Tuesday, June 4, 2024

Chris Riker: I'm Nuts

Chris Riker is a father, author, and journalist. He grew up in Rhode Island and now makes his home in Georgia with his wife, Ping. He has always loved books, from science fiction and fantasy to historical novels and biographies. Building on a background in broadcast news, including a five-year stint at CNNI, he is now focused on telling stories with strong characters and moral resonance. Chris Riker’s premiere novel, Come the Eventide, focuses on a world after the fall of civilization and a dolphin named Muriel who is trying to save mankind from extinction. It is available now on Amazon and Audible. His second novel, Zebulon Angell and the Shadow Army, follows a hard-living Uber driver from Atlanta who happens upon a sex pill, leading to intrigues and adventures that take him inside the haunted tomb of China’s first emperor.

Tell us a bit about your latest work.

I’m pleased to have written Goody Celeste, which came out just recently. (I have a new one. More on that in a bit.) It’s been a chance to relive my childhood summers in 1969 Rhode Island. Of course, I got to invent a better version of me, one who’s not so oblivious to the world, and to women’s feelings. Ha! My main guy, Paul, meets Cece, a smart, beautiful witch, and together they face their problems. 

What are the themes and subjects you tend to revisit in your work?

I’m worried about planet Earth. From this, I have discovered my fascination for two main themes: 1) Eat the Rich. Pretty self-explanatory, really. I’ve come to believe that extreme wealth is a fatal addiction. The idea that only “more” is enough is truly cynical and destructive. (This is why I worry for our beautiful planet.) This leads to 2) Hope. I’m a stingy writer. I will never offer you much hope. Wishing for a pony? You’re not getting it from me, fella. On the other hand, I don’t like nihilistic endings. So, you will always know that the hero will find the faintest glimmer at the end. And it’s usually coming from a change within. I think this theme is best seen in Zebulon Angell and the Shadow Army. Zee’s opening line is: “I wanted to conquer the world that morning, but my beer tasted skunky, and my head was full of cats.” In fact, I’d written that line years earlier, and it was only in 2021 that the story sprang forth. Zee does get a chance to do great things, but because he is who he is, he blows the opportunity to smithereens. He also meets Emperor Qin’s ghost, but you have to read the story to find out how. Point is, (spoiler) he learns about himself.

What happened in your life that prompted you to become a writer?

I’m nuts. I’ve always loved words. I read and I write. When I was in grade school, I got into an argument over grammar with my principal. (I think I was wrong, but you’d never have convinced the younger me.) When my mom took me to the beach, I’d jump in the water for ten minutes, and that was enough. I’d spend the rest of the day in the bathhouse, reading paperback sci-fi. Even in August, I wore my February pallor. As I say… nuts.

What inspires you to write?

I guess it’s fear of mortality. Odds are, I can’t afford a solid gold pyramid, so I’ll just jot down some stories, hoping to echo a while beyond my time. I’d love to say I want to teach people to be nicer to each other and to Planet Earth, but that’s an even bigger longshot.

What would be your dream project?

I’d love to see my work turned into a streaming show or movie. I have a huge ego, so I’ve sent copies of my novels to famous actors. Nothing. (hmmm) I read an interview with Jennifer Coolidge while watching “White Lotus.” She said she wanted to play a dolphin, so I mailed her a copy of Come the Eventide, which stars dolphins and octopodes trying to save the Earth. Nothing. (hmmm)

If you have any former project to do over to make it better, which one would it be, and what would you do?

I actually don’t. I fiddle with some of my short stories when I go to post them on my website (one more check!!!!), but I really feel you have to close out a project. Now, if Hollywood wants to “improve” my work… I’m easy, but not cheap.

What writers have influenced your style and technique?

Hopefully, many more than I can list. I’m a firm believer in stealing tricks from the best. (Not the works, but the tricks.) I grew up with Asimov, Bradbury, Clarke, and Heinlein. Of those, I still go back to Bradbury for the sheer joy and beauty of his writing. Instead of technobabble, he’ll write poetry. Now, there’s a trick I try to steal! I also love Murakami, Garcia Marquez, Stephenson, Eco, and more. These guys have a million times my intellect, so I flatter myself just by reading them.

Where would you rank writing on the "Is it an art or it is a science continuum?" Why? 

Good question. I work with students and with other aspiring writers, so I do see the value of respecting both art and science. I would lean maybe 60-40 towards art, but you gotta have solid grammar and a developed voice. That’s hard work and accepting the fact that the English language is a beast that will never be tamed.

What is the most difficult part of your artistic process? 

Time. Will power. Fending off the depression that comes from waking up in a cold sweat at 3am with a plot hole glowing like a nemesis before my eyes.

How do your writer friends help you become a better writer? Or do they not? 

They absolutely do. I know that I’m perfect. They help me pretend I’m not. Actually, there’s nothing better than feedback. Abject praise may feel good, but seeing the puzzled looks across the Zoom screen when they ask me what the hell they just read – that’s invaluable. I need to know where to fix my perfect stories.

What does literary success look like to you? 

Being invited to book signings, podcasts, and interviews. Maybe getting the chance to blather on about the process. I would like to sell books, of course. Lots. It’s getting harder and harder, thanks to billionaire tech bros who have flooded the market. I watched the streaming version of Stephen King’s "Lisey’s Story." In one scene, an author steps out of a stretch limo to a cheering crowd. Um. Not holding my breath in 2024. Anyway, I’d love to think some people would get to know me from my writing. That would be cool.

Any other upcoming projects you would like to plug?  

Novel #5 is finished. I’m shopping it around, but agents are 100 percent business-oriented. They cannot and will not “take a chance.” So… I will probably self-publish. I want to read up on a few marketing techniques first. How I wish writers could be writers. Anyhoo… Alexander and the Butcher finds a Shatner-esque actor in 1963 researching his role as Alexander the Great… and then going back to meet (and do much more than meet) the real thing. Look for it soon.

For more information and FREE short stories, please visit: 


Amazon Author Page

No comments:

Post a Comment