Monday, December 3, 2012

A Penguin and a Writer Walk Into a Bar...

Hello again, my fine-feathered friends! Oh, and my human friends as well. Since today is Monday, I figured I'd start us all off on the right foot with a complex algebraic equation, then move on to Einstein's Theory of Relativity, including a 10 page paper discussing the importance of this discovery as well as how it directly or indirectly affects the pollen count of the West African Orchid. But Ashley shot that idea down, since she hadn't had her coffee yet. So instead, I'm keeping up with tradition here and we're about to meet a very talented and accomplished indie author.

So now it's my extreme pleasure to introduce to you indie author Chris Stralyn, author of terrific reading that includes the highly praised This Time You Lose. Get to know more about Chris and keep up to date with her by following the Drunken Penguin this week!!

DSP: For starters, tell us a bit about you, we like to get to know our authors as a person! 

Chris: My life is pretty low key. I work full time, raise a family, and write when I can. I love pizza and diet coke, swimming and bicycling in the summer and watching hockey games in the winter. I live in Michigan with my family and a menagerie of cats.

Interestingly enough, I never intended to be a writer. Short-order cook, security guard, safety officer, childcare provider, and teacher were all titles I’d worn – but never writer. Then I entered an essay contest for “The Worst Vacation Ever” and won. Writing became my new hobby, and now here I am with an award winning novel.  Strange how things happen sometimes. :)

DSP: Nice to meet you! So tell us, where did you find the inspiration for your most recent book?

Chris: Years ago, a neighboring community was plagued with a series of home invasions. A childcare provider myself at the time, I wondered what would happen if one of these invasions occurred in a childcare home. A woman home alone, caring for up to a dozen children in a deserted, middle-class neighborhood made the perfect target for one of these invasions – and thus my story was born.

DSP: So, do you have any kind of ritual for writing? Such as, you have to write with music on, or you can only write when you’re completely alone, etc?

Chris: I prefer to do my writing sitting at the computer, alone, in the early afternoon. But in reality…I write whenever and wherever I can. Much of This Time You Lose was written in the car, in the stands at my kids sporting events, even in the bathroom. (The only room in the house with a lock on the door!) I’ve also discovered that coffee and Tootsie Roll Pops are required while I’m writing, but that cookie dough helps with editing. :) Check out my video here

DSP: Who is your favorite character in your book, and why? How about the character you had the most trouble with?

Chris: I like strong women characters. Too many women in fiction are meek and wait around for their hero to “rescue” them. I’ll take the strong female character that makes things happen on her own every time – my character of Lisa is one such woman.

It took me a bit of work to get the character of Tito just right. He is the character every reader will hate. He is a self-centered, mean, obnoxious bully that is used to getting his way. Unfortunately for him, it doesn’t work out quite that way once he meets Lisa.

DSP: Now, when you sit down to write a book, a paragraph, or whatever you‘re working on at the moment, do you just sit down in front of the computer, or do you need an outline of some sort? Is there any other prep you need in order to organize your thoughts either before you write or in the process of writing?

Chris: I did no plotting ahead of time with This Time You Lose. I had a very basic idea of the beginning and the end, but no set path on how to get from one to the other. I simply sat down and started writing. I did find myself wandering off on a few tangents and had to back track a bit now and then, but I enjoyed following wherever the characters took me.

To get into the minds of my characters I like to sit in a quiet room with my eyes closed. I then visualize the scene as if it were playing on a movie or TV screen and try to put myself in each of the characters places – envisioning what they may do or say. Then I change up the scene in my head to see how the characters react to a new setting or circumstance. When I am happy with the reactions, I write them down.

DSP: Do you foresee any more books to continue this story? If so, do you think we can get a taste of what’s to come?

Chris: I am currently working on a sequel to This Time You Lose, and hope to have it available late next spring. I can’t give too many details without spoiling the ending of This Time You Lose for readers, but I can say that many, but not all, of the characters will be returning in the sequel. If you like the intensity of the first book, you will love the second one.  

DSP: Other than this most recent story, do you have any ideas for different books that might be published in the future? Care to give us a teaser?

Chris: I have two more books bouncing around in my head. One will be another suspense thriller, with a writer as the protagonist. The other will be an anthology of real life stories – more of a humor collection.

DSP: Do you have any aspirations to be similar or comparable to another author? Why?

Chris: No, not really. I love suspense thrillers and grew up reading Stephen King, but I also really enjoy James Patterson . So while it would be great to be compared to either of them, I think I would prefer to develop my own style and voice. I don’t want to be “the next James Patterson” I want to be the first Chris Stralyn!

DSP: Okay, one last question, and this one is different for every author, not to mention completely off the wall! Imagine you're on a plane full of people it's about to crash into water. You have the only lifeboat, and it can only seat 6. How would you choose who to save, and why?

Chris: If I’m on a plane with my family, obviously I would save them first. That would fill the lifeboat. If I’m traveling alone…. I would save any children first. If there were still room in the lifeboat after the children had been saved, I would simply save those that were nearest to me in the water and that were struggling to stay afloat. Swimmers such as myself could hang onto the outside edge of the lifeboat, but children and non-swimmers would get dibs on the seats inside.

Awesome, now I know who I want to have with me if I'm ever stuck in a situation like that! :)

Chris, thanks so much for sitting down and giving us a peek inside that noggin of yours! We're going to be featuring posts about Chris and her work periodically throughout this week, so stay tuned and learn more about this incredible author!!

In other news, make sure you enter to win a copy of the eBook This Time You Lose by Chris Stralyn. Giveaway ends 11:59p Sunday, and there are multiple chances to get your name entered!! Get on it, boys and girls, this is a book you don't want to let get away from you! 

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