Interview: Chad Clark – Part One

Interview: Chad Clark – Part One

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Ladies and Gentlemen, it gives me the greatest of pleasure to welcome you along to the first part of our extensive interview with our very own, Chad Clark.

Yeah, we know he isn’t really ours but we are claiming him anyway because to be honest, we would probably be lost without him. His contribution to Confessions with reviews this past year, has been fantastically superb.

But this isn’t about his reviews. Oh no. This is all about Chad and his life and writing as he builds up to the release of his latest book, Yesterday, When We Died, which is out later this week.

In Part One, tonight, Chad tells you all about his life and his writing and influences. In Part Two, tomorrow night, Chad will give you all the information you will need about the new book, and of course, take on The Ten Confessions.

Later in the week, on the 28th, we will publish our review of the new book for you.

Nothing left to say at this point other than go grab some nibbles and a drink and sit back, and most of all……enjoy!

 

 

CoaR – So, tell everyone a bit about yourself in general? Who is Chad Clark, and what is he all about?

CC – I’m a dad, a husband, a baker and a writer. I live in, and have grown up in, the American Midwest, Iowa to be specific. No, I don’t work on a farm and I have never lived on one. The town I largely grew up in, Iowa City is one of the more progressive college towns in this part of the country, and it is a far cry from the more rural parts of the state. Not better, just different. 

I grew up with an intense passion for books and film, something I blame on the incredible innovations of the eighties, and the explosion of the horror genre was definitely an influence on me. My parents had me at the library at an early age and while even then, reading was not a particularly popular pastime, I was always very proud of the huge case of books I had as a kid. 

I’ve often felt like an outsider, whether from moving from one school district to another or because of my weight or my Tourette’s Syndrome. I turned to the escape of books and comics so I suppose it was only a matter of time before I would want to be creating them myself. 

 

CoaR – I normally ask if you have a boring day job, but I know you do and I really wish I lived near you. Tell everyone what you do…

CC – I’m a pastry baker, mostly breakfast items like scones, Danish, muffins and so forth. As such, this translates into very early hours for me. I’m actually kind of surprised that, with as many friends I have in the U.K. no one seems to bat an eye when I’m on Facebook at the same time they’re getting up in the morning, despite being six hours behind you. I also teach classes on baking pizza. 

 

CoaR – Now…..Blind Dog Pizza…..I have two questions about this. How did you get into this? 

CC – The natural foods store I worked at had just opened a new store and was going to be offering cooking classes. I wanted to be involved and pizza was something I had been making most of my life. 

I developed the classes over the next few years and eventually, I wanted to have a resource for the students so that I wouldn’t have to give out a twenty-plus page handout. I came up with the website (blinddogpizza.com) as a way of giving out that info as well as other recipes I had worked on. 

 

 

CoaR – Where did the name come from?

CC – We used to foster dogs. There was one weekend when there was a female that needed to get out of her house, that night. The neighbors were threatening to shoot her. We agreed to take her on for the weekend and quickly realized she was pregnant. The shelters wouldn’t take her so we agreed to let her have the litter at our home. She ended up having eleven puppies and we decided to keep the first of the litter. 

As he grew, there seemed to be something off about him and my wife, who works in veterinary medicine discovered that he’s mostly blind. He can see some light and shapes but his eyes are underdeveloped, likely a gift from his father who was also his uncle. We still have Beringer to this day and he’s been a great addition to the family. 

Anyway, that’s where the name, “Blind Dog Pizza” comes from.

 

CoaR – My wife reckons she could beat you in a pizza baking competition. Giving the fact that there is a little bit of water between us, that would be difficult. However, would you be up for that if we can arrange something?

CC – I would be happy to clash mixing bowls so to speak, although the home court would get a sizable advantage in this one. My wife and I vacationed in Paris several years ago and as a birthday present, she bought me a seat in a cooking class. The chef had been involved in setting up Euro Disney and one thing he said was that all of the recipes had to be modified in order to work with the local ingredients. You wouldn’t think something like flour and water can make a difference but if this gives you an idea, there was once a pizzeria in California they actually imported water from New York because they hated the west coast water so much. 

All that aside, if a meeting were to ever be possible, I’d love to give it a go.

 

CoaR – So, anyway, books. Why writing? What made you want to be an author? 

CC – I really just love storytelling. I recently saw another author describing writing as the act of delivering some resounding message with their words and while I’m not saying that’s the wrong approach, it’s never been how I view my art. I’m a big believer in the notion that books begin in the mind of the writer and ends in the mind of the reader. So, if someone takes some message or theme from something I write, that’s great. But I rarely try to pre-load my writing with a specific message. There’s a quote I love, one that’s been attributed to a few different people from the golden era of Hollywood. Essentially, it’s if you want to send a message, use Western Union. 

From the moment films like ET and Star Trek and Star Wars crawled across the big screen before me, I was hooked. And keep in mind that this was a time when going to the movies was an event not that dissimilar to the theater. We were just starting to get into the era of renting films but video players were very expensive. It wasn’t like it is now where you can watch a movie wherever you have a cellular signal. Back then, the theater was your one shot. It was an event, it had an impact on me. Movies were the coolest thing I had ever seen and the skeletal structure holding that movie up was the story. More than anything, I wanted to create those stories and maybe give to others what I had so happily taken myself.

 

 

CoaR – Take us through your process for a story. How do you start it and follow it through to the final product?

