Interview with CJ Carter

What do you read for pleasure?
So many things. Being friends with many writers has meant that I read most of their works regardless of genre. I've read science fiction since I was a kid and cut my eyeteeth on Heinlein, Asimov, Clarke, Herbert, and scores of others. The classic stories, poems, and plays reaching from Homer to the early novels from various countries are often reason enough to settle back and savor the words. I also enjoy reading paper about spaceflight and high tech (the math doesn't bother me).
What is your e-reading device of choice?
For plain text, my go-to is usually a Paperwhite. Nice battery life and the backlit screen leave my other Kindles as also-rans.
Describe your desk
Somewhat over-sized but not massive; designed and built by my father. Always cluttered. This is partly due to necessary tools (fountain pens, reference materials, office supplies, calculator and slide rule), on-going projects that cycle in and out of "the pile", and various flotsam that just ends up there for a visit.
When did you first start writing?
The very first story I remember writing was when I was six. It was a one-sheet, on yellow legal paper, typed without any margins (I was six, what did I know from margins?), which covered the whole of one side of the page. It was (surprise) a science fiction story about "moonsters". Sidenote: I still have that typewriter.
What's the story behind your latest book?
After the previous novel, which was more of a personal project, I wanted to write a book that was more accessible. After playing with a lot of different story ideas over several months, I finally lighted on an android story that seemed promising. I have a tendency to like writing tech-beings as well as female-led action. Many (many) years ago, Asimov wrote me a note saying that while I could reference his laws of robotics in one of my screenplays, it would be better if I built my own world instead. And so I did.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
Impatience and a desire for more control.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The writing itself. I love to write -- to live in a world of my creation and to become acquainted with interesting characters. Depending on it's scope, I also enjoy rewriting (this often only applies to the second draft). Once we get into editing...yeah, then it's drudgery. So, first (and maybe second) drafts are my joy.
What do your fans mean to you?
I was sort of shocked the first time I realized I had a cadre of fans instead of just a few people who happened to like my stuff. They motivate me to always strive to do right by them -- not only to strive to improve but to keep the work accessible. They are definitely one of the perks of having written for a while, and I'm grateful for them all. I've even gained a few new friends in the process. So, yay to the fans!
What are you working on next?
In between book projects, i.e. when I'm in development, I work on my art. As for the next writing project, I'm working on seeing if I can build from Android Me and have a sequel as the next project.
Who are your favorite authors?
I'm beholden to Heinlein, Asimov, Clarke, Wells, Niven, and scores of others for letting me visit the worlds of their imaginations in the realm of science fiction. Outside of that, I've most recently become addicted to the works of Toni McGee Causey and gobble up any new Bobbie Faye story she conjures up. You just click with some things, y'know? Oh yeah...and Shakespeare, Chaucer, Homer, yadda, yadda, yadda.
What is your writing process?
I write a lot of story ideas in a journal. If something seems promising, I start trying to develop it to see where it might take me. If it looks worthy of being put to the page (i.e. I'm able to write it), I start developing it. I world-build so I know my setting and external circumstances.

I then work on my characters -- working out their histories, and the arcs I want them to follow. As much as possible, I try to do this for each character separately, as if I had no knowledge of any of the other characters (as much as possible). My feeling is that each character is living their own story and will be acting in service to that, not to me.

Once I'm satisfied where my characters are going and what has to happen when in the story, then I dive into the plot. Some of it will have appeared automatically because of character development as well as some of my own desires, but now is when I fit all of the pieces together. I don't go into a lot of detail, leaving room for detours.

If I'm writing a novel, I work up a list of chapter titles so I have an idea for where I'm taking the story. After every ten written chapters or so, I revisit this and make any modifications necessary to serve the actual story. For the first draft, other than the chapter titles, I pretty much don't refer to my previous outline. The story can evolve as it feels it must. I'll typically write 2,500-5,000 wpd during this stage with no backtracking.

Once the first draft is finished, I read and evaluate, modify the outline as necessary -- often at least 1/3 of the book will change, including the excision of several chapters and the inclusion of several more -- and then do a page-one rewrite. (Because of carpal tunnel and other RSI issues, I might have to not do the full rewrite anymore. *sigh*)

Now the first round of readers get the book. I take their notes and proceed to massage the story into shape. This repeats for at least another draft. Finally, I read the story aloud to fix language that seems better on the page than the stage. At this point, the book should be ready for "real people" to enjoy and I proceed to typeset, create the cover and support materials, build web pages, and all the other sundry indie stuff.

And then I start again.
Published 2015-01-13.
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Books by This Author

Android Me
Price: $5.99 USD. Words: 135,660. Language: American English. Published: January 13, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure
The world's first sentient android uses her skill and cunning to survive being the world's first sentient android. Her quest to live free comes with many costs -- both to herself and her allies. She must learn how to deal with the global corporatocracy as well as the numerous factions vying for power and their own survival.