Read Part One here.
Read Part Two here.
Read Part Three here.
Read Part Four here.
Airship Ambassador: What do you consider your first real writing experience? Was it the back-to-school exercise of “What I did this Summer” or something you just did on your own?
C.T. Hutt: The most significant early writing experience for me came a little later in life than most writers I know. I was teaching English in Kyoto, Japan. While I loved my time in Japan, I was starved for my native language. I gobbled up every English novel I could get my hands on. At the time, I was particularly keen for the works of my childhood hero, Stephen King. I happened across a copy of his seminal autobiography and instructive work On Writing. Some of the exercises and helpful encouragements in that book made me think “Hey, maybe I could do this.” Saying that to oneself is the first step toward a lifetime of craft.
Over the months that followed I wrote and submitted dozens of short stories to magazines all over the world, all of which were rejected, but I had developed a taste for writing that carried me all the way to my current station in Colorado.
AA: How have you and your work grown and changed over time?
CTH: I used to write short, humorous extemporanea. I still write shorter pieces occasionally, but most of my work goes to the Havoc’s Children series. I don’t see that changing in the near future. A couple of short stories I set in Thereafter were fairly well received, so I may type up a couple more of those.
AA: In your experience as a writer, what have been the hardest and most useful skills to learn?
CTH: Having a low tolerance for adverbs has been a hard-learned skill. Try as I might, there are always more of them hanging around than I would like. It’s practically impossible to get rid of all of them.
AA: What story would you like to write but haven’t, yet?
CTH: Of course, I have three more books to work on in The Havoc’s Children saga but the history of Thereafter is rich with opportunities. I’ve been playing around with the idea of writing a sort of documentary piece on The Deadwake Blight, the first such event to occur in Thereafter, set some three hundred years before The Westfall Blight. We’ll see, I don’t see the well running dry anytime soon.
AA: Writing can be a challenge some days. What are some of your methods to stay motivated and creative?
CTH: I drink copious amounts of coffee and demand 2,000 words of myself every day. The longer I put it off, the less sleep I get. Simple as that. I find that I get the best work out of myself early in the day. The more disciplined I am about it, the better I feel.
The only stumbling block for my motivation is finances. Pen work doesn’t pay much, never has, never will. I’ll write until the put me in the ground (maybe even after) but I don’t live in anticipation that it will ever make me rich. Then again, I doubt my garden will ever make me rich neither. Still, the flowers are nice and I do enjoy a home grown tomato so I figure I’ll keep at it.
AA: That’s a great attitude, and there’s nothing tastier than food you’ve grown in your own garden. How is Colorado for writing? Does location matter for resources, access, publicity, etc
CTH: I’m not sure if location matters to everyone, but it definitely matters to me.
Sometimes when I look up at the Rocky Mountains from my window I think that Colorado is where I was always meant to be. The sprawling, untamed forests, the mild winters, vast plains, bustling cities, and clear, starry skies it’s a wonderful state of geography and mind. Coming out here to write was one of the best decisions I ever made for myself.
As I mentioned in one of my previous answers, London has ink running through its veins. I found writing there to be as natural as breathing. Washington, D.C. is a bitter, political swamp. My work there was sarcastic and stuffed with acrid metaphor. The winters in Maine are dark, long, and cold, but the summers are perfect. What little writing I’ve done there when visiting our family farm has been warm and well-steeped in nostalgia.
Traveling is a natural catalyst for pen work. If I had my druthers, I’d navigate the world and see what it felt like to write all over the place. Even if I didn’t get anything worth beans on the page it would still be a grand adventure.
AA: In your experience, does it seem like readers prefer a print or electronic format? Do you have a preference?
CTH: Havoc’s Children is currently only available in digital formats. I’d love to see it printed, but I don’t have a printing press in my basement. I suppose it is something I’ll need to look into. Hugh Howey of the Silo Series created an excellent model for balancing self-publishing on the digital side of things with traditional publishing. We’ll have to see how things go.
AA: I absolutely love the Silo series, and I like how he’s opened his world to other writers to create their own stories and expand the whole world and experience. Have you been affected by electronic piracy of your work? Aside from the loss of a sale, how does this affect you/make you feel?
CTH: I find pirates to be the least of my worries. They can normally be bought off with a few doubloons and a bucket of rum.
AA: Rum will do that for a large number of people 🙂 Do people outside the regular reading, steampunk, and convention communities recognize you for Havoc’s Children? What kind of reactions have you received?
CTH: I have yet to be recognized, I hope I can stay somewhat obscure personally as that matches my idiom. I did have a friend of a friend say, “I can’t believe I actually know the guy who wrote this.” I went ahead and took that as a complement, but I think that’s about as much recognition as I can stand.
AA: Well, I hope this interview series helps with sales and general readership but doesn’t take away from your privacy. How was school for you? How did it affect how you got here today?
CTH: School was fine, but I’ll be damned before I give the alumni association a dime. I’ve faked my death several times, but they always seem to find my address.
AA: If you weren’t an author, what else would you be doing now?
CTH: I’d probably still be working for Uncle Sam in some capacity. I work mostly in marketing and analytics these days and I can tell you there is a desperate need for government bodies, great and small, to make better use of the data at their fingertips.
AA: Most of the authors I’ve talked with have some type of day job and that writing is their other job. What has that situation been for you and how has it helped/hindered being a published writer?
CTH: As I mentioned, I run my own AdWords and data analytics shop in Boulder, Colorado. I help small businesses find new customers by objectively analyzing where they are getting business from and expanding those pipelines. It’s a lot of number crunching, but it is nice to get a work out for both sides of my brain. I think that working while writing has helped me immensely as an author given the fact that I require food to live.
We’ll pause here in our chat with C.T. Hutt. Join us again for the conclusion when he talks about his interests.
You can support C.T. and our community by getting your copy of Havoc’s Children: Dog Days of Thereafter here.
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