60 Questions With Chris Roy

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I offer a view rooted in reality. A perspective observed from the consequences of harsh laws and unjust sentences.Chris Roy on being a part of the literary world from behind prison bars.

In his new release Shocking Circumstances, author Chris Roy paints a detailed picture of life along the Gulf Coast. Recently, we’ve had the opportunity to sit down with Chris and delve into the mind of the man behind the masterpiece. We learn of the shocking circumstances of his life prior to, and after, his incarceration. What twists and turns could lead a young, aspiring mechanic to life locked away inside Mississippi State Penitentiary? Chris Roy gives us a sneak peak into his journey from the junkyards of Mississippi to the cells of Parchman– and how he found his voice as an author along the way.

About Life

A mechanic. I started working for my uncle when I was eleven, weedeating around wrecked cars at his junkyard in Biloxi. Every summer I worked full-time. I was promoted to Slab Worker the summer I turned twelve. Dismantling engines, testing parts before steam cleaning, tagging and stocking them in the warehouse was nonstop work. I learned something every time an Engine Puller backed their wrecker up and dropped off another drivetrain with instructions on what worked and what was scrap.

I was promoted to Parts Puller the summer I turned fourteen. I commandeered a “yard car”, an old Subaru station wagon I cut the back off of with a body saw. Made a truck bed for my tools and torch bottles. It had no doors, and small mud tires up front turned around backwards so they stuck out away from the fenders. I had several yard cars, even an old Ford wrecker, during my years as a Parts Puller.

I was good at my job. Could take anything apart and knew every kind of tool imaginable. Pulling dashboards were the worst; they took forever, like big puzzles that cramped arms and stole your breath while you figured out how to take plastic panels off without cracking them. Find the fasteners? Now remove the air conditioner evaporator, heater core, fan box, wiring harnesses and fuse panels… Windshield, stereo system, speakers…

You know how hot and suffocating your car’s interior is after sitting in the sun? That was my workplace every summer. And every afternoon when I got to leave high school early for a Vo Tech class (the co-op teacher, Mr. Brinner, bought an engine from me, cheap, and had me install it for free during automotive mechanics class. He gave me credit for an entire semester! I slept while everyone else worked).

Things like spindles, control arms, struts, or brake components were easy to pull. Power window motors, ignition locks, door locks, any glass or plastic panels – easy to damage parts – were tricky and so customers often paid me to come to their house after work to install them.

Insurance companies came regularly to buy entire frontends, quarter panels, rear caps, and would measure and mark vehicles to be cut with a body saw. My uncle and cousin (the manager, now the owner) frequently put me on these jobs because I was thorough with stripping the interior and making sure wiring harnesses and fuel lines were safely removed before firing up the cutting disc. Only had one fire, from sparks on a gasoline soaked ground and no water in my extinguisher.

When I was sixteen and seventeen, I sometimes filled in for salesmen that didn’t come in. I answered phones, looked up available parts on the computer, and, after consulting a real salesman, invited the customer to visit us if we had the part, or offered to order it if we didn’t.

Shortly before my fourteenth birthday, I bought my first car: A 1981 Pontiac Trans Am that was rotting in a friend’s yard. $350 saved from junkyard checks, some free labor repairing their Camaro, and it was all mine. My mom even let me use her truck to tow it home.

To keep this tangent brief, I got it running, my brother destroyed the transmission, and I happily traded it to my Uncle Billy for a Datsun 280ZX.

Mom and I figured I didn’t need a license to drive to school and work. Or anywhere. Having transportation gave me the lateral movement necessary to experience the automotive business all over the Coast.

Friday lunch breaks at the junkyard were memorable. My aunt did the book keeping, issuing checks that day… which were usually handed to me by salesmen that rarely forfeited an hour’s pay and commission for something that could be delivered by a grease monkey like me. Hancock Bank knew me as “Wendie Cook’s nephew”. With no ID, the tellers recognized me by the grease covering me. I walked out with the envelopes of cash and picked up lunch orders for myself and the Inventory Man – dude that made the stock labels. He taught me the reference numbers for popular parts and how to use the computers. I still remember parts numbers!

