In the beginning he had the benefit of living with friends – Roy Harper, Steven Farris, and Trent Eason, all High Risk prisoners – that were aspiring writers themselves. Roy was the first to begin writing a novel. The other three wrote short stories to post on a Myspace blog operated by Steven’s mom.
Naturally, they all wrote crime fiction.
The Myspace blog didn’t work out. Steven and Trent directed their writing talents elsewhere (Info on Steven’s blogs at end of story timeline) but Chris kept writing the Razor and Blondie stories. People liked them. Encouraged by the positive feedback, Chris decided to take the art of fiction writing seriously. How to Write a Breakout Novel, Writer’s Market, and Writing Fiction for Dummies are examples of numerous books he studied on the subject.
Since 2012 he has authored two trilogies, numerous short stories, and, most recently, his first novella…all while housed in Supermax and maximum security prisons for over 17 years as an unjustly convicted murderer.
Chris has known hundreds of career criminals, and shared plenty of his own ventures after listening and learning about untold numbers of felonies he had no experience with. Whether a crook or pillar of the community, people are naturally fascinated by acts of crime. Chris internalized all that he learned, and put the knowledge to good use in his amateur effort.
Chris hasn’t divulged how many crimes in By Hook or Crook he had actually committed, preferring to put that life behind him. However, he still designs and carries out complex illicit acts… but only on the pages he writes for readers like you.
By Hook or Crook was written in Unit 32 Supermax between 2007-2010. Years of progress were lost due to the conditions; at that time administration didn’t allow prisoners to publish books, and there were no word processors or computers to type books on. And High Risk prisoners were routinely moved (sometimes weekly) and searched by officers that destroyed property out of spite, laziness or plain cruelty. Investing himself in a writing project that would never make it through the mail censors – and would likely be confiscated or destroyed before making it that far – was an endeavor destined to end badly.
Crook is a series of short stories that introduced two of his most popular characters, Razor and Blondie. They are the stars of this veritable How-To book, showing readers the ropes on con games, fraud, identity theft – everything from stealing cars to building bombs, manufacturing narcotics and robbing ATMs with home-made credit cards – the criminal duo fictionally show readers how it’s done and how to get away with it… in style.
In the two trilogies that followed, between 2012-2016, Chris used his own experiences, skill sets, and technical knowledge he learned from books. Boxing, metal fabrication, tattoo art, engineering – even hacking – are some of the capabilities his protagonists possess.
The Shocking Circumstances trilogy was created in Parchman’s Unit 29J. Twelve long, creative-juiced months were needed to complete the handwritten manuscript: over seven hundred pages, re-written four times. It took another six months to produce a clean, typed and proofread manuscript- a feat accomplished by mailing the handwritten chapters to his friend Dennis, who typed and mailed them back for proofing and polishing. Each chapter, now “Parts”, had to be proofed as many as four or five times, all by snail mail. It was originally self-published on Amazon, then removed once publishers became interested.
In September, 2012, after the incredibly taxing job of fully completing Shocking Circumstances, he immediately began working on The Sharp as a Razor trilogy.
This crime thriller series features vastly improved versions of Razor and Blondie, who team up with the characters from Shocking Circumstances. The project of anti-heroes took sixteen months to scratch out on paper. After, during the typing-proofing-polishing stage, Dennis passed away.
Chris lost a great friend; it takes a rare person to commit as much time and effort into a friendship as Dennis did. He believed in Chris, and was dedicated to helping him realize his dream to become a novelist. In the process, he instilled meaningful purpose in Chris’ life in so many ways.
The hope of completing Razor, the dreams of getting published, died with his friend. Together, they had published several books in three different genres.
By Hook or Crook was their first, a massive undertaking they enjoyed learning from. Next was the far larger job of Shocking Circumstances. Then, Dennis, enjoying the experience and rewards of the writing partnership, became inspired to pursue one of his own dreams and wrote a history titled Forebrothers: the Storied Lives of 100 Divine Word Missionaries (authored by Dennis, proofed by Chris). Dennis often included Chris on charity projects, and recruited him to publish two children’s books (authored by Dennis, illustrated by Chris) that promoted Divine Word Missionaries charities around the world.
Work on the Sharp as a Razor trilogy ramped up again about a year after Dennis passed away. Where did the sudden burst of creative fuel and renewed hope come from, you ask?
Chris met a girl…
He finished Razor in July, 2015. With the help of his wife (then girlfriend), Sharp as a Razor was self-published on Amazon, then later removed with the other titles to pursue publishing contracts.
During the spring and summer of 2015, Roy Harper had been working hard to get a final, clean version of his Tool’s Law series ready for publishing. His friends, over several years, completed the typing of all four books. He drew cover art for each novel and Chris helped publish them on Lulu.
They both learned quickly how tough selling books is as self-published authors. Without the resources to build the platform required to be successful in that venture, Chris decided to utilize the time they had to query literary agents and publishing houses.
Having never written queries they had to dig back into their collection of books on writing and marketing to learn from the pros.
With queries and all the relevant Word Docs prepared, Chris submitted Tool’s Law and Shocking Circumstances to agents and publishers all over the world.
Crime Wave Press signed Roy in August of 2015. Impressed with Chris’ representation of Roy (acting as Roy’s literary agent) and Roy’s writing of course, the directors liked his energy and potential, and took him on for a six month internship to mentor him in marketing and publishing. He’s still with Crime Wave Press today, working as a contributor alongside other CWP veteran writers and publishers. Chris continues to learn the industry from directors/authors Tom Vater and Hans Kemp. Their mentoring has been invaluable to Chris as an aspiring author.
One huge benefit from the lessons: In 2016, Jaded Books Publishing signed Chris for the Shocking Circumstances trilogy, and the following month New Pulp Press sent a contract for Sharp as a Razor.
The elation of being signed by Jaded was short lived. In December, 2016, the publisher informed all its authors that contracts for Jaded Books Publishing were void, and offered contracts for Azoth Khem Publishing instead.
Azoth had previously rejected Shocking Circumstances as a fit for their crime fiction, so Chris re-submitted it to New Pulp Press, who had also previously offered a contract for Shocker.
Jaded was primarily a horror imprint, and published anthologies several times a year. Chris still wanted to be a member of the Jaded family though, which entailed writing short stories for the anthologies, but he didn’t know if he could pull off a true horror story. His experiments resulted in a few dark fiction tales that are very different from his other works. Originally written for Jaded’s anthology themes, they were unique enough for non-theme submissions offered by other publishers. In January, 2017, Near to the Knuckle published Marsh Madness, the first dark fiction work penned by Chris. You can read it here.
New Pulp Press will release Book I of the Shocking Circumstances trilogy early 2017. The sequels will follow throughout the year, into 2018, and will continue with the Sharp as a Razor books in the same fashion.
If you are a reviewer and would like a free copy of Shocking Circumstances Book I (or other books in the trilogies as they become available), Email us at: [email protected]
We’ll send you a PDF. All we ask in return is that you support the author’s efforts by leaving a review on Amazon.
As mentioned earlier…
You can find the writing of Chris’ friend Steven at the following locations:
PrisonInmatesLife or on FB @PrisonInmatesLifeSF… and The Writing on the Wall. **All writings on these blogs are Steven’s, but the sites are run solely by Steven’s friends and family**
And, you can find Roy’s novels, along with a great number of other talented crime fiction authors, at Crime Wave Press
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