Monday, September 9, 2013

Featured Author: Christopher Compton

I'm happy to introduce you to Canadian fantasy and adventure writer Christopher Compton today to talk about his book Eternal Dreams: The Curse of Memories.

About the book:

Eternal Dreams is a fiction fantasy tale about six teenage friends who escape into a dream world to hide from the horrors of their own lives, only to find that reality is catching up with them anyway. Drephoria, the name of the stunning dream world created from their collective minds, will test the limits of their friendship, break the balance between good and evil, and prove the true value of memories and the imagination.

The first book in the trilogy, The Curse of Memories, focuses on the central character Kail and his dark past, told through memories, while simultaneously introducing the rest of his friends (known as The Inseparable Six) and the other strange and deadly inhabitants of Drephoria. Pitted against the dark queen Malise and her legendary allies known as The Forgotten Four, Kail and his friends must rid their world of evil before they lose themselves forever. Nostalgic, thrilling, heart-breaking, and consistently memorable, Eternal Dreams is a fantasy at its finest.

Interview with Christopher Compton

How long have you been writing, and how did you start?

I used to read Hardy Boy detective novels when I was really young, probably around seven or eight, and just couldn’t get enough of them. It got to the point where I had run out of books to read and decided to write my own stories, just to read them after. Gordon Linker Mysteries, they were called. I obviously knew the endings before I started reading them, but I quickly started to realize that I was having more fun writing than reading anyway. I would give the stories to my parents and friends to see if they got the same enjoyment out of reading my work as I got out of reading the Hardy Boys. That inclination to produce and share enjoyment is where it all started.

How did you come up with the title of your book?

To be honest, Eternal Dreams was just a working title for quite a while. I knew I wanted the sub-heading to be The Curse of Memories, because of how the book depicts memories as something that holds people back, but Eternal Dreams itself was a placeholder. The more I wrote, however, the more it just made sense. Eventually I stopped trying to think up something that could replace it.

How did you create the plot for Eternal Dreams?

As cheesy and possibly cliché as it sounds, the plot came to me in a dream. Not all at once, of course. That would have been overwhelming. It started with an image, really. Two people standing in a white dreamscape created from their combined imaginations. I didn’t know all the details of who they were or why they were there, but the basics of a dream world were clear to me. By the time I woke up, I started to flesh out what that image could possibly mean. I filled the dreamscape up with heroes and villains and sights people could only see in dreams. That’s when I knew I had a book on my hands.

How do you get to know your characters?

Getting to know my characters was like hanging out with a group of people I knew would be destined to be good friends. It’s a little awkward at first, but after someone cracks a stupid joke and names are exchanged, everyone becomes comfortable. I ask difficult questions of myself and let each character answer them in their own way. I like to think creating each chapter in Eternal Dreams is like rehearsing a scene for a play. I give them the lines, they memorize them, but there’s always room for some improvisation. In those unscripted moments, that’s when I discover who these people really are.

Which character did you most enjoy writing?

Each member of The Inseparable Six is very dear to me and picking a favorite to write for is like picking which kid I am most proud of. I guess I’ll just have to live with those consequences. Kanoa, the dreamer of the group, always strikes a chord with me. While he isn’t the main character, the story practically revolves around him. He packs a huge amount of momentum behind him and every scene he’s a part of has a chance to go completely off the rails. That level of danger and unpredictably is always a thrill, but it can also be somewhat emotionally exhausting writing him. Sure, he’s a dreamer finally getting his dream world, but in his mind, he had to wait far too long and suffer far too many disappointments to get there. Reality has taken a toll on him as the damaged layers start to pull away it becomes obvious that letting his imagination go wild is perhaps not the best idea.

Are any of your characters inspired by real people?

It would be unfair of me to say that all the characters in Eternal Dreams are totally original or pure works of my own imagination. The overlap in personal qualities between my own friends and The Inseparable Six are impossible to ignore. I’ve literally lifted parts of conversations I’ve had with my friends to use as dialogue, with their permission of course. I won’t go into specifics as to which character resembles which friend, but they probably know who they are. I just hope I don’t owe them royalties.

Are you like any of your characters?

Even more so than my friends, The Inseparable Six are reflections and fractions of me. At the risk of that sounding completely conceited, I’ll explain that I think everyone has more than one personality they share with the world. A single person can have many personas. The Inseparable Six are an expansion of my many personas. Kail, the main character, is the introverted, pessimistic side of me, Cora is the ambitious side that never stops looking forward, Thalia embodies my youthful, energetic qualities etc. I take multiple traits that match with one another and flesh them out until they form a character. So while no single character is more like me than another, they combine into a pretty accurate portrait of who I’ve been, who I am, and who I might become.

