Tag Archives: R.A. Salvatore

Interview: Christopher Winder

Today, it’s an interview with another new author in the 4HU, Christopher Winder.

Interview: Christopher Winder
Christopher Winder
Christopher Winder

What is your quest?

My quest is to write stories that I’d love to read. Stories that make people laugh, cry, get angry, feel joy, or smack their foreheads really hard.

By doing that, I want to move into full-time writing. For me, writing is play – not work. I’m mentally exhausted after a long writing session, but I have yet to sprain my ankle, get a sliver, break a leg or suffer third-degree burns because I wrote something. Yes, it’s work. Yes, it’s hard. But no, it’s not hard work. I love it.

My greatest influences in writing are Stephen King (his non-horror stuff, except Four Past Midnight, which was absolutely wonderful), and R. A. Salvatore. Both, but especially Salvatore, could drag me around by my emotions, beat me over the head with them, and force me to come back asking for more. I’m not there yet, but one day I’d like to surpass even that master of words.

What is your favorite color?

I don’t really have a favorite color overall. For cars, it’s copper. I love the look of a copper-colored vehicle – where it looks like the whole thing was made from the same stuff as pennies.

For book covers, I love contrast. I admit that my favorite covers are those of the vampire genre. Dark grays and black with a splash of red. Sometimes literally a splash… because vampires… you know. I don’t write in that genre – at least not yet – but their book covers are gorgeous.

As far as colors having influence on my writing, as far as I know, colors don’t influence me at all. I say that, but I try to surround myself with as much green as possible. I read somewhere that green helps people think scientifically. Since my main genre is science fiction, it seems to fit. I don’t know if it helps or not, but I do like the color.

What is the average flying speed of an unladen paint brush?

The most frustrating thing about being an author, my greatest challenge, is staying on task. I can’t visit the grocery store without thinking-up a new story idea. I can’t sit down at the computer without seeing another story that I really want to write – that isn’t going to write itself. Staying on task until each story is complete is the hardest part of the job.

The next-hardest part is character names. I know that once I write them, I’m stuck with them. I guess it’s the equivalent of jumping out of an airplane, trusting that your parachute is folded correctly. Because, once you jump, you’re committed. (Rob’s Note: Behind the Names is awesome, especially the Random Name generator)

Besides that, I also struggle with imposter syndrome. I feel a little better knowing that most authors do, but I wish none of us did. Sometimes it’s paralyzing, but I push through by reminding myself that I enjoy the task of writing even when I think it’s no good.

What are the powers of your personal Holy Hand Grenade?

The one thing I’m good at more than anything else is learning. I can learn anything I put my mind to. I learned how to write by listening to others, reading others and reading books. Throw a few YouTube videos into the mix and POOF – author.

My second magic power is teaching. I’ve learned that anyone can be taught, and the more I teach something, the more concrete it becomes in my own brain. So, I do my best to teach new authors everything I know because not only does it help them, it helps me.

Speaking of which – my doing so does not hurt my own sales. I don’t compete with them. We write in the same genre. People consume our work and move on to the next. It’s not something like a refrigerator where they buy it and hold onto it as long as possible. We are entertainers, and once the entertainment is over, it’s time to move on to something new. (Rob’s Note: Agreed, we’re not competitors because it’s not a zero-sum game)

Lightning Round

  • Favorite Muppet? Mister Snuffleupagus
  • Crunchy or Creamy? Crunchy
  • Favorite Sports Team?  Winnipeg Jets
  • Cake or Pie? Pie, but only if it’s chocolate.
  • Lime or Lemon? Lemon
  • Favorite Chip Dip? French Onion
  • Wet or Dry? Vacuums? Both. Personally? Dry.
  • Favorite Musical Performer We’ve Never Heard Of?  Nikki McFarland (Nikkitanix)
  • Whisky or Whiskey? Whiskey, on the rocks.
  • Favorite Superhero? Magneto. He counts, right?
  • Steak Temperature? Rare
  • Favorite 1970s TV show? M*A*S*H
  • Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall? Winter
  • Favorite Pet? Max my tabby cat.
  • Best Game Ever? 7 Days to Die
  • Coffee or Tea?Coffee
  • Sci-Fi or Fantasy? Mostly Sci-Fi, but only 51%.

