On Friday I talked to an author who, as a child, wanted to make movies like Star Wars, so she started her story-telling career by drawing pictures. Her first job was drawing maps for the Lonely Planet. She started reading the Aurealis magazine from the first issue and who volunteered as graphic designer for the Aurealis magazine for 9 years. Her published fantasy includes short stories and a number of trilogies: The Age of Five trilogy is set in Ithania and her Kyralia series include the Black Magician Trilogy, the prequel stand-alone Magician’s Apprentice, and the Traitor Spy Trilogy.
Trudi Canavan talked about all her novels, showed us her writing space and answered fans’ questions. The interview is available here, in mp3 (audio) and mp4 (video) formats. In the video interview Trudi gives us a tour of her pinboard in her writing space, which is why the video interview is longer than the audio version.
Kim Westwood talked to Dark Matter on Thursday about her career and her award-winning stories including the latest, Courier’s New Bicycle.
Lucy Sussex described Kim’s work: ‘… mixes ecological disaster with religious cults, Mad Max with feminism…Kim is a stylist, with a line in lyricism, and a nice sense of humour … [Kim’s novels are] richly peopled canvas[es], of which perhaps the real star is the ravaged landscape, so intensely depicted as to be almost a presence.” – The Age, Nov. 2, 2008
Courier’s New Bicycle is must-read speculative fiction.
Listeners have a choice between MP3 (audio only) and MP4 (video) versions of the interview, both versions found here.
I first heard of The Almighty Johnsons from Boxcutters, who are huge fans: John Richards says he’s even asked if he could write for them. Boxcutters has featured the Almighty Johnsons twice: EP 288: THE LIGHT SIDE OF 2011 and EP 267: ALMIGHTY JOHNSONS, CHANNEL 9 ADVERTISING. After hearing about the Almighty Johnsons a couple of times from a few different sources, I decided I must watch this series. I searched online and found the production company’s store selling season 1 late last year. It arrived on a Friday. On Saturday night about 9pm hubby and I sat down to start watching it. We loved it so much we had to drag ourselves off to bed at 3am. Even then, it was only exhaustion that prevented us from finishing the series that night. We finished watching the entire series the next day.
I must confess I’ve been nearly as evangelical about the Almighty Johnsons as John Richards; Helen Lowe (award-winning Kiwi fantasy author) said she hadn’t really watched it – she’d only seen one episode – so I converted her! Helen is now a fan.
Rhiannon Hart’s novel Blood Storm is launched today; Rhiannon and I chatted last night. The interview is available as an MP3 podcast.
Charlaine Harris is in Australia for the Trueblood convention this weekend. The City Weekly interviewed Charlaine Harris here. The Trueblood convention is brought to you by Hub Productions, the people behind Oz ComicCon and many boutique conventions.
It seems your writing career took off in 1990, when you were 39. What did you do before being recognised as a professional writer? Did this inform your writing?
I had a number of low-level jobs in printing and newspaper production. In my mind, I was always a writer, and I was just waiting for my big opportunity. My first book came out before I was thirty, and I never stopped writing after that, aside from a sabbatical while I was having children.
What authors or novels have influenced your work?
So many. I am an avid reader, and I’ve always enjoyed a wide variety of writers. I read mystery, science fiction, classic novels like “Jane Eyre” and “Pride and Prejudice.”
Who encouraged you to write?
My school teachers did, and my parents never told me I COULDN’T do it . . . which was good enough.
How did you launch your career as a professional writer?
I had some great luck. I was taking a creative writing course the one year we lived in St. Louis, and the teacher of the class had just left her job at Houghton Mifflin in New York. She recommended the book I was working on to a former colleague at HM, and she took the book.
You created the Southern Vampire series then it was made into a TV series by HBO with you credited as a writer. How do you feel about your books being changed so much for the TV series?
I was prepared for that, since the books are in the first person, and a TV series can’t be told that way. Obviously, other characters would have to have more of a story for television.
It seems that fans have largely split into two camps: fans of the books and fans of the TV series. Has this caused any difficulties or resulted in funny stories?
Actually, I know lots of fans who love both, but regard them as separate entertainment experiences. Sometimes people do get confused between events in the show as opposed to events in the book, and I have to remind them which is which.
Why the name Sookie when Sookie isn’t ethnic? How did you come up with her name and the other names in your series?
I’m not sure what you mean. Sookie is a very old southern nickname, short for “Sister.” My grandmother’s best friend was Sookie. Other names I’ve selected for a variety of reasons, ranging from hours of thought to opening the telephone book. Just depends on the character.
