Welcome to another of my series of interviews with the people behind the science fiction and fantasy blogs and zines.
My guest today is Christopher J Garcia, co-editor of The Drink Tank (Hugo winner for Best Fanzine in 2011, and 7-time nominee) with James Bacon and Vanessa Applegate, Journey Planet with James Bacon and various others (http://journeyplanet.weebly.com), and Klaus at Gunpoint with Vanessa Applegate (http://klausatgunpoint.weebly.com). Chris also blogs for the @CHM blog (http://computerhistory.org/atchm) and writes for anyone who’ll let him! He’s been a Best Fanwriter nominee seven times, and is a filmmaker and curator.
SCy-Fy: Chris, you write in so many different contexts – how do you organise your writing?
CJG: There is no such thing as a typical writing day for me! I tend to write at any moment I have a chance, no matter where I am. I write a lot at work as a way of staying focused by doing a dozen things at once! When I’m home, I’ll start writing while I’m watching TV. I try to write a few thousand words a day, but most of it never sees the light of day. When I get on a roll, like if I have a Drink Tank issue that just captures my interest, I can write for hours on end. Sometimes 10 or 12 hours straight. I try to get out at least two issues of something a week, but I slip sometimes.
SCy-Fy: What are your future initiatives?
CJG: Well, The Drink Tank, my first zine and still the one that’s closest to my heart, is going away on January 31st after ten years online. It won the Hugo and was a big deal for about fifteen minutes. After that, I’ll be focusing more on Klaus at Gunpoint, my film journal, and Journey Planet, which is the zine James Bacon and I co-edit with various guests. I’m also planning on doing more issues of Claims Department, which is really all about my view of the world.
SCy-Fy: Speaking of views of the world, what do you think will be the major challenges for SFF zines and blogs going forward?
CJG: Oh, there’ll be further integration with podcasts and video, but the big difference will be in how blogs are viewed. Mobile will become far more important, and blogs without mobile versions will be dead. I’ve started doing my zines in iBooks format because of the portability questions.
SCy-Fy: Tips for bloggers? For reviewers? For writers?
CJG: Super simple. Write. Publish. That’s all. Doesn’t matter if it’s unique, or even any good at all. Write. Publish. It doesn’t do anyone any good if you write and it nevers sees the light of day, and if you don’t write, you can’t publish. I’ve proven you can be a sub-par writer and editor and still do pretty well for yourself!
SCy-Fy: Your most useful resource?
CJG: Facebook. I’ve discovered that I can source huge amounts of writing from Facebook by simply posting something like “tell me about your favorite science fiction novel” or “tell me why bears scare you?”. Using Facebook has really made the job of getting articles so much easier.
SCy-Fy: Pitfalls to avoid in SFF blogging?
CJG: I’ll catch hell for saying it, but the biggest pitfall is presenting something that ignores that the blogger/writer/editor/whatever is also a person. Traditional journalism is dead, and thankfully in my eyes. The bloggers and writers I want to read are the ones who are writing about the field and fandom through the eyes of a person who is present, and human. I’m not at all interested in dispassionate response and reporting; I want to find the feelings and make new understandings of what these things mean TO people. Too many blogs see reviewers writing reviews as if they were the New York Times, and to me that’s a trap.
SCy-Fy: Things that have kept you going in hard times?
CJG: That is a tough question. Earlier this year, I stopped writing and publishing almost entirely for two months. I went through a break-up, had a mid-life crisis, started a new relationship, moved, and on and on. I didn’t write, and that affected me more than the actual stress of what was going on. I think I really need an outlet for my feelings, and writing the zines gives that to me. The hard times are what keep me going, I guess.
SCy-Fy: Posts of yours that have had the most impact or controversy?
CJG: I sorta fly under the radar as far as controversy goes, though my continued existence frequently pisses off a lot of people (Jonathan McCalmont, for example). I think the one that got the most notice was a recent issue I did in memory of Jay Lake (http://efanzines.com/DrinkTank/DrinkTank377.pdf). I also had a piece in SpecFic 2012 that got some attention. The most recent Journey Planet was the most viewed ever (http://journeyplanet.weebly.com/uploads/1/5/7/1/15715530/journeyplanet19doctorwho.pdf). I’d say that the biggest piece of SF-centered Blogging I’ve ever done was done for my Day Job – A look at Will Jankin’s A Logic Named Joe (http://www.computerhistory.org/atchm/a-logic-named-joe-by-will-f-jenkins/).
SCy-Fy: The best books of 2014?
CJG: I’ve read so little, sadly, but what I did read I enjoyed. First off, I’ll start with a non-SF graphic novel: Andre the Giant: Life and Legend. GREAT stuff. Other than that, there’s Steve Mix’s Goodbye from the Edge of Never, which is a wonderful zombie novel. The Magician’s Land was great. Hollow World by Michael Sullivan was one of the best time machine stories in years (and paired nicely with the series of short films I programmed for Cinequest) and California by Edan Lepucki was the best book I haven’t finished yet! For comics, the latest run of Saga.
SCy-Fy: Which upcoming releases are you most looking forward to reading?
CJG: Tough call, and more than anything I’m waiting for Archie Comics written by Mark Waid and drawn by Fiona Staples, but I can’t wait for the new Alastair Reynolds, Slow Bullets. I’m really excited to see what Uncanny Magazine does. The first issue, which I was a part of, was Amazing!
SCy-Fy: Any last words?
CJG: I love fanzines, and while I’m nearly 100% eZines, I still don’t consider myself a blogger much. I guess I just can’t keep up!
SCy-Fy: Thank you, Chris, and good luck with everything.