Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Interview - Chris Well and "Tribulation House"

This week's CFBA tour is for Tribulation House by the talented Chris Well. I've known about Chris before his first novel, Tribulation House later this week, as well as continuing my discussion about the Christian Marketplace.

1. You write "laugh-out loud crime thrillers" with gangsters and some rougher elements. How do you deal with the CBA market informal guidelines and realistically portraying these characters? Any problems with dealing with the issue of hardened criminals and the use of cursing?

Frankly, I don't *want* to write novels that are vulgar: There is enough ugliness in the world without my *adding* to it. Yes, my stories do involve a lot of broken people making a lot of bad choices (and doing a lot of bad things), but a creative writer should be able to leave something to the imagination of the reader.

2. TH is your 3rd book. Was it harder to write your first novel, or iskeeping up with deadlines with your full-time work more challenging?

Each novel is a new journey of discovery for me -- so while some elements of the process are getting easier, each time out I am still trying to stretch for something new. If I'm not flying without a net, I am certainly playing close to the edge of the net. As such, I hope each novel is a better read -- and I hope I never become so complacent that I stop pushing to that "next place." And, yes, it is tough doing all this with a day job. But I like what I do, so that is not going to change anytime soon. (Plug: Sign up at http://www.myccm.org!/)

3. What process do you use to keep a handle on your characters and their always interesting quirks?

With these Harvest House books, I got locked into an "ensemble" format, the hardest part of which is coordinating all the different crazy people doing all the separate stories (that still have to criss-cross throughout the novel).

So ... it usually means I have to stop every 1/3 of the way or so and re-read everything before I go on. And do a lot of revising as I go. And then eventually make some sort of chart or graph or timeline, and then I write all these bullet points down on index cards ...

Let's just say that at some crucial juncture with all three --FORGIVING SOLOMON LONG, DELIVER US FROM EVELYN, and TRIBULATION HOUSE-- there was finally a point where I literally sat down with scissors and a printout and cut up all the different scenes and made everything fit in the right order. So I think you can understand why the projects I'm working on right now are limited to the single-person perspective. (And they are going WAY faster!)

4. What is your favorite comic book story arc? What is Charlie's?

Wow. Um, off the top of my head: "Unthinkable," FANTASTIC FOUR Vol. 3, #67-71 (2003), by Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo. Plus KINGDOM COME, ASTONISHING X-MEN, WATCHMEN, COMMON GROUNDS, THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS, BATMAN: STRANGE APPARITIONS, X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST ...

I like a lot of comics. (And so does Charlie.)

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