Sunday 12 February 2012

Interview with Chris Bauer

Chris Bauer is a talented horror fiction writer from my native Bucks County Pennsylvania. His novel SCARS ON THE FACE OF GOD: THE DEVIL"S BIBLE is an exceptional novel. The book was an EPIC Awards finalist for best in horror of 2010. He has received positive critical reception and is well respected by many authors including New York Times Bestseller Jonathan Maberry. It was fun to ask Chris some questions about his book and what inspires him.

When did you write your first novel?

In or around 2001 I completed The Rabbit, Stilled. Mainstream contemporary genre or thereabouts. Main characters Teddy and Sonny in Rabbit are from Scars on the Face of God: The Devil’s Bible: kids in Scars, adults in Rabbit. So now you know a secret: I wrote Scars as a prequel to Rabbit. Here’s why: Started shopping Rabbit with little or no clue about what this writing thing and the publishing industry were about. At 120,000 words it didn’t stand a chance at being represented by anyone, or so said multiple rejection letters from agents. “Too long for a debut novelist.” Debunked as a reason by J.K. Rowling of course, she being only the most recent example. (Relax. Not comparing me to Ms. Rowling. She’s a gifted writer and world-creator whose stuff was gonna shatter a few publishing industry maxims. It was just a matter of time.) Also debunked by the current explosion we’re seeing in published eBooks, relegating the space-on-bookstore-shelves-devoted-to-unknown-writers issue less of a concern by publishers. Scars came in at 88,000 words, a more palatable figure for agents. Note: Once I complete a major rewrite to play up its horror/paranormal elements, The Rabbit, Stilled may someday be available.

How many books have you written?

I write as C.G. Bauer. Three novels: The Rabbit, Stilled; Scars on the Face of God: The Devil’s Bible; Hop Skip Jump, just completed. Only Scars has been published. I’m currently shopping Hop Skip Jump. Plus I’ve written nine short stories that will eventually be part of a collection I’ll release electronically.

How many hours a day do you write?

Better question is how many hours a day do I devote to the writing craft because for me it includes writing, researching, editing, marketing and peer critiquing. Monday-Friday, it’s close to three hours daily. Weekends, four to five hours each day. And here’s a confession: I’m creative as a writer only in the morning. By noon I cease to be productive. By mid-afternoon I get ornery about anything I composed earlier in the day, week, month, ever. By evening I ask myself who am I fooling, tell myself everything I’ve written sucks, really really sucks, then fall asleep (at keyboard, on sofa, on commode) hopefully before I get a chance to edit out any of the stuff that might actually be good.

Scars On The Face of God: The Devil's Bible seems to have influences like Rosemary's Baby and The Omen. Did they influence your book?

Similar themes notwithstanding, they weren’t influences. Honest. Scars started originally as a question I had asked myself: Why were there so many impaired children in the northeast Philadelphia, PA, USA neighborhood where I grew up? It turns out that the Philadelphia environs were host to multiple tanneries in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, so I went after that as an angle. (No cause and effect here in real life, readers. Northeast Philadelphia is as healthy or unhealthy as every other urban and semi-urban environment out there.) I had also just completed Jonathan Harr’s A Civil Action, which chronicled what the poorly regulated tannery industry had allegedly done to the health of the children in a small town in Woburn, MA, USA. The Devil’s Bible, aka Codex Gigas, became the prominent theme after I saw The Devil’s Advocate (Al Pacino, Keanu Reeves). In it Pacino makes a vague reference to their two characters rewriting history together. It prompted a question: Could the Devil have written his own version of the Bible? Discovering that an incredible old manuscript called the Devil’s Bible with so colorful a history actually existed was, shall we say, fortuitous.

What is your favorite book?

I can’t limit it to one, so here are a few in different genres. Horror: Salem’s Lot by Stephen King. Dean Koontz’s Odd Thomas series; loved the protagonist’s innocence in delivering his first-person narrative. I also enjoy Scott Nicholson’s books and I have a number of Jonathan Maberry novels queued up. Baseball: Chance by Steve Shilstone. Loved the voice of the narrator so, so much. It strongly influenced my Scars narrator Wump Hozer’s voice and disposition, and it’s one of the few books I’ve enjoyed reading more than once. Shoeless Joe by W.P. Kinsella. Bang the Drum Slowly by Mark Harris. Loved the movie also; Robert Deniro is excellent. Crime & Pulp Fiction: Elmore Leonard’s work. All genres: Anything with a twist ending done well, Romance excepted. There’s nothing that can bring me to read Romance, not vampires, not zombies, not anything set in the past, present or future. Just. Can’t. Read. Romance.

