Today I have an interview with new author, Christian Porter. Christian has just finished his first novel, Shadow Precinct, an intriguing-sounding science fiction story. Shadow Precinct will be released on October 19, so we’re getting a bit of a sneak peak at this upcoming story 🙂
JGA: Thank you for taking the time to do this interview. To start with, can you tell us a bit about yourself, and how you got started writing?
CP: Thank you for having me! My name is Christian Porter and I am a graduate of Howard University in Washington, D.C. My degree is in Computer Science and shortly after I graduated I landed a job as a programmer/designer for a small video game company based out of Baton Rouge. It was cool because it was close to my hometown of New Orleans and I met some really awesome and talented friends while there. The idea for Shadow Precinct initially started as a video game, but after I left the company, I found myself still coming up with ideas for it. I met Rochelle through a mutual friend and we had a conversation where she suggested writing as a creative outlet to string all of these ideas together. That’s when I began to actually put it together in book form.
JGA: How do you go about the actual process of writing?
CP: When I had all my background history fleshed out and knew where I wanted to go with the story, I committed myself to working on it as much as I could. I used my laptop primarily, but whenever I had an idea or even just some cool lines in my head, I’d write them down or type them up in my phone. I tried to dedicate even a little of time to writing as much as I could. Sometimes it would only be a couple lines. I never felt like I forced it, but I made a conscious effort to keep ideas fresh in my head, trying to refine different aspects.
JGA: How do you personally like to read books you buy these days?
CP: I enjoy reading novels and short stories. Of course I have a love for graphic novels and comics as well. The shift into digital literature has made so many different types of books accessible, which is so awesome. I typically read them on my laptop or an e-reader. I have the kindle app on my phone as well.
JGA: Which authors (or books) have had the most influence on your writing style, and why?
CP: Authors I would say Phillip K. Dick was a huge influence. Specifically Ubiq and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, which inspired the Blade Runner film, are two of my favorite sci-fi literary works. Kurt Vonnagut’s Slaughterhouse Five was another that I drew from, the dark humor and unorthodox storytelling method. I think both of those authors have a way of telling real, character driven stories amidst really cool sci-fi backdrops. As far as contemporary authors, I think Seth Graham-Smith’s Pride and Prejudice and Zombies gave me an idea of how to mash up a lot of my ideas into something that was coherent. He also had a heavy martial arts angle in that book that I loved. Junot Diaz’ The Brief and Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao, I just love how that story is told. Diaz never sacrificed his voice as an author, it showed through his writing. You could get a sense of his personality through his writing and that was something that I wanted to achieve as well. George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones series showed me incredible scale and attention to detail in creating a rich history and background for his world.
JGA: How do you go about planning your writing?
CP: The first thing I do is try to consolidate all of my ideas. When I started, a lot of the things that I wanted to incorporate into the story were very all over the place. I had ideas for character names, some descriptions of places, and certain visuals that I wanted to convey. I had video clips and reference pictures in there, too. I had pretty much anything that I could use to guide me in developing the look and feel of the setting and characters. At that point, I made an outline, where I specified characters, locations, events, cool set pieces that I had in my mind, and big plot points. All of this gradually grew into my Info Bible, which is still growing, and something that I constantly reference to make sure I’m not running into any continuity issues and whatnot. Defintely, definitely, make an outline before writing the story.
JGA: Can you talk a bit about the main character, Everett Santeaux. What sort of person is he? How much did he change and evolve in your mind as you were writing the novel?
CP: Yeah, so Everett as a character is one of those guys who just exudes a coolness without trying. He’s a guy that’s hard to read in that regard, because he doesn’t wear his emotions on his sleeve. He’s not just a stone-faced type of guy either, he’s kind of a smart ass. He’ll say something funny in a situation where humor is in short supply. When everyone else is being serious, he may say something off the wall for no one else’s amusement but his own. He has a bit of an ego as well, being who he is and what he does. All in all, he’s a man deathly serious about his business, but his personality shines through more often than not. It was interesting to write the character because the structure of the story hops back and forth through time, so we get to see Everett at different ages. I wanted to show different events in his life that helped to define the man that he becomes. It was challenging at times to have to think about what would Everett be like as an eight year old. What about a teenager? It was important that I showed the progression from quiet and reserved to the lovable jerk that he is by showing how he reacts to different events and different people
JGA: Who are the readers who would enjoy “Shadow Precinct” the most?
CP: I wanted to inject Shadow Precinct with all of the things that I loved and influenced me to write. I’d say fans of Science-Fiction, crime mysteries, martial arts films, comic books, anime, and hip hop music would find something to like in Shadow Precinct. My hope is that it’s a little something for everyone in there.
JGA: What other items are you working on at the moment?
CP: Right now, it’s just all about Shadow Precinct and getting the word out about it. I’m also deep into the process of writing part two of this trilogy. It’s been going well thus far, fleshing out more history, introducing new characters and places, and making sure it all ties together. I want to inject some more science fiction elements into the saga of Shadow Precinct, maybe some mystical elements as well, but I don’t want to give too much up!
JGA: If you could somehow change reality and become the author of any published book instead of the person who originally wrote it, which book would you make your own and why?
CP: I’d say George R.R. Martin. I’d love to give it a go at a fantasy themed novel at some point, put my own spin on it. But his novels are so loved by so many people, it’d be cool to see what that’s like from his perspective.
JGA: Is there anything else you would like to mention that I haven’t asked?
CP: Shadow Precinct will is available for pre-sale now at www.azizapublishing.com but won’t be out for mainstream release until October 19th, 2012. Until then you can check out the website, shadowprecinct.com, read the prologue and check out some cool concept art. Follow me on twitter @ShadowPrecinct for more updates. Thanks so much for having me!