The Questions with Chad Clark: writer and #AtoZchallenge2014 partner

Holy cannoli. My last entry for The Questions was July 2013. Ten months ago. Wow. I am feeling like a major slacker right about now. Or that I’ve been majorly busy.

Actually, that’s it. Majorly busy. Life. Work. The pursuit of ways to support my eating habit. {In other news, I’m accepting applications for a patron… :) }

As you are more than well aware, for the month of April, I participated in the #AtoZchallenge2014, writing 26 posts corresponding with the 26 letters of the alphabet. Per my usual, I basically just rambled with no rhyme or reason or plan or, in some cases, actually having a coherent thought.

For this endeavor, I had a partner to cheer me on: Chad Clark. Unlike myself, Chad had a plan. He wrote 26 stories about monsters, which is quite a feat, in my humble opinion. I mean, really, 26 monsters, all starting with the letters of the alphabet? I consider myself fairly well read, and I didn’t even know about the vast majority of these scary creatures!

Since you read his stories (I’m guessing… and if you didn’t, go read them now! {You’ll have to scroll down to find them; his “Z” is at Issue 60, and the stories go backwards from there}), I thought I would introduce you to the dude behind the Monsters. So, please give Chad a nice rambly welcome!

About Chad (in his own words):

chad_clarkI have been a life long writer but I have not been writing for my whole life. My earliest memories of my passion for writing seem to begin in the third grade but I have since been given examples of poetry and short stories that I was writing even before that. Regardless, it was a unit on creative writing in the third grade when I realized that as much fun as reading was, now I could create the entire story myself. I could make whatever I wanted. I was hooked from that point on.

My first experiences with writing was naturally pretty derivative. I read a lot of Stephen King so I wrote a lot of messy, gory horror stories. I also started getting into Tom Clancy about that time and there were some attempts at some horrible techno-thrillers. I was a HUGE Star Trek and Star Wars fan so there was plenty of science fiction and poorly drawn comics.

As much praise as I got from my family for my writing, as I got older I began to get more stressed about my writing as I started to feel like it should be maturing as much as I was. As my opinion of myself and my education grew more inflated I tended to look down more on genre fiction and started to focus on what I considered “serious literary fiction”. Writing stopped being fun, mostly because I wasn’t any good at what I was trying to accomplish. As life often does, I moved on to other things and although there was no conscious moment to do so, I turned my back and left the pen behind.

Flash forward ten years later and I started to get the bug again. This time, I gave myself the freedom to write whatever the hell I wanted. With no possibility of a professional career that I might have once imagined for myself, I remembered how much fun literature was supposed to be. I wrote a Justice League fan fiction book. I went back to my roots and wrote a gritty horror story. I gave myself permission to be the kind of writer that I was, not waste my time trying to be the kind of writer that I thought other people would want me to be. I started producing real stories, original works of my own and eventually I made the decision that I needed to devote myself 100% to my craft. That meant writing every day. Even if it was only a few hundred words, I wrote. That was the watershed moment.

These past few years have been great for my craft. For the first time, I don’t really see it as a hobby as much as something that is a part of me, something I was meant to do. I remember once in junior high we were at a wedding reception and I met someone who was a writer. When I mentioned that I liked to write he told me that the important thing is to not just “like” writing. You have to NEED to write every day. If you get through a day without writing anything down you should feel like you did something wrong. I find that I understand that better now. I played bass in a number of bands for quite a few years and despite getting pretty decent, I never felt comfortable calling myself a musician.

I am a writer.

I write horror. I write science fiction. I have dabbled in some fantasy and I write some literary fiction here and there. It’s my passion and I write what feels natural to me. The best way I can demonstrate the change in my mentality is that I used to hate giving out my writing to others for critiquing. I would stress and kill myself over it and it would be the worst heartbreak in my life if someone didn’t like my writing. Why did I feel this way? I reacted like this because I think that deep down, the main reason why I was writing was because I needed other people to tell me that I was a good writer. What I have realized is that the key is to be able to tell yourself that you are a good writer. Let the words be what they are and celebrate what you have created.

Remember, even Shakespeare gets one star reviews :-)

(dSavannah note: Yup. What he said.)

The Questions

5. What skill(s) do you wish you’d learned as a kid?

I wish I knew more about cars; about how they work and how to fix them. There are a lot of basic handyman and repair type activities that I feel like the majority of the male population seemed to just intuitively grasp and I’m just hopeless. Even fixing things around the house freaks me out. I’m great at the more abstract, creative stuff in my life, I am a good cook for example but when it comes to more fundamental work that would probably save us a lot of money having to hire professionals, I wish my knowledge was more extensive.

