Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Christopher David Sturdevant, Author of The Hall of a Thousand Doors

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Today we are interviewing Christopher David Sturdevant about this children's adventure novel "The Hall of a Thousand Doors."

Tell us a bit about yourself. 
Author, Christopher David Sturdevant, was born on the island of Taiwan in 1965, while his Father served in the United States Air Force.  In 1971, the family moved to San Antonio, Texas, where he grew up.

He began writing poetry and short stories in high school.  Years later, when he began to learn to play guitar, he added songwriting to his list of writing talents.

Upon graduation from high school, he followed in his Father’s footsteps and entered the military, where he trained as a medic.  Since then, he has worked in the fields of mental health, computer sales, technical support, digital media, web design, and the copy and print industry.

In December of 2012, Chris graduated Suma Cum Laude from Northwest Vista College, in San Antonio, Texas, with a degree in Digital Media.

Today, he spends much of his free time working on the sequel to his first novel, and he is well on his way to completing another exciting adventure featuring child-hero, Alex DaSilva.  The story of Alex’s journey in "The Hall of a Thousand Doors" will unfold over a series of several books, however, Chris is already in the planning stages of several stand-alone novels based on some of the original characters from this series.

Describe the plot of your book, “The Hall of a Thousand Doors,” in a few sentences.
This story falls into the newer genre known as the fractured fairy tale, which is becoming more and more popular these days.  The protagonist, Alex, loves reading and he is well versed in the classic fairy tales we all grew up hearing about.  One night he falls asleep in his bed, only to awaken in the Hall of a Thousand Doors.  When he cannot find his mother, he enters one of the doors.  Suddenly, he finds himself in one of the stories he has heard at bedtime, and learns that he is able to interact with characters and affect elements within the tale.  The antagonist, the malevolent sorcerer, is on a quest to destroy the happy endings of our childhood stories.  Alex journeys into three time honored tales and comes to realize that he has both the knowledge and the power to set things right and put a stop to the evil sorcerer’s mission.

Who do you think would most appreciate this book?
I feel that fans of adventure stories like Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, or who like the classic fairy tales would like this type of story.  I also think that parents will like that Alex is a great role model for their children.

What inspired you to write a story about a young boy who fights darkness in the land of fairy tales?
Thirty-three years, in 1983, I wrote a poem called "The Hall of a Thousand Doors." This poem was about a young man who finds himself in a long hallway with doors as far as his eyes could see.  Behind each of the doors were scenes from his life.  He starts going through the doors, revisiting different periods of his life.  Along his journey, he finds a white rose, picks it, and then moves on.  After a time, he starts to see the low points in his life.  A few more doors and he cannot go any further.  He cries out, “God, take me from this place.”  He becomes light-headed and faints.  When he comes to, he finds himself back in his bedroom.  He thought to himself, that was sure a strange dream.  Then, he looks down at his hand and finds himself holding a white rose.

Two years later, in 1985, I started to have ideas of turning this poem into a short story, but Instead of an adult, I put a small child in the hallway, and instead of past scenes from his life, each door led to a different fairy tale.  The villain in my novel works to destroy the happy endings of the stories, and my hero, Alex, soon learns that he is there to stop him.

Over the years, the story never really made it past the initial pages.  From time to time, I revisited my ideas for its continuation.

Finally, in the Spring of 2013, I was taking a screen-writing class and was assigned to write the first 20-30 pages of an original movie screenplay. For days I struggled with ideas on what to use for my content. Then it hit me. I had a story in my head, going on 30 years now. I started writing out the screenplay and was on a roll. I flew past the 20-30 page limit of the assignment and informed my instructor that I was going to finally finish the complete story.

Once the semester ended, I realized that I had all the elements I needed to finally write the story from beginning to end, so I began the task of converting the screenplay over to manuscript form.

Now, two years later, the book is finally finished.

