Interview with Chris Bucholz, author of SEVERANCE
Posted December 6, 2014on:
If you’re a regular reader at Cracked.com, you’re sure to recognize the name Chris Bucholz. Over the last seven years he’s written over 300 humor columns at Cracked, touching on everything from Halloween costumes to confusing toys, customer feedback at McDonald’s, zombie movie mash-ups, and the history behind some really weird rock band names. Chris’s debut science fiction novel is Severance (published by Apex Books) and he was kind enough to answer a few of my questions. Let’s get to the interview!
LRR: Congratulations on the publication of your new novel, Severance! What’s the quick pitch for the novel?
CB: Severance is a comedic science fiction adventure set on a generation ship populated with stupid, stupid people. Severance is a warm fire on a cold day, and a cold drink on a hot day. It’s the son you never had, and now there he is, standing in front of you, arms wide, waiting to hug you. It is a masterpiece.
That may be overselling it a bit. It’s my first novel, ok? I tried really hard and I think it’s pretty great.
LRR: Severance feels a little like if Jay and Silent Bob landed on Babylon5 and uncovered a massive conspiracy. But I’m sure you were inspired by something loftier than that! Ok, so what was the inspiration for the book?
CB: I’ve long had an idea kicking around for a story about a conflict breaking out on a generation ship, based on the twin observations that human beings don’t seem like the kind of things that can get along for hundreds of years on end, and that conflicts on spaceships are really cool. In writing it, the book became quite a bit funnier than I originally conceived, because it turns out that I can’t string more than a couple sentences together without someone’s pants falling down.
LRR: The book features a number of quirky characters. Are any of these people based on anyone you know in real life?
CB: I certainly didn’t intend to, but almost everyone that knows me personally has identified one of my oldest and shortest friends in the character of Bruce. I won’t threaten his reputation or future employability by mentioning him by name here. I was primarily trying to create a straight man and sidekick dynamic, which is a pretty standard comedic formula and something I’ve used in some smaller pieces. The more that I think about it, it may be more than just a writing formula, and is actually the natural way that people group themselves together in the real world. I’d like to imagine cavemen trampling through the savanna, pinching each other’s butts then sprinting away while giggling.
LRR: What scene in the book is your favorite? What scene was most challenging to write?
CB: The crooked politician, Kinsella, was originally a much smaller character until I realized how incredible he was. Once his character solidified, he became the most fun to write, and almost every scene he appears in came together really easily for me.
The hardest scene was probably the climax, everything up to the point where [spoilers ahead, highlight to read] someone stands triumphantly over her opponent’s body wielding a severed giraffe neck. I had a lot of balls in the air all at once there, and it took many revisions to get them to land where I wanted them to.
LRR: Who are some of your favorite writers?
CB: I’ve read nearly everything Neal Stephenson and Iain Banks have written. Douglas Adams is of course a huge inspiration to everyone who’s ever thought about jokes and spaceships. Outside of the genre, I really like Michael Chabon and David Mitchell’s work. Even further afield, I’ve really enjoyed just about every Russian author I’ve read – Dostoevsky and Chekhov most notably.
LRR: You’re also a columnist at Cracked.com. What have been some of your favorite projects and/or columns for Cracked?
CB: Most of my advice columns are the most fun to write, as are my apology columns. Those snowball into pretty hilarious disasters with remarkable ease, and they’re the ones I always get the best feedback on. A curated list of some of my more popular columns can be found here: http://chrisbucholz.com/the-best-stuff/
LRR: What’s next for you? Do you have plans to write more adventures for Laura and Bruce?
CB: Severance was written as a stand alone novel, although who knows what the future will hold, and further novels in other settings are already well under way. Beyond that, there’s always my column at Cracked.com every week. I also work for Stardock Games, and am the lead writer for Galactic Civilizations III, Sorcerer King, and the next entry in the Star Control franchise.