An interview with the accomplished Chris Fox, author of the amazon kindle besteller No Such Thing As Werewolves

All right, Chris, the mic is in your face, the camera lights are on, and you have one sentence to introduce yourself to an audience of gazillions. What’s the quick version of your story, man?

I ended up on the back of a milk carton at age 8. A year ago I developed an iPhone application that was used to scope Stephen Colbert’s ear. I’ve also published a novel called No Such Thing As Werewolves. You’re probably expecting me to say ‘one of these things is a lie’. Nope, all true. I’ve led a very interesting life.

If you became very rich, what would a typical day look like for you?

Very similar to what it looks like today. I wake up, work out and then write. When I’m finished I go to work at a startup called CellScope, developing the aforementioned app. Eventually CellScope will get acquired, after which my day will look largely the same. The locale might change though. There’s a lot of travel I want to do, from Cairo to Lima. I’m fortunate that both my passions can be done from anywhere in the world.

What’s been your greatest challenge in life?

Limiting beliefs. When I was a kid I decided I wasn’t a good athlete, and that I’d never be a good dancer. So I didn’t even try. A few years back I picked up a book called Talent is Overrated, which reversed my outlook overnight. I enrolled in a dance class and am a pretty good dancer now. I also became a power lifter, which never would have crossed my mind before. I was a self-avowed geek and just assumed I could never be good at those things. Imagine my surprise when I found out practice really does make perfect.

In 2010 I joined Toastmasters and became an accomplished speaker. I set the bar a little higher and taught myself iPhone development. At the time I was working in a dead end collections job, so that was quite a step up. Especially since I’m a JC dropout. My next challenge is writing and *crosses fingers* so far so good.

I just finished reading No Such Thing As Werewolves and was struck by how much of a fun cross it is between Tomb Raider, Stargate, and Predator. What was the inspiration behind it?

I’m totally going to cheat. I wrote this blog post  about the inspiration. For those who want a shorter answer I wanted to re-invent werewolves. To do that I took a Sci-Fi approach, which is unusual as most werewolves are fantasy. It required me to explain things like how it’s possible genetically for them to change, why moonlight affects them and how the disease spreads.

Anthropology and Egyptology are also huge passions of mine, and I’ve long wondered if there were cultures that predated recorded history. What if they were far more advanced than we are? No Such Thing As Werewolves answers that question. It’s my attempt to make werewolves not just scary, but also logical and understandable.

How would you describe your book to a new reader in the genre?

It’s like Indiana Jones went through the Stargate and ended up in Aliens Versus Predator.

What type of person is NOT going to enjoy your book?

People who don’t enjoy intricate plots with multiple points of view. There are a fair number of characters, and more science than you’ll find in your average fantasy novel.

How much of you is in Ahiga, that bad-ass werewolf?

You might call him a reflection of me. He’s sacrificed everything to secure the future of our species, only to see it all wasted when he makes a single mistake. His name is from the Navajo language, and I spent a little time on a reservation as a child. I drew on those experiences as well.

What do you hate most about the publishing process?

Editing. I love the writing and sometimes the re-writing is fun, but the endless editing and proofing really wears on you after you’ve been working on a book for five months.

What do you love about indie publishing?

I decided I wanted to be a writer when I was six. My mother still has the first short story I wrote on that very day. As an adult I went the traditional publishing route and it took years to get my first short story out there. Once it was published I never even knew if anyone read it, much less liked it. With Indie publishing I put my own novel up with no gatekeeper to stop me. I’m able to see fan reviews, and even get the occasional fan mail. It’s surreal. So I guess the short answer is I love that indie publishing made it possible for anyone to become a novelist.

What advice would you give to someone thinking of publishing their book independently?

Read. Write. Publish. Repeat. Then sign up for the Rocking Self-Publishing podcast. Lastly, sign up for Kboards. Those three resources will give you a solid foundation in indie publishing, and you’ll be miles ahead of someone just tossing their book up and wondering why it isn’t selling.

What are you going to to do after you’ve won your second pulitzer?

Take Lisa on a cruise to Alaska while we still have glaciers.

Punchable face. Name one. Explanation optional.

Justin Bieber. No explanation needed.

As a Canadian, sorry. Our petitions to have him extradited failed. No one wanted him.
So What’s next for you?

I’ll be publishing Deathless Book 2: No Mere Zombie in late April. I still cannot believe I’ll have two novels and a novella out.

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By day Chris Fox is an iPhone developer architecting the app used to scope Stephen Colbert’s ear. By night he is Batman. Ok maybe not. He can dream though, right? Chris has been writing since he was six years old and started inflicting his work on others at age 18. By age 24 people stopped running away when he approached them with a new story and shortly thereafter he published my first one in the Rifter.  Check out his fiction at Chris Fox Writes.

No Such Thing As Werewolves on Amazon

No Such Thing As Werewolves on Goodreads

The horribly obsessive need to be perfect. How do you balance doing a good job and obsessing over your work?

How do you do it? How do you balance doing a good job and obsessing over your work?

It astounds me how much my need to be perfect holds me back. If I could only let go, give myself permission to be average, to make mistakes, I think a tremendous weight would lift.

If anyone’s reading this, do you have any tips?

Why It’s Important to Follow Your Dreams on a Daily Basis

“This is your life and it’s ending one minute at a time.”
— Quote from the movie Fight Club

I often scroll through an ocean of blog and article links looking for quality content, content I can grow by and use practically. Time is precious online, especially because we’re so easily distracted. All it takes is for one of those links to strike the right interest chord and there goes ten minutes of your time. Sometimes that interesting link leads to another, or to a video, and next thing you know, an hour has flashed by.

