Today's post, we have the pleasure of hearing answers from author, Robert Chazz Chute! We enjoyed reading his responses. Thank you very much to Robert Chazz Chute for answering our interview questions! 1. What inspired you to write this book? Answer: I'm best known for apocalyptic epics but I enjoy writing crime thrillers, too. They're easier than all the research I do for science fiction so my latest is The Night Man. Lots of action and good fun. 2. Can you tell me about the book? Answer: A wounded soldier returns home to rural Michigan. All he wants to do is train dogs but an old girlfriend shows up and he gets mixed up in his dad's shady business. Lots of intrigue and sly jokes. 3. What is your writing process like? Answer: I write full-time and devote two to four hours a day to writing novels. I write every day. 4. What did you learn when writing the book? Answer: Michigan has some weird place names and pronunciations. I've been through MI a few times so I got a feel for the area I wanted to place The Night Man. 5. What surprised you the most? Answer: Some of the twists caught me by surprise. I have a pretty good idea of what will happen but then I go off from that depending on where the action leads. 6. What does the title mean? Answer: My hero, Earnest "Easy" Jack was injured in the service and has PTSD. He's also overly sensitive to sunlight so nighttime is Easy's time. Fits with the feel of the deadliest action. b Answer: I wrote another character, Jesus Diaz, who is an enforcer for the Spanish Mob. Easy and Jesus share a lot of connective tissue. They have the same sardonic sense of humor (read: my sense of humor) 8. What do you think happened to the characters after the book ended? Answer: Easy has more adventures planned because of what happens in The Night Man. More of the same and perhaps a little wiser as he goes (but not too much wiser). 9. What advice do you have for writers? Answer: Write, work with peers or editors who are a good fit for you, rewrite, repeat, enjoy. 10. Does writing energize or exhaust you? Answer: When I'm running hot, I can go for about four hours but after that I'm trash and have to step back from the keyboard and zone out for a rest. 11. What are common traps for aspiring writers? Answer: Not writing or thinking they can make a career out of one book. They're like boxers who only headhunt instead of working the body. It's not a good strategy. 12. What is your writing Kryptonite? Answer: Too much social media can be a time suck. 13. Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym? Answer: I have a couple of pseudonyms for different brands. 14. Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want? Answer: I always try to give readers but they want but in an original way they don't expect. People aren't really sure what they want until you give it to them. Each genre has expected tropes but that's different from the cliches. For instance, my zombie apocalypse books (This Plague of Days and AFTER Life) end in very surprising ways that is counter to most books of that genre. 15. Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book? Answer: Easter eggs pop up across several of my books that reference others. That rewards the Super Readers. Casual readers won't notice. 16. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have? Answer: I've got four books banked that I'm pledged to work on this year. Due to some recent health issues, I'm off to a slower start this year than expected. 17. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book? Answer: I spend many hours cruising Wikipedia and listening to podcasts, especially for purposes of extrapolating likely threats and emerging technology when I'm writing science fiction. 18. How long were you a part-time writer before you became a full-time one? Answer: My background was in journalism. I worked freelance for magazines in the 90s. Went full-time as a novelist for a couple of years starting in 2011 and went full-time permanently last July. 19. How many hours a day do you write? Answer: Two to four. 20. What period of your life do you find you write about most often? (child, teenager, young adult) Answer: I had excellent preparation for work as a novelist: an unhappy childhood. I plumb every part of my life. Some of my heroes and heroines are in their 20s and 30s. In my current work in progress, the main character is late 40s. 21. What did you edit out of this book? Answer: Ha! All the boring stuff that didn't advance the plot. I try to do that with all my books. 22. How do you select the names of your characters? Answer: I have a Facebook fan page so people in the inner sanctum get characters named after them with permission. Sometimes I use Scrivener's name generation tool. Sometimes the name has to come to me organically. Each name has to fit just so. 23. If you didn’t write, what would you do for work? Answer: I'd be a professional starver. Writing is what I was born to do. I worked in rehabilitative medicine for a long time but that was confining. I was good at it but it was not in line with my true calling. 24. What was your hardest scene to write? Answer: My mother's eulogy. Fight scenes are easy to write. Sex scenes are hard to write to get the level right. Sex scenes can sound goofy really easily. 25. What is your favorite childhood book? Answer: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. My favorite childhood memory is getting that book for Christmas. I curled up with that book and a big box of Smarties. 26. How long on average does it take you to write a book? Answer: It varies. I wrote Bigger Than Jesus in one month. This Plague of Days took close to three years. Now I'd say the average is closer to three months plus the editorial process. 27. Do you believe in writer’s block? Answer: I believe other people when they tell me they have it. I'm immune. Sometimes I'm lazy but I hope that's not the same thing. 28. What works best for you: Typewriters, fountain pen, dictate, computer or longhand? Answer: I use Scrivener on a Macbook. Microsoft Word was made for office documents and Scrivener is excellent for organizing and editing so Word is death for me. 29. When did it dawn upon you that you wanted to be a writer? Answer: I was very young. Not sure when the bug bit me but probably about six. My big sister went off to college and left her typewriter behind. I started on that and wrote typewriter the way it sounds: type-brighter. 