CC – Lately, I’ve been going back to writing my first drafts by hand. I love the feel of creating something physical, the way the texture of the paper changes when it’s saturated with ink. Also, my writing looks like putrid dog shit which I think is how it should be seen at that stage. 

After I scratch out a barely readable first draft, the story gets a revision, which I type out. I will also flesh out the plot a little more extensively now that I have the full picture of the story. Once this is done, I go through it again, reading through to see if anything needs to be punched up or worked out. 

Anymore, I find I have the story pretty much where I want it at this point. I send the book out to readers to get feedback and once they have gotten back to me, I revise, incorporating any suggestions and criticism they might hand down. 

The final stage for me is editing, going through as slowly and extensively as I can, looking to weed out my own bad habits as well as typos and errors. As I get down towards the end, I will use my kindle’s text-to-speech feature to read the book back to me. Hearing your writing recited in that awful robotic voice is a great way to weed out awkward constructions and bad writing. 

At that point, I generally set it free. We never really feel like it’s completely done but I can generally put a book to bed confident I have done the best I can.

 

CoaR – How do you keep track of your ideas? Do you carry a notebook with you everywhere or write stuff on the back of your hand?

CC – I don’t really have a firm system. Sometimes I will put a note in my phone if I really want to remember something. But then again, I also don’t devote a lot of time outside writing actually thinking about it. I think Hemingway once said that you shouldn’t try to actively wrestle over your stories in your head, that you should let your subconscious work through things. When you sit down to work, your mind is sharpened and ready to go because its already done much of the work for you. This doesn’t always work out for me but I guess that’s how I approach it in my mind. I try to trust in my abilities to steer me as necessary and the longer I do this, the easier that trust comes to me.

 

CoaR – Can you tell us if any of the characters in your books are based on people you have come across in your life or maybe even yourself?

CC – Definitely not. I think there could be some legal issues there. Also, there is too much potential for anger or hurt feelings if you take that road, especially considering the kind of books I write. 

I do occasionally put names of friends in my stories (if you recall, your name is going to be in an upcoming book). But in these cases, it’s purely a case of trying to make them smile at seeing their name in a book. I would never attempt to put an actual person into my stories.

 

 

CoaR – Because you review for Confessions, I know just how good you are at that as well. What made you start to review?

CC – It began as a way to challenge myself and to stretch out my abilities. But also, early on, it was important for me to be a good member of this community and to really be an advocate for other authors. People seemed to like what I did so I kept at it. And as fortune is often known to place something at your doorstep, I just happened across a shared post from you that you were looking for reviewers. I figured, I’ve got no shot at this but might as well give it a go. Thankfully I did and the rest is history. 

Doing the reviews has been great for my craft as a writer, not just for the connections it had led to and for the inspiration but because it helps keep me a passionate and active reader.

 

CoaR – Reviewing for Confessions, writing books, baking pizza. Which is your favourite and why?

CC – This feels like a trap. 

Of the three, writing books is probably my favorite. Just because I feel like it’s the biggest stretch and challenge to my abilities. All three of them are fulfilling though, for different reasons.

 

CoaR – Which do you think you are best at?

CC – Baking is probably what comes the most naturally to me. I don’t really have to put much thought into that process and it’s been a long time since I have needed a recipe to guide me. If I’m making something specific, I will refer back to a recipe but for the most part I’m just combining ingredients and seeing how it all comes out.

 

 

CoaR – Who would be the authors you would give the credit of being your influences and who do you just not “get”?

CC – Stephen King has been a huge influence. Anne Rice and JRR Tolkien are two others as well as Robert McCammon. And I tend to be a bit lukewarm when it comes to Dean Koontz. Some of his stuff I’ve thought was decent but there’s also been plenty I just didn’t connect with.

 

CoaR – What’s the most difficult part of writing for you?

CC – Editing. Simply because my exhaustion level from day to day is so extreme that I often have difficulty maintaining the level of focus I need to make sure the prose is as good as possible. As exciting as it is to be so close to the end of a project, it’s also tedious work that I end up using to generate stress over making sure the product I am asking people to pay for is coming out as good as I can make it.

 

CoaR – What would your ultimate wish be with your writing?

CC – I don’t have the expectation of ever being rich or famous from my writing. I don’t even expect writing to provide a living. I’d like to be able to find a larger readership and get to a point where my books provide some income, even a little that I could depend on from month to month.

If I was broadcasting to you from Planet Fantasy, I would love to see one of my books being recommended in a tweet from Stephen King. I hear that publicity package works wonders.

 

CoaR – What do you like to do when you’re not writing or baking beautiful pastries or pizzas?

CC – Hanging out with my two awesome sons and watching their (too fast) ascent into adulthood. I’m also a passionate reader and when the mood strikes me, I break out my bass and play some music.

 

 

Well, unfortunately that is all we have for Part One of the interview.

Don’t forget to come back tomorrow night for Part Two when Chad will be talking about his new book, Yesterday, When We Died and taking on The Ten Confessions.

Thanks again for visiting Confessions of a Reviewer!

 

Chad is a Midwestern born author, living most of his life in Iowa as well as in Illinois and Michigan. He studied at the University of Iowa and has been cultivating his own passion for the written word for most of that time. He focuses on genre fiction, namely horror and science fiction. In 2014, he published Borrowed Time, his first book, a collection of short stories. His writing can also be seen at his blog, bakedscribe.com where an original piece of short fiction is shared every week. 

And for more about Chad, visit his site, or find him on social media:

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