Interview with Chris Carter
First of all I want to thank you for taking the time to answer our questions. Would you be so kind and give our readers a short introduction of yourself?
My name is Chris Carter. I was born in Brasilia, Brazil where I spent my childhood and teenage years. After graduating from high school at the early age of 16, I moved to the USA where I studied Psychology with specialization in Criminal Behavior. During my University years I held a variety of odd jobs, ranging from flipping burgers to being part of an all male exotic dancing group.
I worked as a Criminal Behavior Psychologist for several years before moving to Los Angeles, where I swapped the suits and briefcases for ripped jeans, bandanas and an electric guitar. After a spell playing for several glam rock bands, I decided to try my luck in London, where I was fortunate enough to have played for a number of well-established artists.
I left the music business a few years ago to write full time. I now live in London and have written seven novels – The Crucifix Killer, The Executioner, The Night Stalker, The Death Sculptor, One By One, An Evil Mind and I Am Death. My eighth novel – Answer Me will be published in February 2017.
You have studied criminal psychology. Then you became a professional musician and finally a writer. How does that fit together?
Well, I obviously use criminal psychology in my writing. The music doesn’t fit with the writing, but I always manage to mention a few bands in my novels. My main character, Robert Hunter, also likes rock music.
Do you sometimes regret that you swapped the guitar for the pen? I can imagine that it was awesome touring all over the world with all those interesting places und people.
No I don’t. Yes, touring was great and all, but I did that for long enough. I think that I was lucky enough to change professions at the right time.
How many of your own experiences do you use for your books?
Every one of my novels is a little mix between real facts and imagination. More imagination than facts, to be truthful, with the exception of An Evil Mind, which was mainly based on real facts.
How much of yourself do you put in your characters?
I guess that in between Hunter and Garcia there’s quite a bit of me.
Did you already think about a series when you wrote your first Hunter and Garcia novel?
No, not at all. My first novel, The Crucifix Killer, was supposed to be a stand-alone novel. It was my agent, Darley Anderson, who read the manuscript and suggested that I changed the ending. He suggested that I made the story into a series. He told me that he thought that my main character, Robert Hunter, was a strong enough character to become a series detective. I took his suggestion on board and rewrote the last ten chapters of the book.
“An evil mind” was the first book you’ve published in the United States. What were your thoughts on getting in the U.S. market with the 6th novel of the series instead of the first one? What were the reactions on the book?
Obviously I would’ve preferred that the series were released in the US in the correct sequence, but that wasn’t up to me. The good thing is that all of my novels are stand-alone stories, so any reader who picks up An Evil Mind will be able to understand the whole story without the need for the previous books.
The reaction has been great. Better than what I was expecting.
Do you think there’s a difference between the UK and the US market? And how about the rest of the world?
Yes, I believe that there’s a big difference between markets, being the US, UK or any other country. My novels are now published in twenty-eight different languages across the world and some markets differ greatly from each other. I am very lucky that my novels do well in most of the places that they have been released.
How often are you asked about the X-Files? When I told a friend that you agreed to this interview she said „Wow, that dude who invented Mulder and Scully?“ When I said „No, that guy who writes the Hunter and Garcia novels“ she answered „Oh, that’s not the same person?“
Since the new series of the X-Files was released a couple of months ago, I get messages about it on my Facebook page quite often. I always reply saying that they have picked the wrong Chris Carter.
We just had the discussion why thrillers get more and more violent. Your books show a high grade of visual violence. What do you think on this? Is violence necessary for this kind of books? Or is it the people who want their novels the way you write them?
I understand that my novels are described as quite violent, but the violence isn’t important to me when I’m writing. I try to describe a scene the way I see it in my mind and in the best way I can. Due to my previous profession and the type of reports I used to write, I tend to be quite detailed when it comes to describing crime scenes, and maybe that’s why my books are considered violent.
People have different reading tastes, and I understand that my novels aren’t for everyone, but I know that I give my best every time I write a new book. Some people will like it, some people won’t, but I know that I’ve done the best I could, and that’s all I can do.
You’re successful with the Hunter & Garcia series and with your background it seems logical that you write thrillers. But could you imagine to do something totally different although?
I guess that as long as people want to read Hunter stories, I’ll keep on writing them. At the moment I have no plans to do something different, but you never know. Maybe I will.
How does a normal day in your life look like?
My weekdays are pretty boring, really. I get up early everyday and go to the gym. Once I get back home I start writing at around 8 or 8.30. I write all day until about 5 or 6 in the afternoon. It depends on the day. In the evenings I usually listen to music, watch films, go out with friends, it varies, but that’s it. That’s the bulk of my week.
Of course there are some classy questions I ask everytime I do an interview. First of all: where do you get your inspiration from? Do you have any idols?
My inspiration, if it can be called that, comes from my crazy head.
No, I have no writing idols.
How do you work? Do you use a pen or a computer? Do you work at your desk or somewhere else, at a coffee shop for example?
Always a computer. I make way too many mistakes to be able to use a pen or an old-fashioned typewriter.
Yes, I have an office in my apartment, where I work. I can’t really work in a coffee shop or anywhere like that. The noise doesn’t distract me. It’s the movement of people walking around me that gets me.
How long does it take you to finish a new novel?
Usually, if I don’t decide to throw half of the book away (this happened with I Am Death), around seven to eight months.
Do read you a lot? Graham Masterton once told me he doesn’t like to read anymore since he became a fulltime writer. If you read are there any writers you would recommend?
No, I definitely don’t read a lot. In average, I read about two to three books a year, if that. Not because I don’t like it, but because I’m a really slow reader, and I don’t usually find the time to read.
What can we expect from Chris Carter in the future? Are there any projects you’re currently working on?
I’m always working on my next book. I have now just finished my eighth novel – Answer Me – and my head is already wrapping itself around the story for my ninth book.
If somebody would come to you and say „Hey Chris, I want to become a writer“ what would be the first advice you’d give him?
Don’t do it. It’s too much hard work.
Are there any projects you dream about to realize?
I would love to have one of my novels adapted into a movie. It hasn’t happened yet, bt I live in hope.