10 Questions with Chris Hejmanowski
1. Dr. Hejmanowski, thank you for this opportunity to be interviewed for my blog. Your new book, COLLIDER, came out in October 2012. Tell us a bit more about this book.
Collider tells the story of a father’s sacrifice for the redemption of his daughter’s soul. It’s a journey that reveals the true power of human will. After Fin Canty, a young CERN physicist, and his daughter are murdered in what appear to be random acts of gang violence, they find themselves on opposite sides of redemption. His journey through hell to rescue his daughter unravels some of science’s greatest mysteries, and revealing the true nature of salvation.
2. Who is Fin Canty and how did you go about creating his character?
The story’s protagonist, Dr. Fin Canty is a particle physicist who finds his faith and assumptions of reality challenged after his wife’s death and his own murder. His sir-name was borrowed from my college roommate, who also happens to be a physicist …though atmospheric and not of the particle discipline. I find that when I write, especially about characters who have depth, it’s much easier to craft their nuances if I’m able to imagine a specific person in those roles. In this case, it was a close friend of mine.
I actually did a great deal. The idea was fleshed out as I was reading a Popular Science article about the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, Switzerland. After that I began to write. As I did, I found and read everything I could about the Catholic Church and particle physics (though this had been an interest of mine previously). Regarding the places I refer to in the novel, especially the descriptions of Hell and Heaven, again I drew from my own personal experiences. At the time I was writing the story, I was in Iraq with the U.S. Marine Corps. Many of the landscapes I described for Hell were those I was looking at while writing. As for Heaven, there’s a large fresh water lake in Maine called Cold Stream Pond. On the lake my wife and I have some very close friends. A few years ago a large mountainside undeveloped lot went up for sale while we were visiting. Though we did not purchase it, that setting to me represents one of the most peaceful places I’ve ever been, it only seemed natural to base Fin’s Heaven there.
4. How has your medical profession and your experience in the Navy and with the Marines served you in your writing?
At the very least, my medical training has taught me to be very descriptive with my descriptions. I think in the fictional world, this is vital if you’re going to paint a picture of an imaginary place with words. The military gave me the settings and the time to make a serious attempt at this. If it wasn’t for this latest deployment, I don’t think I would have turned out the same product.
5. Why do you write?
I enjoy creating. I was an art minor in college, I have been a woodworker for many years, and I think this is a natural extension of that type of creativity for me. It is an outlet that I use to relax.
6. A word of advice for new writers?
Write about something you’re interested in. Don’t write about vampires because that’s what’s hot right now, choose something that you’d be interested in reading about. To go back to an earlier question, if there’s anything that my medical and military experiences have shown me, it’s that we’re all the same. This includes our desires, our worries, and our beliefs. If you find something fascinating, chances are so do many other people. If you write about a subject that you find intriguing, whether or not you have the entire story in your head or not, you’ll likely surprise yourself with the details you’re not only able to fill in, but also the appetite with which you research the details needed to create a worthwhile piece.
7. What are your writing habits?
Late at night, a cup of coffee, and something to snack on. I continually try to accomplish something meaningful during daylight hours, even when the kids are at school, but it’s useless. After everyone is asleep, that’s when I get my best writing done.
8. What are your favorite pastimes?
Woodworking and old sports cars. I have a workshop at the house, and for me it’s very peaceful to spend time. I also love older sports cars, European ones mainly. I have always been an enthusiast, but only in the years after my formal medical education and military time have ended have I been able to really enjoy this.
9. What other books are you working on at the moment?
I’m working on a novel called Jesus Rock. It’s about a U.S. Navy physician who’s thrust into a conspiracy between the Whitehouse and the Vatican during the Iraqi conflict. He finds himself on the receiving end of the military’s aggression as he flees across what was once Mesopotamia to uncover his role in organized religion as it was foretold two thousand years ago.
10. Is this the last we’ll see of Fin Canty?
No, I don’t think so. I have a few ideas still filtering about. I just have to find a way to justify bringing these characters into another story without watering down what I’ve tried to accomplish with Collider. I enjoyed writing about this group of individuals; they were eclectic and very unpredictable.