An Interview with the Author C. Michael Forsyth

Posted on Updated on

What tactics have you found to be most effective against writer’s block?

Starting out with a detailed outline is a great tool. That way, as you write, the project doesn’t grind to a halt because you’re stumped about what will happen next. Also, if you’re having trouble with a scene, you can jump ahead to a scene that you have a better handle on, and come back to the troublesome one later. I also find that “treading water” helps. If you aren’t ready to move forward, go back and hone a previous section.

Are you an active participant in the cover design of your books?

Yes, I generally come up with the idea for a striking image, then recruit an artist who seems particularly suited to create that particular image. For The Identity Thief, a thriller about an identity thief who impersonates the worst possible person and becomes a fugitive, I envisioned the silhouette of a running man throwing off one mask after another. It took a very skilled artist to make that concept work.

What do you think every writer should know about character development?

The most important concept to grasp is the “through line.” Each character is driven by a fundamental goal, such as “to get love.” Ideally, that should somehow manifest itself in every action, in every scene. The other major concept is the “character arc.” You have to ask yourself, how does this character change in the course of the story? How is he different in the end from how he was at the beginning? If he hasn’t changed at all, something is missing.

Which book in any of your series was the most grueling in terms of the writing?
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle & Harry Houdini in the Adventure of the Spook House was a real labor of love. I had to do extensive biographical research into both men, about how Houdini did his tricks, as well as many details about life in 1922.

What did you learn from that?

I learned that research not only helps you create a believable setting for your story, it can help you build a fully rounded character. By the end of the research process, I had a very clear idea of Arthur Conan Doyle’s psychology – more so than I’ve had of some of the characters I made up. The experience taught me I have to take the time to construct characters and understand them fully before they swing into action.

You write literary fiction novels and what else? What do you like about writing in these genres?
I’ve written in a variety of other genres: thrillers, mysteries, horror, humor. Each offers its own rewards. What I like about horror is that your goal as a writer is very clear. You are trying to engender one emotion: fear.  I enjoy the challenging of writing supernatural tales, which is making the outlandish believable. Writing mysteries are a fun intellectual challenge. It’s like creating a jigsaw puzzle. You need to use logic and imagination to construct a riddle that the readers will use their own ingenuity to solve.

About Michael 

C. Michael Forsyth, born in New York City, is a Yale graduate, who also holds an MFA in film from NYU. He is the author of Hour of the Beast, The Blood of Titans, The Identity Thief and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle & Harry Houdini in The Adventure of The Spook House. As well as writing, he narrates and produces audiobooks. He is now based in Greenville, SC.
Twitter: @chironmichael
Other Social Media (blog)

Leave your positive comments for Micheal here.