It's always fun talking with other authors, especially about their books. I met Chris at Chicago Tribune's Printer's Row Lit Fest. We spent the afternoon at our publisher's table, and I've seldom met a more interesting and friendly individual. He's the perfect choice to kick off my new series of author interviews.
Welcome to Ink & Magick. I'm your friendly neighborhood witch. What kind of spell can I get for you (or your character) today?
Remember that pill from Limitless? Give me as much of that stuff as you can make!
As I recall, that has some serious side effects. Might I suggest some meditation to quiet your mind and make you more aware of your surroundings? Staring into a candle's flame always seems to help me.
Tell us a little about your book, Wolf of the Tesseract.
In a world underneath our own reality, magic, and science are two sides of the same coin. After merging with her copy from an alternate reality, Claire must work with an interdimensional soldier in order to stop a warlock from shattering the laws of existence. As they flee his wrath, she must decide if these romantic feelings for her guardian belong to her or the alternate-self whose soul suddenly inhabits Claire's mind. Zabe, the only remaining member of the royal Guardian Corps escaped the warlock's conquest of the Prime Dimension and wages a one-man resistance. As he sneaks through an enemy camp he discovers they plan to use their sorcery to annihilate all the aligned planes of reality. To stop it, Zabe must break the forbidden dimensional barriers, reach Earth, and hide the key to the dimensional rifts. If he fails and the Warlock acquires the prize, it could spell the end of all existence. After a dimensional shift, Zabe discovers the key is really a human woman: a college student named Claire Jones whose blood holds the ability to unlock cataclysmic power. The enemy seeks her desperately, yet Zabe and Claire fight—knowing that her blood could rip open a cosmic fissure if even the slightest detail of their plan goes awry.
Sounds like Wolf of the Tesseract is a meeting of many different genres. Is it well-balanced between fantasy, sci-fi, paranormal, and romance, or does it favor one genre more than another?
I feel like it’s risky to call it speculative fiction because that term has been used as a kind of catch-all for people who can’t decide on a label or write fantasy-lite, diet-SciFi, or slimfast-paranormal. (Yes, I just made that up. No, I’m not proud of it.) Wolves of the Tesseract is a healthy blend. I really modeled the environment after one of my great loves: He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. In the realm of Eternia we saw people using high-tech blaster guns and android henchman but also saw arcane artifacts and spellcasters; we also saw ghosts, spirits, cosmic horrors, and dimensional portals—even one leading to Earth (He-Man’s mother was actually an earthling). That’s the kind of reality that exists in the other dimensions beyond our own… I’m reluctant to call it spec-fic, but it might be the best genre tag. I usually pitch the book as something like “a female Percy Jackson and her werewolf friend have to stop Cthulu and his minions.” The romance is on par with Han and Leia in Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, which is the perfect level for the genre, in my opinion. Rippling abs are gross… unless we’re talking about bacon. Mmm. Bacon.
Bacon is delicious, but so are abs... Tough choice. Still, I understand what you're saying. Han and Leia have all of the love without taking away from the rest of the plot. Which one of your characters surprised you?
My main character sometimes pulls the rug out from under my feet. Claire Jones is connected across the multiverse to her different variants—essentially she shares soul-ties with Bithia, a daughter of the Architect King. Sometimes she surprises me, especially when she’s in tight situations. I’ve been working on the sequel in which Bithia/Claire did something so shocking I had to walk away from the rough draft for a while. She is often more vanilla than I really want (as kind of an everyman character) …until she’s not—then she can really shock me. That’s partly because of how strong she is—I imagine her as something of a Jean Grey/Phoenix character. She can be so strong that if she doesn’t hold back, she could really derail the universe.
So shocking you had to walk away? I'm really intrigued now! Who is your favorite or least favorite character and why?
I really like the character of Jackie, Claire’s best friend. She’s so animated that she takes on a life of her own. Even though she’s not the main character, she’s more than a mere side character and proves herself enough times in the book that she’s integral to the plot.
Sometimes side characters make the story. I mean, just look at Spock and Bones! If you could time-travel, would you travel to the future or the past? Where would you like to go, and why would you choose that time period?
To the past! Changing the future is a thankless job because nobody knows the disaster I would avert… I would go with one purpose: to stop the production of Wolverine Origins—I’d fix it if possible, but burn the studio to the ground if necessary.
Considering it is how it is, I'm guessing you haven't gotten your hands on a time machine yet. What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?
The number one thing any reader can do is always to share and leave positive reviews online. Amazon and Goodreads are great places to start—social media is also very powerful. Following and interacting on my blog and FB/Twitter profiles is another great way to help out. Buy copies of the book as gifts (most people don’t know that indie authors only make about $1-3 per book unless the sticker price is over twenty bucks) and invite authors to speak at events. I post lots of great resources for indie writers across the board including some nifty advice on how to help those up and coming writers (Follow. Share. Buy. Publicly pledge your undying love and name a child after your favorite character.) I’m speaking in general terms, but I love it when people do any of the above to help spread the fandom.
Excellent advice that helps authors everywhere! What can we expect from you next?
I am expanding the story. Wolf of the Tesseract is the first book in the Wolves of the Tesseract series (an eventual trilogy with a few other tie-ins that expand the universe). I have finished the sequel, Through the Darque Gates of Koth, and the prequel comic book, Taking of the Prime, should be available from me in a few months. Anyone who is a member of my mailing list will have the opportunity to get a free digital copy of the comic when it releases. I also have other stories, and I’m always writing something.
My nonfiction humor book will be released from my publisher on September 5, and the third installment of my self-published fantasy series (The Kakos Realm) will launch shortly after the new year. I have a few other completed novels, too, and I’m eager to begin an upper middle-grade series called The Hidden Rings of Myrddin the Cambion, a five-book series that I plan to write in one larger arc before I even begin edits and revisions so that the entire story flows smoothly. Myrddin the Cambion is an archaic form of the name Merlin and the story is a timey-wimey cycle of different heroes each thrown through time until they meet up in one final book to fight against a grand evil. Pirates in space, barbarians in New York, gunslingers in a future dystopia, Robin Hood in samurai Japan… I’m eager to start outlining!
That all sounds amazing! Thank you for talking with us. I'm sure we'll be seeing many exciting things from you in the future.
Christopher D. Schmitz is the traditionally published and self-published author of both fiction and nonfiction. When he is not writing or working with teenagers, he might be found at comic conventions as a panelist or guest. He has been featured on cable access television broadcasts, metro area podcasts, and runs a blog for indie authors.
Always interested in stories, media such as comic books, movies, 80s cartoons, and books called to him at a young age—especially sci-fi and fantasy. He lives in rural Minnesota with his family where he drinks unsafe amounts of coffee. The caffeine shakes keeps the cold from killing him.