Vandal-Hype thought Sookie was an Asian name, and thanks you for responding to her question.
What is your vision for the future of the Southern Vampire series?
There’ll be one more book, next year.
You’ve edited anthologies as well as writing novels and short stories. How do you create anthologies as an editor? Does this give you a different perspective to the writing process?
Editing requires a different set of skills, and I’ve really enjoyed learning how to do it well. Toni and I create our dream list of contributors for every book, send out the invitations, and start work when the stories begin to roll in. It’s great perspective on my own work.
What do you do for fun?
I read. I have four dogs. I have a new grandson. I like to watch a certain amount of television, and we go to the movies.
What do you do when you’re faced with writer’s block?
Usually when I can’t go forward, there’s a reason. I’ve made a misstep somewhere. I take a step back, do something else, then return to the work that’s troubling me. I can unsnarl it after that.
What are your plans for the future?
I have two more instalments in the graphic novel Chris Golden and I are writing. I’m doing a couple of short stories for various anthologies. And I’m starting a new series. So, very busy.
Once a month in Melbourne there is a not-so-secret meeting in PAs (Prince Albert hotel), where a group of people get together to share their interest in comics. Most of these people make comics – either write or draw or both – often while juggling a day job and other responsibilities as well. The gathering is informal: there is no chair person, no agenda, it’s just a bunch of people with a common interest who get together for a few beers – or cider or orange juice – diversity here is the key. Conversation can range from serious comic book talk, including mentoring in action, to discussing the footy, life, the universe and everything.
The first time I went, I interviewed Paul Bedford the morning of Free Comic Book Day last year (interview in Issue 4). I’d heard about FCBD but had no idea where it worked or where to go; Beddo gave me a quick run down and a list of addresses as well as inviting me to the comic book makers meet, which just happened to be on that afternoon. This was the day that I met icons like Colin Wilson, Bruce Mutard and Tom Taylor, three passionate comic book guys, who welcomed my minion (husband) and I into the fold.
Over a year later, the minion and I still attend the comic makers’ meet although we don’t make comics. We like the community, we enjoy the talk, we’re interested in what they’re doing, and we find hanging out with creative people to be energising. I also have to admit this meet is one of the very few times I feel comfortable sitting in a pub; it’s the absence of pokies coupled with a friendly atmosphere. It seems to me that the ‘elders of the tribe’ must be making like a duck (paddling under the surface while appearing to glide across the water) to maintain this community.
Over the last few meets I’ve noticed a number of new faces. There are increasing numbers of children (meaning adults who are younger than me and who are unfamiliar to me) while old farts like Beddo are full of hot air about attending that then fizzes out. ;)
Dark Matter is nearly two years old and Dark Matter’s website is now over two months old. I’ve been evaluating what I’ve been doing and where I’m going, while also flailing around like some stranded whale with software issues. I’ve tried getting comic book people to write comic book content for Dark Matter but this is pretty unrealistic: those who do it already are too busy, while others are doing their own thing. I really don’t feel comfortable writing reviews of comics as I just don’t know enough to write intelligently about comic books. I’m not going to learn enough either, because I just cannot learn everything. What I really want to do is to interview more comic book creators and write more articles about what is happening. This is an amazing time here in Australia with a wealth of talent and wellsprings of creativity. Dark Matter issue 10 probably won’t have much comic content but I’m planning for more in the future. You never know, you may learn about future Hugo Award nominees from this website or this zine!
Nalini Singh talks to Nalini Haynes of Dark Matter (text interview only)
Hi Nalini, thanks for talking to Dark Matter
Thank you for the invitation.
When did you get the writing bug?
I’ve been writing in one form or another most of my life. It was when I was about sixteen that I started to attempt to write longer pieces, and eighteen when I completed my first manuscript. It wasn’t published, but it taught me so much – and it showed me I had the capability to write a whole book. And then I just kept going.
Who supported and encouraged you along the way?
My mum has always been a very strong supporter of my writing.
What authors and books have influenced you?
I always have difficulty answering this question because I’ve been a voracious reader from childhood, so what I’ll say instead is that every book I’ve read has had an impact. Some taught me about story structure, while others swept me away, showing me the power of the written word, while still others had me daydreaming, sparking my imagination.
You’ve had a varied work career as well as having lived and worked in a few different countries. How has this influenced your writing?
