I was born in 1985, in a time when being a full-time writer just wasn’t considered a viable career option. Consequently, I spent the majority of my life feeling like I don’t fit in, trying to figure out why I’m not really interested in doing anything, while completely ignoring the fact that I was interested in writing.
From an early age, I had a passion for books and stories of all kinds, especially science-fiction, which offered plenty of new worlds to explore in addition to this one. Basically, I try to cram as many lives as I can into the one I was granted.
After completing my studies in Letters and getting a Master’s Degree in American Studies – where I wrote my thesis on the music of Tom Waits – I settled for a comfortable job in IT support, which I rather enjoyed. However, something didn’t feel quite right.
A journey to the Dominican Republic to be a groomsman at my buddy’s wedding, and a near-fatal encounter with a knife-wielding hooker (I know, but it’s not what it sounds like) really helped put things into perspective. Upon returning, I decided that life is too grand a project not to be undertaken with maximum passion and dedication. In other words, I realized that I owed it to myself and the people I love to be the best that I could possibly be, and that was not going to happen in a corporate environment. With the support of a wonderful wife and a loving family, I quit my job to become a full-time writer.
I spent the first few months crafting a novel which I promptly shelved, and then I wrote Mindguard, the science fiction story I had been dreaming to tell all my life. Because of the wonders of the internet and this amazing world we live in, I went on to publish Mindguard on Amazon in September of 2014.
When I’m not working on sci-fi novels and short stories, I’m busy writing articles for various websites and magazines (most notably Cracked.com), and for my own jazz-themed website The Music and Myth.
I also enjoy taking photographs, working out, traveling and spending my evenings drinking wine and listening to jazz records in the company of my lovely wife, Ioana and our Netherland dwarf bunny, Picky.
What inspires you to write?
What inspires me to write is mostly my sense of wonder with the world and my fascination with basically everything that constitutes information. I love to read. I read everything I can get my hands on. I’m really interested in a wide variety of topics, from photography to wine, kickboxing, ancient history, philosophy, psychology jazz, pro wrestling, American urban folklore… you name it. But I was never able to just narrow my interests down to one topic, where I could say “Ok, I’m going to become a photographer or sommelier or a kickboxer etc.” I could never just devote my time to the in-depth study of one particular topic. I’d much rather know a little bit about everything than a lot about one thing. I worked in IT for over two years but when I got home in the evening I wouldn’t study C++. Instead, I’d sit down with a book about Tibetan Buddhism or the behavior of the Bonobo. Writing seemed like a good way to put my love for reading to good use. It feels like the only profession which can allow me to become the best that I can possibly be. I’m never going to reach my full potential as an IT guy, but I just might as a writer…someday.
I think in life you really need to pursue the one occupation to which you can contribute the most. If you’re out with your friends having a beer and talking about sports but in the back of your mind you’re thinking about writing code, then you need to be a computer programmer, otherwise your potential is wasted.
One other thing that inspires me to write is just living life as a writer. I sort of reverse-engineered my life. Most people write in their free time, trying to get stuff published hoping that, one day, they can write full-time. I just decided to quit my job and become a full-time writer and only then worry about what I was going to write or how I was going to publish it. I was very fortunate to be able to do that, and I’m grateful for it every day. I think I get a lot of inspiration from just living the writer life. I get up in the morning and I lock myself in my little home-office, with my Netherland dwarf bunny and I write. I’m supposed to write, because I’m a writer. I think being in this atmosphere helps me come up with stuff. I think it makes it a lot easier to come up with stuff, than if I had been working eight hours as a tech support guy and then coming home to write in the evenings.
Tell us about your writing process.
My whole life is a writing process. Whenever you’re involved in anything creative, there’s never an “off” switch. I try to physically write, or do writing-related work (like this interview I’m doing right now) for at least eight hours a day. I want to treat it like a full-time job, otherwise there is always the temptation to slack off. But even when the physical writing process ends, the mental one never really does. I think that’s the same for all artists. I’ll be in the shower or cleaning up the house and I’ll “write” half a chapter. Because it’s always running in the back of my head, like I mentioned before. I came up with the concept of a mindguard while taking a walk with my wife. That’s when I also created Sheldon, my main character. The whole plot for the Mindguard sequel, “Bride of Mindguard” came to me while shaving one morning. Just kidding, it’s not going to be called “Bride of Mindguard”. But it did come to me while shaving.
I get many ideas while I read and usually, when I’m in a bit of a bind, the resolution appears after working out. I work out a lot and I recommend it to anyone involved in anything creative. It will really stimulate the thought process. Actually, I recommend it to anyone involved in anything. Work out! Get the blood flowing! It’s the best thing you could possibly do for your mind.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I do something a lot creepier than that: I act out the scenes. For particularly emotional or difficult scenes I’ll get into the role of a certain character and act it out, like an actor preparing for an audition. You should see how my bunny looks at me. This way, I’ll get a sense of what works and what doesn’t. If a certain bit of dialogue feels off to me, if it feels awkward coming out of my own mouth, then I know it has no business being in the book. I need to be able to personally be comfortable saying the words, before I’ll entrust them to my characters.
