Welcome to the Darkness… This was the first line in the first ever story I wrote.
Apart from the fleeting attempt in high school, the first ever story I actually gave time to writing was titled Shack of Evil. That was back in 1989. In 1989 I was living in a small town called Winchelsea Victoria, when my days and nights were spent writing, writing and writing some more.
I can remember the first ever draft I wrote of Shack of Evil. It was based on a hobbytex picture my mother had hanging on the wall of her dining room. I remember vividly I was sat at the dining table staring blankly at this picture – red velvet canvas and drawn on it was a rustic shack and a painted yellow full moon in the background. The image of that picture is burned into my mind, like a master blueprint of darkness, or insanity… Or maybe I just like the picture.
Of course the story wasn’t written in it’s entirity there. But the foundation of what was to become The Chosen was birthed from that picture.
Soon after I had moved to small-town Winch, I found that the passion for writing began to kick in, and so started this journey that would take me down a long road to being published.
Wincheslea was a town like you would expect to see in The Chosen. A town that had 1 bank, 1 bakery, a newsagency which doubled as a post-offiice, 1 police officer and 2 pubs. Winch had a population of less than a thousand people. A town where you couldn’t sneeze without the whole town knowing about it, and ideallic enough for a horror setting.
I lived about 5 miles out of town, on a piggery, own by the Sorenson’s. (Nothing like the fresh smell of pig-crap in the morning). So you can imagine what mischief and scenarios would pop into my mind back then. There is alot that can be said about a town like Winch. It certainly can give one alot of inspitation for any writer who wants to write a scene about a small town 🙂
Getting back to the theme: Not far out of town, but far enough from where I lived, was a canyon of sorts, which looked more like the beginning of a quarry which actually never got started. To describe this area would be like calling this area dunes of hardened clay, set amongst the backdrop of the bush. Okay, maybe not entirely eerie, but try going there at night, when the sky is clear and the moon is full…
That area, which I called “The Dunes” became the setting place of The Clearing, where Lutancix made his first appearence to the occultist, Jeff, in The Chosen.
Okay, so I had the setting. The rustic shack and the dunes. Perfect combo for a horror story. Shack of Evil was developed.
The original story was about Jamiesonn and his life. A supernatural being trapped in his own hell, and who wanted to reap revenge on the decendants who murdered him. Of course, the ghost hunter who had the fun of confronting Jamiesonn seemed more like an immature teenager rather than a professional parapsychologist.
So began Shack of Evil. A 9 page epic which I thought was absolute brilliance. But it wasn’t perfect. I knew that, and SOE needed alot of work to get it to the level I wanted it to be. The entire story was set in the first person POV.
It was around that time when I first started to read Stephen King novels. The first one I read was Misery. After reading that, I knew that I wanted to write full length novels rather than short stories which one could read in 30 minutes.
SOE was set in the first person POV, and so to develop it to the level I expected, I had to write in the third person. For someone who had never mastered literature in high school, that was going to be a challenge in itself, which meant alot of reading to see how other writers did it.
I read afew other novels by King and some Lovecraft, to learn how they wrote. I knew I could do better than what I had wrote, and even today I still consider Lovecraft the grand-master of horror.
SOE was put on the back-burner for some time… Well, 5 years to be exact. It took me 5 years to pick up the story, read it and then begin to rewrite it.
In 1994 I wrote a 300 page, two-part novel. This time around, I kept the original character of Jamiesonn, as well as the ghost hunter, but changed it to the scenario where the fate of the world was left up to one man, and his struggle to fight against supernatural beings. Jamiesonn had evolved with this new draft. His shack had a new setting, in the backdrop of Gympie, a small town that was once the boom of the gold mining rush.
The new draft was handwritten, and I managed to write this draft in 9 months. Day in, Day out. Everyday I sat at the dining table at my father’s house and wrote while I listened to TripleM belt out the hits of rock. (I’m a rocker boy at heart).
That novel was the first real novel I wrote, and a step up from what I had previously written. I had managed to switch from first-person POC to third-person POV. I had written the character of Jamiesonn so well that one guy whom I worked with once, read it (I think his name was Trevor) and actually believed that Jamiesonn was real. (I kid you not, one time I heard him whisper before he went into a sales meeting “Give me power Jamiesonn!”)
I seemed to have done well, but I knew in my heart it still was not perfect. I knew it could be developed alot more. Of course, I had no idea that what was yet to come would be a trilogy. In 1996, I began to write the sequel.
In 1996 I was living in Indooroopilly, which is a suburb of Brisbane. I was sharing a house with these college kids. Nikki and her boyfriend Craig (who was a Doom addict), and not to forget Julianne, (who looked alot like actress Teresa Russell when she was younger), and not to forget Julianne’s cat, Max, who followed her everywhere (even to the store).
