Christopher Broom is an award winning author, freelance fiction editor and host of Writing Without Limits video series available on YouTube. He is well known for his support of other authors on his facebook writer’s page https://www.facebook.com/groups/611602735649133/ where he and collaborates with Brian Paone to mentor and support writers in all different stages of their careers.
You can find Christopher on the Internet at the following locations:
Hi Christopher, thanks for joining us at StarkLight Press!
I understand that you are best known for your mentoring despite the fact that you are a prolific writer yourself. How did you first get involved in the mentoring process?
Thank you for having me! I’ve always loved education. I’ve felt if I can do one thing it would to be help people by educating them. Mentoring the aspiring writers on Facebook through the Fiction Writing page allows me to do just that. My partner Brian and I spend an inordinate amount of time showing new writers not only the structural nuances of writing but also the technical aspects as well. By doing so and watching those writers succeed by finding publication outside of the Fiction Writing page I get a feeling of great pride and it’s that feeling that keeps me going.
What do you feel you get out of the mentoring? Do you learn from it?
I learn from it every day! I get to meet so many amazing writers, I get to understand their process, what makes them tick and why they write what they write. Mentoring is one of the best things I could have done with my life.
Do you ever get frustrated that in assisting other authors it takes away from your own writing time or are you able to find a balance?
You know it’s definitely a balancing act that takes a lot of work to get right. While I love mentoring I do find that it monopolizes my spare time quite a bit. Sometimes I wish there were more hours in my day so I was able to do everything I want to do without having to put something aside but it is what it is.
What is the most common thing you notice about new writers?
So many new writers believe they can write the next big trilogy blockbuster akin to The Hunger Games or Twilight or even a series like Harry Potter. I have to constantly remind them that the narrative has to be worthy of continuing and most books, even famous trilogies and series could have been reigned back in to one or maybe two books. They don’t always listen and firmly believe their books will break the mold. It’s almost heartbreaking to watch them realize their fantastic trilogy simply won’t work.
What is the biggest mistake, in your opinion, that a new writer can make?
Believing they know more than those that have come before or they don’t have to follow standard rules of fiction simply because Stephen King doesn’t. I have to remind them they are not Stephen King or V.C. Andrews or Issac Asimov or any number of famous authors. I can only hope they listen but more often than not they have to fail and learn the hard way.
What is your best advice to new writers?
Read in your genre. Absolutely. So many new writers want to write science fiction, fantasy, romance, historical reinterpretations or any number of genres but they don’t read current or classical works in those genres. How can one write science fiction if they’ve never read anything from Asimov or Bradbury or Updike? The same can be said of any genre. If you want to write, read.
Can you tell us a bit about the ‘Fiction Writing‘ Facebook page and the atmosphere you and Brian have created there?
Fiction Writing came about as a new home for writers who simply enjoy the challenges inherent in writing fiction no matter the genre. When we first came together as a community we simply wanted to support each-other but over the past year we’ve exploded in growth and now we’re both an educational community where Brian and I educate new writers in every facet of writing and we’re also an independent publishing house through Scout Media Publications. Through Scout Media, owned and operated by Brian Paone and supported by me, we highlight the best authors on the Fiction Writing page and publish them into an anthology of short stories every year. Last years A Matter of Words anthology has been well received and several authors have gone on to promising publishing careers. We’re hoping for similar results with A Journey of Words releasing this fall.
How did you and Brian meet? How do you work together?
I met Brian through a similar writing community on Facebook and once we realized we were spending so much time helping others we decided it was something we wanted to continue. When some Facebook drama happened that forced us to create our new page, Fiction Writing, we continued with the lessons we had begun on the previous page. Since then we’ve gone from a scant 350 members to well over 3,000 and growing!
Christopher is well known not only for his mentorship but also for his own fiction, in particular short stories. Below is an excerpt from a short piece:
‘Sometimes, high among the clouds, I forget about the Tick Tock Man and the picture books. Sometimes I simply circle the sky reveling in the gifts of the Splicers. I see my parents from on high. My mother with her powerful legs straining against the weight of the old iron plow. My father, his tail wagging, dances alongside her ever vigilant towards those who may slink or slither by seeking an easy meal. Carnal instincts often overpower good judgement. ‘
-Excerpt from, ‘Mechanical Me, Mechanical You’.
Can you tell us a little bit about, ‘Mechanical Me, Mechanical You’? What inspired it?
