[Author Interview] HG Chambers – Recreance
Featured Authors Talk About It
ATAI: Tell us a little about you.
Chambers: Where to begin? Well, I was born on in the marshy inlands of Surry B.C…no but seriously; some might say I’ve led an interesting, if not a semi-charmed life.
I often like to look at the motivations that drive big decisions in people’s lives. For example, when I was six months old, my father was laid off from his job in the mines. My parents, raising two small children, decided it was the perfect opportunity to move to Maui, Hawaii. Had he not been laid off, we may never have left. As fate would have it, he was, and so with six-hundred bucks in the bank, we crossed the Pacific Ocean to start a new life. I spent eleven years there—the first eleven of my life—before moving back to what the locals call ‘the mainland’—Maryland to be specific.
It was there that I discovered my passion for music. The punk rock scene in Baltimore was strong, and over time I found my place within it. Once I hit my twenties, I was touring with my band down the eastern seaboard in a 1996 Ford Aerostar van—I did the singing.
Once that fell apart, which most bands inevitably do, I went back and finished school, then promptly decided I should be flying helicopters in Canada. After getting my pilot’s license I took a gig in the desert of northern Washington State. I dried cherries…with a helicopter. Yes, that’s actually a thing. When it rains, water collects in the tops of the cherries, and growers hire pilots to blow the water off the trees with helicopters, otherwise the cherries split and no one will buy them. Flying a few feet over the branches with gusty winds, low power lines, and steep mountains gives one a whole new perspective on life—the kind that has you kissing the ground after you land.
Eventually I came to my senses, did a bit of soul searching, and found my way to Vancouver. The rainy city also had a budding music scene, and so I found some like-minded musicians, and settled right in. It was there I finished out my twenties, and met my wife. We eventually left the city for Vancouver Island, where I have lived ever since.
Interestingly, my love for the fantastic has been threaded throughout all these experiences. After a day of flying I would settle into my cot to read some Robert Jordan. During long road trips with the band, I would be thumbing through The Silmarillion. I spent rainy Vancouver afternoons playing throwback role playing games like Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy.
Before now, I had always considered fantasy books, video games, and tabletop games hobbies; but as I discovered just a couple years ago, my true passion lies in creating these stories myself. Having completed my debut novel, Recreance, I finally understand what it means to do what you love, and love what you do.
ATAI: How long have you been writing?
Chambers: I’m relatively new to the author scene, having undertaken my first novel one and a half years ago. Before this I’d written short stories, character backgrounds, and other fun, casual adventures. The earliest piece I can clearly remember was a story I wrote in the sixth grade. I believe it was called ‘How the Cow Lost its Udder’.
ATAI: What was your most recent release?
Chambers: This past May of 2017, I released my debut novel, Recreance – Book One of the Aeternum Chronicles. As you may have guessed, there are more books to follow in the series—three, to be exact.
Recreance is a story about two young citizens of New Arcadia, Oren and Clementine. When they are cast out from their walled colony and forced into the deadly Miralaja desert, each must survive not only the wildlife, but also the dark Ministry agents hunting them. As they unravel the secrets surrounding New Arcadia, they learn that they are fighting not only for their own survival, but for that of all citizens.
ATAI: What do you love most about writing?
Chambers: This is a tough question to answer, as there are so many different things to choose from! If I had to pick what I love most, I’d say it’s the immersion. It often takes a really special book, game, or movie to give me that feeling of being completely absorbed into it. It’s a glorious, wonderful thing—existing in a world where the impossible is possible; where heroes defeat villains, and magic is taken for granted.
Writing is by far the most immersive experience I’ve had, I think in large part because as an author you’re forced to live inside your character’s heads. You must think about every relevant detail of their environment, how they experience it, and how they react to it. You essentially become them for a little while. Their fears are your fears, their victories are your victories, and their heartbreaks are yours too. I’d be lying if I said I haven’t been profoundly impacted by some of the experiences of my characters.
ATAI: What do you find most challenging?