Tell me again where we can find your stuff? 

  • Website: http://www.chriswinderbooks.com
  • Podcast: http://www.sfshenanigans.com
  • Stay tuned for several new releases both from me alone and from myself and JR Handley with our co-written stuff. Plenty of Pew-Pew, red shirts getting decimated and starships. The first should be released in October.

And where can we find you?

I’ll be at 20 Books Vegas in November. Just look for the charming, handsome, tall, great-smelling, hysterical, humble guy.

Do you have a creator biography?

Chris Winder is a United States Marine Corps veteran who spent nearly half his eight years training other Marines in the fine art of field wire and switchboard operation.

Each class was dosed with a big helping of humor, which he learned is the key to helping people absorb and remember information. Therefore, Chris tries to sneak some humor into every book he writes.

His first novel, Cloud Development, is a technothriller revolving around a ten-year-old boy, his parents and the corporation his father works for. For years, LumoTech has been trying to unlock a dangerous secret and when their research targets the little boy as the key, his parents aren’t given much of a choice.

He currently works as an Information Technology Specialist for his local government where he spends much of his days wondering if there’s life on other planets, if aliens will be bipedal and if they think we are delicious space-cows.

Chris lives in a small town in northern Arizona with his wife and son, (his two oldest, daughters, are grown and live in the greater Phoenix area), his two cats, (Squeaker and Max), and his elderly dog, Scout.

Final question for you: What should I have asked but did not?

Everyone has a dream – a really big thing that seems like it’s out of their reach and it too hard to accomplish. You should have asked what’s my really big dream?

And I would answer it’s to teach kids how to write creatively. I find that writing is not only fun, it’s therapeutic. I have at least a million words which will probably never see the light of day because I wrote them for me and me alone.

I’ve confronted demons which I’ve held deep inside for decades. I’ve learned things about myself I’d forgotten. Most of all, I’ve learned to be okay with who I am.

My dream is to travel the state of Arizona speaking to kids about how to do what I do. I’d first like to visit juvenile detention, residential treatment centers and the like. Once I have a cadre who can learn to write, who I’ve helped build the confidence in, I want to publish their work and donate all the proceeds to the charity of their choice.

Once that’s done, I’ll move on to the adults.

That’s the great thing about being an author. We don’t need resumes. We don’t need job experience. Nobody cares if we had a rough past, if we’re in jail, if we have a history of drug abuse, or anything else. So long as we can string words together in a way that is entertaining, we can make a living.

I’m not the same person I was before I started writing. I’d like to pay that gift forward to as many people as possible. Even if they don’t become full-time authors, they will know they have the ability. If they only publish one book to prove they can do it, that’s still a win.

Writing makes people better.


Thanks to Christopher for taking the time to answer my questions.

If you have any suggestions or comments about this interview format, let me know so I can keep tweaking it.

Also, thanks to you for reading. If you’re interested in any of the other interviews I’ve done, you can find them all here: http://robhowell.org/blog/?cat=326. If you are a creator, especially an independent creator, and you want to be spotlighted in a future interview, email me at rob@robhowell.org.

Finally, if you want to join my mailing list, where I’ll announce every interview, as well as what’s going on in my life, go to www.robhowell.org and fill out the form (Name and Email Address) or drop me an email and I’ll add you.

Have a great day.

Rob Howell

Interview: Doug Dandridge (Rerun)

Doug Dandridge is one of the great independent writers out there. He’s done really well in part because he puts out a ton of good material. My personal favor is his Exodus: Empires at War series, but he has over thirty published titles, including two other series, Refuge techno-fantasy and The Deep Dark Well trilogy. Now he’s started Kinship Wars, a traditionally published series. Let’s just say I’ve visited his Amazon Author’s Page: https://www.amazon.com/Doug-Dandridge/e/B006S69CTU/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1522973584&sr=1-2-ent a number of times to get his books.

Exodus: Empires at War, Book 1 Cover

And I’m not the only one. According to his bio, “(h)e has amassed over 5,000 reviews across his books on Amazon, with a 4.6 star average. 5,000 reviews! And about that same number on Goodreads. I am learning just how hard it is to get a single review out of readers, so that’s even more amazing to me than the hundreds of thousands of books he’s sold.

