November 23, 2012

Made It Moment: Chris Angus

Filed under: Made It Moments — jenny @ 10:20 am

London Underground

Chris Angus’ Made It Moment contains a lot of elements that speak to this time of Thanksgiving. Family and legacy and tradition. All three became part of Chris’ road to this writing life–and he blends them uniquely, like a great Thanksgiving feast. I hope you will enjoy this Moment in the aftermath of yesterday’s feasting.

And I hope you will take it as an offering of thanks from me to you. Being able to introduce new authors–or a new slice of a known author’s life–to readers on this blog is something that’s both a thrill and an honor. This blog is a family of its own, and today I give thanks for every one of you.

Chris Angus

In that old 1940s film, The Naked City, a sort of police procedural set in New York City, the famous tag line was: “There are eight million stories in the Naked City.” That sounds about right for the number of ways there are to become a writer.

I come from a family full of writers. As a result, I resisted it as career choice for a long time. I was thirty when I began to write a weekly newspaper column on canoeing. It showed me not only how writing can grow into a profession but also how one thing leads to another. I went from newspaper columnist to article writer to book review editor to finally publishing my first book, an expanded collection of essays from my column. That will always seem like my “made it” moment, to be able to show the other writers in my family a book of my own.

Early on, when I was just starting out with my newspaper column, my mother had grown too ill to continue writing her murder mystery series about an Agatha Christie-type character she called Mrs. Wagstaff. With her blessing, I tried to keep the series going. I wrote three Mrs. Wagstaff novels. None were published, but it got me interested in writing fiction. I gravitated to a genre that appealed to me more: thrillers.

I love the fast pace, the exotic characters and locales. I enjoy weaving plots rich in history and science. My books are set all over the world, in Greenland, Iceland, China and Africa. One classic bit of advice all writers hear sooner or later is: “Write about what you know.”  That always seemed wrong to me. What could be more boring than to only write about things you know? And if the writer is bored you can bet the reader will be too. What I tell young writers today is: “Write about what interests you, and if it happens to be something you know nothing about, then you will have to do a lot of research. But research is not drudgery if you are fascinated by your subject, and I guarantee your passion will shine through in your words.”

Christopher Angus comes from a literary family consisting of seven published writers. His father and mother, both professors of English Literature and authors of numerous works of fiction, were the best-selling collaborators of a series of anthologies published by Random House.

For ten years, Book Review Editor for Adirondac magazine, he has also been a newspaper columnist and has published more than 400 essays, articles, book introductions, columns and reviews in a wide variety of publications, including The New York Times, Albany Times-Union, Adirondack Life, American Forests, Wordsworth American Classics, Adirondack Explorer and many more.

He is the award-winning author of several works of nonfiction, including Oswegatchie: A North Country River (North Country Books–2006), The Extraordinary Adirondack Journey of Clarence Petty: Wilderness Guide, Pilot and Conservationist (Syracuse University Press—2002), Images of America: St. Lawrence County (Arcadia Press—2001), andReflections From Canoe Country (Syracuse University Press—1997).

He has been active in efforts to reopen Adirondack rivers to the public.

Chris recently released The Last Titanic Story  with Iguana Books and Flypaper  from Cool Well Press.

His third novel, London Underground, is now available from Iguana Books!


  1. I love when travel, history and adventure come together. I read a description of a couple of your books. Fascinating. Glad to be introduced to your works and your writing family.

    Some of my favorite books are by an author who knew nothing of her subject when she started writing them. Learning about her experience researching the subject matters was informative and often involved some amusing tales. So, glad you raised the point about writing what you don’t know.

    Comment by Crazy Travel Adventures By Debra — November 23, 2012 @ 11:01 am

  2. Chris, I love your story to writing thrillers. I agree, write about what you know or interests you most and you will obviously become a better writer. However, I have no experience of murder and yet I write about it. I have researched for each story I write about it, but would hesitate to say I know all about it – I can only imagine I know about it. Experience is important but I have no intention (all will be relieved) of going and getting some practical experience of bumping someone off…..I study others who have. I love that you took up your mother’s series and I must check her out, what was the name she wrote under? I will also take a stroll to the London Underground and see what gives…..much continued success to you and to Jenny, thanks once more for a really interesting insight to another author. Appreciated.

    Comment by Jane Risdon — November 23, 2012 @ 11:06 am

  3. I do write what I know, but only because it still fascinates me. I love psychology (almost as much as I love writing) so my protagonist is a psychotherapist (as I was before retirement). I love delving into the psychological make-up of the bad guys/gals as well as exploring the dynamics of the main characters’ relationships.

    But I also love researching new things that interest me, and incorporating them into my stories. I agree with Jane, though. I draw the line at researching murder through first-hand experience. :-)

    Thanks for another interesting Made It Moment, Chris and Jenny!

    Comment by Kassandra Lamb — November 23, 2012 @ 12:50 pm

  4. Great moment! Writing about what you know is great. Thanks for doing that.

    Comment by Kellie — November 23, 2012 @ 1:34 pm

  5. That’s a wonderful way to put it: write about what interests you. Because if you write about something you’re passionate about, or what tickles your interest, you’ll have a lot of fun doing research and learning along the way.
    Love it!

    Comment by Stella Deleuze — November 23, 2012 @ 1:44 pm

  6. I love your note about writing what you’re interested in. Writing what you know? We wouldn’t have Harry Potter, Star Wars, etc. then, would we? Writing what you know should apply to non-fiction. Thanks Chris and Jenny!

    Comment by Pamela DuMond — November 23, 2012 @ 4:13 pm

  7. Great post! These books sound so good!

    Comment by mountainmama — November 23, 2012 @ 6:01 pm

  8. Love the idea that if you are bored with the story readers will also be bored. Bless their hearts, they won’t finish it after you were stupid enough to do so.
    Thanks for the moment.
    Nash Black

    Comment by Irene Black — November 24, 2012 @ 10:01 am

  9. [...] keeping with the theme of family and legacy we have going on the blog right now, today’s guest describes how not only his ancestry, but [...]

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