I met Christopher and his lovely family at a Los Angeles Literary Convention where he had a table to promote his latest line of books. We fell to chatting and I extended an invitation to him to join us here on No Wasted Ink to tell us more about his life as a writer and about his upcoming books. I hope you’ll enjoy his interview.
My name is Christopher Andrews. I’m an author, actor, screenwriter, occasional fan-film enthusiast, and a stay-at-home Dad. I grew up in Oklahoma but have spent most of my adult life in Southern California. I currently live in California with my wife, Yvonne Isaak-Andrews, our beautiful daughter, Arianna, and our Pug, PJ.
When and why did you begin writing?
Writing as a career was a natural extension of my childhood. When I was 7 years old, my 2nd grade teacher had us do a project where we folded three sheets of notebook paper in half and turned it into a 10-page custom comic book. Most of my schoolmates wrote one sentence, perhaps two, across the top of each page and filled the rest with a drawing. I, however, wrote so much prose that on some pages I had difficulty squeezing in the artwork.
After that, I was always writing something in one form or another. I kept up the custom comic book habit well into college. I co-wrote a stage play for our 5th grade talent show; I co-wrote Humorous Duet material for Drama contest all through high school. I wrote home “movies” for my brother and me to perform. I started typing in 6th grade and wrote many short works (several of which would now be considered “fan fiction,” though I didn’t know the term at the time). I filled blank diary books with all kinds of stories.
Finally, when I was 14 years old — two days after my 14th birthday, in fact — a friend told me that he was working on a novel (which, funny enough, was the origin story for a character he had created for my longest-running custom comic book series) and asked if I would help him write it. The project eventually gravitated over to my work entirely, and I finished it — my first full-length novel — when I was 18 years old.
So when you ask “why” I began writing, I suppose the simplest answer is: I cannot fathom life without writing.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I suppose I first consciously thought of myself as “a writer” in 6th grade, when I wrote a novella (in one of those blank diary books) called Demon. It was the first thing I’d written that was not based on something else (the aforementioned comic books, though technically original stories and characters, were set in the Marvel universe). As an adult, I typed up Demon and, purely for nostalgia, had a private mass-media paperback printed of it.
Can you share a little about your current book with us?
My latest novel is Paranormals: We Are Not Alone, the second novel in my Paranormals series. Very fitting to this interview, Paranormals is my adult adaptation of those custom comic books I talked about.
Paranormals deals with the aftermath of a celestial event dubbed the White Flash, which caused a small-but-slowly-growing percentage of the population to develop superhuman abilities. The first book took place five years after the White Flash; We Are Not Alone takes place one year after that.
The second book sees the main characters from the first continuing to adapt to their changed world. The newest development is the arrival of an extraterrestrial race (the first book mentioned that S.E.T.I. began detecting interstellar signals shortly after the White Flash). We also learn a bit more about what exactly the White Flash was.
What inspired you to write this book?
From the beginning, I intended Paranormals to be an ongoing series. Along with my supernatural Triumvirate series, I plan to return to both of them again and again. Of my eight published books thus far, five of them belong to either Triumvirate or Paranormals.
For Paranormals: We Are Not Alone specifically, things are coming full circle. As the series evolved from my childhood comic book stories, We Are Not Alone evolved from that first novel I wrote during my teen years. We Are Not Alone is, in some ways, an unofficial sequel to that unpublished book.
Do you have a specific writing style?
I am often told that my writing is very “visual,” that my various novels could very easily translate to the screen (no surprise that I’ve written two novelizations of movies). Funny enough, when my screenplays are critiqued, the number one comment is that the prose descriptions are too verbose, like reading a book.
How did you come up with the title of this book?
Given the extraterrestrial spin of Paranormals: We Are Not Alone, its subtitle felt the most appropriate — the human characters might have superpowers, but their minds are still appropriately blown by the historic revelation when they realize aliens are among us. It was only a month or so after the hardback was published that a friend pointed out that “We Are Not Alone” was one of the taglines for Close Encounters of the Third Kind. I had not consciously remembered that, but it’s still so fitting, I wouldn’t have changed it.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
My Paranormals series is aimed at pure reading enjoyment. Have fun! (Though I must admit that the series does revere heroism and the strong not taking advantage of the weak, which could easily be taken as the series’ “message.”)
Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Not beyond being based on my childhood comic book adventures. Now, the first Triumvirate novel, Pandora’s Game, is another matter entirely …
What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?
I am a huge fan of Isaac Asimov, Richard Matheson, Stephen King, and Peter David. They each have their own unique voice — Asimov was delightfully cerebral; Matheson made the fantastic feel grounded; King brings an earthiness to anything from the pain of divorce to a visit from the devil; David injects humor without making it distracting — but (with the arguable exception of King) they also keep it simple. They show that their stories can be exciting and enthralling without the prose containing so many adjectives they run off the page and out the door.
If you had to choose, is there a writer you would consider a mentor? Why?
If we’re talking about “mentors,” I’d probably have to go with Stephen King because of his excellent book On Writing, which was half autobiography, half writing class. I didn’t agree with every single bit of advice he had to offer, but I often find myself running my own drafts through a quasi-On Writing filter.
Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?
I designed my own cover. I’ve actually designed all of my own covers — except for my novelization of Dream Parlor, which is adapted from the movie’s poster. However, my publisher treats my covers as separate agreements from my books themselves. They’ve made it very clear that they retain the rights to opt for another designer’s work. I turn in my manuscript, and then I submit my cover art. So far, they’ve accepted mine each time.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
In this, I can only echo Stephen King’s own advice: Read, read, read! Pick your favorite genre(s), the kinds of books you want to write, and read. Read every single day.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I just want to thank them for allowing me to have this career. If it weren’t for my readers, I wouldn’t be able to stay home with my daughter. I appreciate your ongoing support!
Los Angeles, CA
Publisher: Rising Star Visionary Press
Cover Artist: Christopher Andrews