What can I say about the crew I shared a house with? Good people. Always the life of any party. Craig was a teacher at a Uni, Nikki was a student who always got around in a summer dress (tease), and Julianne was… well, I will just say Julianne was a free-spirit.
I only knew Julianne for about 18 days until she went to go live with her mom, but those 18 days seemed to span years. Her and I shared a kinship, a soul connection if you will. For the first time in a while I had found a reason to write again, full on. She gave me inspiration and ideas for my new story and a new character. Back then, in 1996, she was more than someone I shared a house with and more than a friend. She was the first woman that I loved. That love lasted a long time. I never saw again after December 1996, but in my heart I loved her for many years after. She knew that I loved her, and I am sure she felt the same… Especially since that last night we spent together.
The above paragraph is important part of this, as Julianne’s persona is what I based the new character of Alison on.
A new character had been spawned, and also a new love interest for one of the characters. But even then in 1996, when I started the second book, I knew that the whole thing needed a major rewrite. It was good, but it was not what I wanted. I wanted to take the characters into a new direction and add more terror.
Enter Tanzac… In the original version of The Chosen, Lutancix was one of the major players in the story, while Tanzac took a back-seat. So I had to rework that, and give them a history, and why they were like they were.
I heard a preacher once say in a sermon, I think it was Kenneth Copeland, “A person doesn’t wake up one day and decide that they are going to be a hitman for the mafia“. And neither would supernatural beings. In life, death plays a natural part, and there are ghost stories of tormented souls in limbo who walk the earth. Ghosts are not naturally evil, it is how they lived that caused them to be like that…. Or so it is believed. So Tanzac needed a history, as I will explain another time…
More to come….
Thank you for taking the time to interview with us. C.A.’s newest release is The Chosen, which came out in July 2008.
1. When/how did you know you wanted to write?
A part of me has always wanted to write. My first experience with writing came in high school when in English class we were asked to write a book report. Instead of writing the report, I decided to do soemthing different and write a 4 page short story and submit that instead. For my effort I got top marks and was embarrassed infront of the class as our english teacher decided to make a class announcement about my venture. Needless to say I didn’t write anything more after that, until 1989 when I sat down and wrote 26 short stories. In 1989 is when I knew I wanted to write.
2. How long did it take you to become published?
From the first draft of The Chosen that I rewrote back in 1994 til 2008 was 14 years. But it was much longer than that.
3. Who are some of your favorite authors?
Clive Barker, Stephen King, H.P.Lovecraft, E.A. Poe.
4. Who do you count as your literary influences?
I would say that after reading Misery by Stephen king, I knew that I wanted to do the same, although not exactly the same, if you get what I mean.
5. How long does it usually take for you to research a book?
It takes me some months to gather ideas from what I see when I travelling.
6. Many authors are doing strictly e-books, do you think this is just a trend, or does it spell the end of real books?
I think it is a little of both. Personally I would like to think that real books are alive as they always were, but I know that is not true, when with how everything is readily available today on the I-Net, it does make it a lot easier for readers to download a book to their Palm PC.
7. How long does it take for you to write books?
The Chosen took me 9 months to write. So far, Bloodline of Darkness has taken me 10 years. Of course, I haven’t been writing it the whole time, but for a number of years I put Bloodline on the back-burner while I lived in the real world, you know the scenario. Starving artist needs a real job to pay the real world bills, and somewhere along the line I became a work-a-holic and forgot about writing for a long time. FAR too long.
8. Is there any character in your books that you can really relate to?
I would like to say that there is a part of me in each character. That’s not to say that I am like Jamiesonn, where I am scheming to take over the world! But, some of his traits are from my own deep flaws.
9. Do you see yourself writing in the same genre in 10 years? If not then what?
After Bloodline of Darkness then Prophecy’s End, I believe that I am going to venture into films and produce a sci-fi/fantasy short. I have wrote several different genres in my time, such as fantasy, futuristic, drama. I stay clear of comedy and romance though. I tried those genres once and I discovered that I cant write those.