I think it’s had an impact in different ways. Setting-wise, I’ve been able to personally see a number of interesting places (such as the Forbidden City in Beijing). More generally, it’s widened my view of the world, exposed me to different cultures and ways of thinking, and I think that comes through in my books.
Have you felt that this has been a distraction at any time?
The travel? No. It feeds my imagination.
You’ve won a number of awards: has this put more pressure on you?
No – at the start of my writing career, when I was an unpublished writer, I didn’t win many awards at all, so I think that gave me a solid grounding! It’s lovely when I do win, but I see it as a gift, not an expectation. I think that point of view helps keep me on an even keel.
Action, world building, characters: do you have a favourite part of the storytelling process?
I love so much about it, but the first draft, when I’m writing my way into the story and discovering the characters and their world, is always amazing.
What do you see as the major mythological and/or legendary influences on your writing—and what drew you to these influences?
I’ve never really thought about my influences in these terms, but I think it may go back to the old dark fairy tales, the ones where the monsters were real. They were some of the first stories to make me think “What if…” – and that question has sparked so many of my stories.
You’ve written two major series and several other books. What is the attraction for writing both series and stand-alone novels?
I’ve realized I’m truly a series writer at heart – I love following my characters and the world from book to book, seeing how they both develop and grow. So while I enjoy writing the occasional stand-alone, I always have to fight the urge to keep going with the story!
What would you like to share about your books?
The Psy/Changeling series is set in a world with three races on the verge of war.
The Psy have phenomenal mental abilities, such as telepathy and telekinesis, but have conditioned emotion out of themselves in an effort to fight the insanity so prevalent in their population.
The changelings are true shapeshifters, and can change form at will – the main packs in the books are the wolves and the leopards. They are very emotional and tactile, attached to their families and blood loyal to one another.
The humans are caught in between the other two powerful races, but have an important role to play, one that will become more apparent as the series continues.
There’s a lot of action in these books, but there is also a warm heart that comes from the sense of pack so important to the changelings.
The Guild Hunter series is much darker, edgier, bloodier. It’s set in a world ruled by archangels, with vampires as their servants. The Guild hunters are specially trained humans who are sent out to retrieve those vampires when they break their contracts of service (signed in exchange for near-immortality).
This series skirts the line into urban fantasy – it follows the same couple for three books, and will be returning to them again in the sixth.
If anyone would like to “taste” the two different series, you can find excerpts on my website: www.nalinisingh.com
You write erotic romances. Some authors have made incredible (funny) errors in writing sex scenes: how do you develop your sex scenes?
While sensuality is an important part of any romance (after all, it is a primal human need), for me, these scenes are one element of a much wider storyline. As such, I write them like any other scene – ie. each love scene must have a purpose storywise, and must be true to the characters involved.
In Caressed By Ice, for example, the first love scene doesn’t happen until two thirds of the way into the book, because there, the heroine begins the story barely hanging onto her sanity after a horrific abduction, while the hero is one of the ice-cold Psy. It would’ve made no sense to have them be together any earlier. They had to be emotionally ready for the intense intimacy of that connection.
You’ll notice I used “love” scene rather than “sex” scene. For me, a sex scene implies something very mechanical, and that’s not what I write. Emotions are always entangled, whether those emotions are of joy or of pain.
Do you think that coming from the culture that brought us the Karma Sutra gives you an advantage in writing sex scenes?
I’ve never actually read the Karma Sutra, and as I mentioned above, it’s not about unique positions or athleticism. A powerful love scene is driven by emotion, by character.
Your latest book, Tangle of Need was released this month, Congratulations! How does it feel to launch another book?
Wonderful! I love sharing my stories with readers, and I have the same excited reaction with each new book.
What does the future hold for you?
I have a Guild Hunter book out in September, titled Archangel’s Storm. The Psy/Changeling series will continue with an anthology and a full-length book next year.
I have been invited to speak on local radio today, to promote Dark Matter. Details: ‘Casey Arts Show’, today (Sunday) – 5-6pm broadcasting on Casey Radio 3SER 97.7FM. Casey Radio 3SER is also online if you want to listen to the ‘Casey Arts Hour’ via the internet - http://www.3ser.org.au/
David Freer’s latest alternate history book, Cuttlefish, is to be released soon. I’m currently reading Cuttlefish, where the protagonist is fleeing Imperial Intelligence in a drowned London in a submarine (only just started). Good so far
This morning I battled Metro’s train cancellations and misinformation but I still managed to get into the city in time to meet Eoin Colfer for our interview. Eoin was charming and informative in our 26 minute interview, talking about Artemis Fowl the series, the next book, the movie, writing in Douglas Adams’ sandbox and more. I was hoping to post the audio of this interview tonight but, due to unforeseen circumstances, this has been delayed. Hopefully a new page complete with Eoin Colfer’s interview in a podcast format will be online tomorrow night.
