My name is Chris Ward, I'm 33 years old and my day job is as an Assistant Language Teacher in a high school in Nagano, Japan. I've been writing since I was seven or eight years old and since my early teens being a professional writer has been the only thing I ever wanted to do. Into my early twenties I wrote hard and produced some good work, but I failed to sell it and working a succession of soul-sucking office jobs eventually took its toll. I decided if I wasn't going to break into trad publishing I would go out and see the world to get a bit of life experience. I quit my job and left England. I studied English teaching in Barcelona, then took a job in Italy, and a year after I came out to Japan. That was 2004. Last year I got married to a lovely Japanese girl and my life is completed by a cat which wakes me up at 4am every morning. Since coming to Japan I revived my writing career and published my first professional story in a magazine called Weird Tales in 2008. In March this year, despite interest from several literary agents, I decided to take control of my own destiny and publish a novel (actually the seventh that I wrote) on Amazon. I now have 21 items available - two novels, a short story collection, the first two episodes of an action/comedy novella series under the pen name of Michael S. Hunter, and numerous short stories, most of which have previously been published in magazines.
What first inspired you to start writing?
I had a lot of stories to tell, and on the days when it was raining too much to go out and enact them in the garden I would sit and write them down.
What was your first story?
Wow, it's hard to remember! I actually won a prize in school aged 10, and that story was about someone hunting for buried treasure. I remember the central character caught the bends after ascending from a shipwreck, a problem I had read about the week before in one of those collectable magazines for kids. Quest, I think that magazine was called. No idea now of the name of the story, but it's in a box in my mother's attic somewhere.
Are you a planner? Or do you prefer to dive straight in to writing?
Both. Planning is easier. I love to just see what comes out though, that's the best part. However, I've lost a lot of books that way. I have an entire folder of unfinished novels and there are four or five that are 80,000 plus words that I just ran out of ideas on. I had great fun with them though, and that's the main thing for me. I see so many postings by other authors talking about how they plan out every scene, how you absolutely MUST finish everything you start, but that's so lame. It's so cold-blooded. Did Picasso finish every painting? Hell no, he didn't. He had hundreds of notebooks and scrapbooks of ideas. I'm the same. I have dozens of half-formed ideas and they're all useful. My novel Tube Riders came from a short story I wrote five years before. Another novel - a comedy called My Perfect Life - I started in 2001, got four chapters in and then sat on it for six years before writing the rest of it. So many authors treat this like a business, but when I'm writing it's like I'm watching a movie only I'm in control of what happens. It's a complete thrill ride. And one other thing - no writing is ever wasted. Writing half a story is better than writing no story, because you never know when you might come back to it.
If you could work with any author, who would it be?
Richard Laymon. That guy's books are a hoot. I'd just say, okay, I have this storyline, what shall we do? I can guarantee that he would come up with something wantonly random. Anyone who can write a story where the main character starts off as Jack the Ripper before emigrating and turning into Buffalo Bill is all right in my book.
What do you enjoy most about writing?
The first drafts. Definitely.
And the least?
I'd like to say editing, but that's not so bad. Formatting. I absolutely hate formatting.
What are you working on at the moment?
I'm working on a number of things. The big one is part two of my series The Tube Riders. It's sitting at around 80,000 words at the moment and will probably end up close to 200k. I like writing long books. People talk about readers having short attention spans these days, but that's not necessarily true. Readers come in all shapes and sizes and a lot of them still love getting into long, long books. Why else would guys like George RR Martin be so successful? Readers like series, they like long books. Tube Riders: Exile will be pretty long.
In addition to that I'm also working on an accompanying novella, featuring different characters but happening at the same time as the main story. They'll probably tie in together in TR3. As well as these I have a romance novel on the go, something that is new to me, plus I'm doing an action novella series and hope to have episodes 3 and 4 out by January. This is under a pen name is just pure entertainment. It's very fun to write, plus the guy who does the covers is super-talented and they look just awesome.
Tell us about your latest work and how we can find out more.
I can't really tell you much about Tube Riders: Exile because it will spoil the story for those readers who haven't read part one. Let me just say that it's epic.
Thank you for hosting me on your blog. Here are a few links that readers might like to check out -
My blog -
My blog writing as Michael S. Hunter -
My facebook page -
I hope to see you around.
Thanks to Chris for sharing his thoughts, tomorrow Dennis Maley takes his place in the hotseat.