Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Author Interview: Ted Cross


The Speculative Fiction Showcase is pleased to interview Ted Cross, author of The Shard and The Immortality Game, both out now. 

  1. Do you have any pets? Do they influence your writing?
We have a parakeet named Sheldon (after the character on Big Bang Theory). He’s good for distracting me sometimes, especially when I need total silence.

  1. Would you rather see your stories on the big screen or the little screen?
Hmm, I think The Immortality Game would work best as a movie, but The Shard could benefit from a Game of Thrones-type television series, especially once the rest of the series is written.

  1. Are you hooked on any science fiction or fantasy TV shows? If so, which one(s)?
For me Game of Thrones is the best tv show ever. Firefly and the newer Battlestar Galactica are pretty darn great as well.

  1. Do you own copies of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings DVDs? The extended version? Do you ever watch them?
I own all of them in extended editions. When I saw the original Fellowship of the Ring, I was a bit disappointed in it, but once the extended edition came out and put back in all of the character development, it became my favorite.

  1. Have you seen the first two parts of the The Hobbit? Are you planning to see the final instalment?
I’m watching them, but I feel Jackson lost his way, similar to how George Lucas lost his way with the last three Star Wars movies. I wish someone would do The Hobbit over again someday and stick close to the book.

  1. Your two novels so far are science fiction and epic fantasy respectively. Do you find it difficult to switch between these two rather disparate genres?
It sure was a big adjustment. When I sat down to write the science fiction novel (I wrote The Shard first), it struck me that I couldn’t simply write in the same manner that I had gotten used to while writing the epic fantasy. It had to be shorter, faster paced, and I learned early on that it didn’t work as well to stick to one POV character per chapter. I wouldn't say it was difficult  but it did take some mental adjustment.

  1. Both your novels to date have stunning cover art. Can you tell us a little about your process for selecting cover art?
While I do still dream of getting picked up by one of the big five publishers, the one thing I dreaded was their poor taste in cover art. They would get some right, of course, but far too often their covers stank, and they don’t usually let authors have much say in them. I trust my taste, and I knew what I wanted with the sci-fi cover. I even knew what artist could most likely pull it off properly, though I didn’t think I could afford him. It turned out that just by asking him, we managed to come to an agreement that was painful but doable, and I’m happy I did. Stephan Martiniere is one of my two favorite living artists (along with Alan Lee).

The cover for The Shard didn’t work out quite as wonderfully as I had hoped. The artist Shane Tyree is quite good, but the scene he chose to do doesn’t quite work properly for a book cover. First he did it in landscape. That makes sense for the scene itself but it made it hard to turn into a book cover. And while the scene itself was one that I sorely wanted to see done by an artist, it isn’t typical to give away major plot points right on the cover (the dragon shown as being dead). It was the first piece of art I ever contracted, so part of it was my own fault as I was too nervous about pushing back on details. I felt it was best to let the artist go with their own inspirations. So with The Immortality Game I was far more specific about the scene and what I hoped to have in it.

  1. Are you--or have you ever been--a gamer?
I’m not a die-hard gamer, but I enjoy procrastinating, and good games help me do that. Right now I’ve been playing Rome 2 Total War.

  1. What kind of foods do you eat? Are you a health-food-nut or is it strictly junk?
Strictly junk food for me! It’s hard for me living overseas. It makes me sorely miss my favorite fast food joints back home, like Taco Bell or Arby’s.

  1. Do you cook? What is your best/favourite/most popular recipe?
I enjoy cooking. I’d say my wife and I split dinner duties almost evenly. I always do spaghetti nights, and my best dinners are tostadas with guacamole. I make the best tostadas in the world.

  1. Have you ever been to Starbucks or any other coffee shop?
I’ve never had a cup of coffee. Yes, I’m an alien...

  1. Coffee or Tea or Water? Espresso, Drip, Instant, or French Press? Bag or Looseleaf? Bottled, Filtered, Tap or Rainwater?

  1. What are you wearing right now?
This is getting a little personal! I just got up, so I’m in my winter weather lounge-wear—socks, sweater, and comfortable pajama pants.

  1. Does life fascinate you?
Very much, though I wish it wouldn’t go by so fast. I deal with immortality a lot in my writing, partly because I wish I could see everything that comes in the future.

  1. Do you consider yourself a slave to the muse?
Nope. Writing is a constant mental struggle for me. I have so many other interests that I tend to go for long periods without writing. I let story ideas percolate in my mind, building up force until they are ready to burst and I just have to sit down and start typing. Whenever I begin to struggle with exactly where to go next in a story, I simply stop writing and let my subconscious go to work on it until it is ready, whether that is a week later or several months.

Cora and Jessica, thank you so much for having me on your blog!

About Ted Cross:

Ted Cross has spent the past two decades traveling the world as a diplomat, all the time dreaming about writing fantasy and science fiction. He's visited nearly forty countries and lived in seven, including the U.S., Russia, China, Croatia, Iceland, Hungary, and Azerbaijan. He's witnessed coup attempts, mafia and terrorist attacks, played chess with several world champions, and had bit parts in a couple of movies. He currently lives in Baku, Azerbaijan with his lovely wife and two teenage sons.