So a while back I found myself desperate to spend some credit I had on Amazon. After much debate, many searches, and a touching soul-searching montage, I decided to go for a book.Not just any book mind you, but one written by a fellow member of The Spoony Experiment.
I’ve been wanting to get my hands on Mossfoot’s book, “Bleeding Heart Yard”, for some time now, and with everything said and done I now have it.
It’s good. I can say that now. If you’re into the supernatural and the more spiritual aspects of life, check it out. It’s a love story that combines love and horror in a great way, and reminds us all that monsters in love stories usually didn’t sparkle in the sun like a little woodland pixie.
I’ll have a full review up soon… but in the mean time, I have something special!
Really though, because I’m lucky to be part of the exclusive TSE forums and have the ability to stal–I mean, contact Mossfoot (who will be referred to by his name, Noah Chinn, from this point on) and not have to wait 8 years to hear back, I managed to con him into agreeing to an interview! Woohoo! Let’s see how that went down. ;)
Snarky: When did you start writing? What were some of your first stories about, if you don’t mind sharing?
Chinn: I’ve wanted to write stories since I was a kid. I remember as a kid seeing a film in the library outlining the writing process through the eyes of a children’s author. It made the whole idea of writing real stories, not just class assignments, seem possible.
I didn’t write a novel until the last years of high school. I had a lot of false starts before that, but never got past a dozen pages. The novel I wrote was for a creative writing class, something I spent the year before working on. It was a cyberpunk novel, it was 100,000 words long, and it was pretty darn bad.
After that I tried getting short stories published, mostly science fiction and fantasy. I had more luck getting newspaper and magazine articles published, however. It wasn’t until I started a webcomic, Fuzzy Knights, that I began to develop the kind of discipline that was needed for longer projects. And I thank Stephen King’s book On Writing for giving me the final lessons I needed to get back to writing novels, and doing it good, er, well, er… dammit!
Snarky: Bleeding Heart Yard is your first published novel, and it’s probably safe to say your time living in London served as some inspiration, right? Other than just that, where did you get the idea for the story?
Chinn: Yes, I used to work at a bookstore right near Bleeding Heart Yard. I knew it would make a good location just because of the name and look, especially after I learned a bit about its history and the myths connected to it. BHY started out as a short story. The curse was there, but the characters were limited to Red, Peter, and Amy. There was no monster, and it had a different kind of ending.
When I decided to make it into a novel, the Twilight series was just becoming a phenomenon, and I saw the influence it was having on other stories. I quickly got sick of the whole misunderstood-bad-boy-monster-a-girl-falls-in-love-with thing and wanted to write something with the monster firmly back in its proper place. I also wanted to try something different with the monster – a creature that wasn’t really a werewolf, vampire, rakshasa, or anything else like that, but could easily have inspired those myths to come about.
But the Twilight phenomenon also made me think a lot about love. So many romantic plots and sub-plots feel tacked on. Romeo and Juliet is about two horny teenagers, one of whom is on the rebound. Why do they love each other? I dunno. Just because. I wanted Bleeding Heart Yard to ask a few questions about love and relationships, and hopefully have some interesting talking points, if not actual answers.
Snarky: What about your characters–any particular inspiration for them? I really hope you didn’t know somebody like Red’s mom.
Chinn: No, but I think as kids we might have all known an adult or two who was mysterious, reclusive, and intimidating. Someone who the local kids heard rumours and stories about. Chances are a lot of it came from our own childish imaginations rather than reality, but there you have it.
As for the others, I didn’t really have an inspiration. In writing characters I tend to start off one of two ways – either with a person I know (and quickly deviate from) or a key defining characteristic of who they are from which to build on. In this case they were all the latter. Red’s carefree and eccentric, Peter is practical and logical, Amy is a dreamer and Eve is a cynic. I started with them as adults, then later thought about their childhoods and how they became those kinds of adults.
I will say, however, that there’s a bit of me in Evelyn. Her bitterness and disillusionment to the supernatural, her eagerness to reveal it as a fraud, and the part of her that wishes deep down that it was real, all mirror my own feelings on the subject.
Snarky: So throughout the book there are legends about Bleeding Heart Yard and how it got its name. Are all of these actual legends in London?
Chinn: All but the last one, and while I invented it I did draw upon early english history as a setting. The other legends of Bleeding Heart Yard come from other sources, such as Charles Dickens and the Ingoldsby Legends. I usually had to elaborate on them to fit the style of my narrative (also because their original forms are very very short), but the core of the legends are true to their sources.
Snarky: A lot of thought went into this story and the magic mentioned in it. Have you always had an interest in magic and curses and such?
Chinn: I’m more interested in the rules of magic, and more importantly the consistency, than of magic itself. Magic on its own is just wish fulfilment. I dislike it when magic is used as a “solve anything” device, which is inherently boring. If you’re going to have it at all, you need to set the rules and limits, and make sure you stick to them (or if you must break them, have consequences for that).
As as I mentioned before, I don’t believe in the supernatural. It’s a wonderful thing to write about, especially when there’s an actual historical connection involved, but I don’t believe in the supernatural or magic in real life. Fortunately, real life is often far more amazing and surprising that any fantasy. You just have to know where to look.
Snarky: Don’t want to give too much away, but Peter’s curse is certainly a unique one. How did you think that up?
Chinn: To me the best curses are those that give you something you would want, but twists it so it’s the worst possible thing that could happen. King Midas’s golden touch, for example, or Cassandra’s ability to see the future (but nobody would ever believe her). Peter’s curse comes from the same kind of knife twist, but hopefully not in a way anyone will see coming.
Snarky: Your second book, Trooper #4, released this year, and your next book, Getting Rid of Gary, isn’t far behind. Is there anything you’d like to share to brainwash–I mean, convince people to check them out?
Chinn: Trooper #4 is a story I can’t explain too much about. It’s a post-zombie(ish)-apocalypse, with all the kinds of trappings you’d expect for such a story: a lone survivor, someone they need to protect, the world gone to hell and the reader not entirely sure how it got that way.
I compare the story structure to Moon, the Duncan Jones film starring Sam Rockwell. You very quickly think you know what the big twist is going to be, and start patting yourself on the back for being so clever so early in the film. But rather than have you wait till the end for the big reveal it just up and tells you, “Yep, you’re right” about five minutes later.
Moon does this again and again. Each time you think, “Oh, this is what they’re setting up for the big twist,” and again and again it just comes out and tells you you’re right. It’s not about the twist, it’s about what happens after the twist. I’d like to think Trooper #4 does something similar.
Getting Rid of Gary is set in Toronto in 1985 and should appeal to anyone who loves a good mystery. It’s a murder mystery without the murder, and that’s actually a key plot point. You see, I love Agatha Christie novels. Often the victims are quite tragic, but sometimes there’s quite a good reason for the murder. Sometimes the victim got what they deserved.
But what about someone who hated the victim so much they wanted to get rid of them, but not enough to cross the line and actually kill them? That was the starting point for Getting Rid of Gary, where the victim wake up in a box in the middle of the Peruvian jungle.
Snarky: Not a question, but I like your hat.
Chinn: Thanks. It’s a Tilley Endurables town fedora. Took me forever to find the right one. It’s almost a shame that look is getting popular again. I searched forever for a hat that was “me” and now it seems like everyone and their dog is wearing a trilby, porkpie, or fedora.
I sort of apologize for the weird formatting. Apparently wordpress hates my guts, or it hates interviews I conduct. Either way, I want to thank Noah again for answering my questions and and encourage everybody to check out his website. There you’ll find links for buying his books, information about him, and all kinds of stuff he decided to share with the world. You won’t regret it.