Today we have a Kiwi on the blog! (yeah, I didn’t know what one was either) Chris Strange, the author of The Man Who Crossed Worlds (read Kaplar’s 4 Sheep review) and resident of New Zealand (this is what makes him a Kiwi by the way) has stopped by to tell the Flock about his book and what he likes to do when he isn’t stabbing people in the back in dark dungeons…his words, not mine!
Sharon: Hello Chris, welcome to I Smell Sheep. Grab a Moon Pie and some Kool-Aid (only the best for our guests) Kalpar read your book The Man Who Crossed Worlds so he is going to ask you some questions about that. Then I will ask the uncomfortably personal ones.
Chris: Thanks for having me, guys. I’m going to go right ahead and admit that since we don’t have Kool-Aid in New Zealand, my only experience of it is the dude that comes crashing through the wall in Family Guy. But that’s neither here nor there. On to the questions!
Sharon: no Kool-Aid? O_O I think an emergency care package is in order…
Chris: I’ll trade you for some Milo and Pineapple Lumps.
Sharon: First, would you tell our readers who aren’t familiar with your book what it is about?
Chris: The Man Who Crossed Worlds is a fast-paced pulp urban fantasy novel that pulls no punches. Miles Franco is a down-on-his-luck freelance Tunneler who makes his living smuggling people and property between Earth and an alternate dimension. When the cops catch him in the act, they offer him a deal: help them track down an interdimensional drug smuggler, or face a long stretch in the slammer. But here in the city of Bluegate, where gangsters run the streets and everyone’s on the take, playing police lapdog is a dangerous game.
Sharon: there was no mention of smut…not that I’m shallow like that, but…I’m just saying.
Kalpar: *pokes Sharon with stick* You and Katie get your smut out of my reviews.
Chris: I’m saving the smut for the spin-off: The Man Who Got Laid A Lot. I’m expecting it to be spectacularly successful.
Sharon: bwahaha! good answer 10 coolness points for you!
Kalpar: Where did you get the ideas for the various places in the universe of The Man Who Crossed Worlds?
Chris: Ah, the dreaded question. To be honest, I’m never quite sure where the ideas come from. I think the city of Bluegate started life as my attempt to explore just how mean the mean streets could get. I wanted to see what would happen if you gave a city power that put it above the reach of normal laws and authority, and how it would affect both the people who just wanted to live there and the people who tried to make their fortunes there.
The alternate dimension of Heaven was my vision of a cruel parody of Earth, perhaps designed by some sort of trickster god. I owe a great debt to the numerous surrealist artists and writers who inspired me. I’m really excited about exploring more of the universe throughout the rest of the series.
Sharon: Do tell! What are some artists that inspired you?
Chris: The pioneers of surrealist art, such as Salvador Dali and Max Ernst, have certainly been a major influence. But I personally prefer some of the neo-surrealist artists like George Grie, Laurie Lipton, and Marco Escobedo. I have all the artistic skill of a drunken snail, so I’m in awe of these guys and gals.
Sharon: WOW, you guys should check out these artists. Their work is beautiful and disturbing
Kalpar: Miles Franco reminds me a lot of hardboiled noir detectives beloved by Captain Picard. Did these stories provide any inspiration for your books?
Chris: Absolutely. I’m a huge fan of the old pulp and hardboiled detective stories, as well as more modern adaptations. There’s just something timeless and cool about the suave detectives and fast-talking gangsters that populate the mean streets that Raymond Chandler, Mickey Spillane, Robert Bellem and all the other classic hardboiled authors wrote about. Not to mention the succeeding film noir adaptations. There ain’t no one cooler than Humphrey Bogart.
Sharon: “Things are never so bad they can’t be made worse.”
Kalpar: I have to admit my favorite detective is Eddie Valiant from Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
Chris: An excellent choice.
Kalpar: Can you say approximately what year the events of The Man Who Crossed Worlds takes place? Cell phones and computers appear to be prevalent but Miles Franco barely uses this technology. It just seemed kind of odd to me.
Chris: The events take place roughly in the present day, but Miles is a complete technophobe. That doesn’t always work out well for him.
Sharon: is there a reason for this?
Chris: Miles grew up pretty rough, and never really had any experience with anything more complicated than a TV. Combine that with some serious trust issues, and you get a guy who’s not keen to put his faith in electronic gizmos.
Sharon: *glances at her tin foil hat to keep the government out of her head* well that is just crazy…er…
Kalpar: Will Desmond and Vivian be returning in the next books, or will we be getting a different cast of supporting characters?
Chris: Des and Vivian will definitely be back, along with some new folks. I’m trying to keep a balance of the familiar and the new, which is what I prefer when I read book series.
Kalpar: Do you have an idea of how many books there’s going to be in this series or is that pretty open-ended?
Chris: I have a rough idea of the arcs of the next 3 or 4 books. At this stage, I think the series will be at least 6 books long, but that could increase as time goes on.
Sharon: When do you prefer to write (day or night) and where do you like to write?
Chris: I’m a night owl, so most of my words come after dark. My mornings are filled with epic internal battles to get out of bed and become a functioning member of society, leaving me little time to indulge my writing obsessions. I prefer to sit in at my desk in front of a widescreen monitor. I have a netbook as well that I cart around for writing on the go, but fresh air and sunlight seem to be anathemas to my muse.
Sharon: Oh, you don’t sparkle do you ;)?
Chris: Only when I get a little too aggressive with glitter.
Sharon: What is your current video game addiction?
Chris: Would I surprise anyone if I said Skyrim? As in real-life, I play a reclusive misanthrope who stalks through dungeons stabbing bandits in the back. Well, maybe not exactly like real-life. Other than that, I’m still working towards 100% completion in Batman: Arkham City (curse that fiendish Riddler).
