Chadwick is the author of Thunder Road (Ravenstone Books), a fantasy in which the larger-than-life personalities and monsters of Norse mythology lurk hidden in Manitoba. Its sequel, Tombstone Blues, just released this week and I had the pleasure of attending his riveting reading.
His short stories have found a home in On Spec, Tesseracts and the Fungi anthology from Innsmouth Free Press; his reviews and interviews have appeared in Quill and Quire, The Winnipeg Review and Prairie Books NOW. A bookseller for over ten years, when he’s not writing his own stories, he’s selling everyone else’s. He lives and writes in Winnipeg.
Here are Chadwick’s answers to my seven spotlight questions.
#1: Why do you write?
Because I have to. I’ve always loved stories, and storytelling. When I was growing up I had two uncles (one my great-great uncle, the other my great-great-great uncle) who invented original Tarzan and Lone Ranger stories to keep me amused. They set a love of adventure fiction into my bones from my very beginning. From those stories I leaped to comics and then to fantasy novels, but as voraciously as I read, I still wanted to make up my own stories. Since I tend not to be an outliner, if don’t write up my ideas and shape them and get to the end, I’ll never get to read how they end.
#2: What was your earliest writing experience:
I’m sure there were probably earlier stories, but the one I remember best was my “novel” project for Grade 5. I wrote a 43 page science fiction story shamelessly stolen from the Robotech cartoon, which was airing at the time, called The Robotron War. I haven’t been able to go back and read it, but I do still have a copy, and for many more years, that would be the longest piece of fiction I had written. The writing I did with an eye for publication was a short story that I submitted to In Places Between The Robyn Herrington Memorial Story Contest (www.inplacesbetween.com). This was my first peer critique, and it was this story that became the foundation for the first novel I ever finished.
#3: Describe a day in your writing life:
A day in my writing life usually depends upon just which day we are talking about. If I’m fitting my writing in around my dayjob during a weekday, I wake up early, try to transcribe any handwritten notes I may have collected, or work on a blog post, and then dash out the door, running for the bus after a quick gulp of tea. I check my social media feeds while I’m on the bus, trying to catch up before my breaks. I answer writing related emails on my coffee breaks, and spend my lunch writing as many words as I can, often joining in with some of my writing friends on Twitter for a #writingsprint. On a weekend, I still try to get up early and write until at least after lunch, all the while trying to ignore the siren call of the internet. My evenings are spent doing some critiquing (either my own work, or for my writing group) as I find I’m a little more critical at the end of the day.
#4: What authors influenced you and how?
They are too numerous to easily list. I’d like to say every author I’ve ever read has been some kind of influence…but I’ll try to narrow it down to a manageable level. Guy Gavriel Kay was the first writer I ever knew to be Canadian. The fact that his Fionavar Tapestry novels had Canadian protagonists being thrust into a fantasy world didn’t hurt my interest either. I love his writing, but just knowing a Canadian was out there writing fantasy was my first inkling that being an author was something I could strive towards. Robert J. Sawyer, in addition to being a great author, maintains a vast amount of writing resources on his website (here’s a link: http://sfwriter.com/owindex.htm), and I read every essay he’s ever posted on the topic when I was getting started. Those essays taught me to engage critically with my own work, and later Rob would give me a critique on the first chapter of Thunder Road while he was writer-in-residence at the Canadian Light Source in Sasktaoon. Comics were the first things I ever read on my own, and Chris Claremont’s epic run on The Uncanny X-Men was a huge influence. It was my gateway to serial storytelling, and mythic, yet flawed, human characters. The D’Aulaires, who wrote numerous books on mythology, but most notably for me, D’Aulaires’ Book of Norse Myths. That book was my first introduction to the Norse pantheon, and began a lifelong love of those characters and stories. I owe a huge debt to Gary Gygax, creator of Dungeons and Dragons, D&D was the means by which I first tried getting inside the head of another character, and the first vehicle I used to tell stories. Finally, Winnipeg crime writer Michael Van Rooy, who passed away far too soon. He was one of the first professional authors to read my work, and he knew I was ready to start submitting fiction long before I believed it to be true.
