Friday Night Interviews returns with Lindsay Schopfer, a sci fi and fantasy author with several books under his belt. Read on to see some great tips for naming characters, what sparked his interest in steampunk, and how a giant fish played a part in his contribution to Writerpunk Press’s next anthology.
Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I’ve always been a storyteller and a dreamer. When I was a kid, I’d go out into the Capitol Forrest behind my home and play make-believe for hours. All of the stories that I write are basically me playing make-believe and going on imagined adventures. The fact that I can make a living doing that is one of the greatest blessings in my life.
Not only are you a writer, but you are also an instructor and a writing coach. Two questions. 1) Do you sleep? 2) How do you balance it all?
Sleep? What is this “sleep”?
Balancing my writing with teaching and coaching is always an issue. I do my best writing at night, which is when a lot of events tend to be scheduled. Even when something is taking place during the day, there’s a real temptation at the end of a long hard day to just curl up and go to bed. I wish I had a magic formula for the problem, but for me it’s really just a matter of learning to say no occasionally and trying to keep my writing a priority. If I ever do find the magic formula though, I’ll be sure to tell you.
There’s no such thing as a free lunch, but how about a snack? Could you offer the writers who are reading this a small pointer?
I’m always up for a snack. Here’s a tip on naming characters that I shared in my last newsletter.
Keep in mind that your character names will be seen, not heard. Choose names that look like your character. Think about the combination of letters and what they suggest when they are seen together on a printed page. Also, be wary of giving names that begin with the same letter to multiple characters in the same book. If your book is really gripping (which is the goal, after all) readers may resort to a form of speed reading where they glance at the first letter of a name to identify who is speaking. Finally, don’t give names to characters that are unimportant. Hollywood does this all the time with their extras and bit-part actors. Basically, if a character is mentioned in the script, then the actor playing him is a cast member with a spot in the credits and a healthy paycheck. If not, then the actor is an extra, and might get a free lunch out of the experience. Just remember to ask yourself whether this character deserve a spot in the credits for his contribution to your story?
Have you always been interested in punk fiction or is this a recent development in your life?
To be honest, my interest in steampunk comes more from Victorian-era fantasies and modern video games rather than the literature of today. My mom would read Verne to me as a child, and I grew up reading Wells and Doyle. I’ve also got a soft spot for Japanese RPGs which often have steampunk themes. Steampunk just became a shorthand description for the kind of aesthetic that I started to notice in some of the stories I was writing.
What anthology are you helping with or hoping to help with?
I’ve got a short story in Merely This and Nothing More: Poe Goes Punk. My story is based on one of his lesser known adventure tales, Descent into the Maelstrom, and is entitled Within the Maelstrom.
What inspired you to work on this specific project?
I’ll often get idea fragments that don’t fit with any of my current projects. In this case, I had an idea for a pilot who “drives” a gigantic fish from the inside in a kind of Victorian-style pilothouse. When I was invited to contribute to the anthology and started looking through my complete works of Poe for ideas, I found the story of three Scandinavian brothers trying to survive in a titanic whirlpool, and it just clicked. And of course I had to add a sea monster. That’s a given.
What was the hardest part of writing the story?
The main issue with writing an action-adventure story that takes place underwater is that everything feels so cramped and slowed down. If you don’t believe me, try watching any underwater fight scene in a movie. My solution was to tell part of the story from the sea monster’s point of view, allowing the reader to see how the story plays out from two very different perspectives.
Of all the various *punk genres and subgenres, which one would you like to live?
Definitely fantasy steampunk, like the type you’d find in a video game. It’s got all of the beautiful aesthetics and creature comforts without the limitations of having to be realistic or even logical.
Do you have any work published outside of Writerpunk Press?
Of course! The Beast Hunter is a fantasy steampunk novel about a professional monster hunter that joins a campaign of some of his world’s best hunters to try to stop an infestation of creatures from destroying the crops of a country on the verge of revolution.
I’ve also got a sci-fi survivalist novel called Lost Under Two Moons which is the journal of a young man trying to survive on an alien planet after getting sucked through a mysterious portal.
Finally, I’ve got a collection of more of my short stories (including another steampunk one) called Magic, Mystery and Mirth.
What is your life like when you aren’t being one of those weird creative types?
I’m an avid gamer. I’ve got two different board game groups I play with every other week, as well as regularly playing board and card games with my wife and family. I’m also into a variety of video games, RPGs being my favorite genre.
When I’m not playing a game, I’m playing guitar. I love music and collect all types of songs. Rock n’ roll will never die!
Do you have anything else you want to tell our adoring public or add to this interview in any way?
Um… buy my books? 😉
Lindsay Schopfer may not have time to sleep, but he always has time to connect with readers. You can find him just about anywhere on the Internet talking about books and writing. Check out the links below to find out more about Lindsay and his work.
Lindsay’s Social Media Links
Author Website: www.lindsayschopfer.com
Writing Coaching Website: www.yourwritingadventure.com
Amazon Author Page: www.amazon.com/Lindsay-Schopfer/e/B007EF3MQS
Lindsay Schopfer is the author of two novels, the sci-fi survivalist Lost Under Two Moons and the steampunk adventure The Beast Hunter, as well as the fantasy short story collection Magic, Mystery and Mirth. When he isn’t writing, Lindsay is a writing coach and instructor for Adventures In Writing, where he helps writers learn about and improve their craft.