Thursday, January 11, 2018

Billy Chizmar Interview - Co-Author of the Upcoming Novel, Widow's Point

The following is an interview with Billy Chizmar:

 AMES: Billy, thank you for your time today, and for granting my readers a chance to learn more about you. Would you mind telling readers a little about yourself and Widow’s Point?

BILLY CHIZMAR: Thank you so much for having me! It’s an honor and a pleasure. Widow’s Point originated as a short story my dad and I️ co-authored for Scarlet Galleon’s “Fearful Fathoms” anthology. We were really excited about the story, and felt like we had so much more to say about the haunt. We couldn’t resist turning it into a novella.

As for me, I️’m currently a freshman attending Colby College in Maine. I️ just graduated from St. Paul’s High-school in Maryland, and while I️ was there I️ had some other stories published along with a screen play and an essay.

AMES: You wrote Widow’s Point with your father, Richard Chizmar. Your father is the CEO and founder of Cemetery Dance Publications, as well as an award winning writer and editor. What made you decide to follow in your father’s footsteps as an author?

BILLY CHIZMAR: I’ve always looked up to my dad, and I’ve been surrounded by books for my entire life. When you hear and read enough stories, at some point you want to start creating your own. All those things considered, my interest in writing developed naturally and early.

AMES: Did Richard invite you to write Widow’s Point with him, or did you ask him? Were you intimidated by working with your father?

BILLY CHIZMAR: I️ believe Mark Parker from Scarlet Galleon Publications had the idea, and we both loved it. We’ve always been “partners in crime”, and collaboration on a story seemed inevitable. This was our opportunity to finally do it, and for me, there was nothing but excitement.

AMES: When I read fiction, I am looking for great voice and characters I feel for. While writing together with Richard, how did the two of you tackle the issue of having a singular voice throughout the piece? This is something you and Richard did very well. Did the two of you write out notes on the character, or discuss what the main character’s voice would sound like?

BILLY CHIZMAR: We talked a lot about the main character, and we were very clear about who exactly this guy was. We were very much on the same page the whole time, and communication was constant. Of course, it does help that, by the nature of the story, his voice isn’t as consistent as most protagonists would be. Nevertheless, I️ think our natural ability to be in each other’s heads (that same uncanny telepathy gets me into trouble sometimes) helped greatly.

AMES: When writing Widow’s Point, specifically coauthoring, how did you and Richard approach writing the story line? Did you outline the tale, or did you both write as you went for a more natural story?

BILLY CHIZMAR: We started out just by writing it, with my father tackling most of the first half and me handling most of the second half. We had to change the original, very ambitious ending I️ originally wrote, and afterwards fleshed out each part of the story that we wanted to. That was the short story version. When we turned it into a novella, we just started writing what we wanted where we wanted it. I️t was a lot of fun. The unconventional method used may have required more revision than usual, but the whole process felt like I️ was a historian uncovering the lighthouse’s past. I️t was surreal.

AMES: Whose idea was it to write the story as audio and camera files? What brought about this choice?

BILLY CHIZMAR: We both love “Blair Witch Project” and the found footage genre it sparked. We asked ourselves “Can I️t be done in a book?” After that, there wasn’t any good reason that we couldn’t provide the answer to our own question.

AMES: What is it about writing that made you want to be an author, outside of your family?

BILLY CHIZMAR: I️ hate being confined to reality, and as such I️ take any opportunity I️ can to immerse myself in my own imagination. My favorite part of media, whether it be film, books, or even video games, is often the world in which these works of fiction exist. At some point, when you absorb enough different universes by experiencing them, there’s this desire to create your own.

AMES: What do you search for in the fiction you read, and what makes you decide to put a book down?

BILLY CHIZMAR: Bold, novel, and imaginative events or settings are my weakness. Things like King’s “Under the Dome” or Hemingway’s “The Old Man and the Sea” catch my eye and interest because they take me out of the comfort of everyday life. That being said, such things can only catch the interest of a reader for so long, and in the end I️ need a reason to keep reading. I️ need to care about the characters, I️ need to care about what happens to them. The best books I’ve ever read force me to read them constantly because otherwise I️ won’t stop thinking about them!

AMES: Can you tell us a little about your future and current writing projects? Will you be working on more films?

BILLY CHIZMAR: Along with the film “Gone “ that I️ made this last summer, my dad and I️ plan to make as many as we can each summer. As far as writing goes, I️ have some short stories I️ need to refine, but no bigger projects started at the moment. However, my dad and I️ have talked about starting a sequel to Widow’s Point in the near future!

AMES: If you were only allowed one poem, one book, one movie, and one video game, which poem, book, movie, and video game would you choose?

BILLY CHIZMAR: I️ would have to pick King’s “The Stand” for my book, though “IT” is in fierce competition. For movie, I’d have to pick “The Miracle on Ice”, it gives me chills every time I️ watch it. I’d have to pick “Halo” for my game. I️ just love the universe and the gameplay (and I’ve spent way too much time beating each game in the series on “Legendary” difficulty alone). My poem choice would be Poe’s “The Raven”. There’s a huge tie for my second place poem, but “The Raven” takes first without hesitation.

AMES: Thanks again for taking part in this interview.

“Widow's Point simmers, bubbles, and boils over in the most seductive, troubling, and finally throat-gripping manner possible, and along the way neatly solves the problem of how to handle the fate of a first-person narrator of a tale remarkable for accelerating dread. Richard and Billy Chizmar have given us a cold and delicious treat.”

— Peter Straub

Pre-Order Now (Releases February, 2018).

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