NTN: We interview Chad Rohrbacher

I first noticed Chad Rohrbacher from his story Soliloquy and Whatnot over at Flash Fiction Offensive. It was a marvelous mix of punishing crime fiction and dark humour wrapped up in an easy conversational style. I’ve read other shorts he’s written, and his work appears in The Lost Children, the anthology released for charity earlier this year. When I found out he had a longer work coming, I thought this would be a good time to make sure everyone knew about this new talent.

Chad will have his novel Karma Backlash published by Snubnose Press in 2012. Their announcement reads: “Parts of Karma Backlash have appeared online at A Twist of Noir, Powder Burn Flash and The Flash Fiction Offensive. Think Gun Monkeys meets Red Harvest.”

I had a chance to ask a few questions of Chad.

Can you tell us a bit about why you write crime fiction?
Because I can kill people and be a real cynical jerk, which is very unlike me in real life. Ask anybody.

Have you focused on short fiction, or have you written novels all along?
I actually started with poetry and screenwriting. I love both forms quite a bit and each taught me different aspects of writing as a craft instead of merely a soul purging explosion on the page. The screenwriting in particular set me up to write the novel.

Can you tell us a bit about your upcoming novel?
Karma Backlash is about love. Aren’t they all? It might be a twisted, screwed up, three kinds of bloody pulp love, but that’s what it is.

Derby Ballard is a middle aged, blue collar gangster in Toledo, Ohio. The woman he loved just left him and he does what every person with a broken heart does: tries to pretend he didn’t care. He’s thinking he might just pack it in, get out of the crime game, and then his best friend’s head explodes in front of him. It spirals downward from there.

When you say screenwriting prepared you to write a novel, do you mean that your novels tend to form as screeplays in your head, or that the demands of writing that material prepared you for novel length work? Or something different entirely?
After writing five full-length screenplays that received some decent attention, a novel didn’t seem that daunting. Syd Field, the screenwriting guru, discusses many things a screenplay is supposed to do. Know the characters. This does not mean know just the pro and antagonist, but all the secondary characters as well. He discusses scenes as tight, descriptive bullets (ok, not those words, but you get the idea) that have to pierce the heart of what you want to say. Since it’s film, think in images. That is a great piece of advice that I kept in mind while I wrote.

Plot, he argues, needs to be laid out. Know your ending. Here, I fail miserably. For my novel, I had an idea of what the end would be, but I didn’t force myself. If the characters took me in a different direction, I let them.

You can read Chad’s work in The Lost Children, an anthology of crime writing benefiting PROTECT: The National Association to Protect Children, and Children 1st Scotland. The book can be ordered below – if you read it let us know what you think. Watch for more details on Karma Backlash here on Crime Fiction Lover.

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4 Comments

  1. Beth Reply

    Chad is amazing writer. Because he has a background in poetry, the language in his fiction is so spot on, and his screenwriting gives him a knack for good plot! Plus, he’s one of the greatest, kindest, most compassionaate human beings in the world, which is why it is extra funny that he writes such freaky stuff.

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