Friday, May 27, 2011

Up Close & Personal with Author Christopher Thompson

Where do you call home?

Kempner, Texas. Little town near Fort Hood.

What is your book about?

It is about a lot of topics, really, as most poetry anthologies are. I focus mostly on love and loss in there, as both tend to be jarring on the heart, but I make sure to include hope in many of them as well as some humor where appropriate.

If you gave some of your characters an opportunity to speak for themselves, what would they say?

Normally, a poetry author would have to skip this question due to not really having ‘characters, per se, but some of the poetry was actually written from the point of view of a recurring character in some of my unpublished stories as well as an upcoming trilogy. With that being said:

“The heart is a strange thing as it controls the senses and, in turn, sense itself. It can make us blind and deaf to the faults and flaws of others or make us focus on them in microscopic detail. It can make us lose sight of ourselves or see things within us that others may never see.. In that end, I think that poetry truly comes from the heart as its meter and scheme often matches the steady beat of emotion’s drum for both writer and reader alike.” – Aerin Penna Seleratus

Do you have plans for a new book?

Several. My primary work in progress is called the “Gardener of Eden” trilogy and is a supernatural thriller. I also write screenplays and am doing a revision on one of them, a romantic comedy called “Saving Throw” which has been called “a chick flick for geek girls”. Altogether, I have ten or eleven projects on my plate, ranging from fiction and non-fiction to other screenplays. It isn’t as overwhelming as it seems – having a buffet to choose from for the day’s writing helps keep writer’s block at bay.

What inspired you to write your book?

The responses of my readers over the years has been the leading inspiration to publish, really. The titular poem “Breakfast Anytime”, for instance, has been very popular with readers. Knock on wood, I have never had a bad review of that poem or any of the others that I have received feedback on.

“Breakfast Anytime”, the poem itself, was written with my late maternal grandparents in mind. I had the bittersweet ‘honour’ of eulogizing each of them, being the eldest grandchild on that side of the family, speaking on behalf of not only the grandchildren but great-grandchildren as well, and each time I did so, family would remark on how I should turn to writing as a profession.

I think that it is feedback like that and the thought of my grandparents’ wishes mirroring that of their descendants, that made the publication of the anthology an imperative.

Would you like to be contacted by readers to do book reviews?

Certainly. I would be honoured.

How did you come up with the title and cover design?

The title comes from two sources, really – both were the inspiration for the titular poem. One of my fondest memories of my late grandparents was going out to their favourite diner for Sunday breakfasts – usually just them and the grandkids, leaving Mom and Dad some time to rest – and it seemed like they always ordered the same thing when they went. Being kids, we always pulled the “I’ll have the same” card, sharing that bond with them through the experience. I wrote “Breakfast Anytime” in a diner after seeing the dish on the menu and ordering it. Like many diners, the menu offered breakfast service around the clock.

The second inspiration for the title comes from a joke by the comedian Steven Wright who quipped about the diner practice of breakfast being served at all hours. “The menu said ‘breakfast anytime’, so I ordered French toast during the Renaissance.” As sad as I was in that diner, the joke had put an odd thought into my head instead of making me laugh, wishing that I could order that special dish to be served “...while my grandparents were alive.” So that I could share one more meal with them.

As for the cover design, it was a natural flow when I picked Breakfast Anytime” to be the book title as well, and I played around with several diner-themed concepts before settling on the menu cover. My mother was one of my first test readers and while she had read a few of my poems, she had never read them all and expressed obvious concern over the mature content of some of the poetry. She wasn’t being a prude, mind you, but rather erring on the side of caution just in case people like my childhood pastor’s wife (who is still a good family friend) or others wanted to read it without being offended.

It was in that mindset that I created and published an edited copy of the book which was subtitled “Family-Friendly Edition”, the cover incorporating more of the diner theme such as a waitress’ short-order sheet bearing the subtitle and a pack of crayons often given to children to play with while the food is being cooked.

Have you based any of your characters on someone you know, or real events in your own life?

Oh most certainly, especially with the poetry. When people read through the book and see a name – with the exception of the characters in “Daddy’s Tears” – the name is that of a real person, be they past lovers, friends, or someone I met just once. For that matter, I was not being cheesy when I named the waitress in “Breakfast Anytime”...her real name was Lois and she was excellent.

What books have most influenced your writing most and why?

I write and read multiple genres and on the reading side alone, I span contemporary and classics. With that in mind, my greatest influences have been William Shakespeare, Walter Jon Williams, William Gibson, and the eternal oddball Douglas Adams.

Is there an Author that you would really like to meet?

Walter Jon Williams, most definitely. His title “Voice of the Whirlwind” is such a favourite that my dad actually seemed to feel a little worried about borrowing it when I asked him to return it and not to just drop it off at a book drop, thinking that we were both done with it. It is great sci-fi with a writing style that rivals William Gibson’s. I would love to have a sit-down with Walter and get to know more about his processes and inspirations as well as shamelessly offer up anything that it would take to get him to write a sequel to the book as the main character is a clone who could, given the money and inclination, live indefinitely.

Do you prefer ebooks, paperbacks or hardcovers?

My hands and eyes love the look and feel of a paperback or hardcover – I really have no preference between the two. My aging knees and spine, given the number of times that I have changed houses, have told my hands and eyes to go stuff themselves and politely requested that I re-buy many of my favoured titles as ebooks before the next move.