I took a fairy tale course during my time at Arizona State University and I was enthralled with the different styles of fairy tale adaptions from well-known current authors. When it was my turn to create my own original tale I wanted to create something visually striking while bending traditional rules of fiction. So I did away with traditional dialogue in favor of something a little more streamlined as well as classical, to adhere to fairy tale conventions. I ended the piece on a dark note because classic fairy tales were not the Disney versions we’re used to and I wanted to stick to tradition as much as I could. When the course ended I took Mechanical Me, Mechanical You and made some subtle changes to its core mechanics and then released it to my blog where it has and continues to receive, rave reviews.
About how many short stories have you published?
Over a twenty-year career I have published nearly one every year. Unfortunately, many of my earlier works have appeared in magazines that are no longer in print, the companies no longer exist so it’s been a challenge to track them down. Currently I have a collection of short fiction available titled, Through the Eyes of Another, available in paperback and eBook. You can also catch one of my stories in the upcoming Scout Media anthology, A Journey of Words to be released this Fall to bookstores everywhere.
Where is the best place to find your fiction? Do you have any anthologies of fiction or plans for anthologies in the future?
My current anthology, Through the Eyes of Another is available in paperback and ebook through Amazon and you’ll find me in the upcoming Scout Media anthology, A Journey of Words this fall. I also have plans for a second full anthology titled Where Light Refuses to Shine to be released hopefully sometime in 2017.
What are some of your favorite pieces of short fiction and why?
So many and you’re making me choose? I suppose my favorite pieces have been ‘For a Breath I Tarry’ which is a science fiction adaptation of the western creationist tale. While it may have religious undertones, and I’m not religious in the least, I felt the story was beautifully penned and you’ll be hard pressed to find better prose. ‘Those Who Walk Away from Omelas’ by Ursula LeGuin is dark and beautiful and makes one think about our own lives and what we sacrifice in order to achieve it. Lastly, ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ by Charlotte Perkins has to be in my top five favorites. The way Perkins writes about feminine struggles during a time when a woman’s period was thought to be a sign of the devil is something I will never forget about.
Find the rest of Christopher Broom’s short story and more free and more about his other short stories, other writing as well as blogs and reviews at his author page:
Christopher Broom’s upcoming ‘God Killer Chronicles’ is his first major novel:
‘Rian, weary of the road, sighed in relief as the dim lights he had spied earlier, partially hidden by a copse of tress became brighter highlighting his dusty face and the elongated muzzle of his hashuan mount, Wyndameir. Tossing a rope about the beast’s neck and tying the loose ends around a sturdy tree trunk Rian had to pat the animal’s neck as it kicked its six powerful legs into the dirt. Wyndameir continued to whine and protest as Rian pushed against a large wooden door and strode inside the only establishment between the port city of Corvega to the south and the Bashalian controlled lands to the north and beyond.
Mulvars had benefitted greatly from the unification of the four ruling houses of Immur. The House of Automata of Hymbari, The House of the Mystic Craft of Anuar’Bashal, The House of Sovereigns of Sika and The House of the Silver Sword of Corvega. Rian saw the effects of the unification in the patrons of the two-story watering hole. A group of hooded Bashalians mingled openly with three Hymbari hybrids. The Hymbarian women were showing off their implanted automata including limbs that had been replaced with an amalgamation of colored metals, wires and in the joints where the elbow connects the upper and lower arm, a ball of swirling colored energy bounced back and forth in its crystalline enclosure. Their upgrades tripled their strength, Rian overheard one of them say as he passed by and then one of the women grabbed her companions body length polearm and bent the thick metal until it resembled the letter ‘L’ and then she bent it back leaving it as it smooth as it had been before.
In exchange, the Bashalian’s showcased their talents. They began by levitating one of the thick and heavy tomes they carried with them. The books turned their own pages until it settled somewhere in the middle. Of the two Bashalians, a woman whose face was kept partially hidden underneath her thick cowl began to trace her finger along a line in her floating book. She then uttered a series of guttural noises that emanated from deep within her then slowly at first but quickening in pace she began to split apart. Her skin popped and tore but instead of blood or entrails her separation of self brought on three identical images. All four versions of the young woman mimicked the motions of the others much to the delight of the Hymbarian women as well as the rest of the patrons around Mulvars who erupted into a cacophony of applause and shouts.
Soldiers of the Silver Sword, guardians of Corvega, laughed and swallowed large gulps of chilled tipik alongside well-dressed men and women, sovereign bankers of Sika.’
-Excerpt from The Godkiller Chronicles by Christopher Broom
Wow, that’s quite the start to a story. Can you tell us a little bit about the plot of ‘The Godkiller Chronicles’?
