With my third author this morning, I was really excited. I was going to meet Christopher Pike. You know, Pike, the guy from that TV show. Or maybe the actor who played him in the latest movie. But when I opened the transporter doors to meet him…here’s this boring guy who wants to go to the beach in Santa Barbara and sit on a park bench. No, I’m serious. Boring. Lest you think I’m being cruel, he’ll tell you himself.
Actually, the day is warm, the water is relaxing, there are the Santa Barbara islands in the distance, and boring or not, Pike is a cool guy. The author, I mean. I don’t know about the actor.
1. Who are you and what makes you the most fascinating person in your city?
I’m a writer. I’m mostly known for YA novels but I’ve written a few adult books. My real name is Kevin McFadden but I write under the pseudonym Christopher Pike. I chose the pen name on the spur of the moment with my first book, Slumber Party, was published. I thought Slumber Party would be a nothing book but it became a bestseller. So I was stuck with the name, which I didn’t mind at the time. My middle name is Christopher and I went by that name in elementary school and junior high because there were several Kevins in the school, and one of them was a girl. The pseudonym does come from a character on Star Trek but at the time maybe one in a thousand people knew that. But recently, when Star Trek got rebooted by that JJ Abrams fellow, he made Captain Christopher Pike a famous guy and then people thought it was weird I’d chosen Christopher Pike as my pen name.
2. Without revealing a deep dark secret (unless you want to), what one thing would people be surprised to learn about you?
I’m boring. My girlfriend of fifteen years, Abir, assures me this is the case. Nevertheless, the majority of people who read my books or follow my posts on Facebook all think I’m fascinating, very witty. But I go out of my way to never meet these people because I fear they’ll discover what my girlfriend knows to be true. But I do occasionally wonder if my girlfriend isn’t simply jealous of me.
3. What interested you to become a writer rather than something else such as rock star?
I wanted to be a rock star. Every teenager in the world wants to be a rock star. They can deny it but if they do they’re lying. In high school, I tried desperately to learn to play the guitar. I was born with exceptionally large hands. My fingers are long and sleek and slender. I probably would have made an incredible surgeon. But I had trouble learning to play the guitar, even though my older brother, Mike, tried to help me. But then one day Mike turned his back on me and played two different chords. He asked if I could tell one from the other. I said, “No. They sound the same to me.” It was then Mike told me I was tone deaf and could never be a musician.
So I became a writer.
4. Writers are readers. With which author(s) would you enjoy sharing dinner? Why?
I grew up reading tons of sci-fi. To me, the greatest writer in the world was Arthur C. Clarke. I read Childhood’s End and The City and the Stars a thousand times. I also loved Isaac Asimov. He’d written a lot more books and had great ideas. But Clarke was my god — I wished I could have met him. However, when I got famous as a YA novelist in the eighties and nineties I published a sci-fi novel called The Season of Passage. It has an intense cult following. Clarke apparently read of my admiration for him and wrote me a letter saying he’d read the book and complimented me that it was a wonderful read. But then he added, “Your vision of Mars is absolute rubbish.”
Because most of my books start with a bang and never let up. They kick ass. They’d keep you entertained. But me personally, I’d probably bore you.
6. Share your process of writing in regards to: plot and character development, story outline, research (do you Google or visit places/people, or make it up on the spot), writing schedule, editing and number of rewrites.
When I was younger I used to outline my books in detail before I’d sit to write. I wanted to know everything that was going to happen ahead of time. I also didn’t want to waste hundreds of hours writing chapters I might never use. Then I’d write a draft, all the way to the end. Rewrite it, touch it with the help of my editor, Marjorie Hanlon, and publish it. I wrote four YA’s books a year for years. But nowadays YA books are longer and I have to write them much more carefully. However, I no longer outline. With Strange Girl, my new novel, I just let the story take me where it wanted to go. I’ve discovered it’s more fun to write that way.
7. “I think I have a good idea for a story, but I don’t know how or where to begin. Your process may not work for me. Any advice?”
If you don’t think my process will work for you, then why are you asking me? What I would do is not worry so much and just start writing your book. Really, no one can tell you how to write. At best they can only point you in the right direction. I’m pointing you toward your computer. Just get to work and ask me about your book when it’s finished. Then I might have something to say.
8. I saw an amusing tee shirt the other day that read, “Every great idea I have gets me in trouble.” What is your philosophy on life?
My philosophy on life is that I’ll never figure it out. When I was twenty I was sure I understood exactly how the universe worked. At thirty I had dropped all the opinions I’d had at twenty, but now I was confident about what I knew. At forty I realized everything I thought I knew at thirty was garbage. At fifty I finally admitted I knew nothing. Right now I’m stuck in the, “I know nothing” phase. I think I’ll be here for the duration.
9. Please tell me you’re not going to stop writing. What’s next for you?
I’ll never stop writing. The only time I’m truly happy is when I’m writing, or walking, or talking to my girlfriend, who thinks I’m boring. As far as what’s next for me, that’s a secret. Seriously, my next book is so amazing I don’t want to give even a hint what it’s about. Someone will try to steal it. It’s better than Hunger Games, Harry Potter, Twilight, and maybe Fifty Shades of Grey, although I have to admit that was the most brilliant book written in the last hundred years.
10. Where can people find more information on you and your projects?
I post on Facebook pretty regularly, on a Christopher Pike fan page someone I never met started. The people on the site are pretty cool. No one insults each other or calls each other awful names like they do on the rest of the Internet. My fans are amazing, really, I never seem to bore them.