Kindle Author Interview: Christopher Truscott

Christopher Truscott, author of Stumbling Forward, discusses his book, his journey as a writer, and self-publishing on Kindle.

DAVID WISEHART: What can you tell us about Stumbling Forward?

CHRISTOPHER TRUSCOTT: Stumbling Forward is a story that was inspired by my experience working on political campaigns over the last few years and reporting on them prior to that. Fortunately the candidate in this one is fictitious, but the personality types of those drawn to this kind of work are based in reality.

The book provides a blunt look at modern politics and the motivations—good and bad—of the people involved in producing what you see in commercials and on the evening newscasts leading up to an election.

This book specifically is about a horrible candidate and the breaks he catches en route to becoming a viable contender for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

DAVID WISEHART: What research did you do for the novel?

CHRISTOPHER TRUSCOTT: I didn’t do much in the way of research. Most of the story is something I created off the top of my head. Whenever significant research would’ve been required, I opted to let the fiction process take over. For instance, I wanted to set several scenes in Stillwater, Minnesota, but I didn’t want to get bogged down on making sure things like street names correct. So, instead, I created a town called St. Croix Heights and made all that stuff up. (Stillwater is on the St. Croix River and is located right next to a town called Oak Park Heights. Took about 30 seconds to come up with St. Croix Heights.)

DAVID WISEHART: How do you develop and differentiate your characters?

CHRISTOPHER TRUSCOTT: When I started, I had five characters written down on a sheet of paper—the Republican and Democratic candidates and the three key staffers for the Democratic candidate.

Since the Democrat, Hogan, was designed to be a buffoon of the highest order, I made the Republican a very skilled and experienced politician.

Within the staff, I wanted three characters who contrasted against each other. There’s an older man (Winston Marshall) with a long track record of fighting the good fights. There’s a 30-something TV ad producer (Carter Jennings) who only cares about cashing his paychecks. And there’s a younger woman (Clarissa Rogers) who wants to change the world.

My original intent was to have a story that’s largely about Carter and Winston. Clarissa was intended to be there to simply contrast against both of them. Instead, she ended up becoming the accidental star of the team and the book (and everything to follow). I enjoyed this process so much, I did a quick blog post on it: http://christophertruscott.blogspot.com/2010/12/life-of-itstheir-own.html.

DAVID WISEHART: Who do you imagine is your ideal reader?

CHRISTOPHER TRUSCOTT: For this particular story, I think the typical reader is probably someone who liked the movie Office Space and the TV series The West Wing. Stumbling Forward is a story about cynicism and despair meeting head-on with idealism and the hope for something better.

DAVID WISEHART: What was your journey as a writer?

CHRISTOPHER TRUSCOTT: When I started writing this, in the summer of 2009, it was simply something to keep myself occupied. I fully intended for this to be a one-time thing. Very early on, however, I decided I liked my characters and began to envision new things I could do with them. Before I was a quarter of the way into Stumbling Forward, the idea for a series was born.

A second book, A Referendum on Conscience, will be published in May of 2011. In the fall, I’ll have Picking a Fight done. Two more books, one of which is in progress right now, will be published in the spring and fall of 2012.

DAVID WISEHART: What is your writing process?

CHRISTOPHER TRUSCOTT: I write whenever I can—usually in the early morning hours—and I let the characters take on a life of their own. I start each story knowing how I want it to begin and end. From there, I let the characters take care of getting me from Point A to Point B.

DAVID WISEHART: What authors most inspire you?

CHRISTOPHER TRUSCOTT: I always liked Fitzgerald and Hemingway. In fact, they were the only two authors whose work I didn’t Cliffs Note in high school and college. I like their writing style and the way in which they make observations about their time period.

DAVID WISEHART: What one book, written by someone else, do you wish you'd written yourself?

CHRISTOPHER TRUSCOTT: That’s a tough question. Recently, I really enjoyed Kill the Story by John Luciew. I’ve always wanted to do some kind of book based on my journalism experience, but I haven’t come up with anything yet. Luciew hits a home run with his newspaper-themed book.

DAVID WISEHART: How did you create your cover?

CHRISTOPHER TRUSCOTT: I gave a rough idea to a friend with design skills and he took care of the rest.

DAVID WISEHART: How have you marketed and promoted your work?

CHRISTOPHER TRUSCOTT: I use a blog (http://christophertruscott.blogspot.com), Facebook, Twitter and the Kindle Boards website.

DAVID WISEHART: Why publish on Kindle?

CHRISTOPHER TRUSCOTT: When I first started writing, I figured I would end up publishing Stumbling Forward as a series of blog posts. I didn’t discover Kindle until the summer of 2010, when a friend sent out a Facebook message about his own novel. I was almost done with Stumbling Forward at that point, so I followed his lead.

DAVID WISEHART: What advice would you give to a first-time author thinking of self-publishing on Kindle?

CHRISTOPHER TRUSCOTT: Go for it. This is a great forum to get your work out there in front of readers.

DAVID WISEHART: Thanks, and best of luck with your books.


Christopher Truscott is a former journalist who now occasionally works as a political strategist. He's a veteran of two dozen local, state and federal campaigns over the last 10 years. When he's not obsessing about politics, he can usually be found watching the Minnesota Twins or telling people about his cats, Benny and Boo. He lives in a suburb of St. Paul, Minn., and can be reached by e-mail at chris.truscott@gmail.com.

Read his blog and follow him on twitter.

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