Christopher David Sturdevant, children's adventure author, fractured fairytale author, fairytale author, children's adventure book
Author Christopher David Sturdevant.
Tell us a bit about the protagonist, Alex DaSilva, and the antagonist, the malevolent sorcerer.
Alex DaSilva is a hero that all kids can look up to as a role model.  He is intelligent, kind and respectful to others, and along his journey he learns that he is much braver than he thought or that others gave him credit for.

His nemesis, the malevolent sorcerer, is exactly the opposite.  He is power hungry, self-centered and has no regard for anyone but himself.

Are the fairy tales featured in the book fairy tales that most people are familiar with? How did you select the fairy tales that Alex visits?

The tales we see in "The Hall of a Thousand Doors" are known to pretty much everyone who has had bedtime stories read to them or had reading time at school.  The tales I chose for this book were ones that had some element within them that I could use to twist the plot in some way.  One of the premises of the book is that as the happiness in these tales dies, if has a profound effect on our world.  We lose the ability to know what happiness is.

Were you a fan of fairy tales growing up?

As a small child, I was a fan to the fairy tales.  As I got older, and started to write, I started reacquainting myself with them as part of my research for this novel.  I have always been a fan of happy endings, where the villain loses the struggle of good and evil.

How long have you been writing?

I have been writing poetry and short stories for about 34 years now.  When I taught myself to play the guitar years later, I put some of my poetry to music and started writing songs.  It has been only in the last two years that I have been very serious about becoming an author and writing a full length novel.

How do you think you’ve evolved as an author since when you first started?
My mentor, who happened to be my sophomore high school English teacher, thinks I have finally found my niche in this world.  I look back on some of my short stories from when I first started writing and I sincerely see an improvement in the way that I weave my words together.  I have had many people over the years say that I have a definite gift for writing.

Are there any aspects of your writing that you've been practicing?

I study the way books are written and I analyze dialog and scenery from television and movies.  Sometimes I even turn on the Closed Captioning to read as I watch.  I feel that continuing to learn how others do it will help me in my own writing processes.  I also read post from various writing websites and blogs to improve my writing skills.

How do you feel about the increasing popularity of eBooks?
I personally read eBooks.  It makes it so much easier for people to carry a library of stories with them, allowing them to read virtually anywhere.  I know that there are many people who still prefer the feel of a book in their hands.  Either method of reading serves the same purpose, and that is to entertain, educate and sometimes escape into the world of imagination.

What are your goals as a writer for the next ten years?
My overall goal as a writer is to become financially self-sufficient through my writing so that I can work solely as an author.  I have several ideas for the continuation of my current story as well as other stories I am working on and want to share with the world.

Is there any aspect of writing you don't like?
My only complaints about writing is not being able to type as fast as I can think or when I sometimes have ideas that come to me about a story and I am not in a position to take notes. 

Have you ever had writer's block? If yes, how'd you deal with it? If you have not had writer's block, why do you think you haven't?

When I experience writer's block, I often turn to research on the subject matter so that I have a better understanding of what I am trying to say. If that does not work, I set the work aside for the time being and go back to it later, or I work on the details of a later section of the story. I have been known to talk things over with my confidants to brainstorm ideas to get past the block, as well.

Do you write with a computer, typewriter, or pen and paper? Why do you use this tool?
When I first started writing, I relied on the pen and paper to bring my thoughts and ideas out for others to see.  I dabbled a bit with the typewriter, but once I got my first computer, this became my main tool for writing.  I use Microsoft Word exclusively to write.  I like that the built in spelling and grammar tools help to catch many of the common errors and that allows me to focus more on story-line and story cohesiveness and continuity.  I also like how it is integrated with cloud storage to protect my work in case of a computer failure.  I still rely on the pen and paper to jot down ideas when I do not have access to a computer, but once I get home, I usually transcribe those thoughts and notes into my note-taking software.  Another tool I have come to rely on lately is Microsoft One-Note.  It is a great software that allows me to gather my thoughts and it helps me keep my story-line, characters, notes, plots and sub-plots organized.