I’ll often listen to music and visualize a certain scene as part of a movie trailer before I’ll write it down. Maybe that’s why some readers described Mindguard as “cinematic”. Are you reading this, Christopher Nolan? I’m open to discussion.
Anyway, I’ve used Michael Gallaso’s entire “Scenes” record for some of Sheldon’s scenes and I used Sofia Rei’s song, De Tierra y Oro to build the climactic confrontation between my main characters, Sheldon and Tamisa. There you go, cross-promotion… free publicity!
Who are your favorite authors?
Well, since I’ll read pretty much anything it’s kind of hard to call anyone my “favorite author”. Frank Herbert’s Dune is my favorite novel, and he is the writer who has influenced me more than any other, so I guess you could call him my favorite. However, I’ve only read the Dune series and the Pandora series. Meanwhile, I’ve read over thirty of Dean Koontz’ books, but I don’t have any single one of his works that I could say has really influenced me. I just enjoy his stories a lot. It’s all about stories. I’ve only read one book by Frank Schaetzing – The Swarm – but it’s one of my favorite sci-fi novels ever. Seriously, if you can find an English translation, read this book. It’s so good. I’ve also read many of Andreas Eschbach’s works, and they’re all brilliant. This guy is a genius. It’s a shame most his books haven’t been translated to English, at least as far as I know.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
Since my approach was basically to shoot first and ask questions later, I didn’t really think very hard when it came to what exactly I was going to do once I finished writing my novel. I just knew that I wanted to write Mindguard (it took me over a year, by the way) and then I was somehow going to get people to read it. I thought I’d just send it out to a literary agent and get a publisher and a million dollar contract and Edward Norton playing Sheldon in the movie. Turns out it’s a bit more complicated to get people to give you the time of day in this business, especially when you have a Romanian name and have never traveled to New York.
I discovered self-publishing when I came across Hugh Howey’s Wool, and got acquainted with his success story, for lack of a better term. This whole idea of self-publishing, of having control over your own work really appealed to me. I read up all I could find on Hugh and KBoards (love you guys!) and KDP and decided to give it a try. I published Mindguard on September 3rd, one day before my wife’s birthday (the novel is dedicated to her) and now I have a bunch of people reading it and giving me feedback. It’s the greatest feeling in the world. Sometimes, I’ll just stop whatever I’m doing and think “I know for a fact that there is someone reading my story right now”. That would have never happened without self-publishing and I am so grateful for it.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I think the future of art in general is an open environment with a lot of diversity. The Internet and self-made artists are making sure that new stories are being told all the time, whether it’s in music or film or writing. I think the advent of self-publishing is the best thing that ever happened to the writing industry. It’s certainly the best thing that ever happened to me. My name is Andrei Cherascu, I live in Timisoara Romania and I’ve never traveled to an English-speaking country – who was going to publish me? The big five? I doubt it. Mindguard could be the best science fiction novel ever written (it’s not) and no publishing house would ever take a chance on it because the story doesn’t seem to fit into a traditional mold. The author sure as hell doesn’t.
I don’t understand the people who are devotedly opposed to self-publishing. You get a greater diversity of stories and styles and narrative identities at a lower price. The public gets to decide what they want to read, and they have a greater selection of literature than ever to choose from. Some say that self-publishing has lead to an increase of “bad books”. I disagree. I think it’s very hard to say what constitutes a “good book”, since tastes can vary so wildly. Some will accept the occasional typo if it means getting to read a truly original story that differs from the “market-approved” books we seem to read over and over again. It’s not like self-published books are taking “space” from traditionally published books or each other. I don’t know, I’m just not a big fan of a small group of people getting to decide what everyone else is allowed to read.
The same thing applies to other art forms. That’s why we see the same Hollywood movie over and over again under a different name and hear the same shit song on the radio. I run a jazz blog called The Music and Myth where I review records and gigs and get to interview musicians and I’m thankful for all the independent artists. The internet is bringing all these great indie artists to light. I never would have heard of Sofia Rei or Marc Ribot if it weren’t for the internet. And I’ll always much rather listen to Xela Zaid on soundcloud (look him up!) and then go watch his show when he’s touring Europe than whatever they’re playing on the radio at any given moment or what Sony decides I should be able to choose from in a record store. You’re sure not going to hear “Whitney Whispers” on the radio.
Give me dynamic diversity over static uniformity any day.
What genres do you write?
What formats are your books in?