Clearly, he knows both how to write and how to market online, so I was excited when he agreed to answer my questions.

Doug Dandridge

What is your quest? I like to craft technically sound science fiction (and fantasy as well) in an interesting and well thought out setting, with strong characters. Sometimes I actually succeed. I like the physics, chemistry, biology to stay as close to accurate as possible. Which doesn’t mean I don’t make up whimsical of utterly fantastic elements, but I see no need to step on real world principles when not necessary. My major influences include Robert Heinlein, Poul Anderson, David Weber, Robert E Howard, Jim Butcher, R A Salvatore and Larry Niven. I get a little bit from each one and possibly blend them together into something of my own. It seems to work, as I was able to not only quit my day job, but make a very good living at it.

What is your favorite color? Like Jim Butcher I start off with a map most of the time. I do a lot of research. Even in fantasy, I look up a lot of information, put a lot of it on paper. I world build to an extreme, probably more than I need to, but then, when I have a series, I just need to add onto the already detailed world. And I draw a lot of things out on graph paper, which allows even a poor artist like myself to visualize my settings. Spaceships, star systems, castles, even the look of dragons. All goes down on paper. And when I’m creating a star system I like to use programs to look over the configurations of planets and make sure it all works (wouldn’t do to have your inhabited planet go spiraling into the star). Probably more than I need to, but I read the horror stories of people finding fault with the science in other works. I even use Nukemap to make sure my things that go boom have an accurate damage radius.

Doug Dandridge with Helicopter

What is the average flying speed of an unladen paint brush? I wrote a series called Refuge, which actually started off really well. Both of the first books sold over 5,000 copies. They mixed modern technology with magic, with people from Earth crossing over to another dimension against their will and having to fight wizards, dragons and things that go smack in the night. With tanks, attack helicopters and a couple of tactical nukes. Due to the physical and magical laws of the planet, the technology would only last for a short period of time, and the humans had to use it or lose it. So by book three they had lost it, and I had lost my readership. Turned out that the majority of people who bought the first two books loved the idea of technology versus magic, so book three sold just over two thousand copies, while four barely made it over a thousand. I’ve tried to salvage the series with book five, resorting to magic imbued steam tech. But I’m afraid once you lose readers you’ve lost them for good, at least for that series. The lesson? When something is working, don’t make radical changes.

What are the powers of your personal Holy Hand Grenade? I am really proud of the Exodus: Empires at War series and the spinoff, Exodus: Machine War. This is the universe that turned me into an independent success. Of the 240,000 odd books I have sold, over 200,000 of them are in these series. They have been well received, and I have collected a lot of fans from all over the world from these books. I feel that I write battle scenes really well (see R A Salvatore and Jim Butcher above), and I’m also good at putting in technical details without overwhelming people with info dumps. The Exodus series is nearing its end, but I will start another side series, going back in time to the origins of my human Empire.

Lightning Round

  • Crunchy or Creamy? Crunchy.

    Five by Five Cover
  • Favorite Sports Team? Florida State University, because I went there and I live in Tallahassee. Any of the teams, not just football. I go to women’s soccer, both basketballs, softball, volleyball, even sometimes baseball.
  • Cake or Pie? Pie, because cake is too rich.
  • Lime or Lemon? Lime, because lemon is just too sour.
  • Favorite Chip Dip?  Home-made French Onion dip. None of that weak store made stuff. The Lipton’s Onion Soup with sour cream.
  • Favorite Musical Performer We’ve Never Heard Of? A German Jazz guitarist named Vogel Kreigel. He played in a little hotel in North Germany back in the late 1970s. One of the best jazz guitarists in the world at that time.
  • Whisky or Whiskey? I used to love Wild Turkey 101. Haven’t had a drink, for health reasons, in fourteen years.
  • Favorite Superhero? Spiderman. I’ve been a Spidey freak since I was five years old, and I bought the issue of Amazing Stories that featured the webhead.
  • Steak Temperature? Medium rare.
  • Favorite 1970s TV show? Man, go back to the sixties and I might have something. The seventies did nothing for me, and I spent half of them in the Army.
  • Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall? Fall, love the crispy temps. Best time for going to football and soccer.
  • Favorite Pet?  (provide pictures if you want) I had a ginger cat years ago named Beau who was the smartest pet I have ever had (and I’ve had an Australian Shepard). He died way too young at age nine.
  • Best Game Ever? Video Game? Fallout New Vegas, with lots of mods. Best gaming world, best story, a lot of fun to play in VR.
  • Coffee or Tea? I’m a big coffee drinking. Buy the beans and grind them myself before brewing them.
  • Sci-Fi or Fantasy? I love them both. I would actually like to write more fantasy, but somehow I slid into the scifi niche, so there I am.

