Q&A Interview with Noah Chinn!

Today’s interview is with Noah Chinn, author of Bleeding Heart Yard.

Enjoy & Comment!!

What is the worst thing you’ve written, how did you learn
or know it was bad, and what did you learn from it?
It’s easy to go with the obvious, but it also happens to be
true: my first serious attempt at a novel.
I was in a high school that had a final year creative
writing class, and there had been a rule that if you got anything published you
automatically got 100%.  I spent the year
before working on a cyberpunk action/adventure story which clocked in at over
120,000 words. 
Not only did it not get published, but as a year-end
assignment it only got 78% – 2% of which was for a bonus for effort.  The teacher couldn’t even be bothered to read
it all, and told me so.  For a long time
I was indignant about that.  Sure, it
wasn’t great literature, but I thought it was better than a lot of tripe that
got published!  But as time went on I
realized just how wrong I was. 
One of the lessons I learned was that all stories have to be
about something.  It can’t just be about what
happens, but the characters it happens to
I think Arthur C Clark said that he remembered his first
attempt at a book, but was very glad he still didn’t have a copy around to
haunt him.  I’ve still got a hard copy of
my first book lurking in my files, reminding me just how bad I used to be. 
Why did you start writing and when did you decide to go
In my own limited way I considered myself far sighted.  Unlike many professions, with a bit of luck
writing is something you can do to the day you die.  And of course I loved reading good stories,
so why wouldn’t I want to create my own?
Technically, I decided to go professional in high school,
because I sent that first novel I mentioned to a half dozen major
publishers.  I apologize profusely to
whoever was in charge of their slush piles at that time.  After that it was a matter of making
half-hearted and whole-hearted attempts with short stories and articles year
after year until the rejections started getting replaced with acceptances. 
Do you write in more than one genre? Which ones and which
do you like the best?
I’ve currently got four complete novels in various stages of
polishing, and another in the works. 
Each one is in a completely different genre from the others: urban
fantasy, post-Apocalypse, light mystery, romance, adventure… the only thing
they have in common is comedy, which I can’t seem to shake no matter how hard I
try.  I can’t stand the idea of being
serious for eighty-thousand words.
I suppose the genres I like most are the ones that make life
more interesting in my mind.  Science
fiction, fantasy, mystery, adventure. 
I’m a sucker for a strong romantic sub-plot in any genre as well. 
Do you read other author’s books when you’re writing? If
so, do you read the same genre or something different?
I think I need to read while I’m writing to help keep me
motivated.  Generally doing one long
enough will make me want to switch over to the other anyway.  I know some writers are worried about reading
the same genre because they’re afraid of unconsciously plagiarizing what they
read, but I don’t think that’s really a concern. 
What is the most difficult part of the entire writing
process for you? Queries, pitches, editing..etc.
Funny you should put queries and pitches up first.  Yes, as frustrating as writing a story
and  editing can be, it’s a cakewalk
compared to trying to write a good proposal, or create a synopsis of the book
summarizing ALL the events to a few pages and still make it sound good.  You just spent all your time trying to make a
big fleshed out world, then you have to make it bite sized.  No matter how many times I do it, I hate
it.  It never sounds good enough. 
If you’re a starting writer trying to get your first book
published it’s even worse, because you’ll always blame that for why a publisher
or agent won’t give your finished masterpiece a chance. 
If you could have the same type of career as any author
currently publishing who would it be and why?
Obviously any author who can make writing novels their
primary job.  It’s not about the money,
but the freedom to spend as much time as you like doing it (rather than
constantly balancing it against work and other concerns).  Getting specific, I’d probably say someone
like Stephen King.  Not because of his
choice of genres, but because it’s clear no matter what he’s writing he’s
always writing what he enjoys.  You can’t
ask for more than that. 
Noah Chinn was born in Oshawa, Ontario, and has never really forgiven it for that. After high school he fled his hometown in favour of the freezing winters of Ottawa. Three years later it dawned on him that higher education and frostbite did not have to go hand in hand, and finished his degree in Toronto. 

