Collaborative Writing Challenge

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much”
― Helen Keller

Author Spotlight: November 2015 
Chris Donovan

Every month I like to shine the spotlight on one of our participating writers. This month I am pleased to introduce Chris Donovan, who is an upcoming writer who has now had chapters selected for 2 CWC Collaborative Novels. Learn more about Chris from the short interview below. 

  1. What made you start writing?

Honestly, I don’t know 100%. The earliest creative writing I remember was basically a Goosebumps fanfic when I was in the fourth grade. I was the main character and I had to fight Slappy the Dummy. I did little things like over the years and always loved when we had a creative writing assignment in class but it wasn’t until I was looking for what I should major in for college where writing seemed like the right thing for me. So I guess I started writing because I had a Goosebumps story in my head but it didn’t click that I should be a writer until my senior year of high school.

  1. Do you use good old fashioned pen and paper or your computer?

It depends. I like to brainstorm with pen and paper so I can go all over the place and scratch out notes and ideas as soon as they pop into my head. However, when I get to the actual meat of the project I prefer to type it out on my laptop so it’s already formatted and cleaner than it would be in my sloppy handwriting. I also have been using the Google docs app on my iPhone more and more to write because of how convenient it is. Inspiration strikes at weird times so it’s a useful tool to have.

  1. How did you feel when your writing was first acknowledged?

It felt really great because it was really the one thing I had that was just mine. Before I went to college I was really the only writer I knew. I was in AP classes but I wasn’t one of the smartest kids. I was on the football team but I wasn’t a starter. I tried really hard to be that kind of jack-of-all-trades but it wasn’t until I started embracing writing and my more creative side that I found a trade I could master.

  1. What are you currently working on?

I’m working on a bunch of things: My NaNoWriMo book called Resurrecting Bloodthirsty Demons: A Love Story, weekly short stories for my horror blog @professionalhorror, and two scripts. One is a supernatural slasher that I’ve been working on for over two years and the other I’m just breaking ground on and it is a horror musical.

  1. How did you find writing a chapter for CWC, was it what you expected?

I thought it was a very different experience to any other writing I’ve done. I’ve written spec scripts and stuff so it wasn’t so much using established characters and plots that threw me but more of the setting each other up. You can’t come into a chapter and start answering questions left and right, you have to build and add mystery and hope the next person can build on the mystery you added well. it feels weird because sometimes it feels like constantly introducing questions that you won't be able to answer. There’s a level of trust you place in the other writers to answer them all in time and answer them well.

  1. Where is your favorite place to write, and why?

Now that I’m back in Rhode Island I find myself going to a place called Brewed Awakenings to write. Can’t go wrong with good food, good coffee, and comfortable leather seats. However for me it’s not so much where as it is when. I am a procrastinator extraordinaire and I find it immensely difficult to write anything substantial if I don’t have a solid deadline that people are expecting me to make. So the most productive place for me is wherever I am as my deadlines creeps toward me.

  1. What do you consider your best work to date? tell us a little about it?

I’d have to say my best work to date is my supernatural slasher script. Just for the sole reason that it’s the project I’ve worked on the most and polished the most. It still is far from being done but I’ve been through draft after draft with that script and there is a level of polish to it that a lot of my other projects don’t have yet. I love supernatural slashers like Halloween and Nightmare on Elm St. so I wanted to add my own slasher to that club. I also wanted to add a lady slasher because that club is a bit of a sausage fest. Her name is Iris and she is a demon with no eyes who was raised in hell. She aches to escape hell and live a normal life as a normal human. She can only do that by draining the lives of innocent people. She does that by stealing their eyes. Wish me luck on getting Iris to the big screen haha.

  1. You have now had 4 chapters selected for CWC novels. Congratulations, how do you approach the task at hand, and which story did you enjoy working on the most?

I’ve found myself deciding what kind of chapter I’m going to write based on the past five: should I push the action, should I slow it down, should I focus on another character, etc. I try and let the previous authors determine what chapter I’m writing and hope that it lends itself to a natural rhythm. Honestly, the story I enjoyed working on the most so far is the one I haven’t a chapter selected for yet: Wytch Born. Ambition was a challenge for me because it was very out of my comfort zone as far as genre, I did enjoy the challenge but it was difficult. Ark is closer to my wheelhouse but it the story is so big and open that it was hard to pinpoint a direction to go in for any given chapter. I worked on Chapter 2 for Wytch Born and it didn’t get picked but I liked working on that one because it was so early that I could influence the direction of the story more and add wrinkles as opposed to trying to flow with the wrinkles in place.

  1. If you could give just once piece of advice to upcoming writers, what would it be?

I would say to never be afraid of writing what you want to write. It’s easy to think that nobody would like or want to read what I write, especially if it’s a weird and out there idea but who cares. You should never feel as though you have to write something that someone else wants you to write. You should never fully alienate your audience, however writing is a very personal thing. It’s sharing pieces of yourself with anyone willing to read them. If you don’t write the things you want to write and create the stories you want to see then your audience will never see the real you. If you want to write about killer corn holders, then you make it the best damn killer corn holder story there is.

  1. What is your preferred Genre to read and write?

If my ‘what are you working on’ answer wasn’t a dead giveaway, my favorite genre by far is horror. The earliest films I remember watching are Halloween and Alien when I was five. Growing up I watched Goosebumps, Are You Afraid of The Dark, and Courage the Cowardly Dog. I read Goosesbumps, Stephen King, and Edgar Allan Poe. I scoured the $5 bins at Wal-Mart for those 4 packs of B-horror movies. Once I stopped watching Saturday morning cartoons, I graduated to Saturday morning SyFy original movies. Horror is such a big thing in my life and I just love everything about the genre. I’ll watch and write some Sci-Fi and detective fiction but Horror is where my heart is.

  1. Inspiration point: Write 100 - 300 words of fiction using this randomly generated word - Ginger

Five cups of ginger? That seems a bit excessive don’t you think? Who uses that much ginger? Fine, I’ll add it to the list. A wine that will compliment the kind of meat you’re using? I’ve never eaten this kind of meat before so how the hell should I know? Well I only have one bottle of red so I guess that compliments my budget the best. Let’s see...what is the next ingredient? Tomato, garlic, salt, yada yada yada have all that stuff. Thyme? What the hell is that? Well I don’t have thyme for that, I’m skipping it. And finally red and baby white potatoes. I have...neither. Alright so I’ll go the store and get potatoes and ginger. If I knew that making this stew would be so problematic I would’ve gotten rid of the body in a ditch instead.

  1. What is your favorite book and why?

I never really thought about it before and fully decided on a favorite book but I will have to say Night of the Living Dummy by R. L. Stine. Goosebumps is a huge influence on what I do and before I could be inspired by Poe, King, Carpenter, or Craven, Goosebumps was it. There’s a ton of great Goosebumps books but I have to go with Night of the Living Dummy because it’s one of the darker books and introduced Slappy (even though Mr. Wood is the primary antagonist) who is my favorite Goosebumps villain. The book was so much darker than the others that they didn’t make the book into an episode of the TV series because they thought it would be too scary for the kids. I would’ve loved it. The idea of an evil doll come to life is a horror staple but this is the book that introduced me to the concept and is still my favorite. Slappy for life.