Monday, October 27, 2014

AMONG THE STACKS: C Michael Powers

Abry:  Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Chris:  I was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, but because of divorced parents, I moved all over the country. From a young age, I had a wild imagination.  If I got bored of my toys, I'd search for newspapers or magazines and cut images out of them to create my own worlds.  While my friends played war with their action figures, I'd pretend my living room was a foreign planet, my sofas were mountain ranges, my floors were hot lava, and my GI Joes were in danger of being bitten by their buddies and turned into zombies.  I didn't mind getting in trouble and being grounded because it meant more time building insane worlds with my toys.

I grew up and joined the army, where I met my beautiful Panamanian wife (in Alaska of all places).  We moved to South Florida and Chicago and Columbus, Ohio, and eventually settled down with our four amazing kids in the country of Panama.  It's funny, I had to leave my own country to realize my dream.  I was always so busy back home.  Here, I've started writing novels and even have my own website about living as a foreigner in Panama.

I'm a lot like the characters in my first dark fantasy series, Mirror Images.  I'm a nice, fun loving, caring guy who just wants to be a successful author and take care of my family.  My mirror image is a deranged writer who constructs odd worlds and invents insane characters to entertain my readers.

Cordelia Windygale:  What are five things most people don't know about you?

Chris:  Five?  That's tough.  I'm kind of an open book.  Well ... here we go.

1. When I was a young kid, I was terrified of porcelain dolls.  I had to live with my grandmother for a little while, way out on a dark country road, and she had porcelain dolls all over her house.  I nearly pissed myself to sleep every freakin' night.

2. I love musicals.  Oliver is probably my favorite, but I like everything from Oklahoma to Grease and Moulin Rouge.  I have to admit I even kind of liked Glee.  I wrote a musical once (a screenplay). That was fun.

3. My favorite ice cream is mint chocolate chip.  When I was in the U.S. Air Force and was sent to Saudi Arabia, there was this little Baskin Robins trailer on base.  Everyone else was busy in the gym losing weight.  I was probably the only person in Saudi getting fatter because I kept buying mint chocolate chip shakes every day.

4. I have this ridiculous thing about me where I can't seem to wait for the toaster to finish with my toast.  It's like I have a serious distrust for my toaster.  So I pop my toast up several times to check on it and usually end up burning my toast in the process.  It's kind of the same with the toilet.  I like to flush the toilet before I'm finished peeing and then race to see if I can finish peeing before it finishes flushing.  I always have to flush the damned thing twice.  You guys are going to think I'm a total nutcase, huh?

5. I played high school football.  That's no secret to the people who know me.  The secret is I knew nothing about football.  I never watched it on TV.  I was sitting in Algebra class one day when the announcement came over the loud speaker.  Anyone wishing to try out for the team needed to go to the cafeteria.  I'd never in my life considered playing football.  In the movies and TV shows they always got the hottest girls.  That was my first thought when I heard the announcement.  My second was, "This will get me out of this class right now."  So I tried out for the team, made the team and played all four years of high school.  I was good enough to play, but not good enough to go anywhere with it.  I was slow.  Ha, speaking of slow, I remember our coach telling us we had to play some other sport in the offseason.  I joined the track team.  Wanna know the reason why?  Because the coach brought gigantic bags of bananas to the practice and track meets.  I'd sit there with my best friend, Brian, and just eat banana after banana (thing #6 about me would be that I love bananas, I think I could've been a monkey in Mexico in my past life because I love Mexican food and I love bananas).  Brian and I would only get off the bleachers to go participate in our event, which we'd both always lose.  We were both too slow.  Then we'd head back to the bag of bananas.

Abry:  What is the first book you remember reading?

Chris:  The first book I remember reading was Tales of a 4th Grade Nothing by Judy Blume.  I loved that book.  That and The Boxcar Children.  The first book I read on my own was The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton.  She was my favorite author as a teenager.  I read all of her books.

Cordelia Windygale:  What are you reading now?

