Lincoln Crisler Interview
|Photo taken by Clark Fox|
Hello folks for your reading pleasure today I’d like to present an interview with US serviceman and author Lincoln Crisler
GNOH – Hi Lincoln, how are things with you. First off I see you are ex military, I would like to extend a hand shake and a thanks for making the choice to be soldier, it’s something I could never do, and I appreciate the sacrifices you have made in doing so.
LC: Thanks! I’m currently still serving, actually. It‘s not without it‘s challenges, but in many ways it‘s a good thing for my writing career. I don’t think I’d change anything, overall.
GNOH – Could you tell the readers about yourself?
LC: I play GI Joe for a living and write books. I’m married with three kids. I used to be a bassist and drummer, but set that aside to focus on writing. My wife and I own a business together, and I like to read, cook and dabble in web design in my spare time. I’m originally from Rochester, NY, but have since been all over the world, to include Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan, Qatar, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan and Germany.
GNOH – So what inspired you to first put pen to paper?
LC: I’ve always been a writer, except for the first five years of my military career. I pissed away my tour in Iraq doing nothing except my job for a whole year, and I remarried after coming home. My new wife and I really wanted to make the year apart in Afghanistan count since I was leaving a couple months after we married. She finished her associate’s degree and I started writing fiction again and sending it to editors.
GNOH – Who are your literary heroes?
LC: My greatest heroes are midlist and small press authors. What many readers may not know is that a lot of the authors they enjoy reading have day jobs and write their novels– even the novels stocked regularly on bookshelves– in their spare time. The authors I really enjoy– Brian Keene, John Everson, Weston Ochse, Mary SanGiovanni, Joe McKinney, Kelli Owen, Kevin Lucia, Wrath James White and Gord Rollo, just to name a few– all are currently working, or have spent the majority of their writing careers working, day jobs just like me. It’s inspiring.
GNOH – How would you describe your style of writing?
LC: Hmmm… you know how some authors write such that it’s like the literary version of a Renaissance master with a brush and palette? That’s not me. I’m more of a brick to the head sort of guy. I get where I need to go and try not to waste any time. If you think that’s a challenge when trying to write a 90,000-word novel, you’re right!
GNOH – What do you think makes for a good story?
LC: Characters with something to lose, for one. If you know that everyone is going to make it out alive and unscathed, what’s the point? What did they get out of facing the monster, or confronting the killer, or whatever? Even if we’re not talking about horror, characters have to change during the course of a story. A well-planned setting, for two. I was damned lucky to find an unsolved mystery set in a part of the country in which I spent three years; namely, El Paso, Texas. Writers not as lucky need to really do some research and put some effort into making the setting come alive. And if your book is set in a world of your own creation..? Well, you have no excuse for getting it wrong, but there’ll definitely be more behind-the-scenes world-building going on than the reader’s going to see.
GNOH – How much have you learned in the five years between starting to write and the publication of your first novella, Wild?
LC: I’ve learned all sorts of things, from why you should avoid message board wars, to what a good publisher looks like, to how to market myself. And that’s only scratching the surface. I write essays and the occasional FAQ article on my blog in order to give other authors a hand up, on topics like book signings and marketing short story collections to publishers.
GNOH – As a new author, how do get your name out there?
LC: You bust your ass, or it doesn’t get done. I’ve worked with publishers that send copies to reviewers, offer to call stores to set up signings and send me marketing materials to take to events. I’ve worked with others that don’t do jack shit, and where reviews have resulted solely from copies I’ve sent out. I maintain a spreadsheet of potential reviewers and I send copies to bloggers and magazine editors. This past March, when WILD came out, I set up a month-long blog tour and had guest blogs, reviews and interviews up on other sites for 20 of the 23 working days in the month. It’s all about the hustle. If you’re not a bestseller, the burden’s on you.
GNOH – Can you tell us about Wild, A weird western, you’ve got me hooked already.
LC: WILD is based on a real unsolved missing-persons case from Old West El Paso. Colonel Albert Waters, a prominent local official, disappears from his home in the middle of the night, along with his son, and foul play is suspected. My protagonist is a mysterious stranger with a reputation for dealing with weird happenings, and he heads up a cast that includes a former Mexican Army medic, a Sheriff’s deputy and some outlaws. They discover that Waters’ disappearance is part of a plot involving zombies and black magic.