Teaser Tuesday with Noah Chinn

Today’s Teaser Tuesday is from Bleeding Heart Yard by Noah Chinn!
Enjoy & Comment!
When Peter got home he had almost forgotten about his
other problem. The thrill of victory offset other thoughts of defeat. As far as
he was concerned Amy was just some girl he couldn’t help but swear around.
Worst came to worst, he’d simply avoid the tavern.
Except that tavern was a block away from where he worked.
It could still cause problems. But the thought of someone being his soul mate. It was…
well, it was irresistible, wasn’t it? How could you be told about something
like that and not want it to find out more? The fact he knew nothing about her
only made it more exciting. It was like one of his high school fantasies, the
one he had after the desert island with the supermodels, but before the Xena
phase. Peter shook himself out of it. It was ridiculous. And if it was true,
what did it say about the past? What did it say about Carol?
He opened the door and jumped when he saw Red lying on his
sofa watching TV, eating a bowl of cornflakes on his stomach.
“You know, I figured out how much icing sugar you have to
add to make Corn Flakes taste like Frosted Flakes.” He held in a burp. “It’s a
lot. Your place is a bit of a mess, you know.”
“It’s not a mess, it’s homey. How’d you get in?”
“Door was unlocked. Well, it was after I unlocked it. You
were late.”
He set his shoulder bag down and crashed into a chair. “I
was celebrating. They liked my design.”
“Cool. By the way, your girlfriend is really messed up.”
“Who, Eve or Amy? Either way, she’s not my girlfriend.”
“Amy. There is something very strange about her.
I was watching her at the tavern for a few hours. I wanted to see if your curse
had any noticeable effect on her. Nothing. But that’s the way it’s supposed to
be, she’s supposed to be clueless. But she has her own unique weirdness going on
that has nothing to do with us. Cool, huh?”
“I guess. What kind of weirdness?”
“What do you know about past lives?”
Peter shrugged. “Some people believe in direct
reincarnation, that is, I could have the same soul as Julius Caesar. Others
believe all souls end up in a kind of melting pot and each new life is made up
of a bunch of different souls, that is, I could be one-fiftieth Julius Caesar.
Some believe we keep running into people we knew from previous lives, tied into
karma or something, that is, I could keep getting stabbed by Brutus every few
decades. Before eleven PM yesterday evening I would have said it’s all a bunch
of hooey.”
“Not bad,” said Red. “They’ve all got something to them,
except the hooey bit. Would it surprise you to find out that Amy experienced
Peter laughed. “In the last twenty-four hours I’ve had to
come to grips with the fact that I was cursed by a witch when I was a child,
that soul mates exist but I can only swear around mine, and that my mini-mall
project that should have failed miserably didn’t. So no, I’m not surprised.
Also, a minute ago you asked ‘What do you know about past lives?’ so I count
that as a give-away.”
“Fair enough. But this is a bit different. We’ve all had
past lives of one sort or another, but I saw Amy relive hers. Her
aura changed; for a moment she was two different women, overlapping one
another. I saw the aura argue, fall to the ground and die while the real Amy
stood perfectly still. When she snapped out of it she freaked out. I’ve read
about this in the Big Book, but I’ve never actually seen it.”
“Do you think that could somehow be connected to my curse?
Some kind of side effect?”
Red sat up on the sofa, cleared a spot on the coffee table
and put the bowl down. “Well, yes and no. When the curse kicked in it was like
an arcane A-bomb going off. If I had been in London I’d have seen it a mile
away. But it wouldn’t have been able to create anything new any more than a
bomb could. It’s just raw release of energy.”
“So what happened?”
“The way I saw Amy react, I think she’s experienced this
before, a long time ago, but had it under control. What you did was trigger a
“You really shouldn’t be smiling when you say that.”
Red stopped. “Oh, sorry. It’s just really cool. I want to
see if I can talk to the past life, see if it’s aware of what’s going on, or if
it’s just a recording. Not nearly enough legitimate research has been done in
this field.”
Peter sighed. “Don’t you have something a little more
important to take care of first?”
“Past lives can be pretty distressing, you know. I would
have thought you’d be a bit more concerned about your sweetheart’s welfare.”
“Oh, for the love of… she’s not my
sweetheart! Yes, I hope you can do something about her problem too, but
it’s not like I know her. I don’t believe in that
eyes-met-across-a-crowded-room nonsense, regardless of Rule One.” Red began to
sing ‘Some Enchanted Evening’ and Peter had to speak up to get him to stop.
“I do believe that the Bleeding Heart Tavern is a block away from my
office and if she accidentally gets too close to me I might curse my way right
out of a job.”
“Relax,” said Red. “I’m here. I’m on the case. You need to
buy some Frosted Flakes.” His arms danced to an imaginary rhythm.
“I think you’re coasting a sugar high.” Peter said, then
frowned. “You know what bugs me most? I never believed in soul mates because
they represent ridiculously high standards. I’ve always hated those insipid
Hollywood rom-coms that tell us there is a single perfect someone out there for
us and we should never settle for second best. Now I find out there is a single
perfect someone and I’ve found her.”
“I never said she was the only one.”
“There’s more?”
“I also didn’t say she was perfect. Maybe soul mate is the
wrong term. How about soul match? We’re not talking about you two being made
for each other on some divine workbench. It’s a compatibility issue, and
perfectly compatible is not the same as perfect. Perfect is boring. There are
three billion or so women on earth. Maybe half a billion of them are within
your potential age range. Maybe fifty million of them speak English. Of them,
you might find a dozen like Amy. Of course, if you did you’d run into the exact
same problem. Okay, shall we get started on some simple counterspells?”
“Do you think they’ll work?”
“Probably not. But how they fail might point me in the
right direction.”
“Fine.” Peter looked around, but saw only Red’s small
knapsack next to the sofa. “Where did you put that Big Book you were talking
Red reached into his backpack. “Right here.”
“Oh. I thought it would have been a lot bigger than that.”
Red pulled out a small leather bound book, the size of a
hardback novel, but only as thick as a pen.
“Um, a lot bigger.”
“Check it out,” he tossed it to Peter, who fumbled and
almost dropped it. It was heavier than it looked. “Oh geez, I forgot you were a
klutz. Careful!”
Peter opened it. “The hell? An eBook reader?”
“Top of the line! I wanted one big enough to have a touch
screen and handwriting recognition. It’s got every book in mom’s library on it
in .pdf format, and a bunch more I’ve added in the last few years.”
“So the Big Book is a .pdf? Does that even work?”
“Why wouldn’t it?”
“I don’t know, I’m not the expert. I assumed you needed
the old books to make it work.”
“They weren’t old when they were written.”
“The originals, then. Like the spell was imbued right into
the page.”
“You’re thinking back to our Dungeons and Dragons days.
Doesn’t work that way. Come to think of it, aside from that I’m kind of
surprised how much the first edition got right. Maybe Gygax was one of my
people. Now, I just need a few minutes to raid your kitchen and we’ll get
“What, didn’t you bring what you need? I don’t have any
eye of newt on my spice rack.”
“No, I need to make myself a decent sandwich. That sugar
buzz is wearing off.” He snickered. “Eye of newt. Noob.”
Noah Chinn was born in Oshawa, Ontario, and has never really forgiven it for that. After high school he fled his hometown in favour of the freezing winters of Ottawa. Three years later it dawned on him that higher education and frostbite did not have to go hand in hand, and finished his degree in Toronto.