I asked Eoin to autograph my son’s two favourite Artemis Fowl novels: I felt asking him to autograph the entire set was a bit rude, especially as he had to rush off to another engagement. He offered to autograph Plugged for me. I thanked him and for the first time ever I asked an interviewee to autograph something directly to me. (I’ve felt too self-conscious up until now, although I love collecting autographed books.) Eoin directed the autograph for Plugged to me below
If you’re having trouble scrolling down, check the scroll bar. There is a design flaw in this website so it has two scroll bars -_- We will be fixing this as soon as possible but it will take some time as we don’t have a webby person helping.
On Friday 13 April, Christopher Kirby of Iron Sky, Star Wars and the Matrix (among many other roles) talked to Nalini Haynes via Skype.
Nalini: Thank you very much for agreeing to talk to Dark Matter.
Chris: That’s all right.
Nalini: It’s actually difficult to find much about you on the Internet.
Chris: Yes. Exactly. Isn’t that the whole point though? I’m not one of those who puts my private life out there. I just do my work and let it speak for itself. I think that makes my job a lot easier. When you know a little too much about somebody and then they try to do something that might be different, sometimes it can fall flat. I guess that creative mystery keeps the audience involved. I like to call it old school De Niro or Sean Penn: they said to never give interviews or anything like that. You hear about their work and it’s like ‘Oh, wow!’ so that speaks for itself. I’m not comparing myself to them, but at the same time I do think there is a certain validity that helps you in your art. There is a certain bridge obviously that is built with the audience. Even now, things have changed so much in the last, oh good Lord, in the last 10 or 15 years as far as acting and celebrity – or whatever you want to call it – is presented now. I just tried to do my job the best way I can and let the chips fall where they may, if you know what I mean.
Nalini: If you prefer the creative mystery so people can take each performance individually, how do you feel about being the PR guy for Iron Sky?
Chris: It’s like anything else. Lord knows, anyone who knows me, knows when I get to a party I’m kinda leading the charge. To me it is a little different, but at the same time I am talking about the film, and the role I play in the film. I’m not necessarily putting my X’s and O’s out for the audience. It’s really like anything else: we do the job, it becomes a product, and then basically we’re the cogs in the product that make the connection to the whole. I don’t have a real problem with that. I’m sure there are certain questions where I will go ‘I’m not answering that,’ and Lord knows I’m not shy about saying that. As far as being the lead guy goes, I’m fine with that.
Nalini: There are some questions I have to ask you that you may feel you don’t want to answer, but if you don’t mind, I’d like to ask them just in case you will answer.
Nalini: First of all, you are here to talk about the film. What would you like to say about Iron Sky?
Chris: I’m sure after everything you’ve read, you know it’s about Nazis on the moon.
Nalini: [laughing] Yeah, I did get that. A hint.
Chris: I was like – everyone is like ‘Yeah, yeah it’s Nazis on the moon.’ ‘But – there’s more to it than that isn’t there?’ Obviously it’s a Finnish Australian German coproduction. It was a job that, when my agent called, I remembered the call too, because it actually happened on Friday.
She went, ‘Oh, I’m going to send you something. Some people want to see you about a film.’
I’m thinking, ‘Okay, what’s the film about?’
Slight pause. ‘It’s about Nazis on the moon.’
I’m waiting for my agent to say something else. Still no reaction. I’m thinking, okay, I’ll bite. ‘No, really, what’s the film about?’
‘It’s about Nazis on the moon.’
‘Are you interested?’
‘Oh, ok, I’ll read it. Just send it to me and I’ll read it. I’ll let you know at the end of the day.’ I read it. I remember I read it about eight times that weekend. I remember the first time I read it, I was kind of like, ‘Really?’ And then I read it a second time, thinking, ‘Wow, are they actually going to make this?’ And the third time I read it, I was like, ‘Okay… Okay I’m in. I’m in.’ Because the little subtleties that you might miss along the way, did I actually read that or what’s going on… I just went, ‘Okay, if they’ve got balls enough to make this, alright, let’s go.’
