Interview with Christopher J. Smith

What motivated you to become an author?
I guess the simple answer is I have always been a writer. As a teenager I wrote poetry and short stories, then early in my career I held a journalist position that was more specifically involved with feature writing. That in turn led to a career in strategic marketing where on the one hand I was writing strategic documentation and on the other I was engaged with creative copywriting for all forms of media.
So when did you write your first novel.
I wrote my first novel, Ghosts of Tokyo in 2011, while living in France.
Ghosts of Tokyo is a gripping speculative fiction set in Japan, so where did the story come from, how did it evolve?
I was traveling extensively in Japan and I became fascinated with the labyrinthine tunnel and subway systems that run under the major cities. It's easy to get lost down there. As it happened, very late one night we were filming a music video in Osaka, down in Shinsaibashi and Ebisubashi arcade. We met a lot of nighthawks including the rentboy who was the inspiration for the main character Kioshi in the book. Two nights later we were having a celebration dinner in a flash restaurant at the top of the Roppongi Tower in Tokyo. It was right there that the astounding dichotomy of Japanese life hit me. I wrote the title on a napkin and that was it... I was hooked.
So how did you plan the plot and the characters and so on?
Again, the simple answer is I didn't. About a week after leaving Japan I just got up and started writing. I am being completely honest when I say that first book seemed to write itself. I wrote each day with the enthusiasm of someone wanting to know what happened next. The only notes and planning of any sort was a single page of mathematics to help me maintain the tricky time line that supports the plot. The next two books I wrote didn't happen that easily. There were bursts like that mixed with lots of research and plot plans. I have just finished my fourth book and it has rolled out exactly like Ghosts of Tokyo, with me eager to discover what happens next.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
That's easy, it's all about storytelling. In addition to my novels, I have written a catalogue of around 200 songs, dozens of short stories and a satyrical travel guide. All of it is motivated by the joy of getting the story down on paper, the stories that come into my head. Being a writer is tough and insular and just plain lonely, but the positive comments or reviews from a live performance or a written work are a writer's lifeblood. It means someone is listening, someone has been moved by your story.
Is there any similarity between Ghosts of Tokyo and your second book, Wasteland?
No, none at all. Where Ghosts of Tokyo was speculative fiction bordering science fiction, Wasteland is pure apocalyptic thriller. I spent three months in Europe and Scandinavia researching the book before returning to Australia to write it. I guess I'm a bit hard to pigeon hole when it comes to genres. It's the same with my songwriting and composing.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
The very fact that I can. I know lots of people wake up angry and I've never understood how that happens. I treat each new day as a bonus.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
My greatest passion beyond writing is traveling. Fortunately they go hand in hand. There's music and cooking, but I should point out that I can't abide the whole celebrity chef and reality cooking show trend. I guess it has got people cooking who otherwise might not and maybe that's a good thing. I love to experiment and get a big kick out of achieving something.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I do indeed. It was a short science fiction story called 'A Strolling Rone Mothers No Gas' and it was in response to Isaac Asimov's 'A Niche in Time Saves Stein'. I sent a copy to Asimov and received a great letter in return. It was never submitted for publication and I have since lost both the manuscript and the letter.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
John Steinbeck's Cannery Row. I read it with a torch under a blanket in a boarding school and it transported me to a whole new and better place. I became a voracious reader.
What do you read for pleasure?
I read a fairly eclectic mix of books and authors. When I'm writing, I studiously avoid the genre that I am working in.
Describe your desk
Tricky question. My desk is wherever I am in the world. In Australia I often write on my lap at a window overlooking the ocean. In Japan I write at the dining table which overlooks a zen garden. I like my surrounding to be very neat, sparse and organised and there must be good Italian black coffee at almost arms length.
Who are your favorite authors?
Steinbeck, Hemingway, Kurt Vonnegut, Elmore Leonard, Mark Twain, Chuck Palahniuk, Asimov, China Meiville, Haruki Murakami, Iain Banks and lots more, but that should give you an idea.
What's the story behind your latest book?
My latest book is not yet published. It is a work of literary fiction, the first half of which is largely based around my childhood and from there it morphs into dark murder mystery.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
Published 2016-03-07.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Price: $7.00 USD. Words: 87,420. Language: English. Published: February 28, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Action & suspense
When Jeremy Gibbs and his wife Sophie set off on an extended European holiday, they had no way of knowing that a death on the ice in Greenland, seven hundred years before, had ignited events that would ultimately overtake them... and ravage the world.
Ghosts of Tokyo
Price: $9.99 USD. Words: 112,370. Language: English. Published: January 8, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » General, Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure
Ghosts of Tokyo is is a dark, emotive mystery set in the Tokyo underbelly. Beneath Shinjuku Station, in the world's most frenetic city, an astounding plot unfolds involving a mysterious boy, an unscrupulous scientist and a western musician. You'll be drawn down into the hidden labyrinth to wander those dark tunnels as this emotive story clutches at your heart and challenges your sense of reality.