Interview with Chris Landau

Describe your desk
Empty if I can manage it. I write mostly on an iPad, sometimes my android phone and a tablet. I write at my dining room table. I write best with nobody present and with no noise.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Johannesburg, South Africa. I was a geologist and geographer by training, but also sold life insurance, investments and pensions for many years. I had my own water well drilling rig. I fixed up houses with my parents in my school and university years. They were both teachers and encouraged reading in all their kids. I got to know quite a bit of South Africa by doing geophysical exploration field work for underground water for different farmers. Meeting different people in different locations almost daily helps broaden knowledge and understanding that the world is complex and diversified. Astronomy, meteorology and geology were my first loves. Gardening and growing all kinds of trees, shrubs and flowers was my second. The most scenically beautiful areas of South Africa, for me were the coastal belts from Mozambique to Cape Town. I loved the Drakensberg (Dragon) Mountains as well. I used to climb into Lesotho from the KwaZulu eastern side with my brother, a medical doctor. I only went once to the Okavango Swamps in neighboring Botswana as a twenty four year old. Seeing the Elephants, Rhinos and Baobabs in those sandy and watery grass plains left a lasting impression on me. The loss of wildlife and their habitat is a tragedy we all need to help prevent. We need to introduce our kids to the beauty of nature from an early age. I came to the US with my wife and three daughters in 2003. We became citizens in 2009 and 2010. I worked on oil and gas exploration rigs in California for about a year and a half years (too long) and in environmental geology and in gold exploration sampling in Nevada and California. It has been more than fourteen years since I left South Africa. I went back last year in September 2017 to bury my mom who died at 87. When your most loved ones die, a profound feeling of loss is produced. Their death kills one just a little. My mom, Julia Landau was a great reader who wrote many letters, but never wrote her own book. I wish she had done so. I miss her almost every day. She had a great sense of humor and would have said, "Get on with your life." The people you meet, the places you visit, the books you read, the movies you watch all get thrown into the mix of 'you', the individual. One's writing is probably an amalgamation of those people and events in thoughts and in dreams. In my quiet times I escape to magic land to write down those dreams.
When did you first start writing?
I wrote school essays from an early age, which I enjoyed both in primary(elementary) and high school. In university we had to do extensive research and write critical analyses on various topics. I remember the subjects of Human Geography and field mapping expeditions in Geology, where good writing skills were valued and clear presentations and drawings for field mapping were an asset. My professors made me redo much of my poor work. In the US, I first learned to write technical papers for publication for the American Institute of Professional Geologists and The Association of Engineering and Environmental Geologists. These were meant to be Earth shattering papers, at least to me. When I presented them from 2008 to 2010, they were met with indifference. I began to write for Oped News on what I thought was happening on the Oil Blowout on the Deep Sea Horizons Oil Rig in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. I had logged about seventy miles of samples on the California Rigs. I was invited onto radio talk shows to try to make sense of that disaster. With time I wrote other articles for Oped News on subjects like planetary geology, especially on Ceres and Vesta. I also wrote some commentaries on the Ebola Crisis in West Africa. ‘Doctors Without Borders’ undoubtedly saved millions. My wife, Susan Landau had taught writing classes to Adults in South Africa and to school children in the US. She encouraged all our daughters to keep journals from an early age. Around January 2014, she asked us to all write on anything we liked. I began my Science Fiction, Multiverse Trilogy XiFiSy then, which I have now completed. ‘Xi’ is book #1 of the XiFiSy Trilogy and is now available as of mid January 2018. Editing and rewriting of book #2 and book #3 is now taking place and these two books should be available within two weeks.
What's the story behind your latest book?
My first novel that is being published by Smashwords now in early 2018. It is called, 'The War of the Muses.' It is a humorous short story on where writers get their ideas from. I say to my wife, that the story writes itself and that I am just the keyboard operator. My wife, as a creative writing teacher finds this silly. She plans her writing meticulously. My ideas come from the scrambled input of my life, with my brain trying to make sense of all of it. Perhaps there are muses fighting for possession of our bodies, trying to get their stories down in print or in cyberspace. If you read my short story and you like it, I can always turn it into a full length book or Trilogy.

Part #1, “Xi” of my latest Science Fiction Epic Multiverse Trilogy, XiFiSy is now available as of mid January 2018. Books #2 and #3 will be available over the next two weeks.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
Reading a book called Writers Market in late 2017, where the different publishing houses proudly proclaim they publish four to twenty books per year from a thousand or more submissions. I also learned that if my manuscript is accepted, it might be two years until it is published. I cannot wait that long.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
It is too soon to tell. It is January 6, 2018. My first short story, ‘War of the Muses’ was published for general e book availability two days ago.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Freedom to let my imagination fly. There are no restrictions in my fairy tales. Writing fiction is an escapist fantasy. It is a joy.
What do your fans mean to you?
I do not have any yet. It will be good to have some fans to push me to produce many more books. January 1, 2018
What are you working on next?