Obviously I wanted to meet them because I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t going to be promoting the wrong message, if you know what I mean. Obviously if someone is approaching something like that you want to make sure they’re above board. I think that was the second thing out of my mouth after I said, ‘Hi. How are you guys? Nice to meet you.’ Just to cut the whole conversation short, I asked what was going on. It was a complete and utter surprise all the way round, from the phone call to even after meeting them and seeing the way they put the production together. I just kind of went ‘Wow!’ These guys are from a very small town in Finland, I mean a tiny town. I guess everybody tries to put a film together. There are so many scripts written a year but let alone scripts that actually get looked at; then actually get funded and then made into a movie. That’s a long, long hard journey but the thing is these guys actually sat there and they stuck with it. And actually put it out there. I admire these guys.
Nalini: What year was it you got recruited?
Chris: I would say I probably got recruited, yes. I mean, we did a little audition. I kinda went – I sort of see this guy – my character – as one who starts off quite self-centred but into caring about something outside of himself, which is a bit of a journey in and of itself. With that being said, I’d thought it is a character arc that we see in certain films, but I personally don’t think we see it enough. It has a universal theme that I think a lot of people actually miss in their own lives.
Nalini: When did you come on board with the project?
Chris: I didn’t come on until late like, really late. I know Julia, who plays Renate, and Gotz, who plays Klaus, they were there from the beginning. I think it was – I don’t know – maybe six years in the making?
Nalini: I heard about it in 2008 and it was already in process then.
Chris: Wow. Yeah, but the question is, did they already have the scripts and things like that? I didn’t get on board until the June before rehearsal, before we shot in September in Finland. Then we shot the following December.
Nalini: So was this 2010 or 2011?
Chris: This was 2010 so I came on really late. Basically everyone was sort of up and running. You’re doing a film where you have Germans, you have Finnish people, and you have me. Everyone speaks English but I think there’s always certain things that don’t get translated if you know what I mean? I would sit there and when something wasn’t going right, I would just make a face. I made this face and they’d go ‘Huh?’ I just grab someone’s attention and I’d be like: ‘I don’t understand.’ So we’re all on the same page, you find different ways of communicating and trying to get things through. That’s like anything else, it’s always a process. You soon discover what you can and cannot get away with. That being said, everybody on the shoot was just fantastic. There wasn’t an ego thing or anything like that. Everyone just sort of got in there and said, ‘Okay, this is what we’re doing, let’s go.’ I just thought that was quite professional and quite refreshing, because sometimes you do work on a set and it’s not all hunky-dory.
Nalini: Yes, sometimes there are divas.
Chris: Sometimes you get that, yeah. But it was good to actually see the people working together. The crew was just amazing in Germany and here. It was just a pleasurable experience.
Nalini: Great. You’re the first African American astronaut on the moon in Iron Sky. In LeVar Burton’s keynote speech to the publishing industry earlier this year (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mXLju6cBDwI), LeVar said that, as a child, seeing Uhura on the bridge of the Enterprise told him that there was a place for him in the future. He then went on to star in Star Trek. Do you recall any similar moments for you?
Chris: Wow. That’s a very good quote. Actually, there probably would have been, but this is probably the actor in me speaking. When I was little, me and my mum would always go to the movies. She’d take me to see all these classics, these fantastic films. We went to see this Sydney Poitier retrospective. I don’t know how old I would have been – maybe eight. I remember just sitting there kind of going ‘Wow!’
I guess in my mind I always knew that my world had to be better, my future had to be better than what my present was, because I grew up in south-central Los Angeles right amongst all the gangs and things like that. Yeah. So this kind of made me go: ‘Oh, wow, it can be done,’ and with strength and dignity. If anyone knows me, I am probably the easiest going – I get along with everybody. I like to think I do, anyway. When I feel like I’m not being done right by, that’s when I put my foot down. I hate to see anyone treated unfairly. I have an innate sense of fairness, regardless of where you come from. That kind of gripes at me so I guess I always try to do something. It is not always available to you, but you always like to say what you can, no matter how big or small the role is. I like to make a difference.
When I saw Sydney Poitier during those films, it was like, ‘Okay, okay…’ I think probably then and there, something probably clicked in me and said I can do this. But where I grew up, you’re not going to get people going: ‘Oh, yeah, go ahead, do that thing.’ It takes a while to build up the courage in order to say, ‘You know what? This is it. This is what I want to do for the rest of my life.’ Then seeing movies like Jaws, I was kind of like: ‘Oh man, I just have to do this.’ But I would say that Sydney Poitier moment, that just did it, that was it.
Nalini: He’s an amazing actor, as well.