What is your favorite movie?

Too many to mention. Because of mail-order clubs I watch at least one a week. I admit that I do get excited by the blockbusters and will try to see them on the big screen first. Favorites in Horror: The Thing, all versions; looking forward to the newest remake but it will be tough to upstage Carpenter’s version. Alien and Aliens; some of the best mix of suspense and horror and sci-fi I’ve ever seen. I was also blown away by M. Night Shyamalan’s Sixth Sense, the twist ending, in my opinion, one of the best a-ha climaxes in movie history. I heartily contributed to the collective gasp from theater patrons that night. Zombie flicks: I am Legend with Will Smith. Also loved Shaun of the Dead; Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are hilarious. Baseball: The Natural, Field of Dreams, Bang the Drum Slowly and Eight Men Out. Always a sucker for a good baseball drama. Favs in Sci-fi: Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Anytime I flick past a replay of it I’ll stop and watch. Back to M. Night: Signs, filmed in part in Doylestown PA, my current hometown; loved Joaquin Phoenix’s character and the movie’s climax. (No plot spoilers here, but if you’ve never seen it and do decide to go after it, you’ll know why I liked it so much.)

What books scare you?

Every freaking book that has a scene in it where the reader finds himself mentally pleading to a character “Don’t go in that room” or “Don’t open that door.” Switching gears, the only other books that scare me are anything by celebrities, pop culture or politically-motivated personalities masquerading as writers, this because they grab all the publishing industry’s advance money with their, ahem, crap, ghost-written or otherwise. A complete waste, and yet they provide a valuable lesson for all writers: We need to produce things that are commercially viable before we get to indulge ourselves in writing those darlings we’re so often told we need to kill after we’ve written them. If novelists are savvy enough and lucky, occasionally they get it right on the first try. An infrequent occurrence, as I’m sure all you debut authors out there like myself can attest to.

Would you ever consider writing a book outside of the horror genre?

Absatively. Case in point, see current projects below for the urban fantasy/paranormal novel I just completed. I’m also mulling over a suspense/crime fiction project based on an unpublished short story I wrote recently. Readers might also like to check out a crime/pulp fiction short I wrote titled “You’re A Moron,” published in Thuglit’s online January 2009 edition then podcasted by Well Told Tales in September 2009. Well Told Tales’ sixteen-minute professional production was a huge success: it’s been downloaded more than 70,000 times (, WTT #60). Downloaded for free, this starving writer laments, mentioning that he was paid $25 American for the rights to podcast the story.

What are your current projects?

I received some kudos on my pseudo-horror short story “Zombie Chimps From Mars” which recently appeared in Shroud Magazine’s Spring 2011 print edition. Now I’m shopping my newest novel Hop Skip Jump to agents, an urban fantasy with paranormal leanings about reincarnation and channeling and what might happen if a person returned to a place and time where she was needed the most. The novel follows two present-day family intervention social workers, one male, one female, as they peel back the lives of clients encumbered by untenable, hanging-by-a-thread existences. Then their clients start dying suspicious deaths, and someone with an otherworldly agenda is hell-bent on continuing this trend. Think supernatural movie thriller Fallen (Denzel Washington) with a nod toward N.A. Tappe’s Indigo children. Plus I just reacquired all my rights to Scars and I’m currently readying it for re-release.

Paragraph about myself:

Philadelphia-area writer who enjoys crafting character-, plot- and twist-driven novels and short stories. Won a few writing contests, placed well in a few others. (Scars on the Face of God: The Devil’s Bible was EPIC Awards runner-up for the best in eBook horror for 2010.) Chris does nothing else artistic unless one counts juggling a sixty-hour work/commute week at his evil day job with twenty-plus weekly hours devoted to writing and writers’ critique groups. And by the way, Chris is again looking for representation.

Novelist David Kempf
About the interviewer:
David Kempf has written over fifty short stories, many of which deal with themes of horror fiction. He has won several writing awards including first place in the short story competition of Millersville University's Lemuria magazine. Two of his short stories were selected in the 2007 publication of The Grackle, his graduate school's literary magazine. David is featured on two short fiction websites, one American and one British. He holds an M.S. from Chestnut Hill College and a B.A. from Millersville University. David resides in Bucks County, Pennsylvania with his wife and his son. Dark Fiction is his first novel. His latest book The Petsorcist mixes humor and horror.

You can find out more about David Kempfs new book and also buy at the following links