In this weeks author spotlight, I meet up with the amazing Christopher Stires. We chat about his epic fantasy-adventure novel, Paladin’s Journey.
What is your book about?
The gentle Lenore has sacrificed her life and soul to Satan to save her beloved husband, and has been imprisoned in Hell’s flaming palace on the River Styx. Patrick Novarro has vowed to never forsake his loving bride. He’ll fight demon and mortal until the archangels have cloaked her in their embracing wings. In a world of demons and angels, witches and warriors, kings and brigands, in an age of flintlock and sword, one mortal man battles to save the woman he loves from Satan and his legion. It is a quest of love and honor … a journey of horror and death.
What inspired you to write this book?
Over the years, I’d never felt the inspiration or desire to write a second story, or novel, to follow up any of my work. The lone exception was Novarro and his quest. I’d written and sold six short stories about him. I completed a seventh tale but wasn’t satisfied with it at all. I lost track of how many times I rewrote the ending. None were right. Then one day I wrote three words, and stared at them for the longest time. I broke out the thesaurus and changed, and changed again, the last word. Finally I had the best word. And I started over again. I knew then that Novarro’s story would be a novel.
Who is your favourite, and least favourite, character in the book?
When I decided that I needed to tell Novarro’s quest in a novel, the characters of Novarro, Lenore, and Satan were firmly established in my mind’s eye. The first part of the story line is Novarro’s call to adventure and his road of trials (yeah, there’s a plain Joseph Campbell Hero with a Thousand Faces influence working here).
In one section I introduced what I thought would be a minor character to complicate the storyline. Sometimes you have to work hard to create a believable character; other times they jump to center stage and won’t leave. That was Rebecca Nines. She was a whirlwind in dialogue and deed. She was fun. She complicated that particular story section and she complicated even more for Novarro.
Patrick Novarro has always been, and always will be, steadfast in his vows to Lenore (Campbell’s Snow Maiden influence here). She is the love of his life. He will never forsake her. That was established in the very beginning. Now, after years on his quest, he finds himself attracted to another woman and the moral issues he deals with added a new element and dimension to his character. I liked it and it made the story stronger.
But for the writer, Rebecca Nines (definitely Campbell’s Dark Lady) was trickier. All the Novarro tales would be rated PG with an occasional violent turn into PG-13 territory. Sex and nudity are very low-key if mentioned at all. From first appearance Rebecca is an R-rated character. Within a few sentences her character was crystal clear to me. Every time I toned her words and actions down, it rang false. I finally found the right balance and I believe it made the story better. So much so that I rewrote the opening section. Why? Because the pickpocket-and-thief Rebecca Nines had become the fourth major character in the novel’s storyline.
Least Favourite: None. A writer may not like or admire the villains in their story but they have to understand what drives and motivates the character(s). Even for a psycho character, there needs to be a reason for their villainy. In my novel, Satan is the personification of evil but he was once Heaven’s most devoted angel. That allowed me to bring some, I hope, interesting and intriguing aspects to the character. Footnote: I found a Shakespeare quote that helped me many times with the Satan character: “The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.”
Do you write in any other genre?
I’ve written alternative history, fantasy, suspense-thriller, horror, sci-fi, a little mainstream, and long ago I penned and sold a couple graphic erotic tales (these were all under a pseudonym). Besides novels and short stories, I’ve written with a partner several movie screenplays. We were paid actual option-money for one screenplay but the movie was never made. Sigh.
Is this a standalone book, or can we expect more?
I thought Paladin’s Journey would be a stand-alone novel but I’m three-quarters of the way into a sequel. I believe Novarro’s story will be a trilogy. Also some of the supporting characters seem to calling for me to tell their stories. Ready or not, more are coming.
Tell me about you.
I’m divorced, living in Riverside CA with my cat, Sabrina. (I grew up a dog person and how I ended up with, and very attached to, a cat I hold my ex accountable for. And I thank her for it among many other things. Wishing you the best always, Annie.) I grew up in Orange County CA (with a couple of short stays in El Paso and Richardson TX) but never became a surfer. I went to Santa Ana College and Cal State Fullerton. My jobs have included working the personnel office at the Disneyland Hotel and managing sport bars and a coffee house. Currently I am handling auto-accident claims for a major insurance company.
What drew you to writing?
Mom gets the credit – or blame? – for this. She instilled the love of reading in me at a very young age. At some point I decided I wanted to be the one telling the stories that others read. I wrote my first story – in pencil on blue-lined notebook paper – while in elementary school. I’m pretty sure it was a western.
Are there any authors who inspired you to become a writer yourself?
So many. While in elementary school and junior high, I read all 50 of the Hardy Boys novels. Then I moved on to Louis L’Amour and Jack Schaefer. Off the top of my head, the authors who have inspired me most with their writing are Stephen King, Elmore Leonard, and William Goldman. Currently I’m reading the third novel in D.B. Jackson’s Thieftaker series. (Okay, this confession is just between you and me. I have a reputation and image to maintain you understand. I’ve been reading a genre I normally don’t – historical romance and I’m hooked on Monica McCarty’s Highland Guard series and Pamela Clare’s MacKinnon’s Rangers novels. Shhh.)
Other than your own book, what is your favourite novel?
Only one? Oh, geez. Uh … Goldman’s Marathon Man. No, King’s The Dead Zone. Wait … need a sec here: Twain’s Huckleberry Finn, Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon, Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, Isaac’s Storm by Erik Larson, Anne Tyler’s The Accidental Tourist, Watchers by Dean Koontz.
Okay, I have my final answer. I ain’t gonna answer this question.
Have you written other books we should know about?
REBEL NATION (alternate history thriller)
DARK LEGEND (horror)
THE INHERITANCE (horror): Reissue available soon from Zumaya Publications.
TO THE MOUNTAIN OF THE BEAST (sci fi-horror-western): No longer available.
If you could advise aspiring writers on only one aspect of authordom, what would your advice be?
Write every day. Yes, life will intrude on this rule at times but you can’t write only every few days or weeks or when you’re in the mood. And yes, there are a very few writers who are an exception to this but most, like me, aren’t. Also don’t spend a major amount of time writing an extensive detailed outline from beginning to end. Know the beginning and the possible end but only outline a couple chapters ahead at a time. While you’re writing, other story possibilities will occur and some will be well worth exploring, as the entrance of Rebecca Nines was for me in Paladin’s Journey. If you’ve spent a lot of time and hard effort in an outline, you’ll be less willing to deviate from your plan. Don’t limit your writing and your story’s potential.
To all the writers and readers out there, wishing you the best always. Chris Stires
Where can we find out more about you?
Where can we find out more about you?