Tell us about your favorite scene in the book.

I absolutely abhor spoilers, so I’ll attempt to pick a scene that is still memorable without revealing too much. Early on in the novel, right when The Inseparable Six hit the dream world, they don’t have a very good handle on how to control their thoughts or the world they’ve unknowingly created. This leads to quite a few instances of the world reacting to their emotions in undesirable and unintentional ways. My favorite is a scene that juxtaposes how Kail deals with his new surroundings compared to his best friend Kanoa. Kail immediately gets stuck in jungle and has difficulty finding his way out because the jungle keeps shifting around. He doesn’t know he’s the one doing it, or how to stop it. It takes everything he has to make an escape. It’s clear that he’s going to have some troubles adjusting to the rules, or lack thereof. Then he meets up with Kanoa, who is riding down a mountain on the back of an avalanche as if it was second nature. It’s such a shocking contrast that it’s practically comical, while hinting at the true capabilities of the world they find themselves in. That’s the moment I think the reader might stop and think "literally anything can happen here." And I want them to know that they’re right.

What song would you pick to go with Eternal Dreams?

Eternal Dreams wouldn’t exist in its current incarnation of it weren’t for one single song. When I was trying to peg down a tone to slap onto the narrative, it was originally much lighter. It was going to be a lighthearted fantasy romp through a fun, colorful dream world. The day I heard MGMT’s "Time to Pretend" while writing, was the day that changed everything. It’s dark, energetic rhythm and reckless, melancholic lyrics infused Eternal Dreams with a rusted, jagged edge courtesy of reality that didn’t exist before. Suddenly, it was a story about kids coming to terms with the flaws in their dreams, realizing they weren’t invincible, and the harsh truth that not everything was going to be okay.

Who are your favorite authors?

My favorite authors will probably surprise a grand total of zero people. I grew up on J. K Rowling and J. R. R. Tolkien like most kids from the 90s. I’m pretty sure Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter are required reading to pass your teen years as a human being. Other than that, I like to cherry pick my favorites. Stephen King is a great author for the millions of books he’s written, but It really sticks out to me the most, not just of his work, but of anyone’s. Stephen Chbosky’s Perks of Being a Wallflower should also be mandatory reading in high school, in my opinion. And without Lewis Carroll and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, I’d probably not be doing this interview or have a published book.

Do you have a routine for writing?

Whenever I’m in the hazy divide between sleep and awake is when I’m writing. First thing in the morning, before I eat breakfast or brush my teeth, I’m writing. Last thing at night, just before my head hits the pillow, I’m writing. Exhaustion is apparently fuel for my imagination. Once I become fully awake, the ideas start to fizzle out. I’m probably one of few who love waking up in the middle of the night. Some of my crazier ideas were born in the dead of night with eyes full of fatigue.

Where and when do you prefer to do your writing?

I can’t write with people around me. I like to shut myself off from the world and just pretend it doesn’t exist. I don’t need a specific place to write, but I do need solitude. Outside stimuli is distracting to me. There’s only one thing that will get me in the perfect mood to write: music. Nothing kills my abilities faster than silence. I need to absolutely drown out everything around me with noise. It has to be songs I’m familiar with though, or I’ll just end up focusing on the words or instruments instead of the words in front of me. If I can get alone, swallowed in a soundscape, I’m golden. 

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

To me, making memories is the point of life, if there really is one. I don’t want to be one of those people that has a hard time filling a single page if I were to write an autobiography. I love being with my friends, getting into adventures, traveling, pretty much anything that has the potential to create a memorable moment. I’m aware that every day can’t be remembered, however, and sometimes I’m comfortable just watching a movie, reading a book or playing video games. Consuming entertainment is important when creating your own.

What are you working on now?

Right now is pure promotion for my first book. I want to get the word out there as best as I possibly can to anyone that’s willing to listen. If I’m going to make a career out of this, I have to be as ambitious and persistent as possible. I’m also writing the follow-up to The Curse of Memories, titled The Gift of Memories. Hopefully it doesn’t take too long and everyone can see the adventure continue. I’m just excited about every opportunity that comes my way.

About the author:

Christopher Compton, an aspiring young writer with dreams probably a little too big for this world, received the Most Imaginative Setting Award for Eternal Dreams: The Curse of Memories. He’s from a small town north of Toronto called Keswick. He is a graduate from Western University with a major in English Language and Literature and a minor in Creative Writing. He hopes to settle in his favourite place of all, New York.

Connect with Christopher:
Blog | Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter

Buy the book:
Amazon | 
Barnes & Noble