I had the honor of interviewing short story writer, blogger, and future author, Chris Shaw today, please keep an eye out for his upcoming releases, and check out his blog-
Me: So my first question is, you have a soon to be published short story, what’s it about?, and where will we be able to find it?
CS: My first story is called Broken Rituals, and despite its seemingly dramatic title, it’s about a young grocery store cashier named Jeffrey who is in a rut. He doesn’t really enjoy his life anymore and is just going through the motions. When a customer comes to his lane one day, she breaks the cashier-customer ritual of “How are you doing?” “Fine.” “How are you?” “Good.” Instead, she tells him exactly how she’s feeling and enquires into his life. At first he’s off put by her honesty, but as she continues to return to his lane every week, his opinion of her changes. The rest of the story is how their relationship grows and how she challenges him about his own life.
You should be able to find it at The Albion Review, which is a undergraduate literary journal out of Albion college. It’s my first short story publication, so when I got the email saying they had accepted my story, I was pretty excited. I’ll keep everyone updated on my blog and twitter on when it will be released.
Me: Sounds like a great story!, why short story format?
CS: I’m getting my undergraduate degree in creative writing with a focus in fiction, so I’m always having to write short stories for class. Broken Rituals was actually written for a class I was in. It was in a short story format because the class required our story to be self contained. Plus, I think the piece only needed around sixteen pages to tell the story I wanted to tell. Plus, I think the short story is a good place to practice before trying to write a novel. I’ve found it really useful in figuring out how to pace a story, and it has given me some much needed experience before I started writing a book.
Me: And now that you’ve gotten experience and learned pacing, you’re starting a novel?
CS: Yep! The concept for the book actually started out as a short story, but the more I tried to write it, the more I knew the story needed a novel’s length. I still haven’t figured out a title (I’m a horrid titler), but I’m about 38,000 words into the book, and I’m shooting for around 85,000 to 95,000 words for the finished project. The book’s about three brothers who lose their mother to cancer and how the brothers handle their grief differently. The oldest brother starts to believe that he’s becoming his dead mother, and starts to dress, act, and talk like her. The middle brother, Philip, tries to get his older brother out of his delusion, and that’s the central conflict that runs through the novel.
Me: Sounds very original!, I look forward to reading it!, next spring maybe?
CS: Haha, we’ll see. I’m really focused on getting some short stories together for my grad school applications that are due this coming semester. (I hope to get my master’s degree in creative writing.) I’m trying to be done with my first rough draft by next Spring, though. I think it might be a little bit of time till the book sees publication!
Me: Well hopefully we’ll hear more about it next year!, so you’re also a blogger, tell us about that
CS: I’ve been blogging for a few years now. I started doing it as a way to cope with a movement disorder I had developed during my freshman year of college.
The disorder made it so my neck would spasm out of control and it would make other parts of my body spam and cramp as well. At my worst point, I would go into a temporary paralysis. It was all very strange and doctors have never been able to tell me exactly What I have. However, I found that I could manage my symptoms by getting my neck adjusted by a chiropractor, and because of that, my condition has been greatly reduced. My neck only occasionally spasms now and the rest of my body usually poses no problem to me.
So blogging was really important to me during the beginning of my disorder and it helped me vent my frustrations and feelings about how my disorder was affecting me. Since then I’ve blogged about other subjects like politics, God, religion, and other subjects that interest me. My current blog chrisshawblog.com doesn’t have a lot of content on it yet, but I hope to put a little bit of everything on it. All the stuff I mentioned before, but also a bit of my fiction and some of my academic writing.
I really just like connecting with people online, and I believe that sharing different ideas and perspectives with each other is really important. Blogging gives me those opportunities.
Me: I usually save this question til the end, but you mentioned God and religion, from reading my blog, you can tell I’m a Christian, what are your spiritual views and how do they affect your writing?
CS: Well, I was born into a very religious household and raised Christian. Both sets of my grandparents and my parents are all Christians. My grandfather on my mom’s side is a pastor, and my grandmother, the pastor’s wife, edited a Christian magazine for a good amount of time. The particular “brand” of Christianity I was raised in was as a Seventh Day-Adventist. The denomination counts Saturday as the day you go to church (the Sabbath is very important in Seventh Day Adventism), has a large amount of vegetarians (I was raised vegetarian and am still one), does not believe in a eternal Hell, and believes that once you die, you stay dead till the resurrection day (so your spirit doesn’t go to heaven or hell, you just are dead till everyone’s resurrected). The denomination was founded on Ellen G. White’s writings, who many consider to be a prophet, but the Bible is always considered the ultimate standard of truth. There’s other aspects to the denomination but those are the main facts. Hopefully I didn’t bother anyone with that longish description, but I think context is always important when discussing religion.
My own experience of religion is complex. I don’t feel any resentment to how I was raised, and I actually really appreciate it. I went to Christian schools all my life and I’ve always gone to church. As I’ve gotten older, my relationship with religion and God has changed. I used to be very passionate about the whole religion thing, I led out in Bible studies at my school and had a really strong faith. Now, I have my doubts about the reality of a personal God, though I haven’t completely thrown it out the window. Culturally I identify as a Seventh Day Adventist (and a Christian), but ideologically a lot of my beliefs conflict with it. Topics I generally disagree with the church on are homosexuality, the role of women, the Bible as absolute truth, and a few others that I can’t think of right now.
However, I don’t think I can officially ever divorce myself from the church because of how I was raised, and the good I saw it do in people’s lives. While I think a lot of the Bible should be looked at in its cultural context, I think a lot of the stuff Jesus did was pretty cool and the world would be better if we followed his example. I can’t say that I completely believe in God because there’s a lot of doubt in my mind, but I don’t want to say that I completely reject the concept of God. I can’t think that any denomination, or even religion, got God completely right, but I have a sense that there is something else out there in a spiritual sense. I hope that answers some of the question. I’m hoping to write more about my complicated relationship with God and religion in my blog, because I think it needs to be out there. I’ve been afraid to write about my doubts for awhile because I don’t want to disappoint my family members, but I think it’s important to get my beliefs (or lack of beliefs) out there so that they can be addressed.
Me: Fellow theologians should definitely check that out!, and you blog about politics?
CS: Occasionally. It’s generally in regards to an issue I see going around in the news. It just has to catch my attention, and if I think I can add something to the discussion I’ll write about it.
Me: I see, so is there anything else going on that future fans might be interested in?
CS: That’s about it for now! If anyone’s interested in following me on vine and wasting 7 seconds of their life, my username is shawzie2 (or @chrisshawwriter on Twitter)
Me: Well thank you so much for the interview!, we look forward to seeing what the future brings!
CS: You’re welcome. And thank you so much for the interview! I’m flattered that you wanted to take the time to talk with me. Hope all goes well for you as well!