I worked at two junkyards at different times – K.W Cook’s Auto Salvage and ABC Auto Salvage – right across the street from each other. My uncle made serious upgrades in 1996. I learned how to form concrete foundations and assemble steel buildings from my late Uncle Billy. We worked on several huge warehouses. He was a great teacher. My experience in metal fabrication started when i was twelve, tack-welding wheels together to set vehicles on, using a torch on rusty or crushed parts. Billy instructed me how to weld, cut and fabricate metal. We built tire racks, parts racks. Built beautiful wooden lofts as big as apartments inside the warehouses… And built more racks built on those.

I was eager to learn from the master craftsman, a former race car builder and driver. He made me want to become a professional mechanic. I planned to attend Nashville Auto-Diesel College after winning high school mechanic competitions sponsored by NADC at Perc College. My uncle wanted me to work for him and told me about the benefits – sales commissions, insurance, vacation time, retirement funds, etc.

The summer of 1999 I quit working at the junkyard. Johnson’s Transmissions hired me after a test to see how fast I could remove and replace a transmission. I became the R&R (remove and replace) man for the boss, who repaired or rebuilt the transmissions I pulled. We worked on everything there, and my hard work earned double what I was paid at the junkyard.

Expelled from school, kicked out of my Mom’s house, I had my own place. I still wanted to save and go to NADC. Eleven months of training and I’d be making a triple or more of what I made doing R&R.

For the past decade I wanted to be a professional tattoo artist if I get parole. Forget working on everyone else’s cars all day! I’ll do tattoos and have the time and energy to work on my own auto projects. Lately, though, I can see myself at an old desk, random papers everywhere, learning to touch-type on my first PC as a fresh story comes to life on the monitor.

As a kid turning wrenches on bicycles, go-karts, dirtbikes – pretty much anything with an engine or wheels – it never occurred to me that I could be a Writer or Author when I grew up.

I was fourteen or fifteen, working at ABC Auto Salvage. My uncle had me repair a Ford Ranger. It needed doors, fenders, radiator core support, all the headlight components, bezels, and a bed. I found the parts on other Rangers and switched them out. The bed was in a tight spot. I couldn’t get under the truck to get at the bed’s mounting bolts on the frame. Didn’t want to get a wrecker. So I used my torch to cut the heads of the bolts in the floor of the bed. The acetylene/oxygen torch washed the heads off clean with only a little slag.

Replacing all the body parts, the bed and some work with a maul and two-by-four hammer out mounting brackets for the new radiator support, and it was ready to go to the paint booth.

At quitting time a crowd of mechanics and salesmen gathered to check out the Ranger. Guys far more experienced than me praised the work. I felt proud. Until my uncle walked up, spotted slag around the bolts in the bed, and lost his temper. He yelled at me, “Has anyone ever told you you’re a stupid motherfucker?” He lectured me on cutting bolts from underneath so slag didn’t show. Then stormed off. My coworkers were quiet. I was embarrassed and felt just like a stupid motherfucker.

One guy walked up to the truck and wiped the slag away with a grease rag. The metal underneath was undamaged and it would get a fresh paint job the next day.

My mom. She raised three kids by herself while working at K-Mart, put herself through nursing school and became an RN supervisor. Her resolve to achieve made an impression on me.

My dad didn’t know how to be a parent. The men I knew as a son knows his father were my uncle, then later (too late) my boxing coach. They were mentors to so many people, old and young. I realize how their standards as leaders of men socialized me, how their skills and life lessons they passed on to me are directly related to my successes.

My mom taught me that family is more important than anything. She taught me responsibility. My uncle taught me the discipline of hard work and honest business. Coach showed me I could be much more than a mechanic.

I should also credit Rocky Balboa as a role model.

