Chris Winterberg is a new author. This is a little bit about him. We’ll say it’s a “get to know him” piece. Be advised: he may or may not use naughty language in his interview, but he mostly might. It may or may not be safe to read at work, you know, where they have computer-monitoring software tracking your cyberslacking habits.
I recently sat down with myself to answer a few questions from, well, myself.
1. How’d you start writing?
I grabbed my Mac, turned it on… Seriously, I started writing as a form of therapy. It was a way for me to get over a bad situation. By going over it in my head and transferring it to paper, I saw clearly that the situation shouldn’t have happened in the first place. DUH! I was able to develop a pretty good story and character. He’ll be coming at ya soon in the many chronicles of Jack Brody.
2. Why write short stories for your first book? Most first-time writers dive into the novel.
Good question and I have heard that short story writing is difficult to do, even master. Of course, I heard this after I sent my writing off for edit, so thanks for that. Anyway, I have a friend who told me that I have adult ADD. I’m not sure why she said…what was I answering. Look at that butterfly. Oh yeah, anyway, she suggested that my attention span might be better suited for short stories. I wrote a few, she read them and said, “Your stories are way better than that shit.” She was referring to a collection of short stories from a book and author who shall forever remain unnamed. I liked his writing by the way. She did too, but that’s…never mind.
I like the idea of the short story twist or making the reader think of what may or may not have happened. I purposely want some stories to be ambiguous.
3. Some of your stories are, well, uh, disturbing. Where does your creativity come from?
First of all, I appreciate the compliment. The creativity comes from deep inside a dark, dank cave known as my head. There’s not really much up there anyway so any creativity has a lot of room to grow and flourish… like a mushroom. I enjoy taking a word or a sentence and seeing where it’ll take me. Sometimes it’s just hearing a blurb from a newscast or reading a snippet of information. Hell, sometimes it’s the Vocabology word of the day from my iPhone app that gets me going.
I wrote Debt Solution while watching the first half of the 2013 BCS National Championship game. It obviously has nothing to do with football, but I must have heard something. Like most stories, I wrote it on my iPhone. It started as one thing and evolved into another. I can’t even remember what I originally wrote. Maybe I do have ADD. Hmmm?
4. What makes you think you can write a book? Seems kinda arrogant.
My intention was never to write a book. I dove into a few short stories and then I was once asked, “Hey, what are you gonna do with those? Where are you wanting to go with your writing?” I thought about it for a while, but kept writing. It finally hit me that I had way too many stories written to just share around the campfire at the next outing. Besides, that’d jus be pretentious anyway. And, I can’t recall in the last decade when I’ve been around a campfire. Point is, I figured I needed to put my writing somewhere: vault, safety deposit box, kindling, lining of cat box…
The logical solution was a book. I know my style, genre, or story lines aren’t for everyone. But, here’s the deal: buy it and if you don’t like it—no cheapskate, there’s not a money back guarantee—give it away, let it collect dust, use it to stoke the fire—at least you bought it and that matters a lot—whatever you choose.
5. You bring up a good point. Aren’t you afraid people won’t like your work?
Writing can be a tough gig. We send our work out there and say, “Here. Here it is. Criticize and critique me. Thanks.” Writers need broad shoulders and alligator skin. If you don’t have that, you’re super fucked. I always get a kick outta people who nonchalantly say, “Oh, ya know, I should write a book or something.” Well, go ahead. Do it. What’s stopping you? Give the world what you have to offer. We’ll read it. We’ll critique the shit out of it. You may cry. You may hide. You may hate us, but don’t stop writing.
Have you ever told a proud new parent that their baby was ugly? I mean, hell yeah we’ve thought it, but that’s as far as it went. Of course we wouldn’t say it to the parents’ face. We’ll talk about it on the drive home, but c’mon… Anyway, a writer sends his newly written work out in the world for people to make fun of, pick on, rip apart, and just say bad things about; tell us it’s ugly, or tell us it’s good. Either way, TELL US.
6. What if people think your book sucks?
That’s fine. I have a therapist on speed dial. Like I said, it’s not for everyone. I’m reminded of a quote by Thoreau: “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation.” I take that, and have always believed that we shouldn’t follow the herd.
Be deliberate. Break the status quo. Take chances and know that even failure is a learning experience leading to success. If it’s not this book, then maybe the next or the next or even the next or, who knows, the one after that. I have a lot of weird shit to write. Creativity shouldn’t be shut down because of a bad review or honest critique.
7. You mentioned critiquing. Have other authors read and critiqued your work? Have you done it?
Two good questions. I’ve gone to a writing group a few times and I’ve found that I’d rather prefer professional writers or editors give criticism.
I’m just not a big fan of writing groups because they last sooooo damn long. Who has three hours to sit? I went to one that started at eight in the morning on a Saturday. I know, right? Who the fuck goes to a writing group at 8:00 AM on a Saturday? Anyway, it lasted until just past noon. NOON! Holy shit, I thought we were trying to settle the nation’s economic crisis. We didn’t though. It never came up.
I’ve only critiqued another author once. I’d never do it unless asked. I have turned a few down too. There’s a part in Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris” where the character depicted as Hemingway makes a comment pertaining to reading and critiquing another writer: “If it’s bad, I’ll hate it. If it’s good, then I’ll be envious and hate it even more. You don’t want the opinion of another writer.”
That’s stuck with me so I try to get other people or editors to read my stuff. As for me, if I read another author’s work and it is really good, I’d probably be secretly pissed that I didn’t come up with it. Yeah, guess that secret’s out now.
8. How would you characterize your writing style?
Macabre, thriller, horror, suspense, and even sic-fi; speculative fiction. Start with one thing and see where my fingers lead me. Cut and paste. And, the most technical of all, simply move shit around.
9. What books do you enjoy reading?
I actually try not to get involved in the reading trap because I get sidetracked. Guess it’s that undiagnosed ADD. Seriously though, I enjoy reading fiction, but I find that when I get involved with a book, I usually can’t stop my mind from thinking and then the creativity comes in and the next thing I know, I’m tapping out notes on my iPhone. That’s not to say that I necessarily get ideas from other writers, I usually catch myself reading something and then elaborating in my head. I can’t even tell you how many books I have siting around that are half read. I really should finish some of them. I’m making a note right now: (Finish reading those damn books!)
10. What inspired you to write all of these stories?
Other than the fact that they mounted and took up an infinitesimal amount of space on my hard drive, not too much. I guess it was really my friend who told me at a New Year’s Eve dinner that she believed in me. It was touching. So, looking back, she was the inspiration for me to do something with the stories I had written; to write more; be creative; and, one way or the other, get a book published.