Chambers: This one’s easy: motivation. There are days when I simply just don’t feel like writing. Maybe I’m feeling uninspired, or maybe I’m just tired and would rather be doing something else. “Writer’s guilt” is actually a thing—that feeling you get when you know you should be working toward a deadline. I heard a great quote not long ago about writing and inspiration,
“If you want to be a full time author, you can’t sit around and wait for inspiration to strike before you start writing; the same way an accountant doesn’t wait around for inspiration to do accounting things. If they did, they’d be out of a job.”
I’ve learned that inspiration isn’t something that magically comes along to grant you the ability to create. It’s something that you generate yourself after making the effort to dive in, even when you don’t feel like it.
ATAI: Where do your ideas come from?
Chambers: My ideas come to me from the mysterious realm of creative possibilities, where all things are new and original, and fresh ideas await around every corner! Okay not really, but that would be nice wouldn’t it? Like most creative people, my ideas come from a combination of past influences and experiences. The more varied your influences, the more likely you are to create something original.
You’ll often find me pacing around my office, brainstorming for new ideas—did you know new idea generation is best done on your feet? It’s true, just ask Charles Dickens.
When I’m trying to come up with a solution—be it a type of monster, a harrowing escape, or a magical power—I go through a multitude of possibilities before selecting the one that fits best. This often includes scratching off ideas that are too similar to others I’ve read. In fact sometimes I’ll actively avoid a great idea because it too closely resembles another story.
ATAI: What is your writing process?
Chambers: I’ve heard that there is no wrong way to go about writing a novel. It’s just a matter of finding what works best for you. My process has evolved to the following:
- I’ll come up with a concept
- Begin world building—world characteristics, maps, natural catastrophes
- Create my characters—their names, flaws, quirks, histories, professions, and relationships
- Outline the main, overarching storyline, and built in sub-plots where I see them fitting.
- Outline character relationships –beginning, middle, and where they end up.
- Begin writing the story!
I should mention that I do not hold strictly to my outline, and I often add sub-plots along the way. These are usually there to help drive the story along, or in some cases to give character relationships an opportunity to flourish, or collide.
ATAI: Do your characters (or message) ever seem to have a life of their own or an agenda of their own?
Chambers: Undoubtedly. This becomes more and more the case the further along I get into a story. I find that with new characters, I don’t really know them off the bat. Over time though, I find it easier and easier to think their thoughts, understand their motivations, and empathize with their emotional state. They say you don’t truly get to know your characters until about half way through writing a book, which I think is pretty close to the mark.
That being said, no matter how attached I am to a character, I will still put them through hell, or even kill them off if the story needs this to happen. Keeping the story good and believable trumps all, in my opinion.
ATAI: What’s your favorite part of your book (or one of your books)?
Chambers: I write a lot of action scenes, so this may seem like an odd answer coming from me. My favorite scene is one from Recreance, involving Oren and Clementine. Oren is laid up, recovering from his injuries, when Clementine comes in and sits next to him on the bed. In this scene, he opens up for the first time about the pain stemming from his parents’ untimely death. He had been holding onto the anguish and heartache for years, never having had the courage to express it. Letting it all out was such a powerful release, it sent shivers down my spine. Still does when I think back on it.
ATAI: What are you working on next?
Chambers: I’m currently about one third of the way through writing book two of the Aeternum Chronicles. It’s tentatively titled Exodus, and will continue on with the adventures of Oren and Clementine, as well as some new and exciting lead characters. Readers can expect lots of action, fantastical new environments, terrifying creatures of the dark, and answers to some of the lingering mysteries of book one. Anyone can sign up for the reader group for Exodus previews and other giveaways.
ATAI: Where can people find you online?
Chambers: All over the place! I mean that both literally and figuratively.
Purchase Recreance on Amazon: http://mybook.to/recreance
ATAI: Thank you for sharing with us and our audience.
Chambers: Thank you so much for the opportunity! I genuinely enjoy connecting with readers and writers alike. I encourage anyone reading this to reach out to me if you’re interested in chatting about reading, writing, books, characters, or anything really. You can do so at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*NOTE: ATAI does not edit the responses of the authors.
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