This month it’s my great pleasure to branch out from the Romance genre into the wider world of fiction and chat a little with CD Gallant-King, author of Ten Thousand Days, Hell Comes to Hogtown, and Tentacles Under a Full Moon.. CD writes comic fantasy and horror fiction about horrible people trying to be heroic in hilarious ways. In his spare time he’s a tabletop gamer, pro-wrestling aficionado, loving husband and lucky father.
Francisco: Hi CD, thanks for joining me. Let’s get right to the questions because I’m excited step out of my box and interview someone who doesn’t focus on romance. What genre/s do you write?
CD: Comedy, fantasy, horror, sci-fi. I’ve also been itching to try a western.
Francisco: *stares at cover for Tentacles* Um, yes, I can certainly see that. So, where do the ideas come from?
CD: Lots of different places. Sometimes I just get a cool idea for a scene or a character, so I build a story around it. Other times I read another story or see a movie and think “That’s cool, but what if it happened like this?” Very commonly I write stories for someone in particular – I’ve written books and stories for my wife and kids and nieces as presents, so I tend to tailor them to their personal tastes.
Very occasionally I get an idea of something I actually want to say, and I build a story around that. Like I have an idea for a theme or a moral or a purpose. I’m working on something like that right now, and I hope it doesn’t come across too heavy-handed.
Francisco: How long on average does it take you to write a book?
CD: Depends on what you mean by “write a book.” Also, do you mean currently, or under the best circumstances?
Years ago, before I was married and had kids, I wrote incredibly fast. I still do, I just don’t always have the time to sit down and do it anymore. I’ve written 50,000 word first-drafts in under three weeks. The first draft of Ten Thousand Days took three days. That sounds pretty good, except remember those are first drafts – they were rough and needed a lot of work. I have a bunch of “first draft” books in The Closet that need a major polish and overhaul, so I wouldn’t call those books finished by any means.
Hell Comes to Hogtown took about 5 months for the first draft, and it took close to a year to revise and edit it to get it where it needed to be. This is the first time I’ve ever put so much effort into really finishing a book as best as I possibly can, and it takes a lot of time. Writing iseasy and fun. Revising is work. I’m sure I could have done it faster in different circumstances (and I learned a lot that will hopefully make the next one go faster) but family and my “real” job come first, so writing takes a while.
Francisco: When you develop characters do you already know who they are before you begin writing or do you let them develop as you go?
CD: I usually have a rough idea of the character before I start. Their background, a little about their motivations, some of their quirks and idiosyncrasies. But I like to find the rest of them out when I write. Sometimes you can’t get a good feel for a character until you start writing dialogue and see how they interact with other characters; or put them into a situation to see how they will react. You can do all of this in advance, I suppose, but where’s the fun in that? Putting too much into your pre-work turns the writing process into paint-by-numbers.
One of the protagonists from Hell Comes to Hogtown, the wrestler Dee, is a total asshole. He is a drug addict and womanizer and while I knew I wanted him to have a good side, I thought it might be pretty hard to find it. I never would have figured it out in advance, I had to discover it over the course of the writing, and finding his small moments where he redeemed himself as a human being. Some people may still have trouble sympathizing with him and that’s perfectly fine, but I hope they can at least recognize that he’s trying and may understand better where he’s coming from. It’s more nuanced than I could have come up with in advance, without the whole story to back up his (and my) choices.
Francisco: What’s your views on social media for marketing, and which of them have worked best for you?
CD: Social media is the modern-day equivalent of standing at a street corner and handing out fliers (at least how most people use it). Sometimes you get lucky, but your results are going to vary tremendously.
The trick to social media is actually using it to be social and to make friends, fans and supporters. If you can develop a relationship with someone to the point where they’re actually supportive and want to help you succeed, you’re golden. Just nagging someone to buy your book won’t accomplish this. You need to exchange messages with them, get to know them and their interests, find a common ground. Often this will be other authors who are looking for the same thing from you, but not always. Email and Twitter blasts don’t really do anything, but having a few people who really like your work and think you’re a good/cool person and will tell their friends who cool you are? That’s what you should be aiming for.
Have I had success with this? For sure. Not to the extent I would like, I honestly don’t have the time to be on social media constantly making friends, but I do have a handful of people who buy every book and will review it and tell their friends about it. Three people like that are good, thirty are better. And if you continue to be a cool person and surround yourself with people who have similar interests, that number will continue to grow.
Francisco: What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
CD: The ringing alarm clock? I don’t have any huge, philosophical goal or reason to keep going every day, but I do try to enjoy the small things in life. To spend time with my family, to hang out with my wife and enjoy watching my kids grow up, those are the important things to me that I’m thankful for each day. And yes, writing is one of the things that keeps me going, too. I always like to have a creative project I’m working on; if I don’t have a project, I tend to be listless and bored.
CD is proudly Canadian, born and raised in Newfoundland, fine-tuned and educated in Toronto and currently residing in Ottawa with a beautiful wife, two wonderful children and various furry four-legged companions.