Interview with Chris Votey

Chris VoteyChristopher D. Votey was born in Dayton, Ohio in 1980, first son of Steve Votey and Jolene Knight (née Nichols). He is a college graduate in Computer Science at Collins College in Tempe, Arizona and has worked in the computer field for 10 years. After a debilitating work injury, Chris decided to take up writing, producing 2 books.

Chris currently lives in Mesa, Arizona awaiting Social Security disability and working to recover from his condition of Post Concussion Syndrome to return back to a normal life.

1.     How much writing did you do before being published?
I would say I’ve done a lot of writing. In school, I always enjoyed assignments that involved creative writing. Out of school, I tried several times to make a career out of writing, but I was never ready. I did a lot of fan fic, especially for Star Wars The Old Republic.
2.       Have you always considered yourself to be a writer, or was there a time in your life when you decided that is what you were?
in 2001, I was a writer. I was working on a story, was 70 pages in which I was ecstatic about. Then my roommates stole my stuff. A lot of valuable stuff. The most valuable was my book that was on my computer. It wasn’t until 2012 that I tried to started to write again. I mostly lost the will to write, despite having the desire.
 
3.     Do you consider yourself a character driven writer, or a plot driven writer?
Every writer needs to be a bit of both to write a good story. I find both to be invaluable, but I would say that I am a character driven writer. I put a lot of focus on creating characters, making use of my tarot card system for creating complex characters, I think about their actions in the story, if they were in their own book what would their conflict be, their relationships to other characters, and a general background of what led them to this point. Most of that doesn’t get into the story, but I tend to know it. I have a general idea of what I want to see in the plot, but I let the characters take me on the journey and often throw obstacles in their way.
 
4.     What is the story behind your Post-Concussion-Syndrome?
In 2012, while at work, I was sitting in an office chair. I leaned back all the way, and the chair broke. I fell back and landed on the floor with my head hitting the filing cabinate. I went to see a doctor soon after and they concluded I had a concussion. I stayed home for about a week before I returned to work. But immediately following, I had problems with concentration, focus, memory, imagination, and I was quicker to anger. I did phone support, which requires all of those to be fine tuned.
The doctor assigned to me by workers comp sent me to a nuerologist, and he told me that my problems were normal and they would clear up in 6 weeks. I really felt there was something wrong, but he said that it was normal. I waited 8 weeks after my injury and went back to him, telling him that there was a serious problem. He then told me it was a preexisting issue, as these symptoms do not continue this long after a concussion. He did order a few tests though.
Soon after, work became too much. I started to “phase out” where my brain became too overwhelm by all the stimulation and it would temporarily shutoff. It could last between 30 seconds to a few minutes. For a job that requires my full attention at all times, I realized I was no longer able to work. My tests came back normal, so the neurologist stated I was simply depressed. I was ordered to go see a therapist. The therapist concluded I wasn’t depressed and while she couldn’t diagnois me, she stated it was likely Post-Concussion Syndrome.
Eventually I saw a Neuropsycologist, and he concluded that it is all in my head and I likely suffer from Asperger’s Syndrome. After his report, Workmans comp dropped me. I was on Short-Term Disability (STD) for several months. Not fun. Spent more time and money staying on it than fixing myself. After I ran out of STD, finally got to see a Neurologist. He ordered me back to work. I went back to work and after a month, I learned that I no longer hand insurance and I wouldn’t get it until I was full time but I wouldn’t get to full time unless I had a doctor’s approval. There was a loophole that I found out, that 30 hours did get me medical.
I spend 6 months back. Having problems every single day. I tried to push through it, but it become too much for me. I didn’t want to go back on STD, so I called the insurance company and asked if I could go on Long-Term Disability (LTD) instead of STD. They told me since I had been working 6 months, I had to go back to STD. A week later, my mind had enough of it, and I didn’t return to work. I used all my money getting doctors visits and paperwork done for STD. Only to be told two months later I was suppose to be on LTD. The insurance states I didn’t tell them that I went back to work Part-Time and so it was my fault they gave me the wrong information. I tried to state they didn’t ask the specifics and I asked if there was a way I could do LTD instead of STD. They didn’t care.
I ran out of money, but I managed to see my doctor again. I had 3 forms for him to fill out and send that back to my work and insurance. He filled out all 3 forms and sent back (he volunteered to do that) only two of them. The one he didn’t send back was for my employeer, and they fired me because it wasn’t sent in and they wouldn’t reverse their decision. So I didn’t have medical insurance any more. LTD denied me as well.
One year later, I finally got on medicaid, but Social Security Disability has denied me.
 
5.     Why is there a duck in a bottle on your blog?
The duck is a symbol of a philosophy of life. It originates from a joke. Click on “Not my Duck” page to see the joke. It is a lesson that you shouldn’t mess with things that doesn’t concern you. Putting yourself in the business of others, especially if they didn’t ask for your help often leads to heartache. It has been a hard lesson to learn in life, taking me nearly 30 years to learn it.
I keep the duck on there as a reminder to myself, and to others, that you are the most important person in your life. Make sure you have what you need above all else, and only then share what you have when you can when it is appropriate. It may sound selfish, but often times you need to let things play out for others on their own and getting involved can often make it worse. Pick and choose your battles.
 