Hobbies. As a kid, any activity that didn’t involve woods, water, tools or dark clothes didn’t interest me. As a teenager, I added money to the list. Now I’m just a boring dude that is bored of drawing, tattooing, and fitness goals. I used to write as a hobby. Writing has become a passion, and I hope readers will sense that while enjoying my works.

I already mentioned my first job, the junkyard weedwacker. Worst job was in a Rankin County prison kitchen washing pans. Favorite job was learning to build transmissions at Johnson’s.

Most recently a Bad Lip Sync video with Donald Trump, Obama, Hillary and Bush in various scenes with each other. Crazy funny. Love those videos.

That’s tough. Toss up between The Pot, Jambi or Flood by Tool. Definitely a Tool song.

When I was twelve I remember standing outside a kid’s club in Ocean Springs, smoking cigarettes with my friends. The club owner came out, looked at me and said, “Smoke after puberty,” and walked away. It clicked what he was saying. I quit. Years later it became evident that my friends who kept smoking all seemed to be stunted in some way.

Wish I had listened to my mom all the times she told me to quit selling drugs.

Loyal to my tribe Problem solver.

My favorite thing in elementary school was not getting a paddling. I got one almost daily. Automotive mechanics class during high school was by far my favorite reason to attend school.

Block schedule with Literature for first period. And only one parking sticker; my school had real police officers patrolling the grounds, solving crimes like how the same parking sticker on my truck was also on my motorcycle.

School was very competitive. I didn’t play team sports. Didn’t join clubs or go to football games. I wasn’t good at anything, and was certainly never a contender for honor roll. Until high school. I actually enjoyed geometry and algebra, biology and geology. I quit smoking weed before school, stopped dropping acid in the cafeteria, and – surprise! – I actually learned something useful and wanted to continue my education.

My grades were borderline passable so I never failed a grade. I would have been class of 1999, until I missed too many days my senior year. I should have graduated in May of 1999 (“CLS OF 99” was on the license plate of my Nissan Maxima, a surprise gift from my Mom). I found out I would fail in April. It was a wakeup call. I wasn’t aware of missing so many days, figuring my grades were good so I was good. I continued going to classes anyway, leaving school early – via a co-opt class – to go to work at my uncle’s salvage yard.

That summer I made some big decisions. First was quitting working at the junkyards for a better paying job at Johnson’s Transmissions in Vancleave. Next was realizing I didn’t want to keep selling drugs and needed to become a certified mechanic if I wanted to make enough money to quit and live well. I needed a high school diploma before I could take the certification test. In 1998 and 1999 I competed in mechanic competitions for the high school Vo-Tec and got the attention of Nashville Auto/Diesel College, who offered scholarship opportunities. So I knew I would go back to school and graduate as class of 2000. I went to the attendance office to register but had a problem: I didn’t live in Ocean Springs. The guidance counselor, impressed by my decision to get a diploma after everything that had happened to me, helped out. He said they only required a utility bill as proof of residence…I used an old one from my mom’s house. My second attempt to graduate was even tougher because I had my own place a, job, and was still heavily involved in the things that caused me to be Class of 2000 instead of 1999.

Things were going well until I was expelled. That October, the police got me out of geometry class to question me for a murder. I had a couple dozen hits of blotter acid in my wallet and a vial of liquid LSD in my bookbag. Parties and drugs had become my identity by then, to the point that a few dozen hits of anything was easily forgotten.

I was arrested in the principal’s office, jailed and interrogated by the FBI, police department and sheriff’s department. They got nothing useful from me other than the acid. I bonded out and accepted l wouldn’t earn a diploma. The day I was expelled I remember driving down Highway 90 with my friend Jeremy, telling him how I wasted all that time trying to do right. I tore off the school parking sticker from my windshield and threw it. Jeremy kept it. He graduated in 1998 and was encouraging me to figure out how to get a diploma. Alternative school was offered to me but I was mad and stupid and didn’t attend. Two attempts was complicated enough. I switched to working full-time at the transmission shop.