Chris: Oh my goodness. I think everybody’s still striving to get there, you know? He’s left a legacy that nobody can ever overshadow. To say the least. Using ‘amazing’ may not be enough. Considering the time he did it in, just incredible, incredible.
Nalini: Do you hope that your role in this science-fiction comedy will shake up people’s expectations? I know it’s a comedy but it’s still out there.
Chris: Maybe. Maybe. I’ve been in the business for a while now. I know people will interpret it their own way. Like any entertainer, I hope that people will leave with a smile on their face having been entertained, having liked the film, and weren’t distracted by anything. And as far as my role is concerned, I’m here to serve the story. If people actually kind of go ‘Oh, wow,’ then that’s just a plus. I think there are certain statements made in the film that probably people could read certain things into but, as I say, I leave interpretation up to the audience.
Nalini: I’ve been trying to walk a balance between avoiding spoilers and researching this interview, so I’ve read half the plot outline on Wikipedia. Your character in Iron Sky was the token black to help a Sarah Palin-esque presidential campaign and Nazi racism is also part of the plot. How do you feel about working on the film with these themes?
Chris: Well, you see, that’s the whole thing. Having those themes, it will speak to people in a certain way. How deep it sinks in, that is the main question. But working on a film with those themes – I think you need those themes, you need the opposite, in order to pull the story along, and that’s fine. Especially when you’re talking about certain prejudices. Sure, let’s get in there and let’s mix things up. People are obviously going to see how you handle it. It’s a reflection. It’s a reflection so people might go away taking something from it. In the end, that’s what I initially held – being entertained, but also take something away with you, and I think that’s quite important. So me being in that film I said, ‘Yeah, bring it on. Bring. It. On.’
Nalini: There’s been a lot of controversy about Game of Thrones being too white, and, more recently, Salidor Saan being misrepresented comparing what happens in episode two with what happened in the book, after his race was changed to African. Do you have any comments to make about those problems?
Chris: Okay, in Game of Thrones… I think, hopefully, we are beyond that. I would like to think we are. But there have been some things that have happened recently. And I might get a little political here…
Nalini: Go right ahead.
Chris: You know the Trayvon Martin case in the States?
Nalini: Yes, I have been following it.
Chris: I think everybody has. The question of whether or not he was black or not, really, to tell you the truth as a HUMAN race – as a HUMAN race – that shouldn’t even come into it. Unfortunately it does. I think we should have – and when I say WE, all of us as human beings – WE should have transcended that by now. As my friend once said, it’s kind of funny how we are still stuck in the same patterns. We think we move forward, but really we don’t. What happens when there is a tragedy, we recoil and do the things that we have practised, that we have always done. We do it out of fear. My friend actually says, ‘You know what man? I am waiting for the day when all of us are not even moving our mouths to talk.’ We’re actually speaking through another thing. That’s the thing: it’s not a white thing, it’s not a black thing, it’s not Chinese, it is not Australian, it’s a HUMAN thing. We ALL have to push forward regardless of where we are and what we might think. It’s the old thing where when a butterfly flaps its wings – what’s that thing?
Nalini: A butterfly flaps its wings and a cyclone happens somewhere else.
Chris: That’s life isn’t it? That’s how life is. If we can actually make things a little more open… It all starts with a ‘Hi’. It’s as simple as maybe going somewhere that you normally don’t go, maybe saying ‘hi’ to somebody, getting to know somebody outside your comfort zone. That’s how it starts. If everybody does that, how can the world not be changed? Those things, Bring. It. On. To tell you the truth, I want to do more of that, because it reflects life. It puts a mirror up to society and society goes: ‘Oh, okay.’ What was it that Aristotle – I could be wrong – but it was a philosopher that said Greeks need to see themselves in plays in order to understand the society around them and their own lives. I think that’s why we do go to the movies. Obviously we go to the movies to escape, but when things resonate, we kind of go ‘Oh.’ When you laugh at something, you laugh at something because you recognise the human folly. Not to sound like a schoolteacher, but we constantly are learning. Sorry, I probably –
Nalini: No! What you’ve been saying is fantastic. That’s great. I’m kind of now going from this awesome platform to a bit more of the mundane.
Chris: Right on, that’s life though, isn’t it? All different colours, yeah.
Nalini: Yes. Where did you train to be an actor?
