Christopher Artinian was born and raised in Leeds, West Yorkshire. Wanting to escape life in a big city and concentrate more on working to live than living to work, he moved to the Outer Hebrides in the north-west of Scotland in 2004, and has lived there ever since with his wife and dogs. He released his debut novel, Safe Haven: Rise of the Rams in February 2017, the first instalment of a post-apocalyptic zombie series.
GJ: What is your inspiration for writing post-apocalyptic zombie novels?
CA: I love the genre and I’ve read hundreds of post-apocalyptic novels. When I started writing the Safe Haven series P.A. was a perfect medium to tell the story I wanted to tell.
GJ: Can you describe your journey to releasing your first novel?
CA: It was a pretty long journey. I’d written book one and two before I even thought about self-publishing. They were kicking about for a couple of years, and I’d sent spec letters out to agents, but had no interest. To be honest, I didn’t really know anything about the indie scene. I knew if I was going to do it, that I would need to get my book professionally edited, and I’d need to get a cover for it; but the whole process was very alien to me, so I was starting from scratch. What I didn’t know, I learned. What I couldn’t learn, I paid for, and at one stage I was holding down three jobs just to get the money together to get the books out there. But if you believe in something you have to make sacrifices. They were sacrifices worth making.
GJ: I think it’s fair to say you’ve been extremely successful in the just two years since you’ve released your first novel. Apart from your obviously great writing and storylines, what do you put that success down to?
CA: I have an incredible readership. The guys across in the fan club are just amazing. It is genuinely a privilege for me to be a part of that group and when a new book is on the horizon, their word of mouth creates a buzz that I couldn’t buy.
My wife also works relentlessly trying to get the books to a wider audience. She does a lot of research for me, and we never sit back and take anything for granted. We work seven days, and we work long hours. We don’t always get things right, but when things go wrong, we don’t let it get to us. We’re not people who give in to “poor me” syndrome. We own our mistakes, and when we screw up, we come back fighting harder than before.
GJ: For those who don’t know your writing, can you describe the premise behind Safe Haven?
CA: Ultimately, Safe Haven is about family. It is about relationships and the definition of family. There are a core of characters the story centres around and everyone seems to have their own favourites. Mike and his sister end up having to look after their younger siblings following the death of their stepfather. The world is falling apart around them as the zombie apocalypse unfolds, and it becomes a trial as to what they are prepared to do to protect the family unit.
GJ: I count a back catalogue of seven novels and novellas since your debut, one novel a quarter, ignoring all the short stories. Can you give us an insight into your process of writing and producing a novel in such a short space of time? Or can I have the schematics to the time machine you’ve invented?
CA: Hahaha. As of 26th April it will be seven novels and two novellas. Since I went full time this year I have become far more disciplined, but before that, I think I was pretty slow, but that was due to me working such long hours in my day job.
On my writing days I do four thousand words. It’s not a case of “feeling like writing”, I have to write. It helps that I absolutely love what I do, but some days it comes easily, and some days it comes hard. Regardless though, this is how I make my living now, so I have to be focussed and disciplined otherwise it will all come crashing down around me. I’ve clocked a few nineteen hour days since January, but like I say, I love what I do.
So as far as process goes, that’s it. Sit down and write, and don’t stop until you’re done.
GJ: The second book in your second series ‘The End of Everything’ releases on 26th April. Can you explain the premise behind the series?
CA: It’s about two young sisters who are orphaned thanks to the zombie virus. They have no special skills. They are not particularly world wise, but they have to find a way to survive.
GJ: If you weren’t writing PA fiction, do you know what other genre you would write in?
CA: I enjoy writing horror too, but I started a thriller shortly after Realm of the Raiders that I would like to get my teeth into again at some point.
GJ: What can we expect from your writing in 2019/2020?
CA: Lots. Book 2 of The End of Everything comes out on 26th April. Book 3 -31st May. Safe Haven Book 5 -28th June. Then I’ve got a brand new series starting, and Book 1 of that will be released 26th July, with Book 2 coming out on 30th August. Those are all the definites so far, but I’m hoping to go straight back to The End of Everything after that, with another Safe Haven out before the end of the year too. I’m aiming towards at least half a dozen new releases in 2020 as well, but I think it will end up being quite a bit more than that.
GJ: You probably live in one of the best places to survive a zombie apocalypse. How prepared are you?
CA: Yeah, we’re kind of out on a limb across here aren’t we? We live on the west side of the island and it’s pretty remote, so I don’t anticipate being attacked by marauding hordes of zombies. We try to do our food shopping monthly, so if the apocalypse was to occur, if it fell on the right day, it could be all over before we knew anything about it.
GJ: What would you describe as the best aspect of being an author?
CA: Doing something I love doing and getting paid for it. I will never take it for granted.
GJ: What would you consider to be the most effective marketing method for promoting your zombie apocalypse novels? (Asking for a friend)
CA: Building up a loyal readership who like what you do. The guys across in the fan club have always been there for me. They always help spread the word when I have a new release coming out and as far as I’m concerned, that is by far and away the best marketing tool.
GJ: Thank you for taking the time to talk with me today. Christopher’s books are all available from Amazon now and the second in ‘The End of Everything’ series is available to pre-order now and is released on 26th April!
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