In 2003 I got another chance at completing high school. In Unit 32, believe it or not. A GED program, the first one, started in 32D. The teacher was a joke. He would pass out work and then just leave without giving any kind of actual instruction. I started helping a few guys with math and English, which turned into a tutoring job I enjoyed. A proctor from Delta Community College came to administer the test a few months later. Six out of the ten in the class passed. The success of the program allowed it to continue and eventually a separate school was built. I was transferred to another facility in July, 2003, where I was offered the chance to get into another GED class and accepted. The school unit had actual classrooms and teachers. It was a great environment for prisoners to learn, far better than what I experienced at Unit32. Test time, I passed with what I was told was the highest score in the state. They made me valedictorian. Institutions that monitor high GED scores contacted me with offerings of free college courses. Even a taxidermy company from L.A. wanted to come to the prison and train me to be a taxidermist. I ran off soon after, so didn’t get to stuff any animals or study college level English and Public Speaking.

On canteen day I’ll eat a box of nutty bars and several bags of trail mix while reading a good novel.

Family Guy. I’ll laugh like an idiot through every episode. The Next 3 Days is a great movie. Russell Crowe breaks his wife out of prison. Very moving.

I wouldn’t stay in Mississippi, that’s for sure. I love the Coast but living there is in my past. Coastal New England would be a nice change of culture. From there my wife and I would probably drop everything and travel to Ireland or Thailand.

The 1950s-60s. The dawn of rock and muscle cars.

I like people, usually even when they don’t like me.

Sure. A quote from my old coach: “Fights aren’t won in the ring; they’re won in the gym, by training hard.”

About Writing

The water, of course! Fishing, swimming, boating, and enjoying the beach. Mardi Gras, Cruisin’ the Coast and the drag strip… restaurants and boxing matches at the casinos. Lots of family oriented fun to be had.

Seven. New Pulp Press signed me for six of them. They were all written in small concrete and steel cells in Parchman. I write them with pen and paper, then they’re typed for rewrites and editing.

It happens when I don’t experience any progress getting it in front of publishers. I feel there’s no profit in it, no reason to keep writing when what I’ve already written hasn’t sold. A new round of query submissions usually reinstates optimism. New story ideas will get me going again, too. Since getting the publishing contracts I’ve written several short stories. One was just published by Near to the Knuckle. I intend to put together a collection of short stories and submit it to publishers later this year.

Publishers and literary agents want winners. They want marketable authors. And they want to build their company brand without blemishes. Publishers don’t want to be known for publishing prisoners (unless it’s an urban/street fiction publisher). “Prisoner” doesn’t scream “winner” to most people, certainly not to the mainstream public, the target audience.

Publishers that sign a prisoner are taking a risk, putting their brand on the chopping block. They must have a prisoner with a criminal background that’s exciting to learn about. Violent crimes sell. But malicious acts, violent crimes that intentionally hurt people for profit or enjoyment, aren’t thrilling to learn about. It doesn’t matter how good a book is, if it was written by a criminal with heinous crimes, it could slaughter the publisher’s reputation while, if it sells at all, selling only to a niche audience. Important platforms like Amazon are known to completely ban books written by criminals.

There’s a lot riding on signing a prisoner, I discovered. Dozens of agents and dozens of publishers, between 2010-2016, turned me down. A few were interested until they learned my address, that I’m doing life in maximum security for murder… and on High Risk for multiple escapes, too??? Yeah. Rejected. I didn’t get mad, didn’t hold it against them. The rejections were simply smart business decisions for their brands. I kept writing, kept studying books on how to write, how to get published.

Those were the years of learning the fundamentals of polishing, packaging and pitching. It’s a time-consuming venture of researching genres, who publishes yours, are they accepting submissions, can your work be packaged to fit their criteria, etc., and, most importantly, learning to write queries that dazzle with your brilliance instead of baffling with your bullshit!