Chris:  I'm reading The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks right now and I have to ay that it is a seriously badass book.  I saw his name on a list of the best modern fantasy writers and thought I'd check out one of his books.  I'm so glad I did.  I'm a big fan of George R.R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire books and this one reminds me of those.  I just saw that it's coming out as a graphic novel soon.  I'm snatching it up as soon as it does.

Abry:  What made you decide you want to write?  When did you begin writing?

Chris:  I loved typing.  As soon as I learned to type without looking at the keys, I wanted to touch any keyboard I came across.  I'd even sit on the bus on the way to football games and pretend the seat back in front of me was a computer.  Everyone else was trying to concentrate on the big game and I was punching out fake stories on my imaginary keyboard.  I started writing my first book when I was visiting my grandfather in Oklahoma.  My dad and younger brother went out fishing and I stayed home with my sleeping grandpa.  I found his old typewriter in a back bedroom and started playing around with it.  From that moment on, I never stopped writing.

Cordelia Windygale:  Do you have a special place you like to write?

Chris:  I don't right now.  I wish I did.  When I lived in the suburbs of Chicago and commuted to the city every day, my favorite place to write was Starbucks just down the street from the old fire house on Michigan Ave.  I can't remember the name of the street, but I'd spend each morning writing in that Starbucks.  I finished a couple of screenplays there.  My dream place is up in the mountains somewhere with a window looking out on that beautiful mountain scenery.  I live in the country of Panama and I've seen places like that in the mountain towns here, so eventually, I'll find that dream place and make it mine.

Abry:  Do you have any quirks or processes that you go through when you write?

Chris:  Not really.  I write anywhere I can.  I'm always juggling more than one story as it's hard for me to stay focused on one long enough.  As soon as a fresh idea pops into my head, I feel the need to at least get that story started.  Then I'll go back to my main work in progress.  My only quirk is I love to hear movie scores or nice, dramatic instrumental music.  Music with lyrics distracts me.

Cordelia Windygale:  Where do the ideas for your books come from?

Chris:  I don't know.  But I can't seem to stop them.  I have about 80 ideas written down.  I've recently started writing novellas because I have so many ideas and not all of them would make sense in a big 500 page novel.  I love the novella idea (which was actually sparked by the writer of this blog *thanks Meghan*) because it allows me to put these fresh ideas on paper without forcing them into longer stories.

Abry:  What books have most inspired you?

Chris:  I think the S.E. Hinton books inspired me because they were the first books I read where people seemed real.  Her characters felt like real teenagers with real problems.  Stephen King is an inspiration because the man just doesn't stop writing.  Holy cow.  If I can ever have as many published works as that guy, I'll feel so accomplished.  Also, I have to say I've found a new inspiration in George R.R. Martin.  His ability to make you step into his world is just astonishing.  His character development is like nothing I've ever read.  You care as much about the bad guys as you do about the good guys.  He's awesome.  And someone else who inspired me was the author Patricia Cornwell.  I met her when I was a security guard at a Tiffany & Co. in Boca Raton, Florida.  One of the sales professionals told her I was a writer.  I didn't know who she was at the time, but she walked over to me, extended her hand, and introduced herself.  She even gave me her agent's contact info.  That is cool.  The agent ended up wanting nothing to do with me, but I'll never forget that this famous author was kind enough and down-to-earth enough to introduce herself to me and try to help me out.  If you happen to be a fan of The Gal, Patricia, thanks so much for that moment.

Cordelia Windygale:  Is there anything about writing you find most challenging?

Chris:  Yes, getting published.  Ha!  Well, now with self-publishing that's easy, but getting recognized for your work is hard to do without one of the big publishers backing you.  Marketing is a bitch.  As a writer, and I'm sure most writers feel this way, I just want to write.  Nowadays, being a writer is so much more.  You have to be good with social media and other marketing avenues.  It's tough.  Writing is the fun part.  Also, I'm still learning to thicken my skin.  I'm a person, just an average Joe trying to put my imagination down on virtual paper, and it stings when I read negative reviews.  It's part of the game and it's part of the process.  It strengthens me as a writer, but some reviewers are just downright mean and that's definitely a challenging part of being a writer.