18. Your work space: neat or messy?

I try to not focus too much on my work space. It sounds trite to say that I think it’s more important to just focus on the words but it’s kind of how I feel. One thing that does concern me is that if your brain starts to attach a particular place or setting with your ability to write, it can become hard to create anywhere else. I remember a comment Stephen King made about writing Carrie in the laundry room of their trailer, with a typewriter balanced on his lap. The point is that I think the important thing is to focus on the page more than what might be happening around the page.

(dSavannah note: That is true. Write where you are, not where you want to be. But I – and a lot of readers – are intrigued by the environment where their favorite author tends to find themselves.)

24a. If you could go back and give your 20-year-old self a piece of advice, what would it be?

Two pieces of advice come to mind.

First, I would say “Get over it, they’re just women not magical creatures! They actually do find you attractive just ask her out” – Now ultimately I think my life worked out for the best. I have the most amazing wife that a person could ever hope for. I have a son who makes me smile every day of my life and is the greatest blessing I could ever hope for. But I do wish I had lived my life in my twenties with a little bit less fear. I wish I had taken some more chances, tried different things, taken more trips, met more people, taken advantage of the freedom that only youth can offer.

(dSavannah note: Dangit! To have to learn this way that I’m not a magical creature… *sobs*. In all seriousness, I too wish I had lived my 20s with less fear. {See my post for “R”, on “Regrets”.})

Secondly, I would try and encourage myself to keep up with the writing. Even if it seems like it isn’t any good, even if you think no one is going to like it, just keep it going. Don’t give up. Just keep working away and keep writing the words down because eventually they will start being good on a regular basis. Every writer starts out like this, you are going through a normal process and the worst thing you could possibly do is leave your gift behind.

(dSavannah note: Amen. And all God’s children say AMEN.)

26. I wish I was rich enough to ____?

I wish I was rich enough to support my family with just my writing. I don’t need to have a rich lifestyle with multiple mansions, a dozen cars. I would just like to be able to give my family a comfortable lifestyle, the ability to travel now and then to new places and to have the time within the confines of a “work day” to create.

48. What’s the scariest movie you’ve ever seen? When was it?

I saw Jaws when I was in grade school. I know that people don’t generally classify this as a horror film but for me I am much more scared of things that actually have the potential of happening to me. I’m not generally worried about being abducted by aliens or ripped apart by a supernatural demon spirit but I could see myself getting killed by a shark. To this day I still don’t feel comfortable swimming in open water.

(dSavannah note: I have never seen that movie. I bet Chad will say we can’t be friends any more now. LOL)

33. Why do you create in your medium/genre? What about it speaks to you?

I have had a hard time with this question and it is one that I have rolled around in my head quite a few times. For the outside observer, I think the question naturally arises, why would someone who is a good person write about things that can be pretty horrific, why focus so much on such dark subject matter? I still can’t think of an answer that really makes any sense. I suppose that I find the drama inherent in such stories to be more compelling. To me, I find the best stories are colored in gray as opposed to the starkness of black and white, where the heroes are very heroic and the villains are horribly evil. I enjoy reading books like that but they aren’t my favorite kinds of stories. I believe that for most writers, the genre chooses us as much as the other way around. I have had first hand experience all through my twenties what happens when you try and force yourself to write something that isn’t right for you. I know that my writing leads to situations that at times might make some readers uncomfortable. All I can say is that I have devoted so much of my life to watching movies and reading books that my biggest love is for the story. I have the ability to separate what I’m writing from reality and just revel in it as a structure, an artificial creation. I’m not acting out any kind of unconscious feelings or desires, it’s all about the story and creating something that is hopefully compelling and dramatic.

In the end I have to be honest and let the words be what they are.

39. What super power do you wish you had?

I’ll end with a light one. I know the natural answer with so many people is to be able to fly but with so many other planes and now camera phones it just wouldn’t be practical. My super power would be to be so fast that when I take off, I leave behind a cloud impression of myself.

Find Chad:

More ramblings / other posts you might want to read...


About dSavannah

~ #disabled #spoonie fighting numerous, chronic, painful #InvisibleIllnesses ~ also #wife #feminist #ally #advocate #papyrophiliac #DogCatTurtleWrangler
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2 Responses to The Questions with Chad Clark: writer and #AtoZchallenge2014 partner

  1. Betsy says:

    Always love The Questions segments.

Whatcha think? Tell me, tell me!