I honestly couldn’t tell you how many queries I’ve drafted. Couldn’t tell you the number of courteous emails informing me my book wasn’t a fit. I lost count of the index cards I received in the mail from agents that had better things to do.

No one bit. But I never lost optimism. All the test readers convinced me I had books that would sell: a hundred convicts with no problem telling me if my books were crap, and my Mom and aunt with their blunt opinions, gave me unlimited encouragement.

My good friend, Roy Harper (also on High Risk, for the legendary escape from Unit 32 Supermax that became a National Geographic documentary), was on a similar mission to get his crime thriller series published. We worked together to self-publish our works, but lacked money and time online to make any traction. We were constantly learning, mining information about how writers market themselves from every available source and having daily brainstorm sessions before getting back to work.

We no longer schemed on escape, on criminal activities… other than where to hide our contraband. We schemed about freedom gained in a legal venture – bought with our royalties!

To accomplish something perfectly legal and held in high regard by society, we had to break a few institutional rules. High Risk prisoners were always being searched. We were only allowed to possess three books at a time, and, depending on who was supervising the search, either six inches or eighteen inches of paper. We didn’t just break those rules – we mutilated them. And administration didn’t like us very much. Every day we worried about losing it all. It was a time of stress and excitement.

Self-publishing didn’t pan out. The copies we sold didn’t generate enough money to invest in the outside help we needed to keep going and be at least marginally successful… and, being honest, we blew that little change on nutty bars and Ramen noodles.

No worries, though. New plan: We resolved to make query writing and finding listings of publishers and literary agents our sole focus. Simultaneous submissions were difficult because they all had different criteria. We picked the best bets and managed to submit a dozen or so queries a week. And we made it happen.

I’ll never forget the email from Tom Vater at Crime Wave Press that said they wanted to sign Roy. Not wanting to be known for publishing prisoners, they rejected my works, but hired me as an intern after getting to know me; I represented Roy, and they liked our team work and dedication. Roy’s Tool’s Law series is great, and he’s very marketable as a prisoner. Tom chose well and we are all enjoying Roy’s success.

Tom Vater is a master writer, an honest, hard-working publisher, and a stellar mentor. Hans and Tom kept me on after my internship ended (I was very worried before our conference about completing my internship, receiving a letter of recommendation. Thought they were going to get rid of me!). I’ve been working for Crime Wave Press for over a year, continuing to learn the business and use that to represent our authors to readers all over the world.

The lessons Tom taught me about polishing my works, how to package and pitch them, how to market myself as a prisoner, are the reason I started getting interest from multiple publishers. When Chuck Newman at New Pulp Press told me he read, liked and wanted to sign Shocking Circumstances, I felt like singing and dancing (actually did, to my wife’s embarrassment…). The Battle of the Queries was over. I found a home for my crime thrillers.

I’ve considered it many times. Even briefly considered hiding the fact I’m in prison from publishers. A pseudonym wouldn’t work for me, and duping publishers is just stupid.
I don’t want to hide behind a facade. I don’t even have a nickname in prison, where nine out of ten guys go by aliases. I want people to know who wrote the book they’re reading, and want them to be inspired by the tribulations overcome to get that story written and in their hands.

I was incarcerated when I was eighteen. A kid. My only worthy accomplishments out there were as a mechanic, working at my uncle’s salvage yard during summers and after school, and later at a transmission shop. I had far more criminal accomplishments growing up. I used to be proud of what I did, of the illicit money I made hustling. Those experiences made me a survivor, made me motivated. And made me knowledgeable about the value of things. The economics of the distribution business, and concepts like supply and demand. I didn’t have terms for these things as a teenager, learning it later in business books while sitting in supermax.

