18 September 2020

Author Spotlight || Christopher D. Ochs


Today's Author Spotlight is Christopher D. Ochs, author of YA Urban Fantasy/Horror 

Read on for the full interview.




What's your latest release? 


MY FRIEND JACKSON, a YA Urban Fantasy/Horror, is available for pre-ordering Kindle on
September 15, and available in print on October 1.

Can you start out by telling us a little about your latest work? 


MY FRIEND JACKSON centers on Jasmine Price, an inner-city teen who suffers daily psychological, cyber, emotional and physical abuse at the hands of her new school's queen bees. When the rivalry and jealousy reach a fever pitch, a deadly force intervenes.



Where did you get the inspiration to write this story?


I was doing research on girl bullying for a short story "Book Worm" in the Bethlehem Writers Group's 5th anthology "Once Upon A Time." I picked up Rosalind Wiseman's "Queen Bees & Wannabes," thinking I'd read one or two chapters to bone up on the bare minimum. I found her work so riveting, that I devoured the entire book. I knew I had to write a much larger story incorporating the subject.

When you developed the characters, did you already know who they were before you began writing or did they develop organically?


I knew what the 'Monster' had to be. Its place of origin and its mythology guided the development of the 'Mentor' and Jasmine characters. That trio drove the creation and crafting of everything else.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned (about your story, about
yourself, etc.) while writing?


Because the story revolves around several women of color, I hired a Diversity/Sensitivity Editor. It was during that same period that the tragedies of Breonna Taylor's and George Floyd's deaths occurred. Even after our work was done, I engaged in long conversations with her about racism, both outright and systemic. I will always remember her comment about dealing with racism on a daily basis -- "It's
exhausting." I may never fully understand her experiences or those of any person of color, but I'm trying to learn.

What books or authors influenced your own writing?


H.P. Lovecraft rattled my soul down to its roots, and I admired Kurt Vonnegut's wry observations on the human condition.

How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?


That is a long and involved story. Maybe when I do a full interview.

What attracted you to the genre(s) you write in?


I was psychically scarred as a child by the original Twilight Zone and the Outer Limits television series. And I loved it!

What's one of your favorite words?


Schadenfreude!

What are you currently reading?


"The Heroes" by Joe Abercrombie. I need to up my game when writing hand-to-hand fight scenes for the next "Pindlebryth" novel.

A lot of authors have a soundtrack while writing. Are there any songs you had on
repeat?


I require silence. I cannot write while music plays. I am a classically trained organist and composer, and as a result, I cannot merely listen to music. I am drawn into it -- analyzing it, cringing when I hear a misplayed or off-key note, singing along with it, stealing riffs, or just plain rockin' out.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?


Don't take criticism, rejections, or bad reviews personally. 
But don't ignore them either. Learn from them if you can.
Grow a thick skin.

Would you rather live in a haunted mansion or a cottage surrounded by fairytale
creatures?


My home is one block away from an ancient Iroquois walking trail. I've already had several friendly visits from the forces and spirits that linger along that route. But I'd give a firm "No!" on the fairytale creatures. I've studied Grimm and Perrault. Those faerie critters are right bastards.

Are you on social media and can your readers interact with you? What are your links?

You can also like/follow me on Facebook, on Twitter, and on Pinterest.

Thanks so much for participating in the Author Spotlight! Anything you'd like to add?


A pinch of itching powder, and a shot of laughing gas?


Christopher D. Ochs’s foray into writing began in 2014 with his epic fantasy Pindlebryth of Lenland: The Five Artifacts. He combined his knack for telling stories in the Lehigh Valley Storytellers Guild with his writing style to craft If I Can’t Sleep, You Can’t Sleep, a collection of the mirthful macabre.

His short stories have been published in several anthologies: GLVWG Writes Stuff, Write Here Write Now, The Write Connections, and Rewriting the Past, by the Greater Lehigh Valley Writers Group; along with Untethered, Finalist in Killer Nashville’s Silver Falchion, and Once Upon a Time, by the Bethlehem Writers Group; and last but not least, Meanwhile in the Middle of Eternity by Firebringer Press.

Chris has too many interests outside of writing for his own damn good. With previous careers in physics, mathematics, electrical engineering and software, and his incessant dabbling as a CGI artist, classical organist, voice talent on radio, DVD, audiobook, podcast and the Voice of OTAKON, it's a wonder he can remember to pay the dog and feed his bills. Wait, what?


Christopher, thank you so much for being a guest on Cats Luv Coffee Book Reviews!