Chris Galford spends his days as a freelance journalist and editor. Writing, in all its forms, has been his passion from a young age, but fantasy and science fiction are the sparks that give his nights purpose (when he’s not waxing poetic, of course). A native of Michigan, in his spare time he can usually be found wandering the lake shore with a camera in one hand and a pen in the other. When he isn’t hiking, biking, or hypnotized by gaming, that is.
The Hollow March is his first major work (and the first of a planned trilogy), but another short story set in the same world, “The Child’s Cry,” was published in the Oct.-Dec. 2011 edition of Lorelei Signal magazine. His short fiction and poetry tend to make appearances on his blog, “The Waking Den.”
What inspires you to write?
First and foremost: the fact that I couldn’t imagine life without it. There are plenty of authors that will stand up on their soapboxes and cry compulsion and passion…it’s not that we’re all sharing the same soapbox, it’s simply a commonly shared truth. When I’m not writing, it tears me up inside. The ideas run roughshod through my brain until I’m a quivering mass of would-be scribbles. That, and being possessed of an unfortunately short attention span, if I don’t get these ideas down, they run the unfortunate risk of fading into the ether. I am inspired by the world. I am inspired by the people and personalities cycling and suffering through it day by day. I am inspired by the works of giants I read as a youth, and still read to this day–Vonnegut, Le Guin, Camus, Martin, Zelazny…just to name a few.
Tell us about your writing process.
It varies between what I’m writing, honestly. With poetry, it’s all about the moment. I have to be struck, seized, or otherwise inspired. Most importantly: I need to get it down quick. That poetic burst of inspiration, more than anything, has proven a fickle creature over the years, and if I lose or stumble in that thought process, try to come back to it later…something will be lost. The flow won’t be there. I’ll go back later, edit, enhance, but for the work itself, the foundation must be laid there and then.
With fiction (fantasy and science fiction, generally), well…I love to create. Something will strike the spark in me, certainly. A notion. A character. And I build at them, pick at them until one could practically feel the flesh on their bones. I tend to go for walks for this part of the process, or long bike rides. Immerse myself in anything and everything but the blank page, the flickering screen. As I explore, so too do I confront the idea, and hone it.
Thus begins the sitting. Worlds are not simple places. Before I strike up a story, I take that notion or that character and I put to paper their essence–and expand. I have documents full of the stuff on my computer. The details drive me.
You must remember that worlds, after all, are not simple places. They are a string of interactions both good and bad, a complex web of humanity that cannot be defined by one simple thread alone. In that regard, you could say, the details drove me. I love to create. I love to pit my creations against themselves, and consider how the world would change around them. The world constructs around the notion: why is it this way? How would they react if? Gradually, I weave in the other all-too-human details: the horrors of war, the hunger for revenge, the intricacy of family…
Once I have my world, my characters…the story tends to flow from there. Such was how I built The Hollow March.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
As John Cusack once said in “America’s Sweethearts”: “I am my own entourage.”
I think you would be hard-pressed to find a fiction writer that doesn’t, honestly. We have whole casts of characters running around our heads, consuming our lives. I know if I didn’t put them to paper, there would probably be a coup in my brain, and that simply wouldn’t do. My character inspire and evolve before me, and they are constant influences on my writing, on the situations I put before them. I don’t like to think of it as directing them down a path, I prefer to think of it as chronicling how they themselves would confront that path.
I may have given them breath, but from there, it is to them I listen to visualize how, exactly, a scene should play out.
What advice would you give other writers?
Draw inspiration from the world around you. From its sights, its people, its history. Think: if I changed just one detail, how would all the others change with it? Reality lends form to existence; the imagination molds those shapes with detail. Imagination—it’s the true beauty of humanity.
Also: don’t fear the editing. Really, it’s there for your benefit.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
When you decide to publish books, you need to invest a lot of time into the process, decide first and foremost what will best suit your needs. Both traditional publishing and self-publishing have their advantages and their flaws, let none of the rage broiling betwixt the two tell you any different. Each demands different things of you and neither will let you off easy. There is nothing hands-off about the process. You have to dig in and prepare for the long haul.
It was my brother, James, that originally pressed my down the path of self-publishing. He had gone that route months before, with his own fantasy series: The Fall of Eldvar. We have very different styles, very different inspirations, mind you, but watching him go through the process, the involvement and engagement, the control he maintained about his work…it struck me. Success on his own terms. You can still get the editor you want, the cover artist you desire, but most importantly, you rise and fall solely on your own merits.
So I went with self-publishing.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
A tough nut, to be sure. Book publishing is in turmoil right now. Amazon has overturned all notions of the previously established forms and opened the door to a flood of aspiring writers–some ready, in truth, some not, but all of them getting out there regardless. There is no gatekeeper anymore. Barnes and Noble, along with a lot of your traditionally viewed book sellers, as well, are hemorrhaging. And with this e-book debacle between them and Apple, the big six publishers…
It’s enough to make a fellow pull his hair out. Traditional book publishers did not move quick enough to change. That’s a fact. Complacency had worked its way into the system. It’s not the only system it’s happening to right now, but that’s not the point. Soon enough, publishers will be forced to adapt–in some cases, it’s happening already. There will be a change to the system as we know it. What that will be, the final results, I don’t think any of us could truly fathom. What I can say for certain is that those who say “traditional book publishing is dead” are delusional. The nature of publishing is changing, but to think the system as a whole is going to crumble into dust and leave us with nothing but Amazon is a farce. Every industry has its evolutions, its teething problems, but in the end, as much as the external shape of it may have changed, core truths always remain.
What do you use?
Professional Editor, Professional Cover Designer, Beta Readers
What genres do you write?
Fantasy, Science Fiction, Fiction, Poetry
What formats are your books in?
Both eBook and Print