Interview with HWA Member Christopher Golden

Interview by Ron Breznay

Christopher Golden is a prolific author in several genres and formats: horror, suspense, thriller, urban fantasy, young adult, novels, novellas, media tie-in, graphic novels. He has edited many anthologies and has collaborated with other well-known and well-regarded writers.

He has written such stand-alone novels as Wildwood Road, The Boys Are Back in Town, and Straight On ‘Til Morning. Among his series are The Shadow Saga, The Veil, and The Hidden Cities (with Tim Lebbon). His best-known YA series is Body of Evidence, some of which were written with Rick Hautala. Chris edited or co-edited such
anthologies as The New Dead, British Invasion (with Tim Lebbon and James A. Moore), and the recently released The Monster’s Corner: Stories Through Inhuman Eyes. He has written or co-written many Buffy the Vampire Slayer media tie-in novels, as well as non-fiction books about the series, and video games and comics based on the series. With Stanley Wiater and Stephen R. Bissette, he wrote The Complete Stephen King Universe: A Guide to the Worlds of Stephen King and with Hank Wagner and Stephen R. Bissette, Prince of Stories: The Many Worlds of Neil Gaiman.

HWA: Chris, in looking over your bibliography, I counted approximately 100 novels that you’ve written or co-written. How do you keep up such a prolific pace?

CG: It is probably getting up to triple digits now, but you’re actually counting collaborations as well as anthologies I’ve edited. My first book came out on April 1, 1992, so I’m closing in on my twenty year mark. I guess that works out to five books a year, although honestly that’s very simplified math. There are some incredibly short books in there, including
some choose your own adventures, middle grade books, YA books, etc. There are a couple of novellas listed. And, most importantly, fully one-third of those books are collaborations. All of that takes it down to a more manageable level. However, there’s no question it’s still a lot of pages. I have a lot of ideas and a lot of enthusiasm for those ideas and I’ve been incredibly fortunate to be able to get other people enthused about those ideas as well. I used to write a LOT more pages on the average day. These days, when I’m cooking along, it’s maybe nine, and when I’m not cooking, it’s five. At an average of seven pages a day, we’re really only talking about thirty-five pages a week—forty-two if I work on a weekend day, which I do when I’m under the gun. Still, in ten weeks, that’s a good-length novel. Add in revision time, editorial, etc., and I could, conceivably, write four novels all on my own in a given year. I’m sure I pulled it off at least once, but it’s been a long time.

HWA: How long have you been a full-time writer? What kind of “day jobs” did you have before you started writing full-time?

CG: During high school I worked at my uncle’s liquor store, and later at a video store. In college I did telephone fundraising as a work study job and also worked at a video store. During the summers I worked at the Massachusetts Secretary of State’s office by day, and by night I was a bouncer at a bar in my home town. I graduated from college in 1989 during a down economy, but managed to get a job as Communications Associate at BPI Communications, which was then the parent company of Billboard magazine, The Hollywood Reporter, and many others. By the following year I was Licensing Manager for the corporation. It was the coolest job ever, allowing me to work on the very first Billboard Music Awards TV show, among other things. When I sold my first novel in 1992, I quit, and I’ve been a full time writer
ever since.

HWA: Also in looking over your bibliography, I see only two short stories listed. Why do you prefer the longer format of a novel? Any more short stories in the works?

CG: I’ve actually written a lot more than two, although it’s fair to say that I wasn’t a short story writer early in my career. I felt more like a novelist, I suppose. I liked the longer form, so I didn’t spend a ton of time on shorts. Most of my early stories and novellas—everything up until 2007, I think—are available in my collection The Secret Backs of Things. It was published as a limited by Cemetery Dance and is available as an e-book from Necon E-Books. I’ve done more since then, and still do them when I’m asked and have the time, or when I’m especially inspired.

HWA: You’ve collaborated with many other writers. Without naming names, have any writers been particularly difficult to work with and why?

CG: Tim Lebbon is such a diva! No, no. Not at all. I’m not saying everyone has to follow this example, but I don’t collaborate with anyone who isn’t both my friend and a writer I admire. I’ve had disagreements with almost all of them, but only in the mildest sense. If you’re a musician, you can hang out and play with your friends all the time. You can jam. I guess I look at collaboration as jamming with my friends.

HWA: Have any been especially easy to work with?

CG: All of them.

HWA: This summer, you were scheduled to be a guest lecturer at Odyssey Writers Workshop. Please tell us about Odyssey and your experiences lecturing.

CG: Actually, this summer was complicated. I’ve lectured at Odyssey before and had a wonderful time. Unfortunately, I had some troubling health issues over the past year, culminating around the time of Odyssey, at which point I felt awful and there was some talk about potential surgery. Fortunately, surgery was avoided, I feel much better, and I’m quite well, indeed. I felt terrible about having to miss Odyssey, but I did do phone sessions with four of the writer/students who were there, during which I critiqued their stories and provided editorial feedback. I hope that helped.

HWA: Tell us about your recently released anthology, The Monster‟s Corner: Stories Through Inhuman Eyes.

CG: I’ve always loved monsters, and many times I’ve sympathized with them. As a child, I cried when Frankenstein’s monster threw the little girl in the lake, and again when King Kong died. Jessica Rabbit wasn’t a monster, but I’ve always loved her line, “I’m not bad, I’m just drawn that way.” The same is true of some monsters. From their point of view, they might be perfectly justified. It’s only that our desire not to be killed and/or eaten makes their sense of survival dangerous to our own. The anthology is a cross-section of stories either seen through the monster’s eyes or at least presenting the monster as protagonist, written by an eclectic array of fantastic authors from various genres, including Kelley Armstrong, Kevin J. Anderson, Chelsea Cain, Simon R. Green, David Liss, Jonathan Maberry, Lauren Groff, Sharyn McCrumb, Tananarive Due, Gary Braunbeck, Nate Kenyon, Sarah Pinborough, Tom Piccirilli, Heather Graham, David Moody, Jeff Strand, Michael Marshall Smith, and Dana Stabenow.

HWA: Tell us about your upcoming publications.

CG: Late winter/early spring will bring two books I’m very excited about, both of them collaborations. In February, Harper will publish The Sea Wolves, which is the second volume of The Secret Journeys of Jack London, a trilogy I’m writing with Tim Lebbon. Then in March, St. Martin’s pubs Joe Golem and the Drowning City, my second novel-length collaboration with Mike Mignola. I’m currently working on a novella with Mike, also for St. Martin’s, the third Jack London book with Tim, and the first in a trilogy of graphic novels with Charlaine Harris entitled Cemetery Girl.

HWA: Why did you re-join the HWA and what benefits are you looking for from your membership.

CG: HWA was important for me when I was starting out as a young writer. I’m happy to say that I’ve been asked to serve for the second year in a row on the HWA Lifetime Achievement Award committee. It’s an honor.

HWA: Thanks, Chris, and welcome back to the HWA.

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