Abry:  What do you think makes a good story?

Chris:  Whoa, that's a tough one, Meghan.  I'll just say what I enjoy in a story.  I like action and a story that keeps flowing.  I don't like getting bogged down in too much detail.  I  hate having to read the same page several times.  When that happens, I'll either put down the book or skim forward a few pages.  With my writing, I try to keep the action/horror going.  I don't use a lot of big and fancy words.  I just want to tell my story and give my readers a good time.

Cordelia Windygale:  Which, of all your characters, do you think is the most like you?

Chris:  I guess I'd have to say Gabe.  Gabe is a nice guy just trying to live a normal life.  He's genuine.  He loves his woman.  His alter ego, his image from the other side of the mirror, Cutter, is who I wish I could be sometimes when one of these crazy Panama taxi drivers cuts me off.  He's a mean spirited son of a bitch.

Abry:  Why did you pick your particular genre?

Chris:  I  have a hard time nailing down my genre.  I've stuck with dark fantasy because it seems like the closest thing to what I'm trying to accomplish.  Most of the stories I've either written or plan to write are dark, edgy, sometimes horrific, and always action-packed.  None so far contain werewolves or vampires or ogres or elves.  So urban fantasy and regular ol' epic fantasy don't seem to match what I'm writing.  So I'll just stick with dark fantasy for now.  I started writing in this genre because it's the style I enjoy myself.  Weeks' The Way of Shadows (the one I mentioned I'm reading right now) is close to the genre I'm looking for, if it had a little more craziness in it.  I like monsters and supernatural elements and violence and sex and everything wrapped up in a dark and insane world.  The first Sin City movie would fit in the genre I'd like to be part of.  What genre would that be?

Cordelia Windygale:  What makes your books different from others out there in this genre?

Chris:  Uh oh.  I think I accidentally answered this question in the previous question.  What makes mine different is I'm not afraid of mixing elements together.  You might see a cowboy and monster with two heads and the Easter Bunny all fighting side by side.  I haven't written that yet.  Let me jot that down real quick.  If I were to write and direct my own movie, it would have elements of horror, lots of action, maybe some romance, and a little bit of comedy.  I would want people to leave the theater saying, "What the fuck was that?  I just don't ... what ... that was so fucking cool."  If I can get that reaction from people, then I'll be happy.

Fluta:  How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

Chris:  Honest.  Loving.  Zany.

Abry:  What can we expect from you in the future?

Chris:  You can definitely expect the last 3 books in the Mirror Images series, plus a few dark fantasy, stand-alone books (with possible sequels), and a lot of horror novellas.  I think you guys are gonna love the books I have in mind (several of which I've already begun writing).  I've even found myself thinking, "Where do you come up with this shit?"

Cordelia Windygale:  Where can we find you?

Chris:  You can find me at Baskin Robins, Mexican restaurants, banana farms and at the following places:

About the author:
C. Michael Powers loves bending imagination, twisting emotions, and revving up mental motors to create dark, horrifying, and fantastical stories sure to shock and surprise his readers.  He enjoys juggling novels,  novellas, and screenplays, to keep the stories fresh and to keep the shackles on that dreaded writer's block dragon that dwells somewhere deep down in the basement.  
            Oh, and when he's not busy trying to sound super cool and artistically impressive here in this virtual world, he hangs out with his wife and four kids in the country of Panama, where he also works on his website, sharing his experiences with others thinking of making the move overseas.
            Wait, a few more things, he also likes baked ziti, peanut butter and jelly, cold beer, horror movies, country music (when he's not writing), movie scores (when he is writing), girls who wear glasses (sorry honey, but your eyesight is just too good for me), and the new Looney Tunes show (that Daffy Duck is friggin' hilarious).
            He hates bullies, green olives, room-temperature milk, v-neck t-shirts, and getting those messages on Facebook that want him to prove how good of a friend he is by copying and pasting and sharing the message (WTH, he's a great friend!).
            Okay, enough about this egotistical bastard.

1 comment:

taniekitty said...

Great interview! Mint chocolate chip is the best ice cream flavor in the world.