Interview with CHRISTOPHER HUSBERG

HusbergC-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Christopher Husberg?

Well I’m a soon-to-be published fantasy author, which is sort of a surreal thing to say! I’m also a husband, stay-at-home dad, desultory blogger, Dota 2 hobbyist, and self-proclaimed expert on all things regarding Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Pastimes include reading, hiking, running, watching great movies and TV, and generally having fun times with family and friends.

Your debut novel, Duskfall, will be published by Titan Books later this year. The first in your Chaos Queen series, it looks rather interesting: How would you introduce it to a potential reader?

It depends on the person! One of the things I like about Duskfall is that I think it has quite a bit to offer. Want action? It’s got an amnesiac assassin trying to escape his former employers as well as his dark past. Want magic? There’s a young woman who develops a crippling addiction to psimancy (the magic in the books) and has to learn how to curb her dependency or succumb completely — and either way, she’ll likely change the world while she’s at it. Want something more existential? There’s a priestess investigating a heretical uprising, the leader of which turns out to be her own sister. Oh, and it’s got vampires. Something for everyone!

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What inspired you to write the novel and series? And where do you draw your inspiration from in general?

I’m not sure I could pinpoint a single thing that inspired Duskfall or the Chaos Queen Series. Parts of the series have been in my head for years, others I’ve developed as I’ve worked, planned, outlined, and written.

That said, I’m certainly influenced by other media, and I’m both proud of and grateful for those influences. Anything that’s well-written — films, television programs, video games, graphic novels, comics, and of course books — inspires me. History inspires me — I’ll be studying the Punic Wars extensively for Book 3 in the Chaos Queen Quintet. And ordinary people doing ordinary things, or heroic things, or tragic things, or unconscionable things, inspires me, too. That, for me, is part of the beauty of being a writer. Ideas and inspiration are everywhere!

How were you introduced to genre fiction?

My parents read some of the classics to me when I was young (Tolkien’s The Hobbit, Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising series, Madeline L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time, and many others), and of course I completely fell in love with speculative fiction. Orson Scott Card, Robert Jordan, George R.R. Martin, and many, many video games fueled that love in high school, and I haven’t stopped being a serious fanboy of genre stuff ever since!

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How do you like being a writer and working within the publishing industry?

So far it’s been fantastic. Of course, having phenomenal agents, editors, and other authors on my side helps! That really has been the best part for me so far — the people. Seeing my name on a book cover for the first time was cool, but surprisingly not as cool as hearing from people I respect and love that I, and my books, are worth supporting!

But hey, I’m still just a baby in this industry. I’ve got a lot to learn, and (hopefully) a long time to learn it. I’m definitely grateful I have that opportunity.

Do you have any specific working, writing, researching practices?

Writing for me is an every day thing (ideally, anyway). The way I see things, the “muse” has a lot better chance to show up if I’m going at it consistently. That said, if I have too much order I tend to structure the creativity out of my day, so chaos in one form or another is often welcome, too (and nothing has introduced chaos into my life so well as the recent birth of my daughter).

For whatever reason, I find I’m most productive either really late at night or very early in the morning. So I’ll sort of alternate through phases of staying up late to write with phases of getting up early to write — shaking things up a bit every so often, as I mentioned earlier, actually helps me. Lately, however, given my daughter’s schedule, getting up early to write has dominated my schedule. When that happens, getting to the writing ASAP is key for me. I’ll often even delay eating breakfast for a while just to get some words on the page.

When did you realize you wanted to be an author, and what was your first foray into writing? Do you still look back on it fondly?

You know, I have vague memories, around the age of five, of my Dad helping me tell and write stories. He’d draw maps on a sketch pad, and we’d print out the stories on continuous form stationary (the kind with edges full of holes that you tear off). I suppose those are my first memories of writing stories, and yeah, I look back on them quite fondly.

