Interview with Indie Author: Chris Mentzer

Meet Chris Mentzer, author of The Askinar Towers: Nexus of the Worlds, a YA Portal Fantasy available on Amazon and Kobo.

Tell me as much as you can about yourself in only one sentence.
Married with children serving a Life sentence in Retail.

Cat person, dog person, or I forgot to feed my fish, and it died?
We have all three in the house including others. There are days when I feel like I live in a zoo. Overall, I’d say I was a dog person. Just don’t tell the cats…shh!!

Do you have a day job?
Since 1996 I’ve worked in the retail industry. Every few years, I change departments to keep the job fresh and interesting. It pays the bills and sometimes fuels inspiration for stories.

Coffee, tea, soda, energy drinks, or I’m so undercaffeinated it’s frightening!
I’m predominately a coffee drinker, even in the Summer time at temperatures of 120 degrees outside. I’ve all but given up soda except the occasional one when getting takeout. Coffee has kept me writing for a number of years, but I haven’t lost sleep due to caffeine.

Pantsed or outlined? How do you tackle a new story?
I do a little of both leaning more towards outline, if you want to call it that. I’ll have an overall view of the story, and some general plot points, but then I let the characters take me where they will. It’s developed some interesting ideas.

What’s the toughest criticism you ever got?
Back in 2005, I entered my first NaNoWriMo challenge (50K words in 30 days). I told a good friend of mine at work about it and he tried to talk me out of it. Basically, he said, I’d crash and burn and that there would be no way I could do it. It hurt a little to think that a friend would tell me this, but I used it as determination to do the challenge anyway.

Although I didn’t reach the 50K, I reached my personal goal of 25K and was very glad I attempted it. Had I listened to him, I would have spent the next 11 months wondering “What if?” Plus, I wouldn’t have written book 1 of my trilogy.

Life is full of hard choices. Would you rather be a hobbit or an elf?
Definitely a hobbit! I consider them the underdog in stories and my current WIP has a collection of them (halflings, that is). I can see myself living in a small tight-knit community, in a Hobbit hole, but also having the desire to see the world!

Tell us about your latest or upcoming novel:
Nexus of the Worlds is the first book of my trilogy being released on Jan. 31, 2014. The series is called The Askinar Towers and is written in the tradition of The Wizard of Oz.

What does your favorite protagonist think about you?
My favorite protagonist is Jarryd McCallen from my current WIP. He’s a former thief serving a thirty-day sentence in a tavern. What he thinks of me is that I’m a lazy good-for-nothing loser who won’t finish his book!

Light side, dark side, or tragically caught on the edge of both worlds?
I truly believe there is both in all of us. I mean, even the most positive, outgoing individual has had dark thoughts at one time or another. The same can be said about the other side. What? Yes, I know it doesn’t fully answer the question about me. Let’s discuss this over some coffee. Wait here while I fire up the chainsaw.

E-reader, print book, audiobook, or a combination?
I began reading print books back in the day when e-anything wasn’t in exisitence. Recently, I’ve been reading a lot of e-books and mostly from indie authors. It’s my main resolution for 2014, read more books by indie authors.

What do you do when you aren’t writing?
If I’m not reading, I’m referring my children. Every once in a while I’ll go hiking out at Superstition mountains or around Saguaro Lake. It’s quiet, peaceful and a great scenery for inspiring the writer’s mind

Tell us about your cover art: Who designed it? How did you choose a direction for it?
Hanna-Riikka Kontinaho designed the cover for book 1. Since I first began this writer’s journey back in 2005, I’ve always wanted a custom-made cover that featured the towers, which are the overall setting of the trilogy. When I first published with a P.O.D. (Print on Demand), I didn’t have money for a slick cover, so I took pictures of my daughters (the main characters are based on them) and used them for the covers. But none of them said, “Fantasy” or “set in a tower”.
When I decided to self-publish in December, 2013 I remembered Hanna, as she had done work for another indie author. I contacted her, gave her my ideas, and she really took off with it. She exceeded my expectations for book 1 and we’re currently finishing the cover for book 2. She will also be doing the cover for book 3.
 Share a favorite quote or small excerpt from your latest work.
This is from chapter 14 of book 1: Nexus of the Worlds.

“Oh, this is Miss Gatling, my personal secretary.  She goes everywhere with me.” 

Mercedes held out her hand.  “Charmed, I’m sure.”  She smiled sweetly. 

Seavers studied her for a moment and thought she looked familiar.  “Have I had the pleasure, Miss Gatling?”

“I don’t believe so,” she replied. “I have one of those common faces that everyone is familiar with.”  Johnny thought it strange that she lapsed into a southern accent.  The last time he’d heard such an accent was from comedian Charlie Newell, a regular of the vaudeville stage.

As if satisfied with that response, Seavers invited them in and proceeded to the parlor.  Johnny gave Mercedes a look as that seem to ask “what are you doing,” and she shrugged her shoulders as if she wasn’t sure herself.

“Please wait here,” said Seavers.  “I will inform Lord Raleigh of your presence.”  Seavers bowed again and as he departed the room, he turned and backed out while closing the double doors.

“Where did that accent come from and why did the butler seem to recognize you?” Johnny demanded.

“The accent was a fluke,” she replied in her normal tone.  “As for his recognition?  I don’t know.  Maybe I reminded him of an old girlfriend or something.”

Butlers don’t have girlfriends,” Johnny announced, as if he were an authority on the subject.

Mercedes feigned surprise.  “Really, Mr. Leoné?  Do tell.  Are you saying he’s not the marrying kind, or that all servants should be single?”

“No, its not—I mean he should—I—we.” Johnny stumbled for an explanation but couldn’t produce one.

“Ah! The great detective defeated by a mere woman!” she mused.  “Let’s just say that my venture here this morning paid off.”

My favorite line in this scene is, “Butlersdon’t have girlfriends.” It always struck me funny, as we never know what the staff does on their own personal time.

I can tell you’re hiding something interesting from me. Fess up now, and I’ll go easy on you:
Okay, you dragged it out of me. I love Twitter! A few years ago I used to despise it because I couldn’t understand the layout. I’d been on Facebook since ’09 and got into that. But Twitter was a whole different planet. Last May when I began to develop my Writer’s Platform, I took a new interest in Twitter and now I’m a big fan!

I look at the 140 character limitation as a writer’s challenge; even wrote a story on Twitter, one tweet at a time. And I’ve met a lot of great people, fellow writers, on Twitter whom I probably wouldn’t have met if I chose to ignore it.           

Thanks for dropping by my blog! Find out more about Chris Mentzer via author blog, story blog, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ account, or check out The Askinar Towers: Nexus of the Worlds on Amazon or Kobo!
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