I first made the acquaintance of Charles “C.F.” Waller when we both appeared as guests on the Speculative Fiction Cantina podcast hosted by author S. Evan Townshend. He’s a personable and knowledgeable fellow, with a good sense of humor and a sharp knowledge of the craft of story. I knew then that I wanted to get ahold of him for a chat here on Portals, and he was kind enough to oblige me. Waller is the author of six books, most recently a novel called Tourists of the Apocalypse, published in April of this year.
CG: Charles, I greatly enjoyed appearing on the Speculative Fiction Cantina podcast with you back in May. Since I’ve never featured you on Portals and Pathways before, tell our readers a little bit about what inspired you to become an author, the particular genres that inspire you, and one or two authors who are favorites of yours.
CFW: Michael Crichton is my favorite modern day author (Jurassic Park, The Terminal Man, Prey), although he recently died very young. I adore Oscar Wilde’s The Portrait of Dorian Grey, Henry James The Aspern Papers, James Joyce’s The Dead or anything by Dashiell Hammett.
I started writing screenplays, then realized no one would read one from a guy with no resume. With seven or eight novels published, I am starting to get some traction, but sticking to books for now. I may or may not have a screenplay file open on my laptop somewhere, but that’s classified.
CG: Science fiction is a genre that has been around for much longer than most people realize, I think, and shows no signs of losing its appeal. What do you think is responsible for the ongoing appeal of SF—not only in the literary realm but in other media as well?
CFW: I’d like to think we crave it because of astounding advances in science that open our minds to new possibilities #OPTOMISTIC. In truth, we are deluged with Star Trek/Star Wars/Marvel Universe movies at present. I enjoy them, but am always looking for the small budget novel/movie with something to say. My favorite small budget science fiction movie of all time is Primer, written, directed and starring Shane Carruth. If you haven’t seen it plan on watching it 20 times and after the first time turn the director’s commentary on to catch up.
CG: As authors, we don’t write in a vacuum. I know I always find myself inspired by the art that I’m currently experiencing. What’s the most recent book that you read and enjoyed? Most recent film? Piece of music?
CFW: I read so many pre-release (Beta version) books for other authors that I almost never read the final polished product. The best thing I have read/seen recently was a movie/screen play by Alex Garland called Ex Machina. I was so taken by it, I downloaded the screenplay to read. It’s one of the most thought provoking works of the past few years. I have watched it 20 plus times.
I laughed when you asked about music. I listen to a lot of Taylor Swift. Yes, I saw you all cringe! #SHAKEITOFF
CG: What are some of your pastimes and passions outside of the world of writing? Is there something besides being an author that you’ve thought about trying, but never have?
CFW: My wife and I play Yahtzee and watch a lot of Gordon Ramsey cooking shows.
I have had several careers along the way, but am happy to stick close to home these days. If I could have a do-over on life, I might try running for political office although that might be a carryover from binge watching seven seasons of The West Wing recently.
CG: What’s your advice for any beginning writers who might read this? Also, is there a particular book on writing that you’ve found useful?
CFW: There are a few things I wish I had understood in the beginning.
The first thing you write will be rubbish so keep writing new things and laugh about it later.
Make sure you cover is poster quality/professional and don’t publish a manuscript that’s awash in grammar errors. It’s sad, but true that people buy with their eyes.
Don’t try and find a publisher. Self-Publish and then write something else. Don’t spend a year trying to promote and sell an early work. Put it out there and move on.
You will get bad reviews. Instead of being upset, read them and try to learn something. If a book has all 4-5 star reviews, then only friends of the family read the book. I cherish my 1-2 stars’ reviews as it proves that on the whole, the reviews I have are factual.
The best writing book I have found is the Fiction Writing Journal Handbook by Robin Woods and Tamar Hela. It’s key to my writing process at the beginning.
CG: What projects are you currently working on?
CFW: My November release is in final edit. It’s titled The Conduit: A Tale of Resurrection (The name tells you all you need to know).
I am working through the first draft of a Spring 2017 release. It’s an Aeronautical themed techo-thriller. I have been doing a lot of flying in friend’s private planes and receiving back stage tours in airports this year in preparation. If the books as much fun to read, as the research was to do, it will be great. It’s tentatively titled Waypoint.
CG: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our Portals and Pathways audience?
CFW: Sure . . . Cats over Dogs, Onion Rings over Fries, Palm Trees over Evergreens and always eat a second piece of cake.
Thank you so much for taking the time and thought to answer these, Charles—it’s much appreciated.
If you’d like to read C.F. Waller’s work—and I want to read it all—you can find his Amazon page here: https://www.amazon.com/C.-F.-WALLER/e/B00CLV2CGG
His website is located here: http://www.cfwaller.com/home.html
And you can find the edition of “The Speculative Fiction Cantina” podcast, on which Charles and I were both interviewed, at this link: http://writestreamradio.com/2016/05/24/the-speculative-fiction-cantina-with-c-f-waller-and-clay-gilbert/