Hi folks. As part of our Author Spotlight, we’ll be spending some time this month with Russ Colchamiro. So far he’s been spending his Crazy 8 Press time squarely in the scifi world, and what a time it’s been. We have a new Q& A with Russ, where he unveils all sorts of goodies. Take a look …
Crazy 8: Let’s jump right in. Your new book is Crossline. Give us the quick rundown. What’s it about?
Russ: Crossline is a fun scifi adventure — think Firefly meets Back to the Future.
But to flesh out it a bit, Marcus Powell is a modern day space pilot, who through mysterious circumstances is forced through a wormhole and into a parallel Earth, where he ends up in the middle of a war he may have been destined for all along.
Meanwhile, back on our Earth, we learn the history of Buddy Rheams Jr, the poor, uneducated gas attendant from nowhere Texas, who stumbled into owning oil wells, became a tycoon, and used his wealth and influence to create the space program and develop the technology that ultimately displaced Marcus Powell in time and space.
Throughout the novel we learn how and why the lives of these two very different men intersect, and what that will mean for both of them.
Crazy 8: Thematically Crossline is about discovering just how far you would go to return to your family, when separated through incredible circumstances. How has that theme affected you personally? Why is that theme important to you?
Russ: As a father of two young children, my worldview has obviously changed. Each day I’m more embedded with my own family, and the notion of being ripped away from them is sobering. Writing Crossline actually helped me gain clarity. It’s one thing to say, “I’d do anything for my family.” But what does that really mean? It sounds big and important and noble to say the words out loud, but if put to the test, ‘anything’ becomes something specific, and that’s when we strip away the clutter. As a husband and father, I’ve come to realize just how unimportant most other endeavors can be. That’s not to say I think other people or activities don’t matter. They do! It’s just that there’s lots of noise out there, and when I’m calm, and let the distractions pass me by, it’s easier to understand and embrace what matters most.
Crazy 8: Did you base any of your characters on real people? If so, how much of the ‘real’ person made it onto the page? Do you have any guilt pangs about revealing their personality for others to read?
Russ: Chill, who is sort of the Obi Wan Kenobi-type character in Crossline, is based on a real person, someone who has had an incredible influence on me. I can say without exaggeration that without this person, my life would have taken a very different turn, and my guess is that I would have struggled for a much longer time to find my way.
In terms of how I wrote the character, Chill is obviously not the same as the real person; I made very distinct changes. But Chill was my way of honoring this man, who I respect immensely, and whose guidance and wisdom has helped shaped my views, both philosophically and how I approach my day to day. He’s a great man. My intention was to have those qualities influence the other characters in Crossline, predominantly Powell.
Crazy 8: What did you edit OUT of this book? Are you saving that material for sequels or another project? Or did the scene/character just not work in the context of this book, or perhaps just not work at all?
Russ: There were a handful of additional scenes with Chandra Powell, the wife of Marcus Powell. I liked the scenes — they built up the character and added more humor — but ultimately they slowed the pace of the novel. Chandra’s a great character. She’s strong and feisty and in a very real way is one of the novel’s true heroes. But I needed to keep the plot moving along. Besides, she gets plenty of ‘screen time’ when it counts most.
Crazy 8: Switching gears a bit … your first book was Finders Keepers Now that you’ve had time to reflect on it, and knowing what you know now about your craft and the audience’s reactions, what would you do differently if you had the chance to start over and write it again fresh?
Russ: Even though Finders Keepers is a flat-out comedy, as with Crossline, there are multiple characters, and we see the story from their distinct points of view. As such, we jump from character to character. I really like this style of storytelling, but if I had to do again, I would have spent longer stretches with each character in Finders Keepers as we’re first introduced to them, so that the reader can really sink in and ‘get’ where they’re coming from. Looking back I can see that maybe I was zipping along a little faster than I intended. The readers can ultimately catch up, but I would have taken a deeper breath to start the novel. It’s still super fun, tho!
Russ: The Stand, by Stephen King, is my fiction bible. Great storytelling, great characters. Vivid imagery. I refer to it often. Also, any number of novels by Christopher Moore, who for my money is the funniest author out there. Lamb, You Suck, and Fool are favorites. I also love the biographies of David McCullough, including Truman, the Great Bridge, and the Jamestown Flood. Though fact-based, they read like mysterious, and have helped me see how to structure my own stories.
Crazy 8: What book — which is relatively unknown to others — do you strongly recommend that others read? Why?
Russ: Body of a Girl, by Leah Stewart. It’s about a young, female crime reporter who gets too close to a story she’s investigating about the murder of another young woman, who she feels was a kindred spirit of sorts. The reporter loses herself in the investigation, and finds herself delving into some murky waters. It’s taught and compelling. One of my favorite books of the last ten years or so.
Crazy 8: Last question. Shameless plug time. Where can we find your new book, and how can we, as readers, most easily interact with you?
Russ: Finders Keepers and Crossline are both available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo, as well as through Crazy 8 Press and my Web site.
I’m out there on social media, so for those who want to connect, here’s the best places to find me:
And for extra fun:
Check out the Crossline book trailer.
Enjoy the Finders Keepers book trailer.