We are wrapping up the series of talks between me and author Christopher Starr on how these writers write. If you haven’t already, be sure to read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4. Now – on to the fun stuff!
Terra: How do you handle reviews – the good and the bad?
Christopher: Oh reviews! The joy and bane of every writer’s existence. We write in solitude and then exist for feedback, praying someone loves what we tried to do or an at least appreciate the point we were trying to make. When they do and they grace us with more than a couple stars and give us those nuggets of opinion, it’s fantastic. Until we realize they didn’t like it. And resist the urge to respond.
Like everyone, I just want an honest review on the merits of the story. But it’s always a little more complicated than that; I’m sure you can agree. My subject matter is fodder for plenty of discussion; it’s only a matter of time before I get not-so-savory reviews. I handle negative reviews immaturely—at home. I’ll rant and rave and finger point and curse but I’ll never respond to a review on any medium. I’m pretty adamant about that. If I get a fantastic review from a blogger and we have a relationship, I’ll thank them. If it’s on Amazon or Goodreads, that review, positive or negative, belongs to the consumers. I figure I’m breaking some great author-reader contract by intruding on their playground.
Some reviews I incorporate or might comment more broadly in a blog post, particularly if the point is good. Someone made a comment about why some angels die and why others regenerate. I addressed it in the book I’m working on now. Another person talked about the world I’d created and it spawned one of the most introspective blog posts I’ve written in a while. Reviews have been good for me.
Terra: Reviews were one part of the job I was not prepared for. Of course, I knew I needed them. And of course, I thought I would be receiving nothing but 4 and 5 stars. In my eyes my books are awesome. So when some readers didn’t think my books were so awesome, I was pissed. Some flat out hated my books; and I was shocked. Heartbroken almost. I did the same as you; rant and rave at home. I was all ready to respond to reviewers and maybe explain some things they overlooked in my book. But then I followed the advice of my husband, and I let it go. Eventually, I was able to take some advice from bad reviews, and I believe my writing is better for it.
Christopher: How do you separate yourself from the subject matter you write? You have some pretty tough stuff in your books—did you have to take a shower just to wash it away and be normal? Or was it more clinical for you—just a day at the office? And, once you wrote, how did those closest to you react?
I can tell you I killed a character my wife was very fond of (the character was actually based in part on her). She’s been hot with me for a while, even said I have to add a new strong female lead to fill the gap. I laugh about it now but I cried about it when I did it. I liked her. And that why she had to go.
Terra: Writing is sort of a form of therapy for me. I have all these plots, scenarios, and characters running around in my head – I don’t know how they get there, they have nothing to do with my life, but they would absolutely drive me crazy if I didn’t get a chance to hash everything out on my keyboard.
I do have tough stuff in my books; and friends and family react differently. All are supportive of course, and all have their preferences. My mother-in-law helps me edit – she likes to cross out all the sex scenes. My husband tries to get through my stuff, but fantasy just isn’t his thing. My Catholic grandma calls my books page-turners and when I call her she’s like, “Why are you on the phone? You need to be writing. I have to know what happens next!”
Christopher: My grandmother’s the same way—best advice she ever gave me was “Be good. If you can’t be good, be careful. And if you can’t be careful, name it after me.
So, what’s next for you? New series? Are you staying in the same genre?
Terra: Yep, new series. Mermaids and werewolves! Though I have been experimenting a little with Sci-Fi (short stories and such), so we’ll see where that leads. How about you?
Christopher: The plan is to finish the Heaven Falls Series before jumping into something else. That’s the plan, mind you. I’m in the middle of the second book right now and it’s going along so swimmingly that I consider a new project daily. Still I’d like to say I finished it and I’d like my readers to have the complete story before I move onto something else. I think I’d be mad if, instead of telling me if Darth Vader was really Luke’s dad, George Lucas did Red Tails.
After Heaven Falls, I have a number of ideas and series that I’m considering. And I’m sure I’ll switch genres—my goal is to be like Ray Bradbury and write some of everything before it’s all over.
Terra: That about wraps it up! Thanks so much for doing this with me, Christopher. It was by far one of the most fun interviews I have done to date. Let’s stay in touch and good luck with everything!
Christopher: This has been remarkably amazing and refreshing to me! Writing is such a solitary endeavor, It’s always good to know you’re not entirely crazy as a writer. That what we do and go through is a bit more commonplace. That helps. In spite of the myriad voices in my head, they all generally arrive at the same sort of consensus. My overall world view doesn’t change. it’s cool to see things from someone else’s point of view. Thanks so much for letting me peek in your head.
“Did you ever notice how in the Bible, when ever God needed to punish someone, or make an example, or whenever God needed a killing, he sent an angel? Did you ever wonder what a creature like that must be like? A whole existence spent praising your God, but always with one wing dipped in blood. Would you ever really want to see an angel?”–Thomas Daggett, The Prophecy (1995)
Michael the Warrior. Lucifer the Fallen.
Gabriel the Watcher. Raphael the Healer.
For eons, these princes of Heaven have done the Father’s will, His way. From the war between the angels to the second coming of Christ, the Heaven Falls series is their stories in their words.
From the Beginning. Until the End.
The Road to Hell: The Book of Lucifer by Christopher Starr