Saturday, May 12, 2012

Blog Tour (Interview): Trial of Tears by Chris Semal

Look, guys! We have another fascinating author joining us today to answer some questions. Chris Semal is here to talk about his book, Trial of Tears.

Pete Watts is a former undercover narcotics cop who got way too close to his job. He now runs a music rehearsal studio in which all manner of eccentric musicians come through. His soon to be ex-girlfriend is a talented singer with a sleazy manager who is in the habit of giving his clients drug habits, occasionally overdosing them to move their recordings up the charts, with the full support of the shady entertainment company for whom he works. This universe of people is inexorably drawn into a war between two violent drug gangs, viewed through the perspective of the Napoleonic leader of one gang. He has recently signed on a strange, but beautiful ex-mercenary, who wears makeup in the form of multi-colored tears running down her face. These tears are, in fact, decals on which different poisons are concealed, hence the title. Some survive the Trial of Tears, some don’t. The story’s taut climax is set in a posh townhouse in which only the courageous will emerge unscathed.While it certainly has its share of humor, action and suspense, it is also a story of friendship and redemption, as well as being a love letter to New York City.

Hi, Chris. Thank you so much for allowing me to interview you. Your bio says that you are also a musician/singer/songwriter. What is it that inspired you to go from writing songs to writing a novel?

In songs you’ve got to get your point, or story, across in about eighty words, not counting repeated choruses. That’s a great way to be succinct and economical with what words you choose to include. However, I wanted to really challenge myself and extend that, so I started with some rough character sketches and a basic premise. After writing three chapters I realized I was really on to something and loving where this was leading. Occasionally, I’d write myself into a corner, but could backtrack and steer the plot back onto the right path.

Please tell us a little bit about Trial of Tears in your own words.

I’ve pitched it as a cross between ‘Pulp Fiction’ and ‘This is Spinal Tap’.

What does your schedule look like when you’re writing?

Trial of Tears was written in whatever time I could squeeze in while working at other jobs. Most of the time that meant a couple of hours when I would get home. There was a period when I was a consultant, so there would be gaps between jobs when I could really get going at it. If allowed to work at a natural rhythm, I’ll usually go from 10-6, though plot developments and dialogue can show up at any time. I try not to write in the evening because I get immersed and have trouble getting to sleep.

What was the most difficult part of writing Trial of Tears?

Finding the time to complete it was challenging. Also, as a newbie, I thought I had a great story after a couple of drafts, which was not the case. Well, that’s not completely true. The story was good, but the writing wasn’t. I can’t believe how much polishing I wound up doing. I could probably do some more, if I didn’t set myself a deadline. At a certain point, you just have to let go of it. The last revisions were becoming more and more minor and I wanted to avoid getting anal about this.

What is one of the most surprising things you learned while writing your novel?

How addictive it is. You create this little universe and soon find that you’ve moved into it.

Which character did you have the most fun writing?

Good question. They were all fun, but the scenes with the villains were a real hoot. Alice entered in chapter five and eventually takes over the book. I didn’t even have her in my initial character sketches. I have no idea what strange part of my brain came up with her. *Spoiler alert* I was really bummed out for a few days after killing off Ronno. He was such a dangerous psycho, but I loved his dialogue.

How would you describe your writing style?

It’s as if Stephen King, Nelson Demille & Nick Hornby got stuck overnight in an elevator with a bottle of cheap gin.

Now that Trial of Tears has been published, is there anything that you wish you would have done differently?

There are a few things I would have done differently, but making mistakes is how you acquire an education. I would have saved myself a lot of time and postage if I’d polished the writing more before querying literary agents. I eventually got one and that was also part of the learning process. I wouldn’t have banged my head against the wall of traditional publishing for as long as I did, but then again, the climate for doing it yourself wasn’t as fertile five years ago as it is now.

Thank you so much for answering these questions, Chris, and I wish you the very best of luck in future endeavors!

Buy your copy here: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Be sure to add it to your TBR list on Goodreads!

About the Author

Chris Semal was born in New York City in 1959 and has lived there all his life. He is aware that other places exist and likes to visit them from time to time, but the city is a hard mistress to resist and he keeps going back to her. A musician, singer and songwriter, he has played pretty much every rock club in Manhattan at one time or another since the late 70s and went to school at the University of Miami to study Music Engineering, coming back north to do the only obvious thing possible, becoming a municipal bond broker and eventually working as a consultant building financial models. In the early part of the millennium, between both consulting and band gigs, he thought it might be interesting to see what would happen if he expanded on the 80 or so words he used in writing song lyrics and went for the 80,000 he would need for a novel. And so Trial Of Tears was born, along with a passion for developing plots and characters.

Keep up with Chris and his future projects on his Website!

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You are going to put words in my box?! *squeezes you* Now I shall stalk YOUR blog!