Welcome to my guest page. Here, every few days, I’ll be sharing a conversation, over tea and cakes, or maybe a glass of something, if they are not driving, with a friend about their work in progress, or latest new release. I’ll be talking to all sort of writers and authors at different levels of their writing careers.
Today I’m welcoming Chisto Healy to the Clubhouse Tearoom. I’m so glad you found us okay. Yes, I’m sure you could do with a drink, so what shall I order for you?
This is great fun, Paula. It was a challenge to deciding which ten questions to pick. And now which drink to choose. It’ll have to be between whiskey, as I don’t drive, or a nice roasted black coffee, usually an African blend, like Kenyan coffee is good.
The choice is all yours, Chisto.
Please allow me to start by asking you when you first begun your writing journey what drew you to your chosen genre?
Well, I watched horror movies when I was a child and the first book I read when I graduated from children’s books in fourth grade, was a Dean Koontz novel, and he was scary back then. So I really always had a love for horror and wanted to create it. That said, I don’t ever want to get stuck in it and I make sure to dabble in everything. I have sci-fi stories and fantasy stories, romance and erotica stories, straight up fiction/drama stories, young adult stories and even some comedy stories.
What writing elements do you think is your strongest points, and what would you like to do better?
I think I’ve got originality and people have said my stuff is cinematic, so that’s pretty strong I suppose. As far as doing better, I think I can always do everything better. The more I write and work with editors, the more I improve. I don’t think that will ever stop. If I’m still writing when I’m 80, it’ll be the best thing I’ve ever written haha
Tell us a little about latest writing project. Is it a new idea, or one you have been mulling over for some time?
I have so many things going on simultaneously, truthfully. Some of them, I’m not allowed to talk about…yet. I’ve got a collaborative novel that I am working on for Fox Hollow and that’s a really fun and exciting process as I’m running it and editing it, and working with some amazing authors. I’m editing and sending out one novel and writing another and working with a publisher on a third. I have a ton of short stories I’m writing as always, and a ton already out there I’m waiting to hear on. I’m co-writing an independent film, and doing some things for charity. One cool one is an anti-bullying anthology. That means a lot to me, and I will be promoting it shortly.
How many unfinished projects do you have on your computer?
Not anywhere, near as many as I used to lol. That was the name of the game for me until I started writing full time in March. Now I’ve been going back and finishing them. There’s still a number of them to go but one by one they get finished and sent out. I’d say there’s maybe five or six at the moment, as opposed to the literal hundreds of complete stories.
Do you write a synopsis first or write the first chapter? If you only write short stories, do you plan your story, or let the characters lead you.
What I usually do for short or long stories, is come up with a concept, then decide the ending. Then I let the story write itself to that end. I use what I refer to as the John Saul system: you give people something scary or dramatic to hook them and then drop back and build characters and relationships and then bring the scares back in and have a big finale.
Choosing only five of your favourite authors. Can you list them in order 1 begin the top of your list and say how have they influenced your writing?
First would be Simon Clark. He influenced my writing by being so unique and putting his own spin on classic tropes that they became fresh again, making me want to do the same. Also, he took the time to talk to me, and encourage me and coach me and befriend me and that has proven invaluable. I wouldn’t have had the confidence to do anything I have done this year without his input. He’s as great of a man as he is an author.
2. Clive Barker because no one does horror like that guy. He’s so mind blowingly original and frightening. He’s what all horror writers aspire to be.
3. Robert R McCammon because his prose and ideas are just beautiful and even when he stepped out of horror it was incredible.
4. I have to give props to Dean Koontz for getting me started. As a kid, he was my hero and my biggest influence. I still really admire his older stuff and would love to sit down and talk to him one day.
5. Sarah J Maas. I’ve always enjoyed fantasy, growing up on lord of the rings and shadow run and dungeons and dragons, but now that I’m writing it was her series, Throne of Glass, that really brought back my love of fantasy and made me want to dive in and write some of my own. It’s a wonderful series that just builds and gets better as it goes and the real strength is in the characters.
