl/] painted the cover for The Broken God Machine. They’re incredibly talented and I’m grateful I had the chance to work with them all. Taking a cover from “here’s a couple of ideas” to a finished illustration is a lot of fun! Once we get to that point, I take their paintings and put together all the text and other cover elements in Photoshop. This is an area where my job as a web designer really helps!
15. What advice would you give to any author just setting out on the road to self-publishing?
Prepare for lots of really hard work, and then work really hard!
It’s a cliché to say it, but you get out of things what you put into them. If you rush out an unedited first draft, you stand much less of a chance of building an audience then if you take your time, work with editors, and make sure you’ve crafted a professional product. It’s the only way you’re going to stand out amidst the ocean of indie books out there.
I’ve put thousands of hours into my novels, and that’s just counting the ones that have been published … I started writing when I was eleven, and I’ve been doing it ever since. You have to be willing to write and write and write just to get to a point where you can produce something worth giving a second draft. That’s just how it is. If you love it, though, you’ll keep at it, and eventually you’ll be good at it.
Also, read. A lot. You can’t be a good writer without reading a lot.
To purchase Christophers amazing work:
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Christopher Buecheler is a professional web designer & developer, a published author, an award-winning amateur mixologist, a brewer of beer, a player of the guitar and drums, and an NBA enthusiast.
He lives a semi-nomadic existence with his wonderful French wife, Charlotte and their two cats, Carbomb and Baron Salvatore H. Lynx II. Currently they reside in Providence, Rhode Island.
You can visit him at http://cwbuecheler.com/
For the chance to win Christopher’s books please enter our joint giveaway.
As well, my own book.
The Indie-credible event is also hosting there own amazing giveaway with a prize worth $300!