FinalFantasyVIIImageFirst realizing I wanted to be an author occurred a bit later when I decided to try my hand at writing Final Fantasy VII fan fiction! That was the first game I played that didn’t just entertain me but told an interesting story as well, and when it ended I didn’t want the story to stop, so I continued it myself. I was delighted to find many many others online at the time doing the same thing. Reading the stories in that world, and attempting to write my own, was the first time I think the idea entered into my head that it might be really fun to tell stories for a living.

What’s your opinion of the genre today, and where do you see your work fitting into it?

I have a special place in my heart for the pioneers of fantasy, but I think the genre today is in better shape than it’s ever been. And that’s as it should be! If a field of study doesn’t progress it quickly deteriorates, and I’m grateful the field of fantasy seems to evolve continually.

I particularly love the breadth of fantasy today. I love that Joe Abercrombie, N.K. Jemisin, Brandon Sanderson, China Mieville, and J.K. Rowling all fall under the spectrum of fantasy. I’m particularly fascinated by dark fantasy and the grimdark movement. I think there’s a lot of value in exploring the dark places of our societies and our souls. But I’m glad there’s a lighter side to things, too. Fantasy, to me, is the genre where anything is possible, and that makes it pretty awesome.

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As far as my own work goes, I classify the Chaos Queen Quintet as “epic dark fantasy.” My books usually don’t shy away from violence or its effects, the body counts are usually high, the bloodsplatter occurs on-screen more often than not, and I like to include elements of horror in my fantasy. That’s kind of where my work is at right now, but I’m definitely open to the fact that things might shift. And while I might label my work one thing or another, my reader might have very different ideas, and I’m open to that!

Do you have any other projects in the pipeline, and what are you working on at the moment?

I might have too many projects in the pipeline! Sometimes it’s difficult to choose. Most of my efforts these days go towards the Chaos Queen Quintet, of course — the goal is to release one book a year for the next five years, and I’m currently revising the second book and researching the third. But there are a few other stories I’m in various stages of telling that aren’t explicitly part of the Quintet, but nevertheless take place in the Chaos Queen ‘verse. These tales are at varying points of being told–some just in the idea stage, others in advanced drafts — but I’m excited to get them all out there one day. I think they’ll all enrich the main storyline that unfolds in the Quintet.

I’ve also got a YA series I’ve been working on for some time now that I’m quite excited about, but I’ll hold my tongue on that one for the time being!

What are you reading at the moment (fiction, non-fiction)?

I’ve found, unfortunately, that the more I write, the less I tend to read. I used to be an avid, constant reader, but time just doesn’t allow for me to buzz through books the way I once did. That said, it’s still something I love, so I make the time — just not as much as I’d like!

Fiction: I’m finally getting around to reading Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch, one of my favorite authors in the fantasy scene these days. I’m also reading a short story collection by Meghan Grey, Tuesdays with Molakesh the Destroyer and Other Tales, and thoroughly enjoying that.

Nonfiction: I’m currently studying quantum physics (and it’s for Chaos Queen-related reasons, if you can believe it), so I’m working my way through The Feynman Lectures on Physics as a sort of prologue to a list of other QED-related works. Also a shout-out to a book that has influenced me a great deal in the professional realm of writing: The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. I pick it up and read passages from it often.

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What’s something readers might be surprised to learn about you?

Funny thing, actually: I’m a bit queasy. Often the blood and gore of my own writing freaks me out so much that I have to stop working and do something else so my body can calm down a minute. I’m a lot more squeamish about my own blood (as opposed to the blood and injuries of others), but most of the time when I’m writing violent scenes I imagine the injuries I’m describing as if they were happening to myself, and, yeah… it freaks me out.

What are you most looking forward to in the next twelve months?

The release of Duskfall, of course! But oddly almost more than that, finishing Book 2 in the Chaos Queen Quintet! There’s nothing quite like finishing a solid draft of a novel, and I’m getting very close to that feeling for Book 2.

Also, my daughter’s first birthday :-).

Thanks for the opportunity, Stefan!

***

Duskfall is due to be published by Titan Books on June 21st, 2016.

For more on Christopher Husberg’s writing and novels, be sure to check out the author’s website, and follow him on Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads.

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