I am editing a 156 000 word Science Fiction Multiverse Trilogy called ‘XiFiSy’ that I started in 2014. Book #1, called ‘Xi’ is now available as of Mid January 2018. Books #2 and #3 will be available over the next two weeks. The story is about one all powerful woman named Xi from an antimatter universe who journeys across the Interuniversal Boundary Layer to meet three women astronauts from Earth. The women all have different quests that drive them, but they share and help each other in these quests. They travel across our universe and other multiverses both in matter and in antimatter. I have Introduced a multiverse of multiverses to the XiFiSy Trilogy in book #3. The book is filled with action and humor and can be extended to further novels if it proves popular with readers. It would make a grand and sweeping movie with multiverse travel as the norm. January 18, 2018.
Who are your favorite authors?
Orson Scott Card, Paulo Coelho, Kahil Gibran, Yann Martel, Anne McCaffrey and Italo Calvino. In my youth, I enjoyed Mary O’ Hara, Wilbur Smith, Enid Blyton, Willard Price, Leon Uris, James Michener, Percy Fitzpatrick, Joseph Heller, Ayn Rand, Rider Haggard, Jack London and Rudyard Kipling.
My favorite rhyming poem/short story, because of its length, is Reynard the Fox-Part 2 by John Masefield, English Poet Laureate. It is a story of triumph against all odds. Most works pale in comparison.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
The cats wanting breakfast. They are wonderful alarm clocks. It is difficult to sleep when they knock everything off your bedside tables and meow incessantly. I make the coffee and tea and I am the cook in the house. A full bladder also helps get one up in the morning.
Once one is up, the events of the day are like a rolling stone going down a skewed parabola with 6 am being the starting point and 10 pm being the end point. My parabola is cliff-like until about 1pm and then it has a long slow and extended rise until 10 pm. Basically I am a morning person.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I sit in front of the tablet and write. When I am not writing, I take many breaks for snacks and walks in the garden when my Muse is asleep or on holiday. When my Muse is in a rush to get her story down, she really makes my fingers fly and no breaks are necessary. No quarter is given by my Muse.
I postulate new semi scientific ideas and record these for later, for further in depth analyses.
I also listen to music, check on the news, read email, pay bills and do the shopping and the enjoyable part of keeping in touch with my daughters.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
I read samples on Overdrive and on Smashwords.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I wrote a long essay in grade six of about 13 pages. I do not remember the title or what it was about. I do remember that the teachers never came back to me on that story. I did win first prize in Grade 7, winning my first book of Mary O’ Hara’s Green Grass of Wyoming.
What is your writing process?
I sit down in front of my tablet and say that I must complete at least one thousand words for the day. On a very good day it will be three thousand words. On a bad day, one sentence. I inform my wife and daughters on the number of words written each day, good or bad.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
Enid Blyton. Famous Five Series of Books. Loved escaping into that fantasy land. I was aged ten. These were library books.
Published 2018-01-17.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Price: $8.99 USD. Words: 48,700. Language: Commonwealth English. Published: March 29, 2018. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Space opera, Fiction » Science fiction » Space opera
Xi is part one of the XiFiSy Trilogy. It is the story of the growth of our fun loving heroine Xi, as she gains power and knowledge to travel from her own antimatter universe to ours as XiFiSy. The heroines of Earth are brilliant, clairvoyant, empathetic and courageous. This is their story as these, astronauts begin their galactic and antimatter journey away from Earth battling universal forces.
Land without Love
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 810. Language: English. Published: February 25, 2018. Categories: Fiction » Poetry » American poetry, Essay » Political
The Children of the USA fight to be loved in an environment increasingly indifferent to their well being. Guns are valued more than the lives of the children by the president, the senators, the congressmen, the governors and the people. Who will love the children of the USA? This is a poem of about 600 words on the sad state of being a kid in the USA in the school system today.
Red and Blue Sheep
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 1,190. Language: Commonwealth English. Published: February 19, 2018. Categories: Fiction » Literature » Literary
The wind stops to listen to the sheep, the Red and the Blue Sheep arguing to be recognized as the best of their clan. The old sheep are entrenched in their ideas. They see themselves as better value dead than alive
Price: $8.99 USD. Words: 56,910. Language: Commonwealth English. Published: February 17, 2018. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Space opera
This is the grand finale in the XiFiSy Space Opera where Kholwa, Xi, Annae and Xing fight on multiple planets in our universe battling with the GODS to stay alive. XiFiSy battles to save and control the Ultriverse as the multiverses break apart.
Price: $8.99 USD. Words: 57,380. Language: Commonwealth English. Published: February 17, 2018. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Space opera
Astronaut heroines Kholwa, from South Africa, Xi from China and Annae from Russia are captured by XiFiSy. She is immense and powerful and has learned the art of multiverse travel. This is the story of the interactions of many women, trying to survive, communicate and travel across the boundaries of matter-antimatter universes
War of the Muses
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 2,910. Language: English. Published: January 1, 2018. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Short stories
The Sensory Muses and Number Muses spar for control of humans to get themselves published on Earth.