We’re excited to introduce you to the always interesting and insightful Christopher Tallon. We hope you’ll enjoy our conversation with Christopher below.
Christopher, looking forward to hearing all of your stories today. We’d love to hear the backstory behind a risk you’ve taken – whether big or small, walk us through what it was like and how it ultimately turned out.
I had a 2.01GPA in high school. Flunked out of a 4 year school. Dropped out of a 2 year school. Joined the military. Went back to school. Became a middle school teacher on the south side of Grand Rapids, MI.
A few years into teaching, my youngest kid was born. I quit my middle school teaching job to commit to writing a book and being a stay-at-home dad. (Against ALL of my mother’s advice and warnings)
Originally my novel started as a short story. I planned to enter in a contest, but that silly thing kept getting longer and longer. My wife encouraged me to turn it into a novel. When it was almost done, she read it and encouraged me NOT to go back to teaching. Instead I started chugging along on that novel. I read something that said writes should have a blog, so I started a one. Maybe 6 months of doing that (give or take) a few people asked me to do SEO for them. One of them was a start-up podcast production company. They offered to walk me through starting a podcast and let me use their tech, so I started doing that.
From that I met several writers who I workshopped with, an editor, a cover designer, and a formatter. While I was negotiating with a small press on royalties, I realized I had all the resources that they did–blog, podcast, connections in the industry– so I self-published SWITCHERS, used my blogs and podcast to push it, and now I’ve sold copies in 6 countries!
Currently I’m on a small (and constantly changing) book tour, still doing the podcast weekly, doing SEO for friends/colleagues, and working on another novel.
And no, I’m not going to get a “real job” again anytime soon. Which is fine; I like being alone with my imagination a lot.
Great, appreciate you sharing that with us. Before we ask you to share more of your insights, can you take a moment to introduce yourself and how you got to where you are today to our readers?
I’m originally from the Lansing area, but now live in west Michigan with my wife and kids. From 2004-2009 I was in the Navy, where I served in the Bahamas, up and down the east coast, a couple of big metal boats, and a few trips to Iraq supporting the Joint Forces Special Operations unit (JSOC). I fixed helicopters…no Rambo stuff.
After the Navy I went back to college and worked as a writing tutor. Eventually I became a middle school teacher and taught for 4 years on the south side of Grand Rapids, MI. Becoming a stay-at-home dad (and the pandemic…) gave me the opportunity to follow my passion of writing for the first time. What came out of that was a small SEO business, a podcast, and (more importantly (to me, anyway)) my novel SWITCHERS.
I actually enjoy the SEO work, because it feels like giving a gift. One of my old clients happens to be the #1 gig-work podcast in America. While working with them I managed to reach 10,000+ people per post, helping them get downloads and sell affiliate products. Working with podcasters is, I guess, my specialty. I’m working on a contract currently after I did one blog for a local podcast and they got a few hundred extra downloads that same day. When you work with people you believe in and see good things happen to/for them, it gives ya a warm-fuzzy.
My podcast is called Creative Ops. I talk to creative people. Musicians, comedians, authors, podcasters, business owners, film/tv people, poet laureates, event planners, and more! We mainly discuss my guest’s history, art/business/specialty, and their creative process. Most interviews are around an hour, but there were a few where no one wanted to stop talking. The current record is surf-photography legend Peter Taras at just under 3 hours.
My novel, Switchers, was my pandemic baby. I put approximately 1,000 hours into it, and, thanks to the podcast, I met all the people I needed to get a gorgeous looking book into the world without a publisher taking up to 60% of the profits. So…now there’s a book in the world about teens in 1996 who are pulled into a time travel war against their adults selves. When they time travel, they switch bodies. In the future, a parasitic fungus–and a war between surviving factions–threatens to end humanity. Time travel is the only salvation. But it comes at the cost of literally sacrificing the child inside you.
Some people call Switchers sci-fi, some call it horror. They’re both right: Switchers will fill you with wonder, dread, excitement, suspense, and possibly remind you of some 90s coming-of-age movies. My favorite review came from the UK:
“IMAGINE ‘THE GOONIES’ AND ‘STRANGER THINGS’ HAD A LOVE CHILD BUT THEY WERE NEVER REALLY SURE IF THE REAL FATHER WAS ‘BACK TO THE FUTURE’.”
I loved that so much I put it on the sign I use for live events!
In your view, what can society to do to best support artists, creatives and a thriving creative ecosystem?
Buy independent books. Go to art markets, buy stuff, and don’t haggle. Google local art, art shows, and whatnot, and SHOW UP. If you insist on buying gifts online, do it on Etsy instead of Amazon. Support LOCAL business. Support local businesses that support local art (aka businesses who give artists a chance to get money along with that “exposure”).
And this one makes me the happiest: buy something from an artist and pay them more than they’re asking. This is a somewhat regular occurrence for me at live events, and few things feel better than a person saying, “Your art is worth more than that. Here…”
Oh yeah. If you see a creative that does something