Interview with Author Chris Tetreault-Blay
Chris Tetreault-Blay brings something different to the table on Lvl-Up today. A horror writer turned children’s book author, Chris gives us some fantastic insight into cross genre writing and the benefits of the process. Chris, like myself holds down a full time job, is a father and husband but squeezes his writing in between.
His first children’s book has been published by Cranthorpe Milner and is available to buy from major retailers such as Waterstones.
His next horror book “Poison In The Well: Part One” is out May 29th and the follow up to his Children’s story will be released in Autumn. It’s called “It’s a Long Night for Santa”.
Chris Tetreault-Blay Books for Sale
It's A Long Way to the Moon
The Sowing Season
Other Books Available
What Inspired you to write?
I never set out to “be a writer”, but I do believe that the ambition for it was always there, somewhere deep within. However it wasn’t until 2013 that I seriously started to put thoughts of mine down on paper and starting my writing journey. I can trace the time back to the summer of that year when my wife found out we were going to be parents. Within a couple of days, I was trying to write down all of my racing thoughts, in the form of a diary intended to tell my children one day more about who I was and what my life was like as we expected their arrival.
However, around the same time I had been experimenting with slightly darker stories that were forming in my head, fuelled by my love of the horror genre and heavy metal music. I had three separate short stories on the go and eventually they forced themselves to the forefront of my mind and forced my “journey to fatherhood” diary to the side.
The more I wrote these stories, the more they formed together into one concept and – lo and behold – by the following summer I had the makings of a full novel.
Although I started my writing journey with penning some dark, twisted horror stories, I credit my children as being the main motivation, giving me the kick I needed to want to finally put words on a page. And more recently, they would be my main inspiration behind switching over from horror to writing my own children’s book.
How did you get your first book Noticed?
It actually all happened relatively quickly. I finished writing the bulk of what was to be my debut novel (‘Acolyte’) as part of NaNoWriMo 2014, adding a new ending in the month thereafter. Then in early-2015, I noticed a Facebook post on my feed that advertised open submissions for Bloodhound Books. I still felt fairly out of my depth but my wife told me I should give it a shot.
And so I sent them off my manuscript and within a couple of weeks I had a response and an offer for publication from them.
I count myself very fortunate in my dream coming true at the first attempt, but believe it was simply a case of ‘right place, right time’ and my wife’s unwavering support and encouragement that pushed me to make that step in the first place.
What one bit of advice would you want to give yourself when first starting out?
‘Don’t rush it.’
As soon as I realised that I was in fact writing a novel, my desire to be published and see my name on a spine on a bookshelf next to other great writers went into overdrive. I found myself trying to rush the writing, forcing the ideas through in order to get the book finished. As a result, I feel my debut offering could have been stronger had I taken more time towards the end or even forged out some kind of plan beforehand (rather than just going complete ‘pantser’-style and just writing whatever came to me).
But then again, I look at ‘Acolyte’ as being a piece of work that totally reflects where I was as a person and a writer at the very beginning.
Do you think of this as a full time career or a Hobby with ambitions?
It is most definitely a hobby with ambitions. I write when life allows me, which isn’t as much nowadays as when I first started out. I still have a regular full-time job and am a father and a husband, all of which has to come before my writing. But I still hold out hope that one day I will have the opportunity for my writing to become a career.
Which Author do you admire the most?
Wilbur Smith, Dean Koontz and James Herbert are the main authors who urged me to become a writer by first captivating me as a reader, something which I struggled with for a long time. I haven’t been blessed with a great attention span, so during my early – and even teenage – years sitting down with a book was a big ask. However when I was gifted a copy of Wilbur Smith’s ‘When The Lion Feeds’, I found I couldn’t put it down. Koontz and Herbert helped to shape my style as a horror writer thereafter.
Most recently, however, I owe a lot to Julia Donaldson. My kids and I discovered her books together, as I spent many a night reciting ‘Room on the Broom’ and ‘The Gruffalo’ to them at bedtime, and loving every minute of reading her books as they did hearing them. She is the one writer who inspired me to write my own rhyming children’s book, ‘It’s A Long Way To The Moon’. I wanted to be able to write something that was as warm and charming a story – and as much a joy for the parents to read – as I found hers to be.
Finally, What one bit of advice will help anyone Lvl-up their work?
Wow, that is a tricky question. Mainly as I can’t think of one single piece of advice to pass on; there would be many.
In the creative sense, I would say never tie yourself to just one genre, if you can. Feel free and confident to explore writing across different fields. The experiences and feedback that come with each will differ and will help shape you as a writer in a much broader sense. For myself, writing in two such very different genres (horror fiction and children’s books) has helped me reach a wider audience for both sides of my word, oddly enough. Readers of my horror fiction may have children and then become interested ‘It’s A Long Way To The Moon’, and vice-versa with the parents who buy ‘…Moon.’
In regards to the more professional side, however, I will always say if you are seeking a publisher always make sure you go with one who shares the same vision and passion for your book as you do. You need to be confident that the end product reflects the vision you had for your own work when you were writing it, otherwise what was the point?
Great to get some insight from another genre, and also some fantastic insight into how different genres can inspire creativity and a point of difference in both. You can check out Chris’ other