GNOH – You have published two short story collections, Despairs and Delights, and Magic and Misery. Do you think it’s important to hone your craft in the short story field before tackling a longer for of fiction?
LC: For me, it was. As I’ve grown as an author, my work has become increasingly greater in length. A short story for me these days is around 5,000 words, an unimaginable feat when I started writing in 2006. As far as releasing the short story collections before writing a novel…well, there are mixed opinions. John Everson, a professional author I consider a friend and mentor, did it that way. Others will say that the market for a short story collection by an unknown isn’t really there. All I can really say is that MAGICK & MISERY has gotten some great reviews and has reached the hands of some influential people, and while it’s not a best-seller by any means, everyone who’s read it has had a favorable opinion of the book.
GNOH – How do you sustain the flow of a short story collection? Do you put the best story first, to hook the reader in, or do you keep it until later?
LC: If I thought any story in the book wasn’t the best, I’d have left it out! I think I made an effort not to put all the shorter ones together, or all the longer ones, or all the supernatural ones, but that’s about it.
GNOH – Which are you more comfortable writing, short or long form fiction?
LC: Right now, I’m more comfortable with the short form, but that’s just because I’ve been doing it longer. I’m writing a novel now, the second one I’ve started. I have to finish a novel and then I think I‘ll be alright. It’s a learning process. I’m so jealous of guys like my friend Tim Marquitz, who seem to crank out a new– and GOOD– book every few months, but I understand that it takes time and that I’ll get there.
GNOH – You work is available in both print and e-book formats, what is your take on the e-book revolution? Do you think that will spell the end of the genre as a few doomsayers think?
LC: The end of the genre will never happen. The paper book will never go away. I think the ascendance of e-books has spelled the end of the current business model, for sure. Publishers and bookstores are going to have to do things differently in order to survive. Authors and readers now have more options. These changes are going to be bad for some people and industries, sure, but affordable cars probably weren’t all that great for the carriage industry when they burst onto the scene, either. Seems like growing pains to me.
GNOH – I see your are off to Horrorfind 2011, how hard is for you not to go all fan boyish at such a thing?
LC: This will be my third convention, so I’m a bit more used to the atmosphere now. Even at my first convention, which was last year’s Horrorfind, I wasn’t fanboyish… it just felt weird to walk up to people and be like, “O Hai, I know you from teh Interwebz!” I’ve gotten better about that.
When I’m at a convention, I’m there for two things: one is to work. I’m there to make contact with people, to share my ideas, and to interact with existing and potential fans and readers. Each convention I’ve gone to has yielded new opportunities for me. The second is to hang out with friends. Even the pros I look up to… I don’t want to idolize them, and I don’t want to associate with them because it’ll make me look better. I want to learn new things, and I want to make friends. If I keep my game tight, these folks will be colleagues some day. And I’m proud to say that a few of them are friends now.
GNOH – Your going to be on a new writers panel, how important are things like that to getting yourself noticed?
LC: I owe it to myself, my work, and the people who care about both to do everything I can to build my brand and reputation. I’m sure that a couple of important people will be in the audience, and I’m sure that sounding like a competent professional will be to my benefit. In the end, though, I’m just going to be myself. I don’t ever want to be that guy that does fake shit to impress people. If “just me” doesn’t get the job done, I’m doing it wrong.
GNOH – Your also going to be doing a reading, Brian Keene has put the authors section of the convention together, that must be a huge ego boost, having such a genre heavyweight wanting you to take part?
LC: It feels good, as you might expect it would, but it’s important to me that I be objective about it, too. Some major players know who I am. Convention organizers have been gracious about obliging my attempt to get my name and work out there. I’ve had a couple of pro authors ask for copies of my work. A few have provided blurbs and another has helped me with story research. All of these things are awesome, but at the same time, I feel responsible to them, too. If I publish crap because I’m impatient, one of these pros I look up to might read it. If I say dumb shit on a message board, one of them probably will read it.
