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Wednesday, February 1,2012

The 'March' begins

Former City Pulse writer Chris Galford ventures into a fantasy world

by Allison M. Berryman

Michigan State University graduate and former City Pulse writer Chris Galford says he has hit “a fantasy goldmine” with “The Hollow March,” his first novel for Amazon Kindle.

“The Hollow March,” published late last year, is an adult fantasy novel, the first in Galford’s “The Haunted Shadows” series. It introduces the fictional Idasian Empire, a society threatened by war and on the verge of what Galford calls a “cultural and technological renaissance.” The story focuses on two families in the midst of chaos, and their individual quests for power and struggle for survival.

“What you don’t tend to see in fantasy is renaissance,” Galford said. “This series is mired in one — for all the good and all the bad it brings. I wanted to show a world where tradition and innovation are at their greatest point of clashing, and to capture the human factor that conflict inevitably presses. There is simply so much one can do therein, so many paths one can head down. It’s a fantasy goldmine.”

Galford, who moved from Lansing to Golden, Colo., last year, graduated from MSU with a bachelor’s in journalism. Although reporting the news is not quite as time-consuming as penning a fantasy novel, he found his training in journalism useful while writing “The Hollow March.”

“Oftentimes you see a lot of superfluous writing in novels — over-description, if you will. Journalism helps a person cut down on that, slicing to the core of a scene as succinctly and powerfully as possible. It teaches you the value of brevity, as well as where and how to break it. My novel may be long, but it would be far longer without my time as a journalist, and certainly not as organized.”

Another important aspect of journalism, the use of social media, came in handy for Galford in the process of publishing his novel. While Facebook and Twitter allowed him to spread the world to fellow authors and book reviewers, he credits his blog, The Walking Den (cianphelan.wordpress.com), as his primary source of promoting “The Hollow March.” 

“I’ve done my best to use all the resources presently available to me,” Galford said. “My friends and associates have been a big help in that regard, taking word of the book to the streets, so to speak, and undertaking something of a grassroots push for literary regard. One has even taken it upon himself to operate a Facebook book page chronicling my book’s journey. I certainly couldn’t ask for more.”

Although the novel was originally self-published for Amazon Kindle, Schuler’s Books & Music in Lansing has agreed to carry “The Hollow March” in hard-copy format. Galford claims to be an advocate for physical reading material; however, he insists the reader will have an equally enjoyable time reading “The Hollow March” in either format. 

“Personally, I’ve always been a proponent of the physical copy,” he said. “It’s a sensory thing — or a possessive one. I like the experience of having a book in my hands, the weight of it, the feel of it, knowing that I undeniably own it. Call it a quirk.

“In truth, though, the difference between e-reader or book reading is just one of personal taste. They read the same. The feel is the same. It’s not like reading on your computer monitor, where you must sit and scroll. Either way, you can take them where you will, flick through pages as you may and devour the story at your leisure.”

Publication of “The Hollow March” is only the beginning of Galford’s career as a novelist. He is in the process of writing part two of the Haunted Shadows trilogy, “At Faith’s End.” No date has been announced for its release.

In the meantime, he offers some advice to fellow writers and journalists who hope to have their own work published.

“Learn your market and your niche. For all the joys of finally getting your work into the public eye, being an author is a lot of work. You are the primary cheerleader, so to speak: the publicist, agent, or what have you. Be ready for the challenge, and have a concrete plan of attack.

“In terms of self-publication, organizations like Amazon and Barnes and Noble make the process easy. But success? That’s on your shoulders.”

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