Scientists have discovered that we get a miniature heroin-like dose of joy from clicking links and reading articles. Infotainment is actually that addictive. And therein lies the crux, for amongst this sea of cerebral masturbation one must separate out what is valuable and what is useless. Working from home poses these challenges; we must discipline ourselves to skip those things that hamper our goals.

So what are your goals? Do you want to own a house, have kids, work in a certain career? Do you want to work from home, have a wife or husband, or travel the world? Do you want to make a certain amount of money a year? What is success to you? What do you want to spend time on?

The hours add up quickly. Our daily micro judgements on what we spend time on become valuable. The framework for making those judgements becomes valuable. At work, we are paid hourly for our time. Everything we own is on loan, paid for with time. We give it all back in the end; we can’t take anything past death. Time is the new currency.

Now apply that to following your dreams. Imagine your time is worth, say, $20 an hour. If you spent four hours surfing the internet looking at infotainment, you spend $80 of your time doing so. Now here’s the question: did you gain back $80 worth of knowledge from that surfing?

These are just ideas in productivity. I’m not saying we shouldn’t have any fun — no, what I’m saying is we must be conscious of the daily micro decisions that add up the grandiosity that is our life (and learning to relax and enjoy ourselves is another skill beyond the scope of this blog post).

And that’s why it’s so critical to follow our dreams on a daily basis. Step by step, word by word, link by link, we build the lives we want. The lucky ones do it consciously; assert greater control over their micro decisions; choose progress over lethargy.

Imagine getting paid for doing things we love. Imagine finding love in what we already do. I believe that, if we are conscious of our daily micro decisions, these things just … happen, yet they happen slowly. Only when we pause and look back can we appreciate how far we have come.

Time is precious. What you are doing this moment is your life; who you are right now.

Procrastination — A Uniquely Tailored Enemy.

Procrastination is a failure of the watch, so to speak. It’s a uniquely tailored enemy that’s different for all of us. It attacks when it senses weakness and thrives on each subsequent indulgence. We crave it though, feeding the beast with distractions, excuses and entertainment. It’s a particular nuisance in the digital age, where the entirety of human understanding can be accessed at the click of a mouse; any person can be reached by a single text; any object (or food) ordered without leaving the house.

Writers are especially prone to procrastination, for we tend to spend many hours at home. I find how I start the day impacts my output greatly. If the first thing I do in the morning is check reddit, well, it sets the tone until nightfall. Thoughts tend to wander that much more; my eyes flick about searching for visual stimuli; my hands wring and grope for texture instead of remaining on the keys.

Everyone’s different, but here are a few things that work for some: try keeping your visual sight lines simple, the phone off or out of reach, noise reduced to nothing but the low hum of a computer (or nothing at all. Oh and do we still use words like “computer”?). Some writers even disconnect from the net and shut themselves in a dark dungeon of a room, with perhaps nothing adorning the walls except for a miserable floral embroidery.

You know what really works for me? I write in the bath. Yup, I actually sit in the bath and write, the laptop perched on a small table beside the tub like an electric vulture (insert electrocution joke here). You know what’s hard to do while writing in the bath? Get distracted. Silly, I know, but it works. Now I can’t stay in the bath too long (six hours is all right, isn’t it?), so inevitably I slither out like Voldemort in snake form to settle at the dining table.

When on dry land, however, sometimes I get up and pace. Invariably my eyes stumble upon all these pretty objects that somehow need attention right then. A little mental battle ensues (I think of it more like a paper joust). Usually the driven side of me wins and I return to writing, but other times I suddenly realize I’ve been playing sudoku for the last hour, an hour that can never reclaim its rightful productivity.

But procrastination is a clever adversary. You draw a blank while writing a particularly demanding scene and your mind uses that moment of hesitation to rudely butt in with its crack-dealer voice: “Hey, remember that thing you were supposed to do last week? You know, that thing. Why not do that now? Wouldn’t that be great? You deserve a break anyway.”

Those are the times we must be brave, friends, and plow through the insufferable whining of our needy selves. Yes, we are our own worst enemies. Just do it; just keep going. Sheer determination and discipline (some call it ambition) melts procrastination like a cheap plastic dummy subjected to the torments of a pyromaniac child.

And there are tricks I tell you! But don’t be fooled – our greatest strength, and still the greatest enemy of procrastination, is simple discipline. The “just do it” mentality. You can trick yourself only so far, but your determination / drive / diligence etc. is what will get you through, day in and day out, week after week and month after month — for the really big projects, the glorious ones, take a long, long time to conclude, especially if you’re interested in quality.

All right, let me share my tricks (the ones that actually work, mind you):

– Getting up and turning on the laptop first thing, prepping it for writing
– Making a liter of tea. After lunch, another one (two bags a day keeps me focused, I find)
– Eating a strong but light breakfast (mental note: stop skipping so many breakfasts)
– Drawing a bath (snicker all you like, it works!)
– Leaving all email / reddit / surfing / forum / marketing tasks for after the writing
– Rubbing my hands together in excitement. This trick is particularly effective for down times. I’ve used neurolinguistic programming (thanks, Tony), to map this gesture to adrenaline. It gets me going quickly and resets my thinking when my mind wanders.
– As a last resort, I read something that inspires me. Sometimes it’s a how-to book, sometimes a novel.

These tricks served me through three record albums and now three books. Maybe they might help you too :)

So, that said, do you have any tricks to share?