Chris Rylander is the author of the acclaimed and bestselling Fourth Stall trilogy and Codename Zero. He is a fan of wizards, small trees and talking hats. He was born and raised in North Dakota , and currently lives in Chicago with his wife and dog. For more info, visit his website.
Would you rather be able to speak with all animals or all foreign languages?
Definitely all foreign languages. Part of the fun of animals is wondering what they’re thinking. Plus, I don’t think they’d offer very interesting conversations aside from talk about food and sleeping.
Would you rather have a free Starbucks for a year or free iTunes forever?
Free iTunes forever, easily. I love music.
Would you rather be considered a total oddball to everyone you meet or be considered completely average with nothing particularly interesting about you?
The former is already true! I think oddities are what make life interesting. I myself gravitate toward strange people/senses of humor.
Harry Potter or Twilight? Or neither?
Harry Potter. Might be the easiest question I’ve ever been asked. That series is truly remarkable. What it did for kids, and books, and writers, and the industry in general can’t be overstated.
Would you rather have the ability to read minds or teleport?
Teleport, I don’t think I’d want to know what people are really thinking. Plus, I love to travel.
Would you rather have unicorns be real or mermaids?
Unicorns are real.
What made you decide to follow a creative career choice (though possibly risky) rather than something more stable?
You don’t have to choose. The fact is, I think it’s somewhat irresponsible to go “all in” on writing, especially if you have a family or any dependents. Because you can do both. I had a day job for the first five or six years of my writing career. And in fact many published writers are never able to quit their day jobs. It’s a sobering reality, but it is the reality. You have to sell a lot of books to make a living as a writer and that’s not easy to do for most of us. I consider myself extremely lucky that I was eventually able to quit my day job. I always viewed writing as something I do for fun, and I never, ever, ever expected to end up making a living doing it.
In terms of your writing, how would you like to be remembered?
I think it’s detrimental to writing to think about it in this way. I think it’s better to simply focus on what you want to be writing in the moment.
How has personal experience influenced your writing?
A ton. In fact, it’s everything. And not even just what I experience first hand. Scenes from movies and books and song lyrics and stories people tell me, all of these things make up a great portion of what I’m inspired to write.
What do you do to keep yourself motivated and interested in your work?
This may sound canned, but it’s to only write stories that interest and motivate me! If I get bored with an idea, then I toss it aside. Writing should always be fun.
What is your favorite accomplishment?
Just the simple fact that this is my only job. It’s hard to ask for anything more than that. I wake up every day appreciating my reality.
Do you ever create hidden meanings or messages in your work?
I try not to. But I do love to hide references to my favorite music, sports, movies and books in my writing. My books are packed with references to my favorite things.
Do you pay attention to others’ strong reactions to your work? Does that affect what you create?
I pay attention only out of curiosity. Reader reactions rarely affect me in any way. I can take negative responses better than most writers, I think. It’s hard to say why that is. But it’s kind of nice, since I don’t have to avoid reviews the way a lot of writers do.
If your writing were edible, what would it taste like?
Blueberry jam. Also my writing is edible. I always encourage literal consumption of my books.
Has rejection ever affected your desire to continue writing?
Never. Never even close. If rejection made me want to quit, then I wouldn’t be writing for the right reasons.
What kind of jobs did you have before yourcareer took off?
Video stores, Burger King, Barnes & Noble, movie theaters, bank call center, Medicare administration, gun for hire, dragon slayer. My favorite jobs were Barnes and Noble and video stores since I was surrounded by things I love all day.
What was the biggest opposing force that you encountered on your writing journey?
Getting published is really hard. Luckily, I found it kind of fun to query agents and that sort of stuff. I liked that process, oddly enough. And I have hundreds of rejections.
If you could interview any author (past or present), who would you choose?
George Saunders is incredible. So is Flannery O’Connor.
If you could choose a theme song for the rest of your life, what would it be?