There’s nothing wrong with a momentary rush of delight, but at the end of the day, if someone’s taking a few minutes out of their busy day to pay attention to what I’m doing, I damn well need to ensure what I’m doing is worth it.
GNOH – How important is it to you to get recognition from other writers, or is praise from fans more important to you?
LC: Both are important to me. I think that if a quality writer likes what I’m doing, I’m probably doing it right. Certainly, that writer’s fans would assume so, if that writer mentioned my work on his or her blog. If one of my colleagues enjoys my work, it means a lot because they understand where I’m coming from and what sort of effort went into creating what they read. On the other hand, you don’t need to be a proctologist to know what an asshole looks like, so a reader’s opinion matters just as much, but for a different reason. A solid readership is the difference between writing for fun and writing for a living. It feels damn good to find out someone was looking for you at a convention to get your signature, or for someone to show up at your table with copies of all of your books.
GNOH – How do you think the current state of the genre is holding up?
LC: I had the pleasure of becoming active in the genre community during the last couple years of what we could possibly term the “Old Regime.” By that, I mean that one certain publisher used to be the Holy Grail for many horror authors, and that that publisher is now on the ropes, for better or worse. The small press has become even more important than it already was, and quality, if heretofore lesser-known, small publishers have more chances to shine.
It’s like seeing the stars better at night when there’s no streetlamps around. Because readers are turning to those publishers, there’s larger chunks of the market share for them to grab, which means more stability for those publishers and more lucrative opportunities for authors than they’d have been able to land with those publishers during the Old Regime. It’s an adventurous time, and I’m glad to be alive and writing during it.
GNOH – over the years we have witnessed a number of author meltdowns on the internet, many due to fans reactions to one of their works. Do you think the internet has brought authors and their fans too close. In the past you’d have to pay for a stamp and find a post box before you could even think about communicating with an author?
LC: Most of the writers I follow don’t seem to catch a lot of crap from their readers, or if they do, they keep it under their hats. The Internet has made it too easy for readers to interact with authors, in my opinion. Most readers are mature enough to handle such responsibility, but unfortunately, the lowest common denominator sets the standard for the rest. One of my favorite authors ends up putting someone on blast every few months for things like complaining about the frequency at which free stories are posted or whining because the author won’t follow them on Twitter. All this does is ruin a positive experience for everyone else.
GNOH – have you ever been on the receiving end of a fan rant. If so how did you deal with it?
LC: I have not had to deal with that yet, but if I do, I hope I can simply ignore it. The one author I mentioned that doesn’t ignore it… I don’t blame him. It happens so often, and the reactions from him and his other readers are so damned funny. No one should have to deal with that shit. I just want to write new material and have positive interaction with my readers. I have a low tolerance for bullshit though, so we’ll see how well that idealism holds up when my temper is engaged!
GNOH – You mentioned that you may be reading from a new project at Horrorfind, can you spill any beans on the subject?
LC: I can’t get specific just yet, but I will say that it’s a killer notch in my belt and that it’s a result of the work some in the genre community have done to help others. I’ll definitely put the word out as soon as the paperwork’s signed.
GNOH – What exactly does your company Crisler Professional Services do?
LC: We began primarily as a virtual assistant company, but I’m trying to steer us more towards the consulting aspect. My wife’s been an executive administrative assistant for over a decade, but always has to build new relationships when I change duty assignments. Being a virtual assistant is a good way to take the work along with us when we move. In addition to traditional administrative tasks, we offer technical, graphic and web design, social media integration and other services. In the next couple of months I will begin working with motivational speakers and life coaches, doing all the tasks relative to self-publishing their nonfiction books: editing, formatting, cover design, uploading to retail sites, etc.
GNOH – What does the future hold for you?
LC: Hopefully, more than I can conceive of at the present time! But as far as what’s on my plate now, I have a novel I’m working on, the bare bones of a sequel to WILD and I’m still doing my damnedest to get some comics work out there. There are a couple of collaborative projects I want to work on soon, too, so I guess one thing the future doesn’t hold for me is a break!
You can pick up copies of Lincoln’s work at all the usual suspects