If you cant be a PENCIL to write someones happiness, then try to be an ERASER to remove someones sadness

Christopher Cole Interview Published on: 25, Apr 2019

Born in Seattle and raised in North Carolina, which is your favorite childhood memory?

That’s a hard question since I have many favorite memories. If I had to choose I would say the first time I visited Disney World in Orlando, Florida. This was back in 2000 before 9/11, so it pre-dated the extra security measures and new ‘normal’. As a roughly 8-year-old kid seeing so many new things for the first time gave it a very ‘new’ or ‘first impression’ experience – it was wonderful and I loved to experience it with my sister and parents. The day was pretty flawless, the rides were great – especially the rollercoasters – and the parade at the end of the day with fireworks was a fitting end to a perfect day.

What inspired you to start writing? Have you always wanted to be a writer?

I was browsing in a Barnes & Noble and I spotted a book that caught my attention, Everlost by Neal Shusterman. I started reading it and I was entirely taken in by everything of the book – the story, the characters, the theme, it just hooked me. It was shortly after graduating high school so I was moving out of a video game phase. Once I read Everlost I was into books. Ideas of stories started coming to me and on a walk with my dad one day on the beach discussing how to write a book, I started writing. I just kept going and adding to the story – I focused on plot lines, character development and back stories and the book was taking form with an identity I wanted it to be. I think I always wanted to be a writer; as far back as middle school I had the thought of writing but was concerned I probably could never do that. I love being a writer, you get to put together the kind of story you like, make an entire world and characters as you conceive them to be. You get to make something that’s entirely from your imagination, influenced by your experiences and perceptions of people and life.

What is Newton Instrument Company about? Since how long have you been working as a welder-fabricator?

I enjoy having a trade and seeing the results of your efforts – welding gives me that kind of professional satisfaction. Newton Instruments is one of the leading manufacturers of telecommunication racks, frames, cabinets and security caging. Founded in 1949, it was initially manufacturing medical instruments, and has now grown into one of the largest domestic suppliers of hardware solutions to the Telecommunications market. “Made right when you need it, driven to be better.” We tend to pride ourselves in not only doing the job right, but striving to make improvements to make better quality products and services. After working as a temp employee for several months, I was hired full time in March of this year.

What is it about the science fiction genre that piqued your interest? What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?

Science fiction genre appeals to my interests because the only limit storytelling is the author’s imagination. Your ideas provide the narrative and the characters, if done right, add dimensions and layers to a different world that you hope the reader lose themselves in. In my opinion, I think the most important elements of good writing are plot, characters, and style. You have to provide sufficient depth and plot to maintain a reader’s interest. Even cliché storytelling can be interesting if done well – readers’ interest is maintained with sufficient plot and interesting characters whose interactions improve the narrative. Making characters three-dimensional helps to make them feel real and develop a reader’s emotional interest in them. If the readers don’t care about the characters, they won’t be engaged in the story, regardless of the plot.

What sort of cultural, spiritual, or social value do you think reading and books hold?

Books hold a certain level of cultural literacy and moral commentary that most people take for granted. Some stories take us to places we wouldn’t normally go or are afraid to go, or force us to confront ideas or circumstances we wouldn’t normally choose to encounter. Book stretch us intellectually, experientially and test us morally and ethically. Depending on the book, a story has the capacity to change people – ideas are powerful catalysts to change. One of the greatest life lessons – learned from a book – is that people are capable of being extraordinarily good as well inconceivably bad. It is the choices we make, informed by ideas and influenced by what we read and observe, that generally determines who we become. We should never stop learning, books not only teach us but inspire us how to live, and how we can be better.

What was your major in college? How do you think it has contributed to your career as a writer?

My post-secondary education has be focused on learning a trade, pursuing an associate’s degree and welding certification. I think it is one of many life experiences that contributes to our individual journeys and informs one’s writing. One aspect of mastering welding and fabricating is solving problems in order to complete the task or job. In welding you come across bad welds, measurements that are off, or metal that’s too hot and a weld melts through and compromises the structure. In writing you encounter writer’s block, alternate choices for storylines, different plot and character outcomes – often facing a difficult time deciding which to choose.