Chris: Wow, good Lord… how many places? I started in a school at Point Loma College then I’ve also studied in New York, in the Howard Fine studios in LA and here. The thing is, too, with my study – you’re always a student, you know what I mean? No matter how long you’ve been doing it, you might know a lot of things but I think if you’re not always picking up little things that are a little different, then you’re not being in the moment and not actually creating. It’s really important for us to create. I was the type of person growing up who was the class clown not the class clown to the point I was being destructive because, obviously, with my parents I probably wouldn’t be alive today. But to the point where you have an audience. Any time there was an opportunity to say something or do something, I would take it. Luckily enough, I ended up with teachers who – I guess – they thought I was charming because I didn’t have anybody kick me out or flunk me or anything like that. But there’s always different training. And you always do little other things, like you might do voice with someone or you might do movement, things like that. You’re always putting tools in your belt in order to do the job that we do. Even sitting here talking to you, I’m going to take something – probably – away from this interview and I’ll use it somewhere.
Nalini: Well, that’d be great. Do you have a preferred genre?
Chris: I just say ‘whatever comes up, comes up,’ but I have done a bit of sci-fi, there is no doubt. It’s kind of funny how sci-fi is one of those genres that seems to be a little more colourblind than most genres. If you know what I mean.
Chris: There is the old joke about Star Trek. During that time I don’t think there was one black face on network TV except for that one lady who was black on Star Trek. They kind of went, ‘Oh, they don’t want us now, so maybe we’ll be somewhere in the future.’ The thing is, too, I do prefer the whole colourblind thing because, really, we’re all in the mix together. I think we’ve come to the point where we can actually accept the fact that this guy has a black father, his son who is a little bit of a different colour than him, and the daughter might be a different shade… because that’s how life is. Different people do get together. That’s the thing about sci-fi because it does take you to different worlds. But those different worlds, obviously, are a reflection of our own. In that way, maybe you have to say sci-fi is onto something. Hopefully we can get that in other genres more regularly.
Maybe some will go outside of themselves, and say hi to somebody outside their comfort zone. Obviously I have done quite a bit of sci-fi. And the thing about sci-fi fans, too, not to sound like I’m sucking up here, but the thing is they are quite loyal. I have had people just walk up to me and say, ‘Oh my god, you were in such and such,’ or ‘you were in this.’ I’m that type of person where, if people ask me for an autograph, I’m like, ‘Yes, sure.’ Who am I to say no to somebody who really keeps me in a job. Really, that’s what fans do; they keep you in a job. As funny as the acting business can be, they do keep you working. I appreciate – I don’t meant for this to sound corny – but I appreciate each and every fan that I have. They could’ve just went ‘Uh, whatever,’ but they’ve been so supportive and open and honest… it’s just been – it’s just amazing.
Nalini: I was interviewing Brandon Sanderson this morning – he’s an internationally renowned fantasy author – he was saying something fairly similar, but he was talking about how people who were in the arts used to need a patron. These days the fans – in his case the readers – are the patrons, buying the books, buying the films.
Chris: Mm. That’s true. That is so true. It is definitely give-and-take. Any time you do a job, no matter what the role might be – you could be playing the nastiest person on earth – but it has to come from a place of love. You’re putting it out there, you’re putting it out to the audience. The question is whether or not – I guess it’s like any form of love – whether or not it’s mutual or it’s requited. I’d like to think that – whatever love I happen to put out there – hopefully the fans are going ‘Okay, we accept that.’
It’s a really funny business in a lot of different ways. Obviously, with actors, sometimes we might not work for months or, heaven forbid, for years. But the thing is, you’re always keeping the nose close to the grindstone to find out what’s going on. I was supposed to be doing Paradise Lost here in Australia until they cancelled the film. I didn’t know the film was cancelled until – because they already took us over to LA and photo-scanned us and did all that stuff. Basically I’m in Berlin and I find out: oh, the film has been cancelled. Legendary pulled out. Oh, that’s a bit of a drag. I was actually looking forward to working with certain people, so I kind of went: ‘Wow, that’s a bit… hard-core.’ But that’s the nature of this business. You never know until you’re actually on the set and you start saying words and hopefully the next day we’re back again, let’s do it again. It can be fickle in that way too. It can be a bit hard-core. People ask for advice: I think you have to love it; you have to love it with your whole heart and soul because if not it’s just too hard. It’s just too hard. If you can’t do anything else then I’d say: yes, go ahead, be an actor.
Nalini: You moved to Australia from Los Angeles while pursuing a career in film. This is kind of the opposite way that it is supposed to work. It is supposed to –
Chris: Backwards, yeah.
Nalini: How is that working out for you?
