This Monday, we have the privilege of welcoming science fiction and fantasy author Charles Barouch to Dropped Pebbles. Charles has experience with many different forms of writing, including Manga and Children’s Books, so please stick around to discover what he has to say to say about his first creative love as well as what other projects he’s working on.
Good Monday, Charles. Thank you so much for stopping by to chat with us. Can you start by telling us a little about yourself?
Since, for me, writing is like breathing, I feel obligated to have something interesting to say. Combine that with my paranoia about holding just one job at a time (I’ve got 80 years experience on my resume) and I have a very wide array of experience to draw upon.
Are you interested in other forms of artistic expression besides writing? Where does writing fit in, and why are you drawn to it?
Interested, yes. Skilled, not so much. I am a good designer but I am not good at translating that into paint or clay or skyscrapers. For me, writing is more craft than art. I guess it ‘fits in’ to editing, layout, and teaching — writing as a technical skill with a strong artistic aspect.
What forms of writing and genres do you prefer and why? What can you never see yourself writing?
I write everything. Science Fiction, Fantasy…I have completed draft of book one of a Manga series (I just need an artist). I have six months of a Web Comic written (I just need an artist). I have over fifty print articles to my credit as a journalist. I just finished writing a Children’s Book (That one does have an artist). I used to teach poetry writing.
I can’t see myself writing Erotica or Romance. Otherwise, fiction and non-fiction are both wide open.
To you, what makes a good story? What’s one thing a ‘bad’ book taught you to not do in your own writing?
Almost everything I have ever written has started with annoyance. I wrote my second novel because Isaac Asimov wrote something about the rules of writing which ticked me off. I wrote one of my best short stories because a book set up a great scene and then simply changed chapters without ever taking us inside the ruins by the side of the road.
A good story has characters and situations which resonate with the reader. A great story compels you to read even when you have nothing in common with the characters and the events.
As a reader, pacing and continuity are really important.
As a writer, what elements do you find are the most crucial to include in your stories? What are your strengths and weaknesses?
My weakness, as my wife continually points out, is too little description. Defining my strengths is harder because it comes out like a brag. I am really good at managing the pace of my stories. I write runaway trains that drag the reader along, gasping for breath.
By the time they are edited, they are a bit slower and cleaner, but still have that underlying roar of the engine.
Who/what are the biggest influences in your writing? How do they influence what your write?
I’ve dwelt on the negatives enough. Positive influences: Nancy Kress — I want to be her when I grow up. Andre Norton. C. J. Cherryh. Robert Heinlein. So very many amazing writers. Aside from the known names: my mother, who encouraged my love of Science Fiction even though she wasn’t particularly fond of it. My wife, who pushes me to always do better. She reads a lot of what I read. We have a huge pool of common reading. My kids, who let me get away with NOTHING. They are very gifted beta-readers.
More recently, I’ve started a writing community on G+. The Theme-Thology folks have been a huge positive. Likewise, the communities run by John Ward, Traci Loudin, and others have been very helpful.
What draws you to your preferred genre? What do you think makes your genre unique? And why is it so popular? (Or perhaps less popular than it could be?)
I have a lot of genres. I like Science Fiction and Fantasy because they free me to frame my ideas in the most amazing contexts. I can talk about racism, greed, power, relationships, spirituality — anything that speaks to the human condition — and it has a million ways to be expressed.
Can you tell us about your books? What other projects are you working on?
The business of Teleportation.
Imagine if someone invented a teleportation device and their first thought had to be: How do I market this? What if you couldn’t use a teleporter because governments are still trying to figure out how to regulate it? Rama and Walter are standing at the cusp of changing the world – if they can just get the funding.
I should have the sequel to Adjacent Fields — Adjacent Memories — out by middle 2014.
Theme-Thology: Invasion will be on sale September 28th, 2013. Theme-Thology: Day I Died will be out in November 2013. Theme-Thology: New Myths will be out in January 2014. Reality Breaks, which is a shared universe, will have its first book out in early 2014. Tales of Kassa: Kraken (I’m an editor only on this one, Madre Knight wrote it) will be out early 2014 as well.
Why is social networking and the promotion of other writers important to you?
The reason I built a community on G+ was to help people tell their stories. I routinely promote projects that I don’t publish. Writers need readers. I do what I can.
What do you find is the most difficult aspect of writing and how do you cope with it?
The most difficult part is wrestling with my characters for control.
A good story requires continuity. I often find that my characters can’t follow the plot I expected to write without being wildly inconsistent. So, I sit down with a plot, lose all control to my characters, and then try to pull it all back together at the end.
Who are your favourite writers and why?
The folks I mentioned before, plus too many more. I read very broadly.
What advice would you give to new writers?
The best advice is: write, write, and write some more. Get a critiquing circle. PAY FOR REAL EDITING. Most of all: just keep writing. The first couple of novels you produce should probably never leave the drawer.
How can readers get into contact with you?
My contact information and my works in print can both be found here: hdwp.com/r/cdb
It was great to have you with us, Charles. Readers, I hope you enjoyed reading about our guest and will look him up on his site or drop him a line here. Thanks for reading!