As so often happens in this line of work, I met Christopher M. Salas at a convention. In this case, the convention was COSINE 2013, a local science fiction convention in Colorado Springs. Christopher Salas writes horror and science fiction from the Colorado Front Range area. He is also a volunteer firefighter, martial artist, and purveyor of comic books. If that doesn’t pique your interest, I dunno what will.
TH: What is The Story of Christopher? Is it a vampire novel? A noir thriller?
CMS: I have thought about how cool it would be if I were a vampire detective in the ‘40s era. Does that count? My story isn’t really that adventurous. I have three jobs and they consist of make up stories, teaching Martial Arts classes and selling comic books and collectible toys. It takes a lot of my time but I enjoy what I do.
TH: When did you know that you wanted to be a writer? How did you know?
CMS: My passion for writing began after I received my degree in Fire Science and graduated from the Firefighter academy. While in service as a Volunteer Firefighter, story ideas would come to me all the time. Even in circumstances that required my full attention in the field (medical and fire related). To make a long story short, eventually I succumbed to the muse and ever since my occupation has lead me in a challenging yet rewarding path.
TH: How would you describe your body of work thus far?
CMS: Best to describe my work thus far… demanding, Adventurous, and sinister.
TH: Every writer has things they would like to accomplish, e.g. first sale, next sale, first novel sale, first bestseller, etc. What accomplishment are you striving for right now?
CMS: My accomplishment will always be a work in progress even though I have published works, done panels and taught writing classes. I strive to master the craft of writing that best suits me. I do understand mastering can take a lifetime but I am up for the challenge and wouldn’t want it any other way. That said, I strive to be better with each project. Not only for my personal accomplishment but also for my readers and without them, my stories would be nothing more than words aligned on paper. My deepest gratitude to them all!
TH: Do you have any writing stuck away somewhere that will never see the light of day, but nevertheless helped you build your skill to publishable? What does that look like?
CMS: I do have unpublished stories that will never see the day of light and they have paved the way to where I am at today. I will save myself the embarrassment and keep them top secret.
TH: What about the writing process most appeals to you? What is the most fun?
CMS: Well… I do like an occasional glass of Scotch when I write. What I find most enjoyable is having the muse take control and see its story unravel on my computer screen. Experiencing the story before the audience has a chance to read it is an adventure in itself. I find encrypting ideas from the muse is quite challenging at times. I do not structure plots or outline the stories. I just go with the story I am given. I think all writers, like myself, experience several revisions and in some cases have frustrating moments and want to give the computer screen a good thrashing while rewording a paragraph. Now that I think about it… do all writers have that problem or is it just me? LOL! Back to what I was about to say. What I find amusing, I call myself an author but really I am a slave to my muse.
TH: What is your Scotch of choice? What do actually keep on hand?
CMS: My Scotch of choice would have to be either Glenlivet 21 year old single malt or Dalmore 40 year old single Highland malt. Recently I had a bottle of Glenlivet 15 year old single malt but unfortunately, I am all out of Scotch at this time.
TH: How might all your different jobs feed the Muse?
CMS: My study of Martial Arts has played a role, not only by creating strong characters but also structuring fight scenes such as accurate descriptions and correct terminology of techniques and weaponry. Selling collectibles has helped me a great deal. I learned how to lure a potential reader by striking up a conversation of some kind related to the genre I write in. Sometimes I will ask selective questions about their reading interests, who their favorite authors are and what type of hero or villain they like. It may be an unorthodox approach to some but it has worked for me. To be honest, it takes humility, confidence in yourself and in your work to sell what is most precious. The universe you have created. In my point of view, I think of myself as a Muse’s advocate.
TH: Have your reached the point at which you realized that you had “made it” as a writer and author? If so, can you describe the milestone or circumstances where you had that realization? Do you recall how that felt? If not, what is the milestone you’re seeking?
CMS: With all the published works I have out there, I don’t acknowledge myself as making it. For example, I find it surreal and a great deal of gratitude when someone requests a signature or admires a story I have written. I do have confidence in what I do but due to my own worst critic, it is gratifying to hear nice things about my work.
TH: Some say that professional writers have to look at themselves as a business, a branded commodity. Do you take that approach?
CMS: I do see myself as a business and I believe it is crucial to have that mentality. In my experience, publishers may do so much, a little advertisement here and there and what have you, but it is up to me to reach out to potential readers and the right network connections. Attending Conventions and participating in panels help greatly. It is also important to build a network with other authors, editors, illustrators, local book stores, etc. It wasn’t easy and I experienced more of the bad than the good of this industry in the beginning of my writing career. Looking back, I am grateful to all I learned and accomplished so that I can help those who have the passion like I do and have not been published. I do not have all the answers but I can lead someone in the right direction and from there it is up to the individual. Within the last five years, I have been fortunate to know and work with such talented writers, illustrators and editors that have helped and have given me wonderful opportunities. It truly is a blessing.
TH: What are the most effective ways you have found to promote yourself?
CMS: I have found promoting myself most effectively on Facebook, conventions, author panels, writer workshops, networking, bookstore signings and word of mouth from my readers.
TH: Can you recall a moment when a two or more influences or inspirations came together and smacked you with a cool idea?
CMS: I stake my faith in the muse of each project I do and I believe it has its way of reaching out. Sometimes it can be triggered by music, people watching, an individual experience, an object or a single sentence. For example, in 2007 I was driving in rush hour when a muse planted a seed of words “My name is Abigail”. I pulled over and wrote down those four words on a tablet and thought nothing more of it. A few days later a full sentence came “My name is Abigail and I am an abomination”. Two days later, another sentence “My Angel, Angel of Death.” All related to the same story it turned out. I found it a little bizarre how these ideas without any kind of influence or inspiration I was used to. Call me superstitious but I believe a muse is an entity of some kind that has its way of communicating with the right translator (the writer).
TH: What can readers expect to see from you in the near future? What are you working on?
CMS: I have two upcoming projects scheduled for release. Abigail: Unbreakable graphic novel Vol. 2 coming late summer by Themis Comics and Abigail: Unbreakable novel coming early Fall by Bytiluna Publishing. Currently I am working on a story that has been on the back burner for more than five years. Here is a hint to my readers who have read the short story and without giving too much away to new readers; the antagonist of the story goes by the name “The Man in the Hat”.
TH: What is the most memorable moment (good, bad, or other) you have had in your life as an author?
CMS: That’s hard to say. I have blessed with a lot of memorable moments. One of them was my first book sale at StarFest in 2006.
TH: What are some of the worst of things that go along with a writing career?
CMS: From my experience, a nine month writer’s block, a dishonest publisher, self-doubt and rejection. It wasn’t easy but if it were not for my friends, family, and fellow colleagues’ (authors) encouragement and later my will to succeed, I may have given up. My gratitude and loyalty goes out to those who pulled me out from the abyss.