It’s midnight, and I’m standing in a snow-covered field, waiting for C. S. Boyack. Something howls in the distance. The light of the full moon reflecting off the snow is almost as bright as daylight. Almost. A man approaches, and I spot fur sticking out from the top of his jacket. This guy has definitely turned. I raise my arm to give the ‘fire’ signal to my marksmen. Wait, Boyack has a bushy beard. I take a closer look, and wave off the marksmen. The wind picks up, reminding me I’m not dressed warmly enough – bulky clothing would slow me down if a werewolf charged. I look down at my pad of paper and scratch out half of my questions. I want to get out of here.
Many people daydream about writing a novel, but never write anything. What was it that pushed you over the edge?
Timing and technology were the main triggers. Grown children don’t require as much hands on nurturing as young ones. I’d also acquired my first iPad. I could write a paragraph or two anytime I had a few minutes. Amazon played a role too. The ability to self publish is very freeing. I believe in getting independent opinions, but I don’t want to put out a story assembled by a committee.
Are any of your characters based on yourself, or people you know? If not, where do they come from?
They aren’t, actually. In one notable case, the main character is quite different from me. I try to write the character that works best in the story. Characters have viewpoints that may differ from my own.
Why do you write standalone novels, when all the cool kids are writing multi-book series?
I was never really one of the cool kids. I enjoy a few series myself. Mostly, I like to think I left it all on the page. I never want to feel like I held something back for the sequel. I like to read broadly, and it’s nice to finish a story and try something new. Reading a series takes a commitment from the reader.
It seems that each of your novels is in a different genre or subgenre. What is behind that?
I consider speculative fiction as one big genre. There are readers who never vary from one specific sub-genre. I like to bounce around when I read, and I guess I’m hoping there are others like me.
I’ve gotten the impression that you started writing later in life. Are there any benefits/drawbacks to that? Do you have advice for others in the same situation?
I don’t know if there is a benefit or drawback. I think someone motivated to write just has to start. I can’t get a mulligan on my twenties, so I started writing in my late forties. My advice would be to give yourself permission to write crap. You aren’t obligated to share it with the world, but you can’t get better if you don’t start. Writing improves with practice.
Have you ever published a book, then later thought of something that would have improved it?
I’m guessing the correct answer would be, “all the time.” I’ve never really experienced that. Everything could be improved. I force myself to look forward and not in the rear view mirror.
What author makes you think “I wish I could write like that!”?
I really liked Michael Crichton. His ideas were so cool it really sucked me into his books.
What planet-wide science fiction catastrophe scares you the most?
I like to put catastrophes as close to reality as possible. I would pick global pandemic, or the death of ocean life.
What science fiction universe would you like to live in?
I think Star Trek would be the best. Man has expanded into the stars. Science advanced, and for the most part, everyone seems to get along. I wouldn’t be required to live out along the forbidden zone, and Earth might be pretty cozy then.
If I were a competent interviewer, what question would I ask you? What is your answer?
You are a competent interviewer, and I don’t have a clue. I suppose something about characters would be interesting. I always rely upon my characters to carry the story. I try very hard to give them personalities and situations readers can cheer for.
As a number of authors and aspiring authors follow this blog, I’d like to ask you some business questions. Would you be willing to share anything about the number of books you’ve sold?
What has your sales pattern been – mostly at release, or slow and steady?
Most sales occur near the release date. They all limp along after that. All of them still sell in drips and dabs. I’m sure if I were a better promoter they would do better. Promotion is kind of like my kryptonite.
Has releasing a new book caused a spike in sales of the your older work?
I’ve never noticed one. I believe it’s because I haven’t anchored myself to one specific sub-genre. I know of a few folks who’ve read everything I’ve ever written. I’m grateful for them. Others grab one, and may grab another when I return to that genre.
Have you tried any promotional activities that worked surprisingly well, or failed miserably?
I hired a blog tour company for Will O’ the Wisp. Sales ticked along until we had a live Twitter chat. I was surprised at the number of people who logged in and said they just bought it. I checked stats later, and they all did. I may take Wisp back to the same company right before Halloween.
I’m a heavy consumer of audiobooks from Audible.com. I haven’t seen any of your books there. Why not?
I’ve never looked into it, but the idea has been in my head for a long time. I read blog posts here and there about folks who like audiobooks during the commute. I want to test drive one and see how it goes.
Any last words?
Yes, it was a pleasure to be here today. It made my day when you asked me to appear. Oh, and stock up on silver. I heard that werewolf had pups this spring.
As noted, C. S. Boyack’s novels span several genres/sub-genres. I haven’t read any of them yet, so my opinions as to genre might be wrong. His first novel, Wild Concept, looks like pure sci-fi. His next novel, Panama, seems to blend paranormal and historical fiction. His third novel, Arson, goes back to sci-fi, but appears to have strong thriller/mystery content. His next novel, The Cock of the South, is a fantasy which uses a more Southern European setting. His latest novel, Will ‘O the Wisp, is an urban fantasy with young adult elements. He’s given me one link to Will ‘O the Wisp for North Americans, and another for the rest of the world. He has also promised to put out a short story collection later this year, which is highly likely to be reviewed on this blog. You can follow him on Twitter, Goodreads, and/or his blog.