One day, years ago, I realized I could make more money, legally, than I ever could illegally. Successful businessmen are just another kind of hustler. Only they use their talent pushing legit merchandise. Duh, right? I decided I would quit being a criminal and learn to produce something I owned and could sell. Two trilogies – six novels to be published by New Pulp Press – are the fruit of my labor. Near to the Knuckle just published a short story I wrote last year, and I also wrote a book of short stories that was self-published in 2012 and will eventually be rewritten. I developed the ability to produce legit merchandise, a dream that could possibly sell enough to hire an attorney to fight for my freedom. Regardless, as a free man or as a lifer, my future is not in criminal actions; it is as a writer of criminal acts. An author of crime fiction.

I’ve lost seventeen years of my life to date (January, 21, 2017). The Mississippi Department of Corrections doesn’t care about prisoners’ education, about prisoners learning trades or something beneficial that will make them quit the life of a criminal. And they certainly don’t want us achieving things that will earn them an income.

I am proud to have accomplished the impossible. And I want my name on it.

The late Dennis Newton, a friend mentioned in the acknowledgements of S.C., helped with research material at a time because I was unable to get online. The botnet used by Shocker’s husband was certainly fun to learn about. I discovered other ways hackers build supercomputers that weren’t mentioned in S.C. but may use in a future story. One is taking over a cloud system and using its vast, powerful processing capabilities to overwhelm pretty much anything. Sound like fun?

Shocker finds herself in increasingly difficult situations. During the writing of S. C. the next scene was always my favorite. In Book 1 I’d say my favorite part is when her parents and coach visit her in prison. Her father smuggles in a cellphone for her, but fumbles the exchange and is snitched on by a passing inmate. Coach runs interference and saves her father from prison time. Her coach is based on a real person – Fred Williams, my old boxing coach – so I envisioned Fred saving the day. It’s something he would actually do in that situation.

During the writing of Shocking Circumstances, some days it was tough to get in character because the scene called for feminine behavior. I managed by imagining a twin sister to Razor, the protagonist in the Sharp as a Razor series. What would Razor’s twin do? She would do it better than him, while setting standards for sexy and breaking stereotypes about women being less physically capable than men. After a while I was able to disassociate, see her actions and hear her words as if viewing from behind a camera. The affection she shows toward her family and friends no longer made me uncomfortable – I didn’t have to get into a female character to write her affection moments. I could start writing and watch her tell the story.

Most of what the characters do and say, their skills, came from my own personal interests, subjects I’m knowledgeable about. I had to research some tech. One thing that stands out and I thoroughly enjoyed was learning about botnets.

T. Jefferson Parker. Lee Child. Tom Vater. Tony Knighton. Paul Brazill. Roy Harper.

Reading Wool by Hugh Howey, and Unweaving the Rainbow by Richard Dawkins.

Books on writing. The first ones I studied were given to me by my friend Steven Farris. Those were possibly the most useful books I’ve ever had. They made me realize I didn’t know anything about writing. I needed way more experience, far more knowledge on the art of fiction composition. I needed more books on writing!

Greg Iles. I believe our styles would make an epic action-thriller. Greg is a master of developing characters and knows how to make readers believe the storyline. His writing contains a level of absorption I hope to reach one day. If he and I worked on a novel, much of my contribution would be building tension and crafting action at peak/emotional moments.

Here’s an interesting guy that deserves another chance at life.

People tend to believe what they read. Unfortunately, all the tough on crime content in the media is inaccurate. It’s constantly harming our communities and destroying lives. I’ve seen seventeen years of ruined lives that are a direct result of the tough on crime laws.

I offer a view rooted in reality. A perspective observed from the consequences of harsh laws and unjust sentences. The characters in Shocking Circumstances experience serious changes in their views of crime and punishment, based on the reality of today’s justice system.

It’s a challenge to focus on writing in here. There’s always something to disrupt the creative feeling. Floods, fires, constant screaming and fighting. Shakedowns. I know I would be more productive in a less hostile environment.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to celebrate. The positive qualities gained by that milestone were drowned out by the inhumane conditions of my current housing unit in Parchman. My wife and mother congratulated me, and being published gave my life new meaning, but we were unable to put together a celebration for this instance. The question reminded me of a celebration that did happen when I wrapped up writing my second book series Sharp As A Razor, though.

