Today in the Writer's Corner, we meet Chris Masterton.
Amanda: Hi Chris. Welcome to the Writer’s Corner where we talk all things writing in our corner of the world!
Chris: Thank you very much! I love what you’ve done with the place. It’s a very nice little corner.
Amanda: So tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you in this big wide world?
Chris: Well, I’m a time-travelling alien from the future. But no one ever believes me when I say that, so let’s go with; I’m a science fiction enthusiast from Western Sydney. I’m a father of 2 little boys (who are just the best). I work in software design and occasionally make pictures with my computer.
Amanda: And you decided to be a writer? Why’s that?
Chris: I did. I must be a sucker for punishment. No, it is really just more of a creative outlet for me. When I was at school I would daydream all day about going on space adventures. Now I also write them down.
Amanda: But you’re not just a writer, you’re also a digital artist. How does your art practice help shape you as a writer?
Chris: It certainly helps fund my writing. There are actually a lot of parallels. They are both creative processes that require a lot of time and energy but can be very rewarding as well.
Amanda: You’re the co-author of The History of Sol series - tell us anything and everything!
Chris: History of Sol has been a massive project that Steve and I have worked on for over 10 years! It all started out as a bit of a joke. We decided one day to make a Futurama/Red Dwarf inspired video in my dad’s garage with a bunch of friends. We made a dodgy set and everything. Well, after about a day of filming and two and a half minutes of footage; the filming ceased but the writing continued. Then it kind of evolved into this massive story and changed from a TV series into novellas over time.
The story is basically a bunch of people who work on a cargo ship in the distant future and they have to deliver this mysterious box. Then, people try to kill them for it. So rather than delivering it, they decide to keep it for themselves and try to figure out why it’s so important. As you can imagine, this leads them into a whole lot of interesting and dangerous adventures!
Amanda: Steven Dutch is your co-author. What makes you two unique? How do you juggle the writing process?
Chris: I think we are both the same kind of crazy. We have a lot of similar interests and the same warped sense of humour. Half of the time, we are saying and writing stupid stuff to make each other laugh. Even though our story has taken on a much more serious tone now, we still have a lot of fun with the writing process.
Amanda: Are you a world builder or a character creator?
Chris: I am definitely a world builder; our characters just live there.
Amanda: And is there a system in place for you and Steven to work out who world builds and who character builds? Or is it a joint process? That must be a fascinating adventure to have two sets of eyes and minds in different subjects.
Chris: We definitely have a process (trade secrets) but neither of us really take ownership of one role or another. It’s more about collaborating; bouncing ideas back and forth to develop them quicker. By the time an idea has bounced back and forth a couple of times, I feel like it becomes more than either of us could have come up with on our own.
Amanda: How do you do research from something when it’s set in the future and hasn’t happened yet?
Chris: I like to read and watch a lot of stuff about technology, how it integrates with modern society and how it continues to evolve with us (or us with it). But you always need exposure to new ideas and concepts.
Amanda: And are you writing on your own? Will there be a book just for Chris Masterton. What will it be about? (No spoilers!)
Chris: Not actively. I have a lot of ideas for solo projects but it’s hard to find the time with a young family, full-time job, my digital art and my ongoing writing commitments. I am really interested in how technology will shape humanity in the short-term future. So if I write a solo story, it will likely be in that space.
Amanda: Is there a taboo topic you’ve ever wanted to explore?
Chris: Yeah, I think religion is a bit of a dicey subject which I like writing about. I think it’s a fairly prominent theme in History of Sol.
Amanda: What have you taken out of a book?
Chris: You know what they say; Good artists copy, great artists steal. (Joking)
I think I probably take a little bit of inspiration from all of the books that I enjoy reading.
Amanda: Have you written someone as a character? Did you ever tell them?
Chris: There are some of our characters that are loosely inspired by people we know. The character ‘Red’ for example, when I picture him in my mind, it’s my friend Briggs. I’m pretty sure I’ve told him before.
Amanda: If you could tell your younger writer self some advice, what would it be?
Chris: Get an editor! Actually, we found our editor by publishing our first book. A friend had sent him a copy as a gift, and he either really liked our ideas, or he felt sorry for us (maybe a bit of both).
Amanda: Do you believe in writer’s block? If so, have you ever had to deal with it? And how did you overcome it?
Chris: I believe in it, I just don’t think it’s ever really been much of an issue for us. Whenever we get stuck on something we just write anything, even if it sucks, then we come back to it later and improve on it. I think that’s just writing in general though. Nothing starts off perfect.
Amanda: What about reader’s block? Is that even a thing?
Chris: Life is a reader’s block. If I didn’t have a life, I’d get a lot more reading done.
Amanda: What are you reading right now?
Chris: I’ve just finished reading The Last Regret by Marie Gin and I’m really getting into The Expanse series by James S.A. Corey, which is quickly becoming my favourite sci-fi series that I’ve read to date.
Amanda: And here’s the big question - when is the next book out?
Chris: We’ve found that a 2-year cycle works really well for us and our busy lives. We have just released book 3, so book 4 will be out by June 2021.
Amanda: That’s awesome. Thank you so much for coming along today. It’s been great to chat.
Chris: This has been fun. Thanks for having me!
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