Interview – Christopher Ruz

Yesterday I posted my review of Ruz’s brand new collection of short stories. Today we follow up with an interview with the man himself!

Here is a bit about Chris, in case you haven’t checked out his website. Blatantly stolen from his ‘about’ page’:

I’ve been writing for the past six years and studying industrial design for the past four, graduating in 2010 from RMIT with a BA Design (Industrial Design) (Hons). I’m now developing my design portfolio while also working on a number of fiction projects, both largeand small. If you’re interested in publishing anything you see here, please drop me a line.

I’ve had short stories previously published by fiction blogs such as Weaponizer and Labyrinth Inhabitant’s Magazine. I also have shorts to be published in upcoming issues of Birdville Magazine and Vehicle Magazine. My short story Long Way Home won the first Ergofiction Search Term Challenge. I’ve also been rejected by lots of very famous people, which must count for something.

Now, on with the questions!

What made you decide to put together and publish a collection of short stories yourself?

The problem with writing shorts is that there are fewer and fewer outlets willing to take a punt on unpublished authors these days. Short fiction mags rely on stories by big names to pull in sales, and the web-zines are inundated with so many email submissions that it can take up to and above 9 months for a reply. As a result, my short stories were languishing. I put them up on my blog for free and got great responses but absolutely nothing in the way of commercial interest, and the Kindle store seemed like a fantastic way to reach out to a wider audience. I would have made the book free on Amazon, but I wanted to experiment with how the site works as a sales platform, because I have plans to release a few novels on there in the future. Thus, the idea of the 99c collection was born.

I’ve had the pleasure of reading several of your short stories online, at various venues. How did you go about deciding which stories to include in this particular collection?

I would have made the collection far larger, but a few folk I was chatting to on reddit.com recommended I keep the wordcount for the collection under 30,000, so the book could be considered for inclusion in the Kindle Singles program. So, I started with my two fan-favourite stories, They Trade in Eyes and The Ant Tower, and then looked through my collection for others to fill the gaps. Two of my personal favourite stories, Black Rain and What You Bring Back, were too similar in tone, so I tossed a coin and chose Black Rain. The rest were chosen to roughly balance out the ratios of fantasy to scifi to paranormal weirdness.

From the reviews you’ve had so far, it would seem like a clear favourite of readers is ‘They Trade In Eyes’ (I think it would be my favourite as well!)—do you have a favourite?

I love all the stories in Past the Borders – the stories I don’t adore or that don’t resonate with readers, I throw in the bin. But my absolute fave is The Ant Tower, for a number of reasons: the first is the central image of the tower itself, which came to me in a dream one night and never let go. Second is the dynamic between Parkin and the Magician, which evolved through a series of accidents – I never originally intended for the two to fall in love. At one point in the story I wrote, “Parkin felt a burning in his gut, in his groin,” or something to that effect. It was just supposed to be indicative of his fear at the time, but when I re-read that part later I realised, damn, Parkin loves this guy. And that flipped the entire story on its head. Third, is that there was so much history and conflict implied around the edges of the story that I couldn’t get it out of my head, even after the fifth re-write. It sat and mouldered for two years, until finally I realised what the aftermath of The Ant Tower would be, and how grand and sweeping a story it would provide. Hence my current project, the Century of Sand trilogy.

Having done this once, is it an experience you’d be keen to repeat? Or do you think you’ll be focusing more on your longer works now?

I’ll definitely be repeating the process soon. I almost have a second collection of great shorts compiled, which will go up in the coming months, as well as a scifi novel of mine called Alpha Slip that aaaaalmost made it into publishers hands. All will be priced at 99c. There’ll be more collections to follow, in time. Short stories are in my blood.

I really enjoyed the novella ‘The Ant Hill’, I believe that’s a story that comes into play in your novel ‘Century of Sand’ –are you looking to self-publish that title as well? If so, when do you think we’ll be able to get our grubby little hands on it?

Century of Sand is, I think, the first novel of mine that has a solid chance of print publication. So I’ll be shopping it around to publishers for at least six to nine months when its done – if they don’t want it, up on the Kindle store it goes! I’ll have the entire trilogy drafted by about September, and the first book edited into final-draft shape by the end of 2011.

Finally, if you had to choose a friend based solely on five movies, what would those movies be? (Yes, I know it’s not writing related, but I’m always interested to know which movies people think best represent the traits/similarities they would appreciate in a friend).

Tough question. Most of the movies I love don’t make for good friends. For example, be wary of anyone that loves Fight Club or Requiem for a Dream. Monty Python and the Holy Grail would have to be #1. Second… maybe Children of Men. It implies imagination, patience and empathy. Memento is third, I think it takes a keen, analytical mind to appreciate that one. And finally… Born to Fight and Terminator 2. Because I need friends who appreciate the fine art of things being blown up and people being kicked in the face.

Thank you SO much for joining us here today, Chris, and for answering my questions. Best of luck with your current short story collection, and all future works. I for one am looking forward to reading your novels when they are released, whatever the format.

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