BP: What are you reading these days?
CS: I’m in the middle of a bunch of books right now, which is pretty typical for me. At the moment, How the Mind Works by Stephen Pinker, Orca by Jason M. Colby (a non-fiction book about humanity’s history with killer whales), Children of Time (great hard scifi by Adrian Tchaikovsky) plus a bunch of comics and graphic novels. I read all of those in different ways at different times (Audible, e-reader, hard copy), so what I’m reading at any moment is somewhat defined by what I’m doing.
BP: What books did you love as a child?
CS: I LOVED the Narnia books by C.S. Lewis. Read the whole series over and over. I also had a series of hardcover “Great Classics” type books my parents kept adding to over time – so things like Swiss Family Robinson, Black Beauty, Little Men and Little Women – anything and everything. Choose Your Own Adventure books, Madeline L’Engle, Ursula K. LeGuin, and then around middle school it was really off to the races. Susan Cooper, Stephen King, Piers Anthony, Asimov, so much more. I’ve always been voracious.
BP: What’s the hardest thing about writing?
CS: The time, for me. It can be hard to find that mix of solitude and inspiration you need to really get the good stuff flowing. I have a lot going on – and I’m lucky to have the work and the opportunities – but it does require me to shift focus constantly from one story to the next.
BP: What’s the best thing about writing?
CS: That extremely satisfying ‘click’ in my soul when I know I’ve come up with something really good – and then the reaction of readers when it lands the way I was hoping. Sometimes you can just tell you’re on to something great. Not always, but it’s amazing when it happens.
BP: What’s your favorite word?
CS: Maybe ‘onomatopoeia’? Hard to say. There are an awful lot of words. I also like ‘lightsaber.’
BP: What’s a sentence you’ve loved and remembered from a book?
CS: I’m bad at this – I tend to remember moments more than sentences. I’m like that with music too – I remember beats, feelings, timbres more than lyrics.
BP: Do you have any weird writing habits?
CS: I wouldn’t say “weird,” really – I do a ton of work in longhand, and when I do that, it’s always in pencil, usually a particular type of pencil I prefer (Blackwing 602s). Breaking story in pen just seems too rigid, too inflexible. Pencil lets you go where you need to go.
BP: Who are your literary influences?
CS: Stephen King, Neal Stephenson, Neil Gaiman, David Mitchell, Jhumpa Lahiri, Garcia Marquez, Saramago, Rushdie, Lethem, Chabon…
BP: What’s your favorite place to write?
CS: Anywhere I can see the water or the mountains.
BP: What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer?
CS: Most likely working as an attorney, since that’s what I was doing before writing happened. If not that, then music. I’ve been a pretty serious musician since I was in high school.