Release Date: 7/28/2015
Publisher: Asymmetrical Press
Amazon Quicklink: http://asymmetrical.co/chicken
Can you tell us about yourself?
Well, first off, my name is Chase Night, and no, that’s not a pseudonym. I’m 32 years old, and I live in Arkansas with my wife and our animals. I was born and raised here, but I’ve also lived in NYC and Austin, Texas, and what I learned was that everywhere you go is going to be amazing and awful, so I came home. It’s not as exciting as NY or interesting as Austin, and definitely not as progressive, but the mountains are gorgeous and the cost of living is low. I poke fun of the place through Casper’s dry observations in CHICKEN, but I also tried to capture its natural beauty because growing up, the only book I ever read that even came close to being set in Arkansas was Where The Red Fern Grows, which takes place in the Ozark Mountains of northeast Oklahoma. I can’t tell you how excited I was a few years ago when I found John Corey Whaley’s Where Things Come Back in the bookstore. When you live in a small town, it’s a nice escape to read about far away places, but never seeing a town quite like mine also made me feel really, really alone.
What was your inspiration to write Chicken?
Three summers ago, Mike Huckabee, the guy who governed Arkansas when I was a teenager, declared August 1 to be Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day after the restaurant was boycotted for donating money to anti-gay hate groups. I was living in a college town at the time, and I thought okay, no one here is still backwards enough to show up for this stupid thing, so I drove by my local Chick-Fil-A to assure myself they were having a normal, uneventful business day. WRONG. It was a record sales day, and policemen has to be diverted from their real jobs to come in and manage traffic, which was overflowing onto one of the city’s main highways. I drove away that day with my protagonist Casper Quinn in the passenger seat, and spent the next three years recording the story he wanted to tell me.
While writing Chicken, were you a plotter or a pantser? (Basically meaning did you outline or go with the flow)
I went back and forth. I started out pantsing, and then I had to back off and do some plotting, and then when I’d plotted myself into a corner I didn’t want to be in, I had to go back to pantsing. I think this is the push and pull between an author’s control and a character’s free will. When I started, I had only a vague idea of where the story was going, and I started to get lost so I made a plan, but then in the process of following that plan, Casper and his love interest Brant (and really all the characters) became real people with motivations, needs, and dreams that didn’t always line up with the ones I’d given them. That’s why looking back, I say I was recording the story Casper wanted to tell me. In Pentecostal churches like the one that Casper and Brant attend, and the one I personally grew up in, it’s common for people to get up and give their personal testimony, or the story of how Jesus “saved” them. And I think in the end, the structure of CHICKEN kind of copies that format, where you’ve got this boy giving you a first-hand account of how love changed everything.
What was the hardest part about the publishing process?
To be honest, I skipped most of the hard parts. CHICKEN was published by Asymmetrical, an indie press with a small stable of handpicked authors. I never queried or got rejected. I didn’t need an agent to do my negotiations. And I couldn’t be happier with my experience with the Asymmetrical team. They were so supportive in this process and believe in the book even when I felt hopelessly lost. So I would have to say that the hardest part has been external reactions to my unique publication path. It’s hard seeing the interest fade from someone’s eyes when they find out your book didn’t come from the Big Six or one of their imprints. Readers have become very dependent on those gatekeepers to tell them what’s worth reading, and if you don’t have that stamp of approval, convincing people your book doesn’t automatically suck just because it’s an indie can be a real uphill climb.
What’s your favorite food? Curious minds want to know… 😉
Pepperoni pizza, easy sauce, extra cheese.
If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why?
Oh, wow, I’m looking at my shelf right now, and there’s so much to choose from, and so many reasons why I’d love to have written so many books, but… I think I’m going to say Noggin by John Corey Whaley. I think it’s really amazing how he took this really bizarre idea and created this incredibly moving story about a boy who comes of age five years after his girlfriend and best friend got to. I was so skeptical when I first heard about it, but I gave it a chance, and it really blew me away with how easy it was to relate this kid who wakes up with his head attached to a new body.
Are you currently working on a book? If so, can you give us any juicy details? 🙂
I’ve just gone back to working on the book I was working on before CHICKEN. It’s called THE NATURAL STATE, and it takes place in the same town as CHICKEN and features many of the same secondary characters, but the main characters are in their early twenties and it takes place in 2008 as the economy is crashing and Obama is running for President. It’s a millennial story with magic realism. I can’t say much more than that without spoiling CHICKEN, but the stories are related and there is a third book in the works that will feature characters from both novels.
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Read. Read what you love to read, and don’t let anyone make you feel bad for not loving to read something else.
About the Author:
Chase Night was born and raised in Arkansas, which he claims is both far better and worse than everything that has been said. He graduated from the University of Central Arkansas with a B.A. in Creative Writing, a mere thirteen years after first enrolling. He lives in Arkansas with his wife, three dogs, one cat, and an immortal garden snail. CHICKEN is his debut novel.