|Christopher Golden is one of my personal favorites; both as a writer and a person. He kindly allowed an interview while he was attending the Phoenix Comicon in July 2014.
He is an extremely prolific author. He writes novels in several genres, short stories, screenplays, graphic novels, comicbooks, video games, young adult urban fantasy, and even an anime web series. He edits and he collaborates. So I had to ask: what did he like to do best? He felt that the thing that was most personal rewarding was when writing his own solo original novels. But he also feels that he should write anything for which he feels a real passion. And, you know, he told me, you just never know which thing you do will be the one that will enable you to continue doing what you like best writing. You just never know when something will take off with fans and make you a million dollars. Christopher has been writing for 22 years and confided that he thought it was both a very bad way to make a living as well as a hard way. He related that he felt that 90% of his past 22 years was spent worrying if there was enough in the bank for the next couple months. But, overall, he’s happy with this choice. He gets to be home when his kids get home from school. And while some days are hard, creatively and financially, other days are wonderful and he wouldn’t give it up for the world.
Of all the creative pursuits he has, which one is most difficult to produce? He sighed and confessed that they’re all hard depending on the day. Then he explained that it’s more about the writing process and how he feels about the process. But the most difficult thing is, he mused, the collaborative process. You’d think, he told me, that it might be easier since he’d only be writing half of the work but it’s really much more work since both authors have to find a voice that works, a plot, making all pieces work together. But…it’s a lot of fun.
And, speaking of collaboration how did he and Charlaine Harris hook-up to write the graphic novel “Cemetery Girl?” He thought back and couldn’t exactly say when they first met but he thought it might have been at Necon; later they met again at a DragonCon when Charlaine told him of this idea she had but was frustrated at her inability to write it then as she was deep in her Sookie books at the time. Sometime later, Chris asked her about that idea and she said she still didn’t have the time prompting him to comment that it could be done as a graphic novel and he’d help if she wanted. Some six months go by, and Charlaine calls and says she does want to try a graphic novel and would he work on it with her. It was a great experience working out the arc of the 3-book series and finding an artist and so on. The second “Cemetery Girl” might show up as early as December. Chris had also worked with her and Toni Kelner on anthologies.
At this end of 22 years of writing, I wondered - what was the very first thing he got published. It was an anthology of essays about horror films that he edited. It was titled “Cut! Horror Writers on Horror Films” in 1992 and it won the Bram Stoker award the following year. The first novel he published was “Of Saints and Shadows” which just hit its 20th anniversary. From there, he chuckled, he went to a YA novel titled “Beach Blanket Psycho” in 1995 and “Bikini” in 1996. These are significant as they are the only titles he owns which are not in print….and never will be. The first media tie-in novel he did was a DareDevil story, “Daredevil: Predator’s Smile,” published in 1996.
I asked him how important social media is to his current success. He confessed he really didn’t know; no way to quantify it. He likes the connection with his fans on both Facebook and Twitter. He also gets a lot of email and he does try to respond to all of it. He likes to reach out and touch his fans; he’s done giveaways on Facebook and Twitter but he likes the opportunity to personally touch the life of someone and maybe make it a little better, even if only for a short time. You know random acts of kindness.
So, what’s he working on right now? He’s finishing a Sons of Anarchy novel titled “Sons of Anarchy: Bratva,” a reference to the Russian mafia. It’s scheduled to publish in November this year in hardcover. The story will involve Jax and his half-sister Trinity. He and Charlaine Harris are working on the third “Cemetary Girl,” and he’s editing an anthology titled “Seize the Night.” He’s finishing up his novel for next year titled “Tin Men.” It has already been optioned to Warner Brothers. It’s a near-future sci-fi thriller and Chris refused to tell me more. He says it’s not like anything else he’s ever written. I guess it will be something for us all to look forward to.
We hadn’t yet touched on his other efforts like comics or screenplays. He’s continuing to write Baltimore with Mike Mignola for Dark Horse Comics. He just finished the last issue of Volume 5 which is, technically, the 21st issue of Baltimore, which is pretty exciting. They’ve plotted out more but Chris isn’t allowed to talk about more yet. The next feature is “The Witch of Harju”, drawn by a phenomenal artist named Peter Bergting and that comes out this fall, with more to follow. A novel he wrote with Mike Mignola, “Joe Golem and the Drowning City,” has been optioned to Constantine Films. “Snowblind” has been optioned for television but Chris can’t say by whom yet, but it’s in development right now. Chris will be an Executive Producer if it makes it.
When he writes, what is most important to him? Setting, plot, characters? He thought it might depend on what he’s writing but probably the characters. He wants to be sure that what he’s writing evokes a certain feeling or reaction from the reader. When he works on a tie-in novel, he’s working with existing characters; and then he has to figure out what reaction he wants to get from the reader with familiar characters maybe, give them what they didn’t know they wanted. With his original work, he tries to include the weird/genre element but still keep it about human lives. Does he work on more than one project at a time? Almost always, he admitted. He doesn’t particularly like it, but he almost always is working on multiple projects.
How does Chris do his work? Does he need a particular environment? Oh, no, he answered. He’s been working at home for years with kids underfoot. He likes to listen to music, he’s okay writing under time pressure. He spends time in his mornings doing business-related activities and then tries to get as much writing done in the afternoon as possible. So, no he has no particular method.
He’s also written under the pseudonym of Jack Rogan. They are thrillers but still have a genre element. The first title was “The Ocean Dark” which included underwater vampires. He was very happy with this book, although it took him a long time to write it, and he puts it in his top five of his favorite books. He’s pretty proud of his current works: “Snowblind” and “Tin Men” but he also lists “Boys are Back in Town” (my personal favorite) and “Strangewood” and of course, “The Ocean Dark.” His young adult stories have elicited really great responses from his young readers. He’s incredibly proud when he hears from kids who tell him they didn’t like to read until they read his book, or that their school grades improved after they started reading his books. He feels that maybe those aren’t just stories but that he managed to make a difference in someone’s life.
Mike Mignola paid him a compliment in that Mike thought Chris could write just about anything and well. Chris mused that he has pursued many different things over the past 22 years and has been fortunate that most everything has sold. He speculated, though, that sometimes his passions for diverse media might make it difficult for readers to relate. Some readers are more comfortable when they know their favorite writer is going to do something familiar and predictable. And that, most certainly, is not Christopher Golden.
He teaches writing to young kids and talks at schools all the time; he tells them if you have a dream you want to follow, you should do it; but, the first thing you should do is get the best education possible. Pursue a line of work that would make you happy in life if you weren’t able to do 100% of your dream. You can do your dream but in the meantime you’re not just biding your time waiting for the ship to come in.