About Chris Six:
For the most part, nothing out of the ordinary: big city, big dreams, crummy jobs, busted relationships. There was never a time where I wasn’t writing something, but that’s normal for many people. Years ago I had a legal proofreading job where all the temps were writers, actors, made jewelry, and so forth.
All this changed when I was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease. I began writing seriously to prove that I could live with chronic, potentially life-threatening illness and get important things done, creative things. “Write or die” was more or less my motto, and once I got the idea to write about my illness… writing about it became more important as I better understood why this was all happening to me and once I got to know more about the predicaments of my fellow patients. Being a kidney recipient has been a huge turning point in my life, and I, Kidney is my platform for getting the public to think seriously about organ donation, health and mental health professionals to be on their best game, and people with kidney disease to ask questions and not be afraid to speak up.
What inspires you to write?
I grew up surrounded by books. I saw plays and movies and TV. I was a kid reading kiddie books, grown-up books, comic books. I grew up wanting to write all that. And song lyrics. I’m inspired by colorful characters because I’m one myself. I’m inspired by upsetting situations because I want to set them right. The artistic world interests me, and my main characters tend to be writers or musicians on some level or other, even if it’s not their main line of work.
Tell us about your writing process.
When I was younger, I held stories in my head for years and they incubated, busy writing themselves on autopilot until I said “Okay, that’s it.” I don’t know if the concept of an outline ever made sense to me. I never ever wrote outlines for term papers! Strictly seat of the pants. I have an old-school tape recorder (a bunch of them–I go through them quickly), and I let the talk start, let the characters reveal themselves, their priorities, their worldviews. I couldn’t have written Joe Zizzi–a first-person narrator–any other way. It’s like method acting.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I just let ’em talk. That’s what the tape is for. Turn it on and watch ’em go. I have to hear their voices and their modes of speech to be able to put them on the page. An early reader of I, Kidney said, “Joe’s dad sounds like Robert De Niro,” and that rocked me for days.
What advice would you give other writers?
Your characters are sentient beings. Respect them. Love your main characters. Hate your villains. Admire them if it’s appropriate. Honor minor characters for what they do. Mourn your creations if they must be killed off. Readers pick up on that relationship, and if you’re lucky, they will care as much as you do.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I wanted the control of it, running a business. I’d had negative experiences with trying to get published, so I was crazy enough to try my hand at DIY with The Chris Six Group. People had big-time expectations for me, even more grandiose than my own. Friends and neighbors started asking me if I could get their books out! I wish I had the time, money, and kidneys to work with all of them, especially the one with the story about the superstar who faked his own death and is watching the action from the safety of the Caribbean. At this point, though, I’d like to be bailed out by a patron with a magic wand who can do the marketing.
There are no hard-and-fast rules about any of this, but writers thinking about self-publishing should look into how much of their lives they’re willing to put on hold while setting up shop. Ask indie authors how they manage, and see how this stacks up against your own situation and realities.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
The final frontier, the wild west, the last gasp of literacy, you name it. Is it the battle of the reads versus the read-nots? Maybe, but we reads still have pretty good odds. The first time a friend told me about e-readers, I said, “Are you nuts? What about turning pages? Writing in the margins? Using lotto tickets as bookmarks?” Now I get it. If it promotes reading, it’s good for us all.
What do you use?: Dictated and got transcribed, Professional Cover Designer
What genres do you write?: general fiction, contemporary fiction
What formats are your books in?: Both eBook and Print
Chris Six Home Page Link