We spent most of January announcing our Fantasy from the Rock all-star lineup, but without actually reading the stories (and you can’t, not until April 27th!) it’s hard to get to know the authors that are helping make up this epic collection. With that in mind, here’s our interview with Christopher Walsh, author of the Gold and Steel Saga and one of the all-star fantasy authors of this collection!
1. What is your favorite word?
Chris: Palindrome. That was a bit of a thinker. I’ve never thought about what might be my favourite word before. I think ‘palindrome’ is a fun word, though. Say it over a few times in your head. Plus, once you start using the word often, you’ll start looking for palindromes in word and number sequences you see.
2. What is your least favorite word?
Chris: Very. When used as an adverb for emphasis before an adjective. It’s a word I’m as guilty of using as anyone else in my daily conversations, but it’s one I have a made a conscious effort to purge from my writing vocabulary going forward. Any time the word ‘very’ comes to mind or I catch myself typing it, I pause, read over the sentence again and try to find an adequate replacement for the adjective so that ‘very’ is no longer needed.
3. What is your favorite movie?
Chris: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. This will come as a surprise to nearly no one who knows me or even knows what Gold & Steel is. Tolkien is the founding father of what we know as the fantasy genre today and to me, the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings are required reading for any fantasy fan. It’s the starting point of it all. Everything in the genre that came after can trace some of its inspiration back to his work. It’s classic, ageless material. The film adaptations of the LotR trilogy lived up to the epic feel of the books. Regardless of where you fall on what was and wasn’t used from the source material, there’s little denying that the Lord of the Rings movies by Peter Jackson, like their source material, set the bar for fantasy on the big screen (and small screen). While FotR and RotK were both incredible movies in their own right, it was Two Towers that still sticks out to me as my favourite. To this day, if I see that army of Uruk-Hai marching on Helm’s Deep, my hair stands on end.
4. What sort of music do you enjoy listening to? Do you listen to music while you write?
Chris: I’m all over the place musically. I usually have music playing while I write and what I have playing really depends on the scene that I’m writing. For instance, in a scene that requires a sombre tone, I will likely go to modern classical composers like Dustin O’Halloran or Jorge Mendez; the composers of my favourite RPG games, like Nobuo Uematsu and Yasunori Mitsuda and the Baroque-rock band Sleeping At Last. If I’m writing an action scene, I’ll typically go for power metal. However, my default setting these days for listening preference seems to gravitate towards Led Zeppelin (always Zeppelin, no matter what else I might be in the mood for, Zeppelin above all), 90’s Grunge/(Canadian) Alternative and singer/songwriter folk music. For example, I’m a huge fan of bands like Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam, City & Colour, Glen Hansard, The Tragically Hip, Our Lady Peace, Neil Young, Stone Sour, Kathleen Edwards, Alter Bridge and Hozier. There’s a lot I’m into musically and my tastes derive first and foremost lyrically. I want music that makes me think introspectively and of the world we live in.
5. What is your favorite book?
Chris: The Hobbit. Following the theme of the movie question, it’s my favourite book, bar none. Some have come close, like the LotR trilogy, A Clash of Kings and A Storm of Swords from ASoIaF, To Kill a Mockingbird and several of the Harry Bosch novels by Michael Connolly, but the Hobbit stands on its own above them all. It is a book I can read again and again and never once get tired of it.
6. What was the last book you read for pleasure?
Chris: The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. Recommended and lent to me by a friend. It’s one I started reading, but got sidetracked and came back to it lately. I’m really enjoying it the second attempt around.
7. What are you currently working on?
Chris: The Worth of Gold: Book two in the Gold & Steel series. I’m not one to give away details, but I will say that progress is being made.
8. How did you get involved with Engen?
Chris: Sci-Fi on the Rock. I met Matt and Ellen at the 2014 convention for the first time and got to talking a bit with them. This was my first introduction to the little underground writing community they foster and I discovered I’m not alone in terms of being a Newfoundland writer who doesn’t want to write strictly about Newfoundland and Labrador. Not only does this community exist, but Engen are the ones leading the charge with it. I ran into them again at next year’s Sci-Fi and by that time As Fierce as Steel was near completion and I was actually in the process of preparing it for release. We got to talking much more and between then and the few other conventions around the island where we crossed paths, they welcomed me into the fold with open arms.
9. What is your favorite Engen Book?
Chris: Sci-Fi From the Rock, 2016 edition. It’s the first one I had ever laid eyes on, to be honest. I think the entire premise behind the From the Rock series is just wonderful and it’s gaining momentum year after year. There is no other outlet in Newfoundland that celebrates all local fiction writers, regardless of story setting or topic as wholly as Engen and the From the Rock series. Until I discovered them, I never knew there was anyone in the publishing game on the island who was interested in material outside of the Newfoundland niche. What From the Rock does is give you a thorough snapshot of each of the writer they showcase. Some are established novelists, like Kenneth Tam and Scott Bartlett and others prefer writing in shorter form, like Melanie Collins and Matthew Daniels and some, like Sam Bauer, are fresh new faces on the rise. All of the above would have or actually have been given a cold shoulder for not writing about Newfoundland. More experienced writers like Tam and Bartlett have forged their own way through, but I have to wonder how many from our age group started out trying their hand at writing when they were Bauer’s age and just gave up when the local publishers turned them away? If not for Engen, would anyone in the local publishing community given his story, The Locket, a second glance? The answer is quite likely a solid no, unless he tacked on the word Newfoundland to the location of the hospital. It’s such a silly metric to determine who does and doesn’t get published here. Luckily, we have Engen and regardless of age, experience or preferred story form, From the Rock offers a taste of what each of these writers have to offer. If those writers have further material available, you can easily look to the back of the book and find out where to get more. If Engen is heart of the writing community in Newfoundland, From the Rock is the pulse.
10. What (professionally) would you most like to accomplish?
Chris: I would like to be financially stable from writing alone. Nearly every author dreams of being the next Stephen King or J.K. Rowling and I’m no different in that regard, but realistically speaking, I would be quite content if my books sold well enough that I could focus on writing.
11. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
Chris: Political journalism. It’s a field as important to the maintenance of a free society as the leaders they write about.
12. What’s next?
Chris: More Gold & Steel! It’s a big series, after all, gotta keep writing that. I dabble in short stories set in that world too, so, always something to work on.
Pick up Gold and Steel and the entire Engen Books library at Elaine’s Books downtown St. John’s, and join us all for Sci-Fi on the Rock 11 April 28th 2017!