Have you ever read a book more than once?

Quite often. There are many titles, in fact, that I have had to buy more than once due to re-reading them to the point of their eventual decay. Thankfully, I have been able to buy two of my favoured series, The Chronicles of Narnia and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy in sturdier compilation volumes after the individual title books in the series went the way of all flesh.

Is there a particular movie that you preferred over the book version?

Twilight, but only because if RiffTrax, a humorous audio track which synchs up with the film and rips at it in the same manner of the show Mystery Science Theater 3000, which is no small coincidence as it is made by the stars of MTY3K. As anyone who knows me can attest, I pretty much loathe the Twilight saga.

Now if you were thinking that I used that serious question as a window to do some Twilight bashing, you are somewhat mistaken as I am wholeheartedly a “the book was better” believer with only one noteable exception:

I am an avid movie buff and Wes Craven’s “Nightmare on Elm Street” series is among my favourites in the horror genre. The novelization of “Wes Craven’s New Nightmare” made me thirst for the writer’s blood. It is not that it was poorly written – he did an alright job of translating screen to text – but the premise of the movie is that the line between ‘fiction’ and reality is blurred, the Freddy Krueger character now hunting down the actors and actresses who had starred in the film. The author of the novelization shamelessly cashed in on this premise and Mary-Sued himself into the story, fearing that he would be next for writing a book based on the movie. COMPLETELY ruined the book for me from page one but, as I had the novelizations of all of the movies prior, my “collector’s OCD” had forced me to make the purchase.

What book are you currently reading?

The Complete Book of Scriptwriting by J. Michael Straczynski, a non-fiction title recommended to me by a friend of mine who took time out of her schedule to rip my “saving Throw” script to shreds, editing-wise, because she really wants to watch the movie and doesn’t want to see “Saving Throw” lost in a slush pile.

What book do you know that you will never read?

“WTF?!?!?: The Odd Life and Equally Baffling and Bizarre Death of Christopher M. Thompson” although I guess I can’t say ‘never’ because for Heaven to be “heaven” for me, it will HAVE to have a library.

Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest and why

Yes. Her name is Linda S. Prather and I got the chance to read an anthology of short stories that she published that had a unique presentation. The titlualr story, “Food to Die Smiling For” is an eerie little tale with the main character being a chef. The latter part of the book, after the short stories, is a cookbook containing the recipies for all of the dishes served in the titular tale. Taking the reading in small sittings (as eating all that food at once could pose problems), it is possible to have an edible IMAX experience as the descriptions of the senses literally become real via your own kitchen, allowing you to be right there in the room as a death row inmate spends a weekend in culinary heaven spoilers, sorry.

Is there anything you would change in your last book and why?

Depending on how much poetry I write within the next couple of years, I may not publish another book of poems but rather add to the existing book, fluffing up the content a bit more and adding a “Ver. X” to the title as time goes along.

Who designed the cover of your book?

I did. I like to approach my writing like a runner who sees himself crossing the finish line long before the trigger is pulled on the starter’s pistol by designing a cover to help me visualize holding the book in my grubby little hands (I do the same for movie posters for my scripts). I love to do photo manipulation and art and so it is almost as much a labor of love for me to design my cover as it is to actually write the book.

Do you have a book trailer?

I am working on one now. My original thought was to have a reading of “Breakfast Anytime” over some light music and good backgrounds, but the test read weighed in at over 4 minutes, so I am selecting another poem from the ones available in both editions of the book.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Yes. The ‘standard’ answer of ‘keep writing’ but with a twist... give yourself more than one book to work on at a time so that if you wake up one day and feel ‘blah’ about writing on Book A, Book B might give you just the change of scenery that you need to do your daily writing. As you read ealier, my works in progress are a buffet line, but I don’t suggest trying that without serious thought first as it will mean a mass of titles released back-to-back-to-back, but a release date that is further away than someone working on less.

Breakfast Anytime (Family-Friendly Edition)
Ebook Price: $1.99 USD. 3970 words. Fiction by Christopher Thompson on February 27, 2011
A selection of poetry covering a variety of topics which range from heartbreak to humor, love to loss, redemption, remembrance, and rebellion. Purposely presented without definitive grouping of the poems, "Breakfast Anytime" is designed to make the selection a literary and emotional buffet. This variant of "Breakfast Anytime" has been edited to remove poetry of darker or sexual nature.

Breakfast Anytime
Ebook Price: $1.99 USD. 5300 words. Fiction by Christopher Thompson on February 27, 2011

A selection of poetry covering a variety of topics which range from heartbreak to humor, love to loss, redemption, remembrance, and rebellion. Purposely presented without definitive grouping of the poems, "Breakfast Anytime" is designed to make the selection a literary and emotional buffet.

The poetry is written in three voices - male, female, and gender neutral, creating poetry that may be enjoyed either gender and many of the themes involving matters of the heart are ambiguous enough to work with any sexual orientation, making "Breakfast Anytime" a delightful read by anyone

Where can your readers follow you?

My blog:

My Facebook Author page:

My Goodreads profile:

Twitter: @Chaophim

Thank you very much for allowing me the chance to interview today. I really enjoyed the Q&A.

You are very Welcome Christopher, Patti

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