6.     Why are you not a fan of Star Wars?
I guess it is better to say I am not a fan of George Lucas, as I did play Star Wars: The Old Republic for 2 years straight and I played both Knights of the Old Republic games as well and really loved them. I don’t like anything George Lucas touches, which coincendently, of the 6 movies, 5 was my favorite. While Lucas did introduce a lot of great staples of Sci-fi and helped make Sci-Fi more mainstream, I think his storytelling is bad. Especially with the prequels in that he didn’t care about good acting or story development, he wanted to have as many scenes with lightsabres as he could get.
An example of my problem: Walking down the hallway is a scoudrel, a wookie, a princess, and a farmboy. Three are carrying weapons. They come across 7 stormtroopers all with guns and wearing armour (which protect what?; You’d think laser fire). So despite one being shot, the other 6 pull out their weapon and due to outnumbering our heroes, the heroes drop their weapons. Nope. They run away. That makes no sense. They nearly had a 2:1 advantage (or 75% advantage over the heroes).
And the fanboys explaining this scene away. Like it is perfectly justified that this would happen in real life. Oh, they were clones and they were stupid. Oh, they ran back to the barracks with 50 troops (which was a scene added later).
This is a representation with my disgust of George Lucas.
 
7.     What kind of universe did you create for Scraping By?
The universe features mankind exploring the stars and fighting to keep it. War is a serious business, not for the means of protecting what you have, but for the scavengers to profit from the wrecks they find.
 
8.     How extensive was your world-building for this book?
Afraid to say not extensive at all. Scraping By was merely a quick story I wrote to see what the process involved in getting from idea in my head to a book on Amazon.
 
9.     What was the path to publication for Scraping By?
All my books are self-published. I handcode my books to try to have full control over the final product.
 
10.  Is the world of Terran Psychosis contemporary, or did you create another world?
Terran Psychosis is a different universe all together. The two worlds don’t interact with each other.
 
11.  What was the path to publication for Terran Psychosis?
I wrote my first draft of Terran Psychosis right before my injury. I didn’t touch the story again for nearly 2 years. When I decided to start up my career despite my disability, I essentially revised it and self-published it.
 
12.  Would you write more books in either of these worlds?
People have asked me if I plan on writing a sequel to Scrapping By. I’ve told them I don’t know what that would look like. Terran Psychosis is part of a trilogy that deals with a conspiracy on a cosmic scale.
 
13.  What are you working on now?
I am working on a Alternate History/Paranormal/Fantasy. It is completely outside my comfort zone. It deals with Vampires in the 1300’s Europe, with Medieval Knights stopping a Vampire incursion.
 
14.  Is madness a good thing or a bad thing in a writer?
Madness is benign in a writer. It is always there. However, it is what we do with the madness that determines if it is good or bad for a writer. Turning our passion and obsession into a work of art for all to enjoy is what I would consider a good thing. But being rigid; believing that no one understands your work and only you can full appreciate it, that’s bad.
 
15.  What social media do you use? Do you combine your personal and professional or keep them separate?
While I have all the major ones, the best one to reach me at or find me active is Twitter. I try to separate my twitter from my personal life beyond writing. But I find that it does cross over.
 
16.  What is your favorite electronic or digital writing tool?
My favorite tool is Notepad. I use it for writing and taking notes. I enjoy it as I can open it by doing (Windows Key)+R and type in “Notepad” rather than double click on Word and take a few seconds to a minute to load. Plus, it is a basic and simplistic interface. I also don’t get visual indicators of enhanced features of programs, which I find too distracting. I compare it to writing on a typewriter.
 
17.  What is your favorite non-electronic writing tool?
Bic pens. They are the best cheap pens on the market.
 
18.  What is the most persistent distraction from writing?
Dealing with my disability.
 
19.  What is your ideal writing environment?
Working in a den with a big desk with a hutch. I have a place for cigars, a place for a mini-fridge. I also have a small bar. There are lots of shelving for books, I have a sofa and a flat screen TV.
 
20.  Who shot first, Han or Greedo?
Technically, they both shot first, and at the same time, neither of them shot first. What we are encountering is a multiverse. In this, there were two different sets of events that occurred. Now most of what happened in one happened in the other, so it doesn’t really mess with continuity… or does it?
Now, it is impossible to tell where the intersecting point is in a multiverse, and there is the possibility that these two universes originated from an unknown 3rd universe. What we do know is in Universe A, Han shot first. In Universe B, Greedo shot first. But why is this event so important in the Star Wars multiverse?
One major difference between A and B is that in Universe B, Mos Eisley was bigger and busier. I’m betting that was the decision that made Universe B different than A. Because of this, more people visit the city and more aliens are visible in the Cantina.
It is hard to determine why these changes made Greedo fire first, rather than Han shooting first. Perhaps due to the Empire’s xenophobia, aliens were more restricted to the outer rims and Greedo felt more confident in his surroundings. Likely if he waited a second later, Han would have shot first in Universe B.
Other changes seen in Universe B was how the original Death Star was design, specifically the docking bay. Other changes included the troopers running into a barracks full of other troopers, rather than a dead end. Also, when the Death Star exploded, the type of explosion was different, again likely due to redesign.
Other events that occurred was Luke screaming when he jumped from the platform in Cloud City. Interesting, of all the multiverse, Universe B is the only one with Luke screaming.
We also see 9 new members to the Max Rebo Band. The Death Star appears to have an updated design like the first as evident by its explosion. With the destruction of the Death Star, many star systems celebrated. While in Universe A, none of the other systems celebrated due to the power structure still in place, in Universe B, that collapsed as soon as the Emperor, Vader, and the Death Star was destroyed.
In retrospect, because Mos Eisley was a bigger city, this caused Greedo to shoot first, redesigns of both Death Stars, and celebration of the Empire being defeated. Thanks to the multiverse, both Han and Greedo shot first while at the same time, neither of them did.
Not bad for someone who openly admits he’s not a fan of Star Wars.
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About AmyBeth Inverness

A writer by birth, a redhead by choice.
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