I was born and raised in Southern Ontario, Canada – currently residing in Toronto. Ever since I was a kid I dreamed of being a writer, and author – I was one of those geeky kids who skipped class to go read in the library! The realization of my dream of becoming an author was a circuitous process – I began writing for our local newspaper right out of high school and ended up as a television host first on a local movie themed talk show I co-created, then on a national show on the arts that won us a slew of awards – it was only then that I was able to finally become the thing I dreamed of – an author.
Tell us about your latest book.
My latest book is my first foray into the realm of books for kids, it is called Isabelle, The Butterfly and it was written in collaboration with my eight year old daughter Isabelle. It is a little story about recognizing the magic that exists all around us, even if we aren’t aware of it.
The book came about as a spark of an idea when Isabelle and I were browsing in a bookstore in the city where she lives, Windsor, Ontario – we happened upon a copy of my previous book, The Suite Life – The Magic and Mystery of Hotel Living, we looked through it and Isabelle casually mentioned, “maybe we could write a book together some time…” and it all started right there and then.
My next book is called In Hemingway’s Room and it is about the hotels around the world that Hemingway loved and had adventures in and wrote his books in – I am a big hotel guy myself and have written a lot on hotels, so the idea of tracing the footsteps of a literary idol of mine during his adventures in hotels was something I found irresistible – it will be my second book for Fountain Blue Publishing.
What genre do you enjoy writing the most and why?
I don’t know that I have a specific genre that I enjoy more than another – my first eight books were biographies, my ninth a kind of a memoir, my tenth is a kid’s book – so I am open to any kind of writing. I have to say that through my writing in book form and as a journalist I do enjoy writing about adventure travel a lot.
From where do you draw your inspiration?
I draw inspiration from anywhere and everywhere – from the books I read and the people I meet, the films I have loved and the extensive travel I had done – I think a true writer is inspired by life itself and all its mysteries and wonders. You just have to leave yourself wide open and be accepting of ideas and inspiration from anywhere because you really never known from where it will come at you.
Do you ever base your characters on real people in your life?
As I mentioned above – my first eight books were biographies so they were not just based on real people but about them – and I have never written a book on anyone that I haven’t met and spent time with, so the answer to your question here is yes!
What authors inspire your writing?
I am inspired by many different authors and the list changes all the time – whenever I am exposed to a writer I have never read I am all of a sudden hit with another wave of inspiration by their work – currently I have been reading a few of the earlier books from writer-chef Anthony Bourdain whose writing I find enormously entertaining and interesting.
What kind of books do you like to read?
Again, I read anything and everything – I love biographies, I have a fascination for books on Ancient Rome – I read lots of books on fitness and health, I love reading cookbooks – I have a fondness for old pulp noir crime novels, especially the lean and tight works of guys like James M. Cain and Jim Thompson. I have enjoyed following the career of Stephen King and Lee Child…so the answer is – just about anything!
How have your real life experiences influenced your writing?
Yes, my real life travels and adventures literally inspired my ninth book, The Suite Life – The Magic and Mystery of Hotel Living. My history with a particular hotel and my fascination with the world of hotel living and hotel culture was the subject of that book – the book I had been wanting to write for a number of years.
What do you like to do when you are not writing?
When I am not writing I am an avid runner with three marathons, so far, completed – I love long walks, I enjoy watching sports – everything from European soccer (I am a huge Real Madrid fan) to NASCAR (my drivers are Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick).
What was your road to publishing like? Tell us about it.
Well, I became a published writer out of high school when the entertainment editor of my local newspaper asked me to fill in for him. Seeing my thoughts and words in print was intoxicating, as I knew it would be when I dreamed of being an author as a kid. I wrote for the paper for a few years before ending up as a TV host – after being in New York interviewing James Cameron for my TV show I was approached by Doubleday-Random House to do a book on James Cameron and his work. I was thrilled to the high heavens that I was going to get that opportunity to be an author finally and jumped at the chance – that was followed by books on John Woo, Johnny Depp, Mickey Rourke, Johnny Depp again, Kiefer Sutherland, Britney Spears…but I have to say that all throughout the TV stuff and everything I always thought of myself as a writer – I wrote every day no matter where I was or what I was doing.
How did you come up with the title of your book?
To be honest, I don’t know! We decided to call our main character Isabelle because I like the name and calling it Isabelle, The Butterfly seemed cool because in our story the little butterfly calls herself Isabelle as well because she is so fascinated by the little girl named Isabelle – so it just seemed a simple and true title.
Is your book a stand alone or a series?
Well, it was written just as a stand alone – but there is no reason in the world why we couldn’t revisit this character with another story or adventure is the inspiration grabs us!
Do you read the genre you write for or do you prefer other genres?
I read kid’s books to my daughter when she was a baby and a toddler for sure but I never read kid’s books with the idea that I would one day want to do one. But in terms of adventure travel and biographies, I most certainly read them all the time.
What celebrity would you chose to play the main character(s) in the movie rendition of your book?
I don’t know – I guess since my daughter Isabelle has appeared in a couple short films I would suggest to the director or casting person that she be given a shot! But, if such an opportunity were to arise I think given the nature of our story a non-celebrity would serve it best – a fresh face that we may not have seen before.
Have you joined any writer’s groups?
No, I have never formally joined any writers groups.
Have you won any awards for your writing?
I have won awards for my TV stuff but not for writing – I honestly see the greatest reward for me as a writer as just seeing a book published and out there to join all the other works in bookstores and libraries - one of my biggest thrills as a writer came the first time I saw one of my books in a second hand bookstore – I knew the circle was complete then as it was used bookstores where I got most of my education and inspiration as a writer.
What is the easiest part of the writing process for you?
The easiest part of writing for me is the first draft – I always do my first drafts in hand writing with one of my favourite pens – either a Waterman or a Caran d’Ache – I just love filling notebooks with ideas and passages and research and then putting it all together like a great puzzle.
What is your preferred writing environment?
My preferred writing environment is a comfortable hotel suite.
How would you describe your writing style?
My writing style is fast and loose – I love to just pour it all out and then whittle it back – I just write with a kind of wild abandon, leaving no idea unexplored – then once I have exhausted myself that way and sift and sort through what I have and with the help of an editor we try to get it to where it was supposed to be.
Do you have a careful plan when plotting your stories or do you just go with the flow?
Go with the flow, baby – just pour it all out there.
With many publishing routes available today, which felt the most reliable to you when it came to the many choices?
For me I have tended towards no having a preferred route – I have found that the work finds the publishing avenue that it was meant to be presented through – some books need big time publishing houses, some require the intimacy of a small publishing house – I have written for newspapers and magazines and on-line publications – all have their benefits and strengths – it is a matter of what the appropriate avenue is for the particular piece you are working on.
When did you know you truly wanted to give writing a shot?
That was never a conscious decision for me – I believe a writer is what you are, not what you do. I have loved writing and books since I could write and read – there was never a choice for me.
Christopher can be found on twitter: @AuthorCHeard
Find him on Facebook: The Suite Life: The Magic and Mystery of Hotel Living.