Tuesday, August 2, 2016


Sitting in the legendary Perk Noir
waiting for my interview to show up . I must try their favorite coffee as I sit in the blue room listening to some smooth jazz and looking over the pictures .  Waving as my interview shows up
 Hi Chris welcome to the blog
Thanks for having me

1. Tell us a little about yourself .

I make my home in Cleveland, Ohio, where I’ve lived my entire life.  I’m retired, after providing twenty-five years of leadership as an IT executive to a Fortune 200 insurance company.  That’s a quarter century of corporate moments to find homes in short stories.  I was nationally known, in insurance technology circles, which is to say entirely unknown.  I’m a big fan of the Grateful Dead, have two cats and host a long running Dungeons and Dragons game.  I volunteer at a creative writing space for youth, helping fourth through sixth graders get comfortable expressing themselves creatively. 

2. What got you interested in writing  

I’ve always been an avid reader.  During college, I was exposed to the fantasy of Tolkien and became hooked.  I wrote the outline for my first novel in 1981, an epic fantasy saga.  The pages yellowed and collected dust for 20+ years.  I pulled out my notes and started writing that story in 2002, eight years before my retirement.  I’ve written four novels in that setting (the World of Sangrar) two of which have been released to the public. 

3 I just finished reading your new book Perk Noir , want to tell us a bit about it.

After writing those epic fantasy novels, I built a website to house an encyclopedia for the World of Sangrar setting.  I wrote a hundred entries, using the narrator of the novels’ voice after evolving his story so that he could legitimately use modern colloquialisms.  I found this change liberating and decided to try my hand at a different kind of fiction.  Perk Noir is a contemporary story and Mason Barnes is a contemporary hero.  I loved writing a story set in modern society, not counting those turn of the century flashbacks, and creating a tale incorporating music and football, two of my pastimes, and my love of pop culture.  The racial themes in the story I took from the current political milieu.  I believe we are moving towards a more blended society, which is a future I fervently favor. 

4 do you have any rituals when you sit down to write 

Not really.  As long as I’m appropriately caffeinated, I can write.  I mix up my routine regularly.  Sometime I write at home, sometimes in coffee shops.  Sometimes I write in the morning, sometimes in the evenings.  I do find that it varies by what phase I’m in for a particular story.  For me, pounding out a first draft, revising the structure of a story, and reading for line level edits all require different types of energy and settings. 

5 how old were you when you wrote your first story 
The first story I remember writing was titled “Augusta the Dragon”, which I penned for my fourth grader teacher, Mrs. Hamilton.  I’m a slow starter.  I didn’t start my next story until college and it took more than 20 years so complete.  Unfortunately, it was my first novel so it still stinks.  Someday I hope to whip it into shape. 

6 who inspires you, in your writing
So many classical fantasy and science fiction writers shaped my early story telling.  Robert A. Heinlein was always a favorite.  I loved how he started his stories with great hooks that instantly grabbed the reader’s attention.  Among more contemporary writers, I admire and draw inspiration from David Sedaris and Carl Hiaason.  Sedaris taught me to create unusual characters.  Hiaason has a wonderful way of writing entertaining, contemporary stories containing thematic significance, memorable characters and great humor.

7 what do you like to do in your free time , if you have any 
I write.  I think about writing.  I help children learn to write.  And I play games, live roleplaying or on my PS4.  Also, I’m a basketball junkie and watch every Cavs game.  Winning the NBA championship this June was dream come true for me and other Clevelanders. 

8 if you could change anything about your writing what would it be 
Get more readers.  It’s not about sales.  It’s not about money.  It is all about having my stories entertain readers.  People have long questioned whether a tree falling in an empty forest makes any sound.  For me, and my stories, the answer is a resounding NO.  There’s no such thing as a good story nobody reads.  If it ain’t read, it ain’t good. 

9 do you have a tradition when you finally finish a book . 
Typing the last period is a great feeling of accomplishment.  So many people set out to write a novel with the best of intentions, but it’s harder to finish one than it is to start one.  I don’t have tradition or ritual though, because for me writing is a process – I guess it’s my IT/analytical roots showing through – and writing the last sentence is little more than the end of a phase in the creative process and the start of a new one. Perk Noir took four months to write.  I then spent two months revising and editing.  After that, a six month process of giving it to beta readers, gathering their feedback, and making more revisions.  Next to tackle are marketing and distribution, which are not my strongpoints.  I’m so grateful to have the expertise of Optimus Maximus Publishing and the wonderful Christina Hargis Smith on my side. 
Now for some rapid fire questions 

Coffee or tea – Coffee for sure!  I start my day with a 20 ounce cold brew toddy.  It’s the equivalent of 7 double shots of espresso. 
Morning person or a night owl – night owl.  I stay up way too late, hence the toddy mentioned above. 
Sweet or salty snacks – I have an insatiable sweet tooth, much to my waistline and doctor’s dismay/
Dogs or cats – cats.  I’ve owned a cat since I was ten years old.  The two shelter cats I have now, China and Rider, are named after songs from Grateful Dead set lists (China Cat Sunflower à I Know you Rider/
And one last question 
Where can people find you and contact you . 
By email at Chris@tsgar.com or
Thank you for sharing your time with me today Chris  it was a great pleasure getting to know you .
Meet Mason Ezekiel Barnes, former NFL tackle turned successful author of the naughty ninja adventure series Mia Killjoy. Mason is obsessed with winning a Pulitzer and is thwarted by his fellow author and nemesis, the twerpy little gnome Conrad Bancroft. Mason spends his days writing at a local cafe, Perk Noir, the one-of-a-kind jazz coffee shop where he and Bancroft ply their craft. The joint is thick with mysteries. Mason is obsessed with the life of jazz great Earl ‘Lightning’ Perkins, the legend and former owner of the Perk Noir. Mason is convinced that Lightning has a hidden past and he’s determined to find it and catapult himself to greatness and the coveted Pulitzer once he writes his greatest story yet. One day, unexpectedly in walks Shelly, a Mia Killjoy super fan girl who happens to have a mysterious pocket watch she recently inherited from her grandfather. Shelly convinces Mason to assist her in unravelling its history. Join along with Mason and Shelly as they find themselves embroiled in a deeper mystery than they could ever have imagined, full of twists and turns, and surprises that pop up around every corner. Perk Noir is full of comedic relief, pop culture, NFL, jazz, a little touch of romance, and flashbacks of Lightning and his family during both the first half of the 20th century and later during the Civil Rights movement. Mason and Shelly and their adventures is a fun filled thrill ride that will appeal to all readers, there is something for everyone at the Perk.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for introducing me to your readers. If any of you have more questions please feel free to drop a comment here or at ChrisGarsonWrites.com