Interview With Christopher Hivner

Christopher HivnerI’ve had the pleasure of working with Christopher Hivner a few times since Niteblade began. Some of his poetry graces our pages and I’ve always found him very personable and easy to work with. When he emailed to ask if one of our reviewers might be interested in taking a look at his short story collection The Spaces Between Your Screams I didn’t hesitate to agree. (Amber’s review appears here) and at the same time asked if he’d be interested in an interview. He said yes. It’s been a while since then, but finally the interview is done and ready to share. Enjoy 🙂

First of all, thank you so much for your patience. We’ve been meaning to do this interview for ages, but something always kept coming up on my end that put it off. Do you find that the business of publishing tests your patience on a regular basis? The whole waiting to hear back from publishers, waiting to publish…that sort of thing?

Absolutely. Patience is something I’ve had to learn in all aspects of life, I certainly wasn’t born with it. I started trying to get published around 1992 and had no idea what I was doing or what I was in for. Back then it was looking for the SASEs in the mail and when one showed up it was like Christmas morning. The longest I’ve waited for something to get published was 18 months. It was a poem in a British zine called Krax. They warned me ahead of time it would be a wait so I forgot all about it. When the contributor’s copy appeared in the mail one day I had no idea what it was. The longest response time I’ve had was 2 years and I had already sent a communication to them withdrawing it, submitted it elsewhere, had it accepted and published by the time they told me they weren’t interested. I’ve learned to busy myself with other projects after submitting something so I don’t think about it.

I’m looking at a copy of The Spaces Between Your Screams right now, is this your first short story collection?

Yes, this is my first full length collection of anything. I had a chapbook of mainstream poetry, “Edged in Blue”, published in 2004, but this is my first published full length book. I have enough stories for a 2nd one but they all need edited and revised and I’m still trying to get Spaces out there, so that’s down the road.

People enjoy hearing about how something came to be published. Do you have an interesting story about The Spaces Between Your Screams?

I have a frustrating one that harkens back to the whole patience question. I put The Spaces Between Your Screams together after a 2 year hiatus from writing. I thought the process of compiling the stories and revising them would be a good way of easing back into things. When it was finished the publisher I had been planning on sending it to was out of business. I found another publisher that wanted only a sample of 20 pages which they said they would respond to in a month. 10 months later I got a letter saying they were intrigued and would like to read the whole book so I packed it up and mailed it off, expecting to hear something in 6 months. A year passed and I started sending query letters and emails. Finally one day they answered that they were inundated with submissions and were behind in their reading, but assured me they would get around to my manuscript.

So I waited and waited and waited . . . and waited. I got involved in other things, putting it in the back of my mind and soon another year had passed. More letters and emails went out into the ether and eventually I received this answer: So and So publishing will be going out of business within the month. We have no record of receiving your manuscript or of having ever read it. We apologize for any inconvenience.

I don’t know, is 3 years of my life an inconvenience? After I stopped swearing I sent it to eTreasures Publishing and the publisher, Vickie Kennedy, accepted it in a few weeks. It was published as an ebook in September 2007 and as a paperback in September 2008.

I haven’t finished reading The Spaces Between Your Screams yet but so far one of my favorite stories is Eyes Wide Open. Do you have a favorite story in this collection?

When the Machines Arrive is my favorite. I’m a sucker for a post-apocalyptic story, especially one with no neat and tidy ending. I’ve always figured if the scenario ever plays out for real, we won’t truly understand what happened so why should it be written in a packaged way. Also, I’ve always had this weird fear of a large object falling on me from the sky. I used to lie on the grass as a kid and look at the clouds imagining one descending onto me.

I have a soft spot for Water and Wine as well. I’m not hugely invested in vampires but I like to write humor and it’s a challenge to blend it with another genre.The Spaces Between Your Screams

I’m a big fan of your poetry, Niteblade has been honored to include several of your pieces in the past. Do you occasionally find that something you start writing as a poem instead would work better as a short story or vice versa?

I have definitely taken the poem to story route. Most of my poetry is begun as stream of consciousness and after I hit on something I like then I start shaping it. Because I use a narrative style quite often, many of my pieces could go either way.

I have a stubborn streak so at times I’ll keep trying to force a poem to remain what it began life as, until one day I finally admit that it’s truly awful, but could be a good story.

I don’t remember every turning a story into a poem, but maybe I should take a second look at some of the things in my unfinished pile.

What are you working on now?

Currently I’m the king of the half finished projects. I’m about 37,000 words into a horror novel that started life as a 5000 word short story that wasn’t working. I shortened it to 2000 words and it was worse. One day I hit upon an idea to expand it to novel length and now I’m excited about it if I do it right.

I also have 35 pages finished of a screenplay based on one of my old short stories, The White Line. I would like to put together a collection of my horror poems. I started a preliminary one a few years ago but it needs revised.

I am writing a series of humorous stories based on a fictitious community I created. Not the most original concept I’ll grant you, but I really like the stories and characters that are emerging from it. So far I have 6 stories at about 40,000 words.

What are your plans for the future?

I have several chapbook and full length books of mainstream poetry I’m trying to get published so I will continue that search.

I also started a blog in March called Cosmic Overdrive. I satirize anything in the news that I have a strong opinion about. It’s turned out to be about American politicians 75% of the time because they just keep doing and saying stupid things.

My main focus now is to get word out about The Spaces Between Your Screams. To that end, something I have to do in the near future is overcome a fear of drawing attention to myself. I am an introvert who would like to be similar to the birds I hear every morning in the trees next to my home; they surround me with their songs but I can never see them. In a perfect world for me my writing would make the noise and I would stay unseen in the shadows. That’s unrealistic so I have to learn to deal with attention and sell my work.

Where is the best place for people to get a copy of The Spaces Between Your Screams?

My book can be found at 2 places online:
www.Amazon.com where it is available in paperback and kindle device
www.etreasurespublishing.com where it is available in paperback, ebook or CD-Rom

Where can they find you online?

http://www.squidoo.com/screams is a page I created to advertise The Spaces Between Your Screams. There are excerpts from 3 of the stories in the book, and links to a few of my favorite horror novels and zines. There are also links to some horror-themed t-shirts that my sister and brother and I designed and sell at an online store we run, Yoe Creek Designs .

My blog can be found at http://cosmicoverdrive.blogspot.com

I have just recently joined Facebook. If you search my full name, Christopher Hivner, you will find a page I created where I will be posting anything that has to with my writing.

Thank you so much for taking the time for this interview. Again, I apologise for how long it took for me to get my act in gear. Thank you for giving me your time and allowing me the exposure in Niteblade. Good luck in the future.

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