10. What advice do you give to those who are just starting out or trying to become published?
There are probably a lot of new writers out there who have no idea where to start, but, if you are an aspiring writer looking to get your first work out there, start with a good letter to an agent or publisher. That is your starting point. A good letter with the synopsis of your novel will get the attention of the agent or publisher, even if the response is a polite “No thank you”. Learn by my example. It took 14 years from the main draft of The Chosen to now to get published, which shows that it is worth the wait. That is not to say that it will take 14 years for you to get published! I am saying this as I left mine sitting on the back-burner until I was ready. Yes, you will get rejection letters, or even worse yet, no reply at all. Don’t worry about that as it will happen. Those rejection slips only tell you that you are on the right (write) track! Okay, now that you have your email draft ready to go out to agents/publishers, make sure you do your homework, by checking out what genres they represent. If it is unclear on their web if they are accepting new clients, don’t be afraid to ask! Make a mental note on some of the authors they represent. Also, if you come across an agent or publisher that charges a fee of any kind, stay away from those. They are predators who will take your money and you will never hear from them again. I don’t have to ramble on about this topic as there are dozens of websites about this. But what I will say in concluding is this: If you have the ability to write, you have a gift. Like any skill, it is a talent that should be nurtured and polished. Find your niche, and keep on writing, no matter what wanna-be’s may tell you.
11. What do you do when preparing to write a story?
I sit and stare at the laptop.. No, I try and get an idea from my own experience and put that into a character. When I get stuck, I work around it. Like, in Bloodline, the main character, Alex, was in an elevator with an ever present darkness growing around him… and there he sat for a year as I had no inspriation on where to take the plot. So as I sat infront of my lappie recently, I came up with this idea, “Dream sequence”. Okay, that works! He wakes up and finds himself in the elevator.. I will not sday what happens next, but I will say that in this next book, Illusion IS reality..
12. Where do your story ideas come from? Do you use people you know as characters sometimes or even sometimes a certain event from real life happenings?
Sometimes I base a character on a mixture of people I have known in my life or from the profiles of tyrants of history. Other times I will develop a character from scratch.
13. What is your favorite part of writing?
Getting involved in the story. I am very a very visual person, so I write exactly what I see. I never see what is infront of me, like the PC or whatever else. That for me is the favorite part, and seeing exactly where I am taking the story.
14. Do you have a specific schedule in which you write?
No. I write when I get inspired.
15. Do you have any projects you are currently working on?
I am writing the second book, Bloodline of Darkness, and I have a book in the pipeline that is non-fiction, which is based on my journeys here in Russia.
16. Are you ever influenced by something you see and think, that would go great in a book?
Well without telling to much, but when I went on a day trip to a city called Chapayevsk, I had been told about the state of this city, and you can bet that my imagination went on a field trip! From the legends I had been told, Chapayevsk resembled the town Silent Hill, so you can imagine for a second that I was expecting to see flesh-eating zombies from beyond the grave, and paint ascending into the sky, but no such luck. No flesah eating zombies and no dudes wielding a 20-foot steak knife! But, the city of Chapayevsk is really run down, to the point where they want to relocate everyone and demolish the town, and that is enough to let my imagination run riot!
17. Did it take a lot of rejections for you to finally get published or was it pretty easy for you?
Yes. When I sent out a query letter, I got 51 rejection emails.
18. Do you write your stories out with pencil and paper first or do you work straight on the computer?
I do it on the lappie (laptop)
19. You just recently were published. How does it make you feel?
To be honest, when The Chosen first came out, my wife and I were going through a lot of turmoil in Sydney, so for a while it was hard to get into the realization that I had been published. It wasn’t until maybe November when I could sit down and take a look at my book and start to feel good about what I had accomplished. Even now, I still look at my book and I am still amazed that it is finally out. Finally! It is a dream come true..
20. Getting back to your books coming out soon. Tell us a little about what to expect from them.
In Bloodline of Darkness, it is set 10 years after The Chosen. Alex has gone through a lot of hardships in the past decade, and now everything he was and knew is nothing more than a distance dream. Before he can understand his otherwise mundane life, he is once again pitted against dark forces that have arisen, only this time the battlefield is his, with visions and dreams so real and frightening that he begins to think he has gone insane. Tanzac has found his way back into the world, and Alex has to relearn everything he once knew, and in doing this he is sent back in time to witness the downfall and destruction of the ancient ones. Only he has the power to stop the forces from arising, but his time is running out.
21. When and where can we purchase your books?
The Chosen can be purchased through Amazon.com http://www.amazon.com/Chosen-C-Milson/dp/1934475815, and through many other book retailers online.
22. How do you feel about fans doing fan fiction and/or roleplaying on the web based on your or other author’s works?
I think a RPG based on The Chosen would be good to see at some point.
23. How has being recognized in public affected your daily life or has it?
Sometimes the celebritism is nice, being known as an author rather than an unpublished author. I do get a lot of looks and stares from people in the street, which, although flattering, can be unnerving. I am a private person and rather introvert. So the thought of doing things like public speaking are as about as thrilling for me as a labotomy. But, I am not going to shun that as it is nice to be seen, which I think everyone likes on some level. I definitely don’t let it go to my head though, and I don’t think I ever could. I am approachable as anyone else would be.
Thank you Sierra at the crew at The Deadly Vixens