Chris: I’ve done pretty well, knock on wood. Obviously there’s going to be more opportunities for things in the States, which I have travelled back for also. I guess I was just looking for a little more peaceful existence, if I can put it that way. I know I’ve always been a bit of a traveller. I guess officially I actually moved out of home when I was 10 or 11 to go to boarding school, and basically I haven’t lived at home since because I’ve always travelled. Moving to another country seemed like a natural extension really.
Every school I went to outside of my elementary school I’ve always travelled to, and I don’t mean like a little bit. Even my high school: I boarded there, and that was still almost 2 hours away. And I was in LA, so it’s not like ‘Oh, I can just go to LA High or I can just go to Power States High.’ No, I ended up going someplace far-off. I guess what you find is your natural fit. Where a lot of people might think, ‘Oh, it’s going to be too much,’ no, if it feels right, then you go and do it. That being said too, about me moving here, I do try to get back as often as I can because you have to stay fresh in the minds of certain producers and casting people. It’s always good to take a trip back. And I grew up in Los Angeles so there are certain things that I kind of need to reconnect with. I do really love living here though it’s kind of like ‘Oh, wow, I kind of hit the jackpot.’
Nalini: Are you living in the city or out in the country?
Chris: Actually it’s probably a little more country. To me that is a complete and utter stretch, because I do miss the energy and the vibe of the city. Something came up and was almost like I got offered something I couldn’t refuse. So I was like okay. But I do try to get to the city as often as I can. I’m like a little kid, ‘I’m driving to the city today, ha ha.’ Anybody who knows me, literally, I can be like a little kid sometimes with stuff like that.
Nalini: So you’re developing a balance in your life.
Chris: I’m trying to. You almost make me sound noble and wise.
Nalini: At some points in this interview you really do sound noble and wise.
Chris: [laughing] I guess – I guess – What I believe, I believe wholeheartedly. I don’t want to half do anything. If I believe in something then I have totally believe in it. That’s just me. Most of my friends, I’ve known for a very, very long time and they know that whenever anything hits the fan I’ll be there. This is how I am. What I believe in, I believe wholeheartedly.
Nalini: Good for you. It’s really important to know who you are.
Chris: I think it truly is because so many people flip-flop: they do this, they do that. Oh, I’m going to get wise again. I think it was Martin Luther King who said, ‘You need to believe in something because if you don’t, you’ll fall for anything.’ So what you believe in, believe it. That being said, I don’t think you can go around believing in things that are going to hurt other human beings. I think that’s the sort of a check you need to put up too. You can’t go around hanging people because that’s hurting people. There has to be a reality check. Which is kind of funny because going back to the Iron Sky story, with me doing anything with Nazis, you’ve got to wonder who or what will come out of the woodwork, you know what I mean? That’s why it was so important for me to meet the producer and director, to make sure we were not doing any form of propaganda. Because that’s against everything I believe in.
Nalini: That’s a risk.
Chris: That’s why it was important to me to meet them and find out what was going on here.
Nalini: What does the future hold for you now?
Chris: There’s quite a few things that I can’t really say. I hate it when I hear that, but I can’t really say. One thing I do have coming up is a movie that I think is retitled now, it was called Movie 43. It’s based on the old 1970s skit comedy movies like Kentucky Fried Movie and another one that might have been Onion Ball or something like that. It’s a series of skits that actually make up a film. I remember seeing one, a revival of Kentucky Fried Movie, and I just cracked up. I just thought oh my god, they were making this back then. A friend of mine came to me and said he was wondering if I would do this thing for him and I said sure. I read it and it was so outrageous, it was so outrageous, I said, ‘Dude, are you really going to do this? I am so in! Are you kidding me?!’ I think it’s really important to laugh, too, you know, because I don’t think the world laughs enough. You can care about things deeply but also we were put here to enjoy this thing called life. No matter what harsh things we are going through, we have to be able to find some sense of humour. I think that makes up a career really where you can do a whole array of roles that are different. A full-fledged career, anyway.
Nalini: They say variety is the spice of life.
Chris: Variety is the spice – yes, it is.
Nalini: Do you have any particular plans for this weekend apart from surviving Supanova?
Chris: Yeah, doing that. I have a birthday party for my little girl, so I have to make sure that she is happy. I don’t know how it’s going to be. But you’ve got Supanova this weekend and I get to go on to the premiere in Australia.
Nalini: Yes, on the Gold Coast next week.
Chris: Yes. That kind of keeps me afloat, then I have auditions to send off. That’s the life we have.
Nalini: Thank you very much for talking to Dark Matter.