So The Godkiller Chronicles follows the tale of Rian Cor’Va’Shar, a lone mercenary travelling the wilds of Immur in search of personal redemption for creating an entirely new race of people. I would say more but hopefully that little teaser and the excerpt will whet your appetites enough.
What was your inspiration for this book?
I take inspiration from everything. But, the stories of Avatar: The Last Airbender and its heavy use of Asian mythology helped me to build the backbone of the Godkiller Chronicles as well as the powers found in the book. I also take inspiration from author R.A. Salvatore and more specifically his Dark Elf series of books.
Why did you decided to make the leap from short stories to novels? How does it feel to be making a novel versus a short story?
Novels are so much harder. I think I’ve written upwards of sixty drafts for The Godkiller Chronicles, I wish I was kidding. Balancing each act and building towards a dramatic climax is something not typically found in shorter works so having to bring those elements, which aren’t something I’m used to, into this new endeavor has been a challenge but I think the results are paying off!
What has been your favorite thing about having the longer medium to write in?
I have so much more room in which to build my characters which is a nice change. I also have more freedom in in the pace of the book. Instead of rushing towards the action in order to come to a respected conclusion like I would in a short story, I can now add in slower scenes that do nothing more than expand on my characters.
When will ‘The Godkiller Chronicles’ be available and how can we buy it?
Hopefully soon! In all seriousness I have been in contact with several agents from DAW Books and they too are anxiously awaiting the final draft.
In addition to mentoring, short stories, interviews, reviews, blogs, you also have a YouTube Channel where you address issues related to writing. Can you tell us about what inspired you to go in front of the camera and start teaching other from what you had learned?
I’m always seeking new ways to reach my students. Whether I’m in front of 30 people in a classroom or 30 million on Youtube, the premise is the same. Educate. The videos have taken a back seat while I shift my focus to more pressing matters, preparing for the final stages of the A Journey of Words Anthology but I have ideas for around ten videos that I hope to record in the next 6 months to a year. Beyond that? I’m currently undecided. I have a Udemy.org course where I will be teaching the basics of story editing beginning in September so maybe after that I’ll return to the video series.
Where can people go to find your channel and subscribe?
Exclusively on Youtube first and then on my professional blog a week later. Simply search for Writing Without Limits on Youtube.
So far, we’ve learned a lot about your writing, but what about you as a person? Who is Christopher Broom away from the keyboard?
A massive gamer and a goofball. I love playing with my kids and my German Shepard, Zelda. I’m also a husband who adores his wife. When I’m not writing, teaching or editing you can find me lost in some digital world or another. One of my favorites lately has been the Witcher series of games which follows the story of Geralt the White Wolf. The games are of course digital adaptations of the Polish novels of the same name. Seems no matter what I do, I can’t escape books.
How do you feel about your real life versus your writing worlds?
My real life is actually pretty normal and unassuming. I work a full time job (not creative related), I spend time with my kids and wife, I take my dog for walks, I listen to music and play video games. Out in public you’d be hard pressed to find anything outrageous about me.
How much do you draw from real life?
Not much to be honest. I find reality to be fairly mundane in the “everyday” aspect.
Do you feel your writing affects how you deal with your personal relationships and your general outlook on the world?
I’d be lying if I said it didn’t. There have been several instances in which I would see something on the news or have an argument with my wife or the kids are driving me nuts and would turn to the pen to vent my frustrations in some fictional world through the eyes of some fictitious character. This has led to some interesting conversations with people who assume some stories have been written expressly about them. Even if they were right, I wouldn’t admit to it.
Tell us something that you’ve never told anyone ever before?
I’m massively jealous of people who can dance.
If you had a small duffel bag and had to fill it with everything you would need to live happily on a deserted island with a thriving ecosystem, what would you bring?
A Nintendo 3DS with an everlasting battery and Wifi, a bottle of everlasting scotch, my collection of science fiction (hardcover, 1200 pages), a series of pens and a stack of notebooks.
You’re told in addition to your backpack, at the last minute you’re allowed to bring anyone with you that you want, or 200 lbs of books. Which would you choose? Who would you bring or what would be the top books to start taking up weight (and no, you can’t put them on your kindle ;))
Tough question to answer! If I didn’t say my wife and she read this interview, I think she’d be quite peeved so of course I’m going to say my wife. However, if I couldn’t bring my wife I would take all 200lbs of books simply to preserve my own sanity.
Any final thoughts?
Thank you for having me, it’s been a pleasure. For those aspiring to stand where I’m standing now, keep writing, keep reading, always plug away at your projects and never lose sight of why you’re writing. It isn’t about the money or the fame or the million-dollar movie deals, it’s about the literature.
~Keep writing for writing is sustenance for the soul~