What was your main source of inspiration for "Outbreak (The Dark Days Series Book 1)?"

I think I drew inspiration from many post-apocalyptic storylines, including the Walking Dead and others. That said, I wanted to create a set of characters who had depth, were significantly a product of their respective life experience, and finally, could evolve and be followed over many years – provided they survived!

When writing strong characters, like Sonny Daniels, how do you decide their names or characteristics? Where do you often look for inspiration for your characters?

I generally try to look for more uncommon names that may have a hidden meaning or connotation for me. As for characteristics, I look for ways to make them interact with the story adding conflict, plot twists, or integrate different subplots that closely tie into the main plotline. I usually get inspiration from great characters I’ve seen work in other stories. I try to look for what makes a character likable, unlikable, strong, weak, flawed, or other elements that would make the reader care about them – favorably or unfavorably.

How would you describe the relationship between Ashley and Carrie? Who are Ashley and Carrie in your life?

I don’t know if Ashley and Carrie are anyone specifically in my life – I conceived of them because they provoke strong emotions in me, so I assumed they could do the same for the reader. The relationship between them is complicated but real. They both lost their parents at a young age, they lost their home and everything that tethered them to feelings of safety and security. Losing your home, your parents, and all the things that provide comfort security has a profound impact on anyone’s life, but it’s even more emotionally scarring for children because they lack the tools to process it. Aside from one another, the closest thing to family they had left was Sonny. They both love him, but in very different ways. For Ashley, she loves Sonny like a little brother and Sonny views her as his sister. They deeply care for each other but not in a romantic way. However, Carrie over time becomes possessive of Sonny – she both loves Sonny and loves the idea of Sonny as her protector. Sonny is someone willing to do whatever he has to, including changing himself, to protect two of the most important people in his life. To Carrie, that’s someone important and she feels that he gives her strength and courage – she may even confuse those feelings for romantic love.

You started working on the novel when you were nineteen. What tempted you towards it, at that tender age?

I started imagining stories in my head after I read Everlost. I had a pivotal conversation with my Dad on a beach walk about the writing process, and the feeling kept growing until finally I wrote a detailed outline and started writing. I had no idea what to expect, but I knew I wanted to try it.

What kind of books do you like to read in your spare time? Who is one of your favorite authors?

I like reading post-apocalyptic and science fiction/adventure stories that share similar themes and elements that would be found in my story series. It gets me in the mood and gives me new ideas. As I mentioned, one of my favorite authors is Neal Shusterman – I got pulled into his stories and how he wrote them – always excited to get back to them.

What are some habits that are crucial to developing if you want to become a successful writer?

I tend to look for stories that ‘feel’ like they work; I pay attention to whether they’re a stretch even in the science fiction context or they seem to work well. I bounce ideas off people to see how they react, I relate to certain plotlines that I’ve seen or read about. Some of them are stories that point out social or societal flaws, or say the things that I think need to be said. The ones that I think work are not just true, but painfully true.

What is your writing process like? Do you often plan out the plot of a book before you start writing or do you just kind of make it up as you go along?

With my first book I wrote out an outline of all the major events and direction I wanted the story to take, it tends to help me follow a plot path and integrate the characters. Writing an outline creates a dirt path and writing the story paves the path, transitioning from on major plot event to another, and revealing how each character influences and integrates into the storyline.

What are you currently working on? When can we expect the second book in The Dark Days Series?

Currently, I am working on the third book of The Dark Days series, Survival. The second book of the series, New Family, is done but we’re rereading and editing before submitting it. Hopefully readers can expect the second book out within a few months to half year, depends on my publisher!

What are your thought on book promotions through social media? Has AllAuthor been able to help at all in this aspect and would you recommend it to other authors?

I think social media tends to dominate word of mouth promotion and the development of a readership following – the traditional marketing mediums of book promotion has of course fundamentally changed. Through Facebook, there are multiple book promotion pages but I believe perhaps relatively few people go there to find or buy books. It requires a multi-medium approach to find readership, and the choices are ubiquitous – so it’s very challenging. My book and profile are getting more views every day because of AllAuthors, anything that provides greater exposure and finds potential readers is another opportunity to secure readership and a following. I would recommend AllAuthors to other writers.

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