Interview with Chris McKenna

Chris McKenna

Interview Date: 8/24/2012


Chris McKenna was born in Scotland in 1983. After graduating from university he worked as programmer in Scotland and then Austria, before giving up his day job to explore the Far East.
Presently Chris is working as an English language teacher in Asia and has lived and worked in many countries including: China, Japan, Indonesia and the Philippines. We would tell you where he lives now, but by the time we do he'll probably be living somewhere else.

Kev's response: Not only that, but the evil minions would find you!

When did you start writing, and was there a significant event that prompted you to do so?

Writing was something that I started when I was at school. Most of my primary school reports read something along the lines of "nice kid, but daydreams too much." and I think some teacher somewhere figured out a way to get me to focus enough to write down some of the things I was imagining. Even then, most of what I wrote was incoherent nonsense until well into high school. It wasn't really until I got into reading - thanks to Terry Brooks and Terry Pratchett - that I learned enough to start writing things down properly.

If you could have one superpower, what would it? (Assuming said power would be reasonably powerful.)

For me it would have to be some kind of mind power. I love the idea of influencing and control other people's thoughts and actions in gentle ways - maybe that's why I like writing. The mind is still such an unknown to us, yet has so much power over everything that we do. In my first novel, "Paradigms", there lots to do with telepathy and telekinesis.

Do you have a favorite superhero from novels, comics, or movies?

I like characters that have a dark side to them, so heroes like Superman don't really work for me. I'm more into Alan Moore characters like V and Ozymandias. I love characters that are flawed, it makes them so much more interesting.

Kev's response: I loved that Ozymandias' plan actually worked in making things peaceful, too.

Where do you get your inspiration for writing? What motivates you?

I think my writing comes from trying to find answers to questions and unknowns - especially the big philosophical ones. There's so much that we don't know the answer to. So much that science has yet to answer. Until then we can only imagine.

Do you pre-plan your stories, or are you a by-the-seat-of-the-pants style writer?

I like to plan. I think it really helps me get to know the story and the characters before I starting putting pen to paper - or fingers to keyboard in my case. That said there's always going to be an element of flow and things do twist and change as the chapters are written.

Kev's response: I just finished my review edits on my latest novel, and I agree with you. Some parts I looked back at and was like, where did I come up with that? I certainly didn't pre-plan some of them.

Do you write only when inspired, or do you have a set schedule where you sit down to write?

At the moment I only write when I get the chance. I've found that for me, too fixed a schedule leads to sloppy uninspired writing. I'd rather take longer and end up with a better story. That said, sometimes I do have to just give myself a kick when I've been lazy for too long.

Do you have a favorite genre to write in? To read?

Fantasy and science fiction for the most part. Although at the moment I'm reading through "the Flashman papers", which is more light hearted historical fiction. I also like some spiritual writers like Herman Hesse.

What do you enjoy the most about writing?

You mean apart from the rejection letters and low pay? Well I like that it lets me explore my own head. Like I was saying in the previous question, I'm inspired by big questions. Sometimes, with writing, you can come close to big answers.

Kev's response: Glad you enjoy those. Only a tiny (and rare) few of us "make it big."

Is there any part of writing that you don't enjoy?

I write a fair amount of short stories and articles as well as novels and with all of them the worst part has to be the waiting for a response. Sometimes magazines and publishers are talking about waiting over a year before they're going to get back to you. I don't mind getting rejected, but the waiting can be horrible.

Kev's response: This is a huge reason behind my being a fan of self-publishing. I loathe long waits.

Can you tell me something odd about yourself?

There are many odd things. But the first thing that I thought of was that I sometimes like to go to the arcade and play on the dancing machines. You know the one that has the squares you have to step on?

Kev's response: Yes, I believe we have pictures of you doing this on this web site here...

Do you write one story at a time, or do you have several novels in the works at one time?

I was working on the one at a time idea, especially since I have a full time job, but I'm starting to open up to the idea of working on more than one at a time. It would be nice to write in different genres depending on my mood.

Are you for, or against, evil plots to take over the world? (Not saying I'm doing that, but thought I'd ask, just in case....)

I think the world is in a bit of a mess as it stands. So would an evil plot to take it over not really be on the side of good even if it strayed over the line from time to time?

Kev's response: Well, if it were a good evil plot it might...

Where do you see the future as far as paper books versus digital e-books?

I like reading paper books, but I'm pretty much converted to using e-book. I live in Indonesia where it's not that easy to get English books, so downloading them really helps. Moreover, I like to travel so being able to carry a dozen books without breaking my back is a big help. As a writer though, I still want all my books on paperback. There's something nice about being able to touch them.

What are your current projects?

My new novel "Bardo," is coming out in the next few weeks. It's a young adult fantasy based around the book of the dead. It was quite a fun book to write and was pretty light hearted compared to "Paradigms" my first book, which was much more dark and serious.

Do you have any online sites where readers can find out more about you (and your books)?!/profile.php?id=1343747780
-- Paradigms - A spiritual fantasy set in post apocalyptic Scotland
“The post-apocalyptic world that McKenna creates is fascinating and offers an opportunity to challenge our current social and cultural expectations on gender, power, and happiness” - ShambhalaSun Magazine
2012 EPIC awards Finalist.
Available now on Amazon in paperback and ebook:

Kev's response: Chris, thanks for joining me, and I wish you the best with Bardo, and your future Sci-Fi/Fantasy work!

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