David Chill was born and raised in New York City. After receiving his undergraduate degree from SUNY-Oswego, he moved to Los Angeles where he earned a Masters degree from the University of Southern California.
David Chill is the author of two novels, Post Pattern and Fade Route. Post Pattern was a finalist in the St. Martin’s Press contest for new private eye mystery writers. Both novels have received critical acclaim. David Chill presently lives in Los Angeles with his wife and son.
What inspires you to write?
I have always been fascinated with the subject of siblings, and that is deeply personal. A long time ago, my older brother was killed in a car accident when he was just 24 years old and that left an indelible mark on my life and on my writing. Oddly, I did not intentionally set out to write about my brother in Post Pattern, and it wasn’t until I was finished with the first draft did I fully comprehend the personal implications of the story. In many ways, the exploration of sibling relationships in my novels is an opportunity for me to better come to grips with my brother’s death. And as Joan Didion described it in The Year of Magical Thinking, a goal of understanding a loved one’s death is sometimes our way of trying to bring them back to life.
Tell us about your writing process.
I create a 24 point outline before I start writing my novel. This details the 24 most important events that happen during the story. There are times I may need to tweak these, but I am a creature who needs a certain amount of structure. I don’t use a white board, my 24 point outline is done on a Word document and is normally about 5 or 6 pages long. I also don’t sketch out character descriptions, I simply think a lot about who they are and what makes them do what they do.
Regarding my actual writing process, I am easily distracted and have trouble concentrating. I follow the guideline Oscar Wilde once employed, which is to say that the only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it. I realize I may need to spend six hours procrastinating just so I can get in one or two solid hours of writing. But those one or two hours produce some extremely good work. And whether it takes combing through the internet for bits of trivia or simply daydreaming before I can ease into the actual writing, I know this is simply part of my process. Forcing myself to sit and stare at the screen does not yield good work.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
No. My protagonist, Burnside, is my alter ego. Talking to him would be like talking to myself.
What advice would you give other writers?
While you can’t ignore the old adage to write about what you know, there are limits to that approach. We only know so much! I would submit that new authors should write about those things which they feel passionate. It’s important to remember that when writing a book, you will be living with the story in a very intimate way for many months — or possibly years. Having strong feelings about your subject matter will get you through those dark days when you are troubled by the self-doubt and writer’s block that most writers have to endure at some point.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I chose to go exclusive with Amazon in terms of promoting Post Pattern. My reasons were fairly simple. Amazon is the largest digital publisher and they also offer KDP Select, which has been a successful tool for me because of the free days. Post Pattern launched in February 2013, and in the first two months I sold very few copies. In late April I made Post Pattern available for free for two days. I promoted it using the standard websites that promote free books, there are about 40 of them. While only 15 chose to feature Post Pattern those days, it was enough to generate 8,000 free downloads. I also began using Twitter and Facebook frequently during those days as well. I reached #21 in Amazon’s overall free book list, as well as #3 in all mysteries and #1 in private investigator mysteries. But that and $5 would get me a latte at Starbucks! What happened next was interesting. Amazon began promoting Post Pattern on their site, in the area of “those who viewed the book you’re looking at also viewed…” As a result, I sold hundreds of books over the next couple of weeks.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
The ebook revolution has completely upended the publishing industry; it is similar to what happened to the music business in the past 15 years, and what will happen to the TV business in the coming 15 years. For decades, consumers resented paying for a full album when all they wanted was one song. Music labels and retailers were unresponsive, but technology advances dramatically changed the landscape and put many of them out of business. Consumers no longer want to carry large, heavy books around when they can read the same thing on a Kindle, Nook, iPad or even a smart phone. They also didn’t want to spend $25 on a book they might stop reading after chapter two. Ebooks offer a more convenient, cost effective method. The closure of so many book stores in the past few years is sad, but it is nothing more than a testament to progress. Ebooks are simply a better product, and the fact that they are also so much cheaper will continue to push this revolution further along.
This ebook revolution has allowed Indie authors like myself to self-publish without the need for agents or traditional publishers. But it also has created some difficulty for consumers to discern the good books from the not-so-good ones. The level of dishonesty in reviews is ripe for exploiting. I recently read an article that one successful author has paid reviewers thousands of dollars to write positive book reviews for him. As more authors go down that path, the ability to judge what is good and what is not will become murkier. While it can be argued that bogus reviews have always been around the publishing world, there has been something of a screening process in the past. A writer first gets accepted by an agent, and then by a publisher before their book makes its way to consumers. With self-publishing being so easy (not to mention free), that screening process has disappeared. The most reliable sources of what’s good and what’s not may have to come from the consumers themselves. Personally, when I’m considering a book to purchase, I look at Amazon’s customer reviews rather than editorial reviews for that very reason. I feel it’s a more honest and accurate assessment.
What genres do you write?
What formats are your books in?