Chris Visagie is our “Quill”, basically, he’s the committee member that helps us to get things done. Both a writer and a reader, Chris has yet to share his writing with us (or with me, anyway), but I am eagerly anticipating his contribution to our next anthology.
Chris, can you please tell us a little more about yourself (and your creative endeavours)?
I was born in South Africa but moved to New Zealand with my family when I was seven. I grew up in South Otago then moved to Christchurch three years ago. I currently work in retail.
While I did a lot of creative writing growing up, I took up writing fan fiction shortly after finishing high school which got me started on writing with the intent of having other people read it. That then inspired to me to start writing original stories.
What are your preferred genre/s to write in? What is it that draws you to it/them?
My preferred genre is urban fantasy. What draws me to them is the possibility and the characters that it inspires. The possibility lies in the fact that you combine the fantastic and the mundane. A wizard could have a nine to five help pay alimony to his faerie ex-wife, a vampire could have an image consultant, said image consultant could be a vegan werewolf. There is just so much story telling potential.
As for the characters they inspire. Like I said, urban fantasy lets you create a whole range of interesting characters but at the same time it lets you create very human characters as well. Despite their fantastic nature, the characters still live in our world and as such must deal with the same things we do. When done well the supernatural aspects actually help to accentuate the human aspects and hit closer to home
Where do you get your inspiration?
While my stories are set in modern times, I draw a lot of inspiration from Classic lore and mythology. Growing up I was a huge fan of Greek mythology and loved the Odyssey.
What do you enjoy the most about the writing process?
The ability to explore ideas and concepts and see where they lead.
What do you enjoy the least?
Proof reading, even though I know how vital it is.
Any particularly pitfalls you have learned/would like to learn to avoid?
Spending too much time on the planning stage. For all the virtues of planning it is very easy to end up spending too much time in your head and never getting anything done.
How has being a writer influenced your everyday life?
Being a writer means that I tend to look at the world from a more contemplative stand point. I examine situations I observe more closely and at the same time think of how a slight variation would have changed the situation. It also makes waiting in queues and bus stops less tedious because I usually have a story idea I’m working on to amuse myself with.
How has being a member of the Guild influenced you as writer?
It has put me in touch with a lot of creative people to share ideas with as well as find a social aspect to what can be a very isolating passion.
Can you please tell us a little about a project you are working on at the moment?
A current project I’m working on is about Daniel Loxley, a professional “Problem Solver” situated in the City of St Giles. People come to him with problems that he tries to solve. He does this using his connections, wits and the occasional use of his powers as a partially turned vampire. But when the daughter of the District Attorney is found drained of her blood and her body placed on display in some sort of ritual, tensions start to rise between the magic users and the vampires. Now Daniel has been hired to make sure the ones responsible are stopped before anyone else is hurt. Add to this the return of Daniel’s sire and you’ve got a problem that perhaps even he can’t solve.
What advice do you have for other writers?
The best advice I can give other writers simply put is to sit down and start writing. As simple as that seems, it so easy to spend so much time in your head planning the “perfect story” and never getting round to writing it. Also, it often won’t be until you’re actually writing the story that you notice faults you hadn’t previously considered.
Also when trying to flesh out a character, an exercise that I think helps is to create a scenario and that you place the character in and then figure out how the character would respond. For instance, in keeping with urban fantasy, your character in a dinner having breakfast when suddenly a zombie bursts in. What would you character do. Would hide under table and try to crawl to the exit? Would they pull out a gun and try to shot it? Would they pull out equipment to examine it? Would they just say “Hi John” and then get back to eating breakfast?
Now these scenarios don’t have to be this outlandish. The point is just that figuring out how your character would respond to various situations will help you figure out who your character is.
Lastly I would say to write what you enjoy writing. For all the pleasure there is to be had, writing a story is long, tiring and there will be times when it feels more effort than it’s worth. If on top of that it’s a story that you don’t find some joy or passion in telling then it’s going to be infinity harder to get it finished. As nice as the idea of writing a story that a million people would want to read is, start with a story that you would want to read.