30. How hard was it to sit down and actually start writing something? Answer: Not hard as long as I don't go down the social media rabbit hole. Fear and spite keep me going at it pretty hard. I have bills to pay. I can't afford to screw around much. 31. Do you aim to complete a set number of pages or words each day? Answer: I write one or two chapters a day typically. 32. Do you set a plot or prefer going wherever an idea takes you? Answer: I'm a pantser. I always have an idea of how the book will begin and end but that's usually it. I wrote an outline for This Plague of Days because the story is global and sprawling. However, even that was one sentence per chapter. If I did a deep outline I'd wander away from it, anyway. I like to surprise myself as well as readers. 33. Any tips you would like to share to overcome it? Answer: To overcome writer's block? Start writing about a character and find out what they want. Then comes conflict. Don't let them have what that want without a fight, and maybe not even then. 34. Do you read much and, if so, who are your favorite authors? Answer: I'm a voracious reader. I like Stephen King and a bunch of SF authors. Favorite of all time is William Goldman. He died recently and most people know him as a screenwriter. They should read his novels and his non-fiction. He was hilarious and always surprising. I went through four years of journalism school but I learned most of my writing skills from him. 35. What is the most important thing about a book in your opinion? Answer: Reader engagement. You have to keep them turning pages to find out what happens next. 36. How would you feel if no one showed up at your book signing? Answer: Awful. 37. Do you recall the first ever book/novel you read? Answer: No, but it might have been The Wind in the Willows. 38. How much of yourself do you put into your books? Answer: A lot. My humor, parts of my life history, frustrations and fears. 39. Who are your books mostly dedicated to? Answer: My family. My wife and kids sacrificed a lot financially and lost a lot of time with me while I got my writing career off the ground. 40. Who is the most supportive of your writing in your family? Answer: My kids think it's cool but my wife supported me most as far as taking up financial slack, especially in the beginning. That's the family I made. The one I came from doesn't understand or care what I do. 41. Writers are often believed to have a Muse, your thoughts on that? Answer: When the river of words runs fast it often does feel like I'm taking dictation. I think that's just tapping into the flow between the conscious and unconscious mind. It's not a naked cherub hanging out in the background giving me ideas. 42. Another misconception is that all writers are independently wealthy, how true is that? Answer: Ha! Very few writers make serious money. There are outliers and with the advantageous percentages in self-publishing, there are more happy and comfortable writers than there have ever been. It's a tough go for most. 43. Is it true that authors write word-perfect first drafts? Answer: I'm sure there's somebody out there who'd claim that. It's probably a myth. I take two or three stabs at it. I find a lot of opportunities to add clarity and jokes with the second draft. I wouldn't ever publish my first draft. Even my editor doesn't see the first draft. 44. Did any of your books get rejected by publishers? Answer: I used to work in traditional publishing in Toronto. Because of that experience, I never submitted any of my work to book publishers. 45. What is your view on co-authoring books; have you done any? Answer: I'm done some partnerships and book doctoring. It has to be a good fit. Generally, I found it was nice to have someone to go through the composition process with me. It's a little like tennis. I fire a chapter at you, you lob one back. Boom, you've got a book. 46. Is writing book series more challenging? Answer: Keeping the world and characters straight across many books can be a challenge. Having a series bible is helpful to keep eye color, name spellings etc. straight. Stand-alone novels are undoubtedly easier. 47. Does it get frustrating if you are unable to recall an idea you had in your mind some time earlier? Answer: Yes, that's why keeping a story bible is helpful. I've written in series where I've totally blanked on a prime character's name and have to go back and look it up. That's also why it's probably best to write one series to completion before you get distracted by a shiny new idea for a different series. That probably makes me sound absentminded to an author of one book but if you've got a large backlist, you get it. 48. Have you ever destroyed any of your drafts? Answer: No, I hold on to them in a big filing cabinet forever. And no, I have no idea why. 49. Can you tell us about your current projects? Answer: I'm writing a Lovecraftian novel right now. It's a stand-alone and it should be out in April. The world's in peril again, but isn't it always? 50. Had any of your literary teachers ever tell you growing up that you were going to become a published writer one day? Answer: I excelled in English so yes, a couple of high school teachers saw where I was headed. I was one of those annoying kids who grew up in a very small town and announced early on that they couldn't wait to leave and seek my fortune in the big city. (I was right, by the way. Life really began when I got away.) 51. Were your parents reading enthusiasts who gave you a push to be a reader as a kid? Answer: The house was always full of books. We generally preferred the company of books to that of people. 52. Do you enjoy discussing upcoming ideas with your partner? If yes, how much do you value their inputs? Answer: I share stuff with fans as I work on later drafts. I keep my editor in the loop. My wife beta read my early books. Now, she doesn't get to read my work until I hand her a paperback with stars in my eyes and a hopeful smile. 53. Have you ever turned a dream or a nightmare into a written piece? Answer: Many times. I'm a fan of the hypnagogic state and lucid dreaming. Some of my best ideas come to me in these altered states of consciousness. Several of my books have surreal scenes and elements woven in amid the action so those experiences contribute to the puzzle pieces.
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