What do you have in mind for your next project?

Currently, I am working on the sequel to “The Hall of a Thousand Doors.”  At present, my intent is to write a total of five books to tell this complete story.  However, I have more content I have been gathering to write at least another four stories based on characters we meet in this series.

Is there anything else you'd like potential readers to know about your book?

As of now, I am a self-published author, which means that I handle all of the financial aspects of the printing and marketing of this book.  I ask that everyone share with others that it is out and available to read, and that they offer their reviews on both Amazon Kindle and Goodreads once they have read it.  Even if this is not your kind of story, you probably know someone who would love this kind of story.

An excerpt from "The Hall of a Thousand Doors":
    The night hours slowly passed by on the clock at his bedside.  The room was strangely and eerily quiet.  Alex was restless, tossing and turning, while he slept.  His closed eyes moved rapidly, revealing that he was in the midst of dreaming. 
     Suddenly, there was the loud slam of a door that woke him, and he sat straight up.
     When Alex first opened his eyes, he found himself to be in unfamiliar surroundings.  From his vantage point, he could see that he was on the floor of a long, and what seemed like endless hallway.  Flaming torches flickered above him, dimly lighting the hall in both directions.  The floor beneath him was made of a smooth stone of some kind, and there were large wooden doors on either side of the hallway for as far as his eyes could see.  Each door looked identical to the one next to it.
     Alex crawled over to the door nearest him, and he raised himself up onto his knees.  He examined the door more closely.  It was made of a rough, dark-colored wood, probably mahogany or walnut.  It was difficult to say for sure which in the low lighting of the torch-lit hallway.  It had an ornate, golden trim with various types of jewels laid into it.  The doorknob looked as if it were made of some sort of crystal, maybe even a large diamond.
    Alex looked in one direction and then the other.  There was nobody around but him.       The only sound he could hear was the crackling of the fire from the torches on the walls above him.
     “Mom?” he called out.  “Are you there?”
     But, there was no reply.
     He stood up and began to walk down the long hallway, searching for his mother, Sarah.
     “Mom!” he yelled more anxiously than the first time.  “Where are you?”
     Still nobody answered.
     Again, he looked in both directions.  He could not see a beginning nor an end to the hallway.  He continued to walk down the seemingly endless hallway.  With each step forward, Alex began to feel panic creeping into his thoughts.  He could feel his pulse racing faster and faster, and his breathing had quickened, as well.  He stopped and tried to ease his mind.
     “Okay.  Calm down, Alex.  Take a deep breath and relax.  So far there is nothing to be afraid of, just a long hallway with a bunch of harmless doors.  Nothing to be afraid of…” he paused a moment, then said, “Yet…”
     He began to walk forward once again.
     After several minutes of exploring the hallway, Alex suddenly stopped and said, “Wait a minute.  Maybe Mom is on the other side of one of these doors.  I’ll just open one up and see where it leads.”
     Alex stood there for a moment, debating on which door to choose.  He strolled back and forth, from one door to the next, trying to decide.  Then, a strange feeling suddenly came over him, and it drew him towards one of the doors.  He walked to the massive doorway and reached out for the crystal-like doorknob.  He turned the knob and pulled the door open.
     Alex could not see anything beyond the threshold of the opened door, not even shadows.  He looked up at the flaming torch on the wall next to the door.  It was too high for him to reach.  He squinted his eyes, trying to see if he could make anything out of the darkness before him, but he only saw blackness beyond the frame of the door.  He hesitated a moment.  Then, he drew in a deep breath, took a step forward and walked through the door.
More Information
Visit Christopher David Sturdevant's author website
Buy "The Hall of a Thousand Doors" in paperback 

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Check out "The Hall of a Thousand Doors" on Goodreads
Buy the Kindle version of "The Hall of a Thousand Doors"

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