As the book was nearing its final edits, my wife got in contact with one of my friends, Barry, who lived in the cell next to me. Together they ordered the ingredients, and on the day after I wrote the final words, he and Roy cooked up a giant surprise ‘gourmet canteen’ meal. Roy chopped the pickles and sausage… with his shank. And Barry cooked a mass of Ramen noodles with cheese, refried beans and crushed chips. Our bowls far too small for it all, he mixed everything in a trash bag before portioning it out.

I really began to feel the celebration when I read the speech my wife prepared, and my friends and a couple guys upstairs shouted down their congrats. It was a day I’ll never forget.

Rock is my preference, though I went through a long period in Parchman where the only radio station I could stand played pop music. S.C. was written during that time. My street cred would be wrecked if it got out that I know the lyrics to a dozen Katy Perry songs, and probably as many Lady Gaga jams… and like them, dammit. You’ll keep that between us, though, right? …{Ue Note: We won’t tell anyone that he also knows all the words to Beyonce’s Single Ladies either…}

I mentioned Roy Harper earlier. I read Roy’s handwritten manuscript in 2009. He and I were good friends by then. He knew I had read hundreds of novels, knew good from junk, and knew I would tell him to his face that his books sucked.

They didn’t suck. I read them in a few days, learning much about my friend. The dude is brilliant! His hardcore convict image belies his talents. He can tell a gripping story. Classic style. Freaked me out.

Around that time I was writing short stories and getting good feedback from guys on High Risk and Death Row (who we were housed with) that accepted the challenge of deciphering my handwriting to read them. Roy quit school in the fourth grade. He taught himself to read and write English and Spanish simultaneously. Then wrote a series of novels! And he doesn’t learn things easily. He suffers greatly to internalize lessons from books. He was so determined. It was contagious.

Roy and I knew escaping again, actually getting away and starting a life somewhere, was just a grand fantasy… one we could put in books that will sell and get us out. I literally started writing to save my life. Roy’s motives were the same. We inspired each other.

Later, in Unit 29 at Parchman, I had the pleasure of mentoring several aspiring authors, sharing lesson books and tips I learned along the way. Teaching helped me stay sharp, creative and working.

A Little Golden book titled Billy Goat’s Gruff. My mom read this one to me and my brother countless times. I think it’s my favorite because of how she changed voices for the characters.

The count of Monte Cristo. He was imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit. I can relate to that; my crime was at worst manslaughter, not murder, and certainly not the capital murder charge I went on trial for. I used to dream of escaping and starting a new life as he did. He’s not a character most like me – he’s a character I want to be like.

If I’m a free man? I’d like to find a good gym or open my own to teach boxing. If I have to serve the rest of this life sentence, I will keep occupied with tattoo art.

Whatever genre you want to write in, read a LOT of the bestsellers and classics. Study books on writing. All of them. And you can’t judge your first works too harshly. They will likely be terrible. Mine were. Experience changes that. Study a few lesson books, write a few thousand pages, and you’ll see a profound difference.

My mom speaks well. She was always correcting her kids’ mispronunciations, and would tell us why enunciating correctly was important. Talk like an ignoramus and people think you are one. Speak well and people listen to you. Mom taught me that language can be wielded for power.

Controversial novel… Hmm. Dan Brown’s The DaVinci Code.

Wolf! My characters work as teams like wolf packs. The pack’s survival is more important than the individual characters.

Haha. I wrote a sex scene with Shocker and her husband in part IV that I edited out. It’s not a romance novel. I wanted a go go GO paced crime thriller. Plus writing that particular scene in first-person, before I had evolved the ability to disassociate, made me feel extremely uncomfortable. I didn’t want anyone to read it. No one has.

