Thursday, September 29, 2011

Interview with Christopher Buehlman - September 29, 2011

Please welcome Christopher Buehlman to The Qwillery as part of the 2011 Debut Author Challenge interviews.

TQ:  What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

Christopher:  Perhaps it’s that I write a spare structure and layer up rather than writing in quantity and pruning. It could also be that I write ‘orally’ and always read sections aloud for rhythm and punch. But it could also be that I write in the buff while drinking mead, wearing a Viking helmet and listening to Wagner.

TQ:  Who are some of your favorite writers? Who do you feel has influenced your writing?

Christopher:  Hemingway and Fitzgerald are my favorites, which may also have nudged me towards setting my story in the 1930’s. I’m also fond of Cormac McCarthy-he has such a beautiful way of describing such gruesome events. Stephen King is seminal for me, though, as I was reading him far younger than I should have been. Maybe he taught me the what and the others taught me the how.

TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Christopher:  Ha! None of the above! Or both, if you insist. I have plot points that I sketch out, and I let the characters improvise their way between them. If the characters insist on a detour, I let them take it. Plot should come from character, never the reverse.

TQ:  Describe Those Across the River in 140 characters or less.

Christopher:  OMG Ths bk wl scr th sht out of u LOL no rlly its spooky & lush & gothic about a mn who has to nswr 4 th sins of his ancstr & hs a ht wife

TQ:  What inspired you to write Those Across The River?

Christopher:  I always wanted to write a horror novel, and finally took a stab at it in 2001. I knew the nature of the antagonists first, although I won’t discuss that here as I would prefer to let them introduce themselves to you at their leisure. Certain horrific images came to me, and soon a narrative formed itself around them. I shelved the first draft for many years and re-approached it, only now I had more life and writing experience, and a stronger bent towards the historical.

TQ:  What sort of research did you do for the novel?

Christopher:  I used all sorts of media-mostly books, the usual suspects, reading first-hand accounts of the Argonne offensive in the First World War, social histories of the Great Depression, histories about slavery and old plantations, books about PTSD and anything at all written during the period. I also leaned heavily on archival photos and newspaper articles. If you want to learn the cadence of 1930’s American speech, Turner Classic Movies is your friend. As is You Tube, should you wish to know how to start a Model A Ford in a hurry or clean a 1911 .45.

TQ:  Why did you set Those Across the River in Georgia?

Christopher:  It neighbors the state I grew up in (Florida), so I have been to and through Georgia quite a bit. I wanted the plantation in question to have harvested cotton rather than rice, indigo, sugarcane, tobacco or any of the other crops you might find in the Carolinas, say. Most importantly, however, I wanted the Savoyard plantation to be near the path of Sherman’s march.

TQ:  Who was the easiest character to write and why? Hardest and why?

Christopher:  The hardest character to write was the chief antagonist, at least until I figured out his angle. He had to have good reasons to be as bad as he was; the worst actions often come from a deep sense of moral entitlement.
The easiest was Martin Cranmer, the town’s self-educated bibliophile taxidermist, a functional alcoholic and a real wiseass.

TQ:  Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in the novel?

Christopher:  Frank and Eudora go to a nursing home to interview an old woman who actually went to the Savoyard plantation as a little girl. She doesn’t much like Eudora, and there is some wickedly funny friction between the two women. The scene also manages to convey some dreadful information-I often read that one at public events because it captures so much of the tone of the book.

TQ:  What's next?

ChristopherBetween Two Fires, coming out next Fall, is the story of a disgraced knight and a visionary little girl trying to survive in a plague-ravaged medieval France; a France that is also a battleground not only for the French and English, but for angels and devils locked in a second war for the throne of Heaven. I was unaware of the existence of a proper medieval horror novel, so I decided to write the one I wanted to read.

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

About Those Across The River

Those Across the River
Ace, September 6, 2011

Failed academic Frank Nichols and his wife, Eudora, have arrived in the sleepy Georgia town of Whitbrow, where Frank hopes to write a history of his family's old estate-the Savoyard Plantation- and the horrors that occurred there. At first, the quaint, rural ways of their new neighbors seem to be everything they wanted. But there is an unspoken dread that the townsfolk have lived with for generations. A presence that demands sacrifice.

It comes from the shadowy woods across the river, where the ruins of Savoyard still stand. Where a longstanding debt of blood has never been forgotten.

A debt that has been waiting patiently for Frank Nichols's homecoming...

About Christopher

Christopher Buehlman is a writer and performer based in St. Petersburg, Florida. He is the winner of the 2007 Bridport Prize in Poetry and a finalist for the 2008 Forward Prize for best poem (UK). He spent his twenties and thirties touring renaissance festivals with his very popular show Christophe the Insultor, Verbal Mercenary. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in French Language from Florida State University, where he minored in History. He enjoys theater, independent films, chess, archery, cooking with lots of garlic, and thick, inky, bone-dry red wines. He lives with his wife, actress Geneva Rae, and their rescued dog, Duck, who is believed to be the result of an encounter between a Shiba Inu and a Pit Bull.
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