Monday, 22 October 2012
Author Interview: James Schannep
About the Author:
James Schannep is an American novelist and screenwriter who has received numerous awards and placements for his work. His first screenplay was optioned in 2011 and the Click Your Poison series was launched September, 2012 with the flagship book INFECTED. A United States Air Force Academy graduate with a degree in English, Schannep left the service honorably to write full time. He has personally stopped three zombie uprisings without raising national attention.
Do you plan everything or just let the story flow?
-I outline for several weeks before I begin, and I generally know all the story beats before I begin. That being said, I often surprise myself as the story's flowing out and end up making major changes for draft #2.
Do your characters ever want to take over the story?
-In a Click Your Poison book, where YOU are the main character of the story, it's hard not to have the supporting cast steal the show. Often times characters shouted, "We're doing it this way!" but I had to find a way to leave the choices up to the reader.
What is your favourite food?
-My favorite writing food is... coffee. Which more often than not I serve iced here in sunny California. Once editing starts, somehow Bailey's seems to find its way in there too.
Are you a morning person or a night owl?
-I try to stick to a morning schedule, but years as a military shift worker has left me with bouts of insomnia. When I can't sleep, I work.
Where do you dream of travelling to and why?
-I make my dreams of traveling a reality! My wife and I love to travel. We've explored the Greek countryside and some of its islands, hiked the Inca Trail to Machu Piccu in Peru, explored many of the national parks here in the US. Up next is a trip to Japan. Much of my writing is informed by my travels, but really, I'm just a junkie for new experiences. If I had to put a "one day" trip high on my list, I'd like to cruise around the Galapagos islands. It's amazing that an area so small has had so great an impact upon how we see our world.
Do distant places feature in your books?
-Absolutely. INFECTED takes place in an unspecified part of the US, but the next Click Your Poison I'm thinking will be in Brazil and many of my short stories offer foreign locales.
Do you listen to music while writing?
-Always. I have a pandora station full of film scores. I like the grand scale of the music and, personally, I don't like lyrics while I'm writing so instrumental pieces work best.
Could you tell us a bit about your latest release?
-INFECTED started off as a screenplay back in 2008, but didn't attract studio attention because I hadn't re-invented the zombie wheel. It was good, I was told, but it needed to either be based on existing intellectual property or be a zombie musical rom-com. Not wanting to compromise my work, I shelved the project. Cut to four years later, and an off-hand conversation with a friend, "Why are there no choose-your-own-adventure type series for adults?" and I'm now setting out to create the first gamebook (much like the Fighting Fantasy books I understand were big in the UK) series for adults. INFECTED allows readers to put their zombie survival strategies to the test.
What have you learned about writing and publishing since you first started?
-It's been a long, slow road, so I just try to keep in mind the words of the Renaissance artist Michelangelo, who said, "Genius is infinite patience." Honing your craft takes patience, learning the ropes takes patience, building an audience takes patience. But I believe all that patience will one day pay off.
Is there anything you would do differently?
-Sure. Lots of minor things. But something that your audience can learn from? Look for editors and graphic designers early. Learn ebook formatting early. If you wait until you're done writing, you'll be tempted to rush the final process.
Who, or what, if anything has influenced your writing?
-I grew up on Ray Bradbury and Michael Crichton, who wrote what I call, "Literary fiction with a sci-fi bent". That's where my interests tend to lie.
Anything you would say to those just starting out in the craft?
-Write and read every day. Finish the first draft before you start editing, or else you'll never finish. I know you think it's ready, but you probably shouldn't publish the first novel you complete. And good luck!
What are three words that describe you?
-Persistent, imaginative, driven. If I have any gifts as a writer, there they are.
What's your favourite book or who is your favourite writer?
-My favorite writer is a screenwriter, which is another form in which I write. Charlie Kaufman writes incredibly imaginative scripts that defy genre, and that's my goal with any writing.
-3 Unique Storylines. Over 50 Possible Endings. Just one question... Will YOU Survive the Zombie Apocalypse? Here’s how it works: You, Dear Reader, are the main character of this story. Live, die, and rise again based solely on the merit of your own choices. Each link represents a choice, and there’s no going back, so choose wisely. Everyone has their plan; what they’d do to survive if and when the zombie apocalypse happens. Now you can see how you’d hold up against the legions of undead—without needing to call the CDC because crazed bath salts users are trying to eat your face off. Like the gamebooks popular in the 1980s-90s (Choose Your Own Adventure, Give Yourself Goosebumps, etc), this is a series where you choose how to progress through the book. Unlike any others, this is the first series designed specifically for adults. And as an ebook, you simply click your choice and the story flows forward for you. No flipping pages.
Any websites/places readers can find you on the web.
- My personal website is http://www.jamesschannep.com and you can check out "Click Your Poison" at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.
Barnes and Noble
Thank you, James and good luck with your books :)