#5: What are some things you learned to help with your success?
The benefit of being a part of a larger writing community is probably the biggest thing. Through that community I’ve met many great friends, learned tips not only on the craft of writing but the business of writing. And let’s face it, writing can be a very solitary activity, so when we all come out to play at one conference or another, it’s very energizing. Working in a bookstore for the last twelve years gave me a lot of insight into the business side of the writing industry, and let’s face it, even if you don’t have the inclination or option to work in the stacks, you need to know more than just how to string words together to be successful these days.
#6: Describe your writing method:
In the simple dichotomy of pantser vs. plotter, I am a pantser. I like to discover the story as I go. But the truth of my method is a bit more complicated than that. The one concession I make to an outline is that I make a soundtrack of twenty or so songs that feel like how I want the book to feel before I start writing. Once the soundtrack feels right, I’m off to the races. Should I ever get stuck in the word mines, going for a drive or a walk and listening to the songs on my soundtrack is usually enough to nudge me in the correct direction. I have tended to write the novels in the Thunder Road Trilogy mostly chronologically in chapter order, but when I’m working on a multiple POV story, I tend to jump around not just from character to character, but to various moments in time. I stitch it all together once I’m done. I always carry a notebook, and if I think of a scene or an idea for a future point in the novel (or a future book in the series) I file it away for use later. Now that I’m drafting the third book in a trilogy, I can’t just throw in whatever I want. The series has accrued structure from the previous books. There are things foreshadowed that must be resolved, etc. but beyond those points, every other detail comes out in the writing. Once I have a draft I let it sit (time dependent on how close my deadline is) before revising it to my satisfaction and then I send it off to my first readers. After they give me their notes, I do another round of revisions and then read the entire book aloud trying to catch typos and awkward phrasings that slipped through (particularly in dialogue) once I’m done with that, (and drinking a lot of tea and honey) the book is out the door.
#7: Tips for aspiring writers:
You know, there are so many great tips on the craft out there, that I hesitate to throw my hat into the ring. Robert Sawyer’s website, and authors like Chuck Wendig http://terribleminds.com/ramble/blog break down process and have so many great tips, that I think I’ll just point your readers in their direction. Everyone’s process and growth as a creative person is different, but if you look at how others have succeeded you should be able to cobble together your own Frankenstein’s monster of a writing process from the parts, and that will be something unique to you. However, one thing I’d like to add, is that while you need to be serious about your craft, and work hard, try to also have some fun with it. Once the contracted deadlines start looming it can be easy to forget why you started putting words on paper (or type on screen) telling the stories you want to tell.
About Tombstone Blues:
After beating back the might of Surtur, Ted Callan is getting used to his immortal powers. The man who once would stop at nothing to rid himself of his tattoos and their power might even be said to be enjoying his new found abilities.
However, not everyone is happy the greatness of the Valhalla has risen from the ashes of Ragnarök. With every crash of Mjölnir, Thor, former god of thunder, rages in Niflheim, the land of the dead.
Now that Ted’s woken the dead, there’s going to be hell to pay.
The sequel to Thunder Road, Tombstone Blues is an urban Fantasy novel now available through Ravenstone Books (an imprint of Turnstone Press).
Chadwick makes soundtracks for all of his books, and you can listen to the songs from the Tombstone Blues sound track here: http://www.turnstonepress.com/tombstone-blues-will-rock-your-world.html
And here’s a listing of the soundtrack for Thunder Road, and an essay on how and why he uses music in his writing. http://www.davidjonfuller.com/2012/08/30/thunder-god-thursday-chadwick-ginthers-thunder-road/
Other(s): iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/ca/book/tombstone-blues/id720948687?mt=11
(SINCE it’s a series I’ve included the Thunder Road links, include or disregard as you see fit…)
Connect with Chadwick:
Fan email address: justonewick [at] gmail.com