22 May 2007

Interview: Chris Dolley on Resonance

In honor of Chris Dolley's Virtual Book Signing Tour for his new Sci-Fi novel Resonance, released today, I'm posting a brief interview of the author:

LTR: Who are your major influences? Are they only authors, or other genres of art as well?

Chris Dolley: I don't really have many influences. I made a conscious decision as a teenager that I was going to make it by being original - I was going to stun people with ideas that no one had else had imagined. And to do that meant I had to cut myself off from 'corrupting' influences - like books.

Bad decision. It made my work original but it set my writing back years by cutting me off from my chosen craft. You need to read to improve technique and to see what other people are writing.

Now, I read a lot and watch 'good' TV even more. 'Good' TV is great for learning the art of writing snappy dialogue. Joss Whedon and David E Kelly are brilliant writers. I also read P G Wodehouse to soak up his effortless style for humour. And sample Dean Koontz and Michael Connelly for their economical thriller narrative style.

But mostly it's me.

LTR: Why Sci-Fi?

CD: Because it, along with fantasy, allows the imagination a freer rein. It allows the writer to concoct complex mysteries that no one had ever considered before - to create worlds, universes, mechanisms and then tie them together in a story that both captivates and makes sense. It's a challenge and a fulfilling genre.

LTR: When did you decide that you wanted to be an author?

When I was ten. I was either going to be that or a professional footballer (soccer) - preferably both. I'd sign books at half-time and then go on to score a hat-trick in the second half.

Then real life intervened. I had professional trials with my home club - AFC Bournemouth - but never made it. And my first rejection letter from a publisher came when I was fifteen. Recognition took time.

LTR: Do you work from a strict outline when you write, or do you allow the characters to take you to, perhaps, a different ending?

CD: I used to allow my characters a free rein but they kept taking too many liberties. And were forever getting sidetracked. Now, I write a detailed outline - to do otherwise when writing mystery driven fiction is madness. But, having said that, the final book always departs from the outline as improvements are always found and glitches uncovered during the writing process.

So, I start with an outline. I plot it, juggle scenes, revise and tweak until I'm happy, then write the opening scene. As new ideas crop up I go back and revise the outline.

LTR: What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

CD: Read widely, write often and never give up. And be lucky. If asked to quantify what it takes to get published I'd say it comes down to luck, talent, determination and contacts. And, unfortunately, talent is not top of the list. Talent is what you need to get the second and third book published. Talent sustains your career. But to make that initial breakthrough you need luck. You need to have the right manuscript placed before the right editor/agent/first reader on the right day. You can have the best vampire book in the world but place it before a reader who doesn't like vampire fiction, or is having a bad day or has just bought a vampire novel from another author...

So you need determination. You have to keep submitting your book, be willing to listen to criticism/advice, to keep reading, to keep writing, to keep learning ... until someone buys your book.

LTR: Would you recommend a virtual book tour to other first time novelists?

CD: I would. It takes a lot of work but what book tour doesn't. The biggest enemy of a new author is anonymity. If no one knows your book is out there, they won't buy it. So you need to get out there and wave your book.

So what is Resonance about? It's a SF mystery novel set in London, and the story of two people whose lives appear fragmented across alternate realities and how, together, they hold the key to the future of a billion worlds. Resonance was also chosen by SFBC as a featured book.

So if you have a chance today, hop on over to check out the other interviews that have been posted for Chris Dolley, and go to his Resonance page to read the sample chapters if you're so inclined.

~D.M. Papuga

1 Comment:

Susan said...

Thanks for sharing the interview. It's always interesting and informative to read how other writers tackle the actual process of creating a story, and why they decided to begin writing. Best of luck, Chris!