When reading your work through do you ever find that your daily mood swings are reflected in your writing?
No. Quite the opposite honestly. My writing takes me out of the real world and the moment I’m in. I suffer from PTSD and severe anxiety as well as depression and writing is a very healing and cathartic tool for me. The story isn’t about me. It’s about the people in it and I need to focus on what they feel and go through. It’s entirely separate.
Were any of your characters inspired by real people?
I have put a lot of myself and people I know or have known in my characters, but never completely where I can say, this character is this person. It’s all bits, because I want the character to be their own person but just the same, I find using bits from real life and real people makes it more realistic and believable. it gives them depth.
What did you learn when writing your book or stories? In writing them, how much research did you do?
Which one? Lol… I learn a lot about myself and my craft each time I take on a project, but honestly, I don’t do a whole lot of research. I’ve only researched on certain projects where I really wanted to do something specific and it was important to get the facts straight. I wrote one novel where I did a lot of research on celtic mythology and on cancer and treatments and diets, things that needed to be right because the subject was so sensitive. Ordinarily though, I fly off the cuff and just write from the heart
Is there anything about you your readers might be surprised to find out?
Many, many things…but if I tell you it won’t be a surprise, haha.
Did you uncover things about yourself while writing your books or stories, whether that be a long forgotten memory, a positive experience etc.
Not really. I mean, as far as memories and experiences anxiety keeps them all fresh in my mind. I don’t ever forget them, though sometimes when I get really deep into a character’s psyche, I realize oh….that’s why I felt that way that one time, or why I feel this way now. I can make more sense of myself through flushing out my fictional people
What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
Ordinarily, I write overnight when everyone is sleeping, usually for 4 – 8 hrs a day, seven days a week. Then I nap and get to taking care of the house and the kids. On certain things though, like when I have a novel with a close deadline, I will just go crazy and work constantly. I worked to finish one recently and a family member pointed out that I wrote for almost eleven straight hours until it was finished. Another author, I admire, recently referred to me as the writing Terminator.
I set a minimum but not a maximum. I need to write at least 3000 words a day.
How many hours in a day do you write?
I guess I’ve already answered that one.
Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
No, because there’s a lot behind my name. It isn’t my birth name, but my birth name is tied to the person I used to be and my current name is the person I became so I take a lot of pride in it. There’s so much history. To clarify, this is not a trans thing. I have always been he, him, male. It was about being fragile and weak and abused and becoming strong and independent and capable. Every time I see my name on something I feel pride. I would never want to hide behind another name.
How do you select the names of your characters? & do you know everything about them before you start writing their story?
Believe it or not, so much goes into this. I do research names if I want people to be of a certain culture or time period. I try to not use the same names I’ve already used or at least not too often. I spend a great deal of my thinking and planning time on names, probably too much, but I have a lot of weird quirks and hang ups that I can’t break myself of. I’m a weirdo.
What was your hardest scene to write?
This is a great question. I’m thinking hard on this one. I wrote some stuff based on my own experiences and there were real life tragedies I had to relive for that and that was really difficult but also really cleansing and helpful to expel. I’ve written some horror that I scared myself with haha. I wrote one novel that made me a little crazy and I was scratching and having people check me for bugs, and I had to take a break from it for a year. As far as one specific scene…I’m really not sure. I’ll have to get back to you on that one.
How long on average does it take you to write a book or stories?
Not very long haha I just pound stuff out. Of course there’s multiple drafts and a lot of editing, but first drafts happen immediately. I wrote one novel in two days. I’m a maniac. I wrote 100,000 words in July.
Thank you so much for joining me today, Chisto.
Thank you for the invite. Now how do I get out of here.
It’s okay our driver will take you wherever you need to go.
For more information on Chisto’s Books
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