Author Christopher St. John Sampayo grew up in Louisiana in the Toledo Bend area. He now resides in San Antonio, Texas. Christopher started writing and directing plays in San Antonio and eventually started his own theatre company. After spending several years writing and directing short films he had his first novel Haunting of Rosehaven published through J. Ellington Ashton Press in 2013. He currently has two additional novels available. They are titled Ghosts of Glass and Fields of Frozen Stars. His fourth novel will be available in 2015.
Read more about Sampayo and his books at his website: http://christopherstjohnsampayo.weebly.com/
Your books contain elements of supernatural horror, science fiction, and urban fantasy, you have a very nice literary storyteller’s tone. Do you know where some of this voice comes from?
I was a kid who got dazzled by movies. I like that idea of being carried off to magic places. Horror, Science Fiction, and Urban Fantasy all have elements of this. I also love words. I’ve always been fascinated by theatre and narration. I try to find those kind of tones in my writing. I think there’s something interesting in the idea of being carried away by words.
Do you any major influences? What elements from these influences do you draw from?
Probably the two biggest influences for me as a writer are Clive Barker and Neil Gaiman. Their work has a very modern day fairy tale like quality to it and I love that. I like the idea of telling stories about everyday life with something just out of the ordinary.
Your first book, Haunting of Rosehaven, is based on your hometown in Lousiana, what elements made it into the book? Do you have a favorite part in the book?
The area I grew up is near Toledo Bend in Louisiana. That plays a very important role in my story. In Rosehaven I started to find my voice as a writer. There are sections where I talk about the beauty of the moment and I think that’s something I focus on a lot in my work.
You’ve said in past interviews that you really have to feel invested and influenced by an idea to write it, does this ever leave you feeling adrift in between books?
I’ve been very lucky that the ideas just kind of keep coming lately. I think a lot of that has to do with my publisher J. Ellington Ashton Press and their tremendous support. Knowing that you have a publisher willing to invest in you really allows you to keep running with your ideas. There’s now a good reason to get creative and keep pushing the ideas where they may go.
You have a strong background in theater and plays. Do you think that this helped you to be more relaxed and open to critique as a writer? If so, what elements helped you to develop?
Life is a learning process. I think with writing it will be a continuous process of hopefully progress. I want to get better and better. I also want my work to get more ambitious in the sense of creative ideas. I want to try to always think outside the box with my work. So with that as my goal having constant critiques help you to get better. That’s how I look at it.
Ghosts of Glass is a bit more fantasy than your other two books. What inspired it and was it a difficult book to write?
With Ghosts of Glass I was just like…screw it. What have I got to lose? I’m gonna throw everything I’m interested in all into one book and see what comes out. I just wrote things I wanted to talk about. In hindsight…I’m actually surprised it worked out. It was basically one big story blender. Luckily the readers have enjoyed the concoction.
You have a unique link with your fans and interact with them regularly. What do you think this offers to you as an author and to your fans as readers? Does it influence your writing in any way?
I recently told someone that as a writer “words are given their vibrancy by the reader.” I find this very true. What would be the point of having the best hundred thousand word manuscript if you didn’t have 1 reader? I feel very fortunate that people are willing to spend their hard earned money on my work and their time reading it.
Tell me a little about your latest book, Fields of Frozen Stars, where did the idea for the book come from? Do you think the ideas you started with came through in the finished book?
The idea that was the primary basis for Fields of Frozen Stars involves what I think is a very important question in 2015. That question is what is a connection and what can we label as friendship. I have met a lot of great people through the internet and developed what I consider good friendships. These are not friendships in the traditional sense. I’ve never met most of these people. But I interact with them very regularly. So I think in this internet age we have to ask ourselves what do we define as real “friendship?” Is it day to day interactions? Even if these interactions are just
Facebook posts and emails? I think the book does a good job of making the reader ponder that question. At the end of the day that’s all I can really hope for. To raise the question in a person’s mind resonates more than me giving them my answer.
Many writers focus on building a brand with an eye toward marketing to readers rather than directly addressing them, do you think your style works better? If so, what have your learned that made this true for you?
I can’t say my style “works better” than any other particular style. I haven’t cracked the New York Times Bestsellers list yet. I think though a lot of it has to do with personal philosophy for life. I think some might think fans are fortunate to have them. I feel that I’m fortunate to have fans. I’ve worked in music, with film, and now I’m a writer. There were periods where I was eager to have anyone listen to or see my work. Now that I have people who are willing to spend their time and money on my work I appreciate it and never take it for granted. I want my fans to know that.
Do you have any books in progress at the moment? What sort of stories can we expect to see in the future?
I’m currently in the final editing process of my fourth book. I’m kind of patching together ideas and questions for the fifth book. When it comes to my future work I’m obsessed lately with coming up with ideas that aren’t lazy. I need to feel that I’m working hard to be able to think outside the box and push myself. I never want to feel like I’m phoning it in, so to speak. If I ever reach that point where I feel I’m just being lazy and writing just to write then I will be very let down.