Interview with Chris McCloskey

What's the story behind your latest book?
When my kids were in college, my husband and I traveled frequently because of his work. I often found myself touring a city alone, so I had enough time and space to give my imagination full reign . We had recently raised a Guide Dog for the Blind puppy, and it occurred to me that lab puppies had a lot in common with thirteen-year old boys—they are both curious, helpful, brave, maddening, fool-hearty, and sincere. So, I had hit on the two main characters of my next project, The Adventures of Tooten and Ter. As detective partners. Tooten is a guide dog puppy-in-training and Ter is a thirteen-year-old foster kid (with a far too trusting foster father). I located many of the twenty episodes in the different cities we had visited..
What motivated you to become an indie author?
While taking a graduate level writing class, the final assignment was to send out ten queries to different publishers. I selected ten small, more approachable publishers and got one nibble. Although the offer warned me of the extensive revisions needed, I didn't hesitate to take the deal.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Smashwords offers professional and appealing distribution benefits--a great search system, cover display, and book and author information.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The dialogue. Often as I consider the stages of a ploy, I hear the characters speaking about their situations, and that takes me to the next step.
What do your fans mean to you?
As the author of an e-book, I have done extensive online marketing. As a result, I've established a community of readers and writers I share with regularly. I love hearing from them about my writing, and I also like reviewing their work.

One of my favorite activities is to read episodes from my books to fifth, sixth, or seventh-grade classrooms. The kids have great questions and insights, often surprising me.
What are you working on next?
My daughter and her family split their time between Paris and Tunisia. I plan to spend extended time with them and take my two favorite characters, Tooten and Ter, abroad to find some international adventures.
Who are your favorite authors?
I am currently reading John Burdett's book series about a Buddhist police detective, set in Bangkok. Of course, I always have a mystery on my night stand, either current or classic. I don't mind blood and guts, as long as the puzzle is challenging.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
It depends on the day. Each day, I get up to feed and walk the puppy. After that, on Mondays and Wednesdays, I write and catch up with my writing websites. On Tuesday and Thursday, the puppy and I go to school to teach English as a Second Language to international adults. On Friday, we go to an elementary school to tell stories to the lower grades and read the Tooten and Ter adventures to the higher grades.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I'm a Spellbinder story teller, and I go to schools and senior centers to share my favorite Native American, African, and animal stories. As well, I write a regular business profile for the local Small Business Development Center.

Travel is always on my list.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
I go to independent book stores and talk to the owners about their favorite current books.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I have written stories all my life—for my kids, for my classes, and for local papers.
When my kids were in grade school, and we drove to school together every day, I noticed my third-grade daughter waving at a dug out spot in the hill beside the highway. She informed me his name was Dent, and he was very influential in the area, directing traffic and weather. After school, on the way home, she asked me if I’d heard anything from Dent, and I started spinning tales. Ten years, and ten thousand words later, Dent and my kids had shared many adventures--until they grew up and Dent got promoted and moved to the Royal Gorge (a Colorado destination). His dug out spot has been filled in as a result of road construction. The Adventures of Dent is my first dusty manuscript waiting for a home.
What is your writing process?
I wrote the Adventures of Tooten and Ter while traveling to a variety of cities with my husband. My writing process went like this: On the first morning in a new city, I’d get information about public transportation. Then I’d ask the concierge for a list of city attractions. I’d pick the quirkiest attraction and head in that direction. Along the way, I’d jot down details—sights, smells, sounds, and impressions. Upon arriving at my destination, I’d get a cup of coffee, find a place to sit down, and observe. I’d ask myself, “What is the weirdest thing that could happen here?” In that frame of mind, it didn’t take long to come up with a couple of interesting ideas, and I’d follow my own curiosity to create a gradually developing situation of interest, conflict, emotional response, partnership, danger, and ultimately a solution (i.e. The boys got free or the bully was taught a lesson or the crook was caught). Then, I’d go about collecting research—pictures, interviews, time schedules, historical facts, terminology, maps, and local details, like where a 13-year-old would grab lunch. Inevitably, when I got home and started organizing my notes, I’d have to dig up a missing fact or two. It was important to me that the settings and atmospheric details were accurate. I’d outline the story and then start the best part—weaving with words.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
No, but I do remember checking out a book from the bookmobile during the summer after third grade,, entitled "The Amulet." After finishing it, I counted the days until the bookmobile returned and asked the librarian if she had another book by that author. She said she didn't but suggested another book that I also liked. After that experience, I never hesitated to rely upon a librarian's recommendation.
How do you approach cover design?
I have entrusted that to my publisher with OnStage Publishing, and I have been pleased.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
Great Expectations, The Milagro Bean Field War, Sofie's Choice, Bangkok 8, The Secret Life of Bees, Prodigal Summer

I love complex characters and interesting conflict.
What do you read for pleasure?
Whatever catches my eye--it could be a classic, a mystery, or a character-driven story.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
My iPhone. When I turn the screen sideways, the print is large enough, and I can read quickly and comfortably wherever I am.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
Reading to kids in schools and at book fairs.
Describe your desk
I have a big table in my office and a MacAir on the road.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Denver, and I currently live in Boulder; however, I'm more apt to write about the cities I've visited than the Rocky Mountains.
When did you first start writing?
I was a good student in writing, but I thought it came naturally to everyone. It wasn't until I started teaching that I applied my creative ideas in writing to use in my classrooms.
Published 2015-04-17.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.