Sharon: Which isn’t exactly real-life: the stalking through dungeons or stabbing people in the back? Cause I got to know if the authorities need to be involved. We are law abiding Sheep, mostly…
Chris: I can’t be forced to incriminate myself! I want my lawyer!
Sharon: Give us your favourite zombie book and movie. What weapon you would want during the apocalypse and do you have some tips for staying alive?
Chris: Romero’s Night of the Living Dead is still one of my favourite movies. But I wouldn’t be a true Kiwi if I didn’t say Peter Jackson’s brilliant slapstick zombie flick, Braindead (Dead Alive to you Yanks). Can I count Kirkman’s The Walking Dead graphic novels as a book? Well, I’m going to anyway, and you can’t stop me (I beg to differ, bwahaha!). It’s brutal, heart-wrenching, and everything a classic zombie story can be. Pure gold.
Sharon: okay, you have my permission to say it…(really, you need to tell us again cause I don’t think I saved a copy of your answer and now I don’t remember it<G>)
Chris: You can’t censor the truth! Robert Kirkman, The Walking Dead. Read it. Love it.
As for weapons, I’ve never been sold on the ol’ shotgun for dealing with zombies. Too noisy, and you’ll run out of ammo eventually. Gimme an axe any day. My zombie survival tip of the day is to remember that even the most whiny, annoying, selfish person in your team can be useful in a tight spot. For example, if you throw them to a horde of approaching zombies you can buy a few valuable seconds to escape.
Sharon: Oh, we are so going to get along <G>. I prefer the machete.
Sharon: Say something in Australian <G>.
Kalpar: (Um, he’s a kiwi. There’s a significant difference.)
Chris: Excuse me while I menacingly sharpen this knife. Now, you’re not implying that I’m Australian, are you?
Sharon: Oh, crap…want a moon pie?
Chris: Oooh…OK, all is forgiven. Or in Kiwi: “Sweet as, bro.”
Sharon: If you could have a theme song play whenever you entered a room, what would it be?
Chris: Definitely the opening theme from the 90’s X-Men cartoon. You can’t not get energized when you hear that music.
Sharon: Did you know that Dawn dishwashing detergent makes a scent called New Zealand Spring? I am wondering if they nailed it. What does New Zealand Spring smell like?
Chris: Given the hay fever that plagues me every spring and the fact that I live in New Zealand’s biggest city, I don’t think I’m qualified to answer that question. But I have a feeling it doesn’t smell much like dishwashing detergent.
Sharon: What is the story behind your pen name?
Chris: Whenever someone asks me this, I wish I had a cool story to tell. Fact is, I just always liked the surname “Strange”, especially in comics. Hugo Strange, Doctor Strange, Adam Strange. When else am I going to get the chance to give myself a slightly ridiculous alternate name?
Sharon: so vanity? <G>. I would do the same thing
Chris: Definitely. It’s a well-known fact that all writers are inherently vain, despite the fact that most of us would lose to a Morlock in a beauty contest.
Sharon: Do you have a book/author whose voice sings to you (I mean this figuratively
Chris: Haruki Murakami. The man can grab you and make you feel things even when you have no freakin’ idea what’s happening in his stories. In fact, I’ve got the last line of his novel Kafka on the Shore tattooed on my arm.
Sharon: okay, creepy ass cover but looks good. You do realize I now have to ask what the last line is?
Chris: Sure. It’s: “You are part of a brand-new world.”
Time for our Rapid Fire Round grab hold of your axe and let’s get chopping!
Sharon: Autobots or Decepticons
Sharon: I like, like Optimus Prime… Bruce Lee or Jet Li
Chris: Bruce, for sure
Sharon: Shamblers or Runners
Chris: Shamblers (I’m a Romero zombie kinda guy)
Sharon: Outer Space or Inner Space
Chris: Outer space
Sharon: Cat Woman or Bat Girl
Chris: Catwoman (but not the Halle Berry version)
Sharon: got a favorite comic book female, you know…one you’d do?
Chris: As a fine, upstanding man I couldn’t possibly answer that… OK, my girlfriend’s out of the room. While I’m tempted to choose Power Girl purely for her…assets…I think I’ll go with Zatanna. She can backwards talk me any day.
Sharon: Pepsi or Coke
Chris: Coke (my addiction)
Sharon: it’s a freaking conspiracy!
Chris: There’s no conspiracy. The friendly Coca-cola corporation just wants everyone to enjoy the delicious taste of Coke. Surrender to it. Resistance is futile.
Sharon: Starship Troopers or Serenity
Kalpar: Is that really a valid question? Starship Troopers was just….well I don’t like to talk about it.
Chris: Serenity, a hundred times Serenity
Sharon: Vamps or Shifters
Chris: Vamps (as long as they don’t sparkle)
Sharon: Monkey or Weasel? (you know, the two that ran around the cobblers bench)
Sharon: surfing or skiing
Chris: I’m too uncoordinated for either
Sharon: got a favorite outdoor activity?
Chris: Does drinking outside count? No? All right then, I like to do a bit of casual hiking, although I don’t get out as often as I’d like. I don’t do so well with any sort of activity that requires me to move at speed, though.
Sharon: ping pong or pool
Sharon: Thanks for taking the time to talk with us. Do you have anything you want our readers to know before you leave?
Chris: Thanks again for having me on the site. Those personal questions weren’t nearly as bad as I feared. If anyone out there in Internet-land feels like checking out The Man Who Crossed Worlds, you can find it on Amazon as an ebook or paperback. You can also find me at www.Chris-Strange.com or on Twitter as @ChrisStrangeUF.
Cheers, guys! Stay classy.
Sharon: Classy? I don’t think so…;)
Kalpar: The Arsenal’s got class, don’t know why you’re so against classy stuff, Sharon.