I haven’t cried while reading. Though I admit I have been so engrossed in a story that I felt emotional pangs in sympathy with a character. Jim Butcher writes the best emotional descriptions I’ve ever read. The Dresden Files has plenty of heart wrenching scenes. Every book. Can’t single out one. I found myself cheering a character in Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo recently. A criminal anti-hero.

I think Shocker would be a strong advocate for family development, bringing awareness to better parenting, raising healthy kids and community service. She would use her reputation as a champion and her natural, dynamic manner to get people off their collective butts and doing something for their family.

A loft in my future shop, with an old ragged desk and bookshelves my wife hasn’t yet commandeered for her collection.

The cover for Book I was hand drawn by me in 2012. My wife and I created several versions with image editing apps for the self-publishing efforts, and then the pros at New Pulp Press fine-tuned their own final version for publication.

Absolutely. Shocking Circumstances features a fighter nicknamed Shocker. The title derived from the situations she finds herself in; they are increasingly more difficult to get out of as her story progresses. Her nickname… well, I needed something, a character trait never written in a novel. And it also needed to be something unique in boxing. Shocker, though she’s ashamed to admit it, loves getting shocked. You will have to read the books to find out more on that, though I’ll share a story about my own experiences will electrocution.

I worked at a junkyard with my cousins and even got jobs for a few of my friends. We played pranks on each other sometimes. It could be anything from drawing a rainbow on a blank white dealership tag with “MEET ME AT JOEY’S” (a gay bar) on it and bolting it to your front bumper to spraying you with a fire extinguisher or even using the forklift to stack your car on top of another one. One day I came out of the office reading a printout a salesman gave me. Jumped in my yard car to go pull the part. When I turned the key the engine fired up… and so did I. Straight up and out of the car. I heard laughter and saw my cousin Shawn and friend Jeremy standing by the car lifts laughing their asses off. Inside the car, the seat had stripped wire splayed over it. They had connected the other end to a spark plug. I was amped up for a few hours after that. Kinda liked it. I work on radios, fans, build things in here from time to time and have little regard for electrical safety. I get shocked sometimes and don’t even blink. Probably something wrong with me.

As for Sharp as a Razor, this guy is a real bastard. But he’s smart. His strategic ability and lighting quick improvisation skills bring him up a level from criminal to antihero, and may be the only admirable quality about him early in the story. He goes through a transformation, but I’ll leave that subplot unexplored here so I don’t influence anyone’s opinion if they haven’t read Razor yet.

Go to the New Pulp Press website and check out those authors. Their credentials are impressive. My bio will be alongside theirs. That will validate all I’ve worked for. I see Roy’s bio and books every day on the Crime Wave Press site and marvel that he’s published along with all those incredibly accomplished writers.

Representing Crime Wave Press authors has been the most enjoyable work I’ve ever done. There’s always something new to figure out, improvements to be made.
I like it when readers message me, excited about a book or author, and I get to be the one to tell them about new releases, interviews and special offers. I certainly enjoy communicating with our authors, scheduling reviews, interviews, and, most recently, slots on a radio show. Getting them connected to readers, new followers, makes me feel I’m contributing to the history of crime fiction. Just doing my part.

Marketing books successfully depends on many things. First, the book has to be spectacular. The competition is tough. And the author has to be active on social media. An online presence is vital. Readers want to learn about authors. They follow their favorites and buy their works. Building a following can be hard. It takes dedication to add interacting on social media to your daily routine. A lot of authors can’t stand it, and don’t sell books because they aren’t known to the readers online. There are Crime Wave Press authors that I can’t promote because they aren’t online. Bloggers and other media outlets – people publishers depend on for book promos – will decline work on authors that lack an online presence. They don’t want to tell their followers about a writer no one can follow or interact with.

Is there something you would like to ask Chris that isn’t covered above?
Feel free to submit your question below and we will send it off to be answered for an upcoming Reader’s Q&A.

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