What question(s) would you like to ask me? How do you come up with these questions?

My Answer: I think the first time I asked questions like this happened because I got tired of internet question memes, so oddly that made me make my own. The ones out there were just bland and boring, and so I made a whimsical one to have fun with my friends.

I used the idea again when I got married to my second wife. We wanted to make it fun, so I asked a larger series of questions to everyone involved in the ceremony. Then, we had a friend who is great at such things introduce us all as if we were wrestlers coming into a WWE event or something like that. We had a fantastic wedding.

As everyone who answers the interview questions realizes, I want to get some idea of your methods. Hopefully, this will help me and my readers find things that might improve our writing and publishing skills. However, I didn’t want it to be bland and boring, hence the Monty Python way of asking the questions.

But I also wanted to give each of you a chance to be something more than a name on an e-book. For example, I think it’s awesome that I now know you’re a Florida State fan. Plus, given how much I like to host people, it’s always a good thing to know how to cook their steak should the opportunity arise.

Aura Cover

Tell me again where we can find your stuff? 

Final question for you: What should I have asked but did not? How did you ever decide to get into this crazy business?

I was out of work and pissed off at the employer that had just fired me, and decided to write a book exposing the corruption of mental health organizations. I sat down and wrote that book in two weeks, then started on an alternate history. When that was done, I went to work on a 260K word fantasy.

Refuge, Book 1 Cover

I wrote on an off for over a decade, collecting over three hundred rejection slips, but trying to do it the old way, through a publisher. Finally, in 2010, I was really sick of my job and wanted to become a full time writer. I wrote the equivalent of 7 novels that years, including the books that were turned into the first two volumes of Exodus: Empires at War and Refuge: The Arrival. I didn’t actually put anything online until December 31, 2011, and nothing much sold for the first eight months. I did a giveaway for a book called
The Deep Dark Well, and 4,100 went off the Amazon hard drive. When Exodus came out in November (I had put out Refuge first, thinking it would be the breakout novel), I started selling 100 books a day. In January of 2013 I sold 8,900 books and the sales continued into February with 5,400. I kept getting good sale the first couple days of March, and I turned in my two week notice and never looked back.

What’s Your Upcoming Event Schedule? I will also have books coming out later this year from Arc Manor Publishing (Kinship War) and Chris Kennedy Publishing (When Eagles Dare).

Doug’s Book Biography:

Doug Dandridge is the author of over thirty self-published books on Amazon, including the very successful, Exodus: Empires at War series, the Refuge techno-fantasy series, The Deep Dark Well Trilogy, as well as numerous standalone science fiction and fantasy novels.  In a five year period as a self-published author, Doug has sold well over two hundred thousand eBooks, paperbacks and audio books.  He has amassed over 5,000 reviews across his books on Amazon, with a 4.6 star average, and a similar number of ratings on Goodreads with a 4.12 star average. He has also written his first traditionally published novel, the first of a series, Kinship Wars. He served in the US Army as an infantryman, as well as several years in the Florida National Guard in the same MOS.  Doug, who holds degrees from Florida State University and the University of Alabama, lives with his five cats in Tallahassee Florida.  He is a sports enthusiast and a self-proclaimed amateur military historian.


Thanks to Doug for taking the time to answer my questions.

If you have any suggestions or comments about this interview format, let me know so I can keep tweaking it.

Also, thanks to you for reading. If you’re interested in any of the other interviews I’ve done, you can find them all here: http://robhowell.org/blog/?cat=326. If you are a creator, especially an independent creator, and you want to be spotlighted in a future interview, email me at rob@robhowell.org.

Finally, if you want to join my mailing list, where I’ll announce every interview, as well as what’s going on in my life, go to www.robhowell.org and fill out the form (Name and Email Address) or drop me an email and I’ll add you.

Have a great day.

Rob Howell