Friday, August 12, 2011

J. Christopher Cortez Interview

1: What is the most productive time of the day for you to write?

I like to write in the morning, hopefully after working out, but that doesn't happen too often. Sitting down, typing by the computer with a tall cup of coffee... it's rather relaxing! 

2: Do you start your projects writing with paper and pen or is it all on the computer?

A lot of times I get ideas while I'm driving or just before I fall asleep. I'll write them down in a notebook and extend the initial idea as much as I can. Sometimes I write an outline or draw an illustration. Usually I just come up with some quotes or an image of something I think is special. I take it later to the computer to actually write it out though.

3: What do you draw inspiration from?

I'm a big fan of comic books and ancient myth. I think they're able to depict human truths in such a simple and elegant way that you just can't get in other genres. They tap into our collective subconscious and pluck these marvelous symbols that describe the fundamentals of our human psyche. I think that's why they're so popular. I've tried to incorporate this concept into my fantasy work and, as a result, it's really become an existential allegory for the current political climate of ideological extremes. But you know, comic books and ancient myths-- they're just so much fun!

4: Do you set goals for yourself when you sit down to write such as word count?

Usually I try to write a chapter a day. I make sure they have some kind of beginning, middle and end. I think that makes a story more rewarding and engaging. Sometimes I get stuck and I just have to take a break. It happens. 

5: Are you a published or a self published author and how do you come up with your cover art?

I'm a self-published author. Most agents and publishers are simply not interested in the fantasy genre anymore. I blame the Eragon books.

I considered commissioning a professional artist to produce a cover, but I've tried to keep my cost as low as possible. I've studied art in school and and have dabbled in computer drawings, so I tried to come up with some illustrations on my own. I picked my favorite and turned it into a cover. I was trying to evoke the nostalgic feelings from those old 80's fantasy covers. I'm happy with the result. It looks a lot different than the other covers out there, but I think in a good way. 

6: What drives you to choose the career of being a writer?

Well, I wouldn't call it a career just yet, but here's hoping! I did a lot of research for my novel, and one of the things I came across was this bit about writing by Ray Bradbury. He compared being a writer to being in love, and I think he's absolutely right. When you start working on a project, it really is like being infatuated with someone: you think about them all the time, you're laying bed thinking about them late at night, you want to talk about them all the time. It becomes a real priority!

7: Do you own an ebook reading device?

Not yet. But I'm definitely considering getting a kindle. Those ads on TV are very convincing! “Real books are so 1999!” Books are so expensive nowadays, aren't they? However, I confess. I still get the newspaper delivered to my door. I don't think that's going to last though.

8: Who are some of your favorite authors and What are you reading now?

Ray Bradbury and Anton Checkov are two of my favorites. They write with such rich sentimentality, it's just such so charming and emotional. It really hits you. Chuck Palahnuik and Alex Garland write good stuff too. They take normal people struggling with their place in the world and then they put them in over the top situations that go far beyond the everyday. Their work is so fast-paced and engaging, you just have to keep reading. Lately, I've been reading some ebooks though. I found a real good one called Xenolith by A.Sparrow. It was a free download, and it was very well written. Very impressive for a free, self-published author. I've read stuff published by big companies that weren't as good as his work.

9: What do you think of book trailers and do you have any plans to have any?

I think they're cool! Especially the professional ones. I don't have the resources yet to make one, but if I did, I'd try to make one like a music video.

10: How did you come up with the title of your latest book?

I listen to a lot of rock music. The title of my book, “Torches” actually came from an instrumental track by a band called the Dears. Their music gives me a lot of inspiration too. This idea of bearing a torch, a flame, an aggressive passion, a legacy is one of the reoccurring themes in my book.

11: What are you working on now that you can talk about?

I'm working on a sequel to my first book. I've got a few chapters already, and I like where it's going. However, once summer's over, I go back to teaching. But that's ok. I'll be doing passive marketing on my days off until next summer.

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