Today's interview is with Noah Chinn, author of Bleeding Heart Yard.
Enjoy & Comment!!
What is the worst thing you’ve written, how did you learn or know it was bad, and what did you learn from it?
It's easy to go with the obvious, but it also happens to be true: my first serious attempt at a novel.
I was in a high school that had a final year creative writing class, and there had been a rule that if you got anything published you automatically got 100%. I spent the year before working on a cyberpunk action/adventure story which clocked in at over 120,000 words.
Not only did it not get published, but as a year-end assignment it only got 78% – 2% of which was for a bonus for effort. The teacher couldn't even be bothered to read it all, and told me so. For a long time I was indignant about that. Sure, it wasn't great literature, but I thought it was better than a lot of tripe that got published! But as time went on I realized just how wrong I was.
One of the lessons I learned was that all stories have to be about something. It can't just be about what happens, but the characters it happens to.
I think Arthur C Clark said that he remembered his first attempt at a book, but was very glad he still didn't have a copy around to haunt him. I've still got a hard copy of my first book lurking in my files, reminding me just how bad I used to be.
Why did you start writing and when did you decide to go professional?
In my own limited way I considered myself far sighted. Unlike many professions, with a bit of luck writing is something you can do to the day you die. And of course I loved reading good stories, so why wouldn't I want to create my own?
Technically, I decided to go professional in high school, because I sent that first novel I mentioned to a half dozen major publishers. I apologize profusely to whoever was in charge of their slush piles at that time. After that it was a matter of making half-hearted and whole-hearted attempts with short stories and articles year after year until the rejections started getting replaced with acceptances.
Do you write in more than one genre? Which ones and which do you like the best?
I've currently got four complete novels in various stages of polishing, and another in the works. Each one is in a completely different genre from the others: urban fantasy, post-Apocalypse, light mystery, romance, adventure... the only thing they have in common is comedy, which I can't seem to shake no matter how hard I try. I can't stand the idea of being serious for eighty-thousand words.
I suppose the genres I like most are the ones that make life more interesting in my mind. Science fiction, fantasy, mystery, adventure. I'm a sucker for a strong romantic sub-plot in any genre as well.
Do you read other author’s books when you’re writing? If so, do you read the same genre or something different?
I think I need to read while I'm writing to help keep me motivated. Generally doing one long enough will make me want to switch over to the other anyway. I know some writers are worried about reading the same genre because they're afraid of unconsciously plagiarizing what they read, but I don't think that's really a concern.
What is the most difficult part of the entire writing process for you? Queries, pitches, editing..etc.
Funny you should put queries and pitches up first. Yes, as frustrating as writing a story and editing can be, it's a cakewalk compared to trying to write a good proposal, or create a synopsis of the book summarizing ALL the events to a few pages and still make it sound good. You just spent all your time trying to make a big fleshed out world, then you have to make it bite sized. No matter how many times I do it, I hate it. It never sounds good enough.
If you're a starting writer trying to get your first book published it's even worse, because you'll always blame that for why a publisher or agent won't give your finished masterpiece a chance.
If you could have the same type of career as any author currently publishing who would it be and why?
Obviously any author who can make writing novels their primary job. It's not about the money, but the freedom to spend as much time as you like doing it (rather than constantly balancing it against work and other concerns). Getting specific, I'd probably say someone like Stephen King. Not because of his choice of genres, but because it's clear no matter what he's writing he's always writing what he enjoys. You can't ask for more than that.
Noah Chinn was born in Oshawa, Ontario, and has never really forgiven it for that. After high school he fled his hometown in favour of the freezing winters of Ottawa. Three years later it dawned on him that higher education and frostbite did not have to go hand in hand, and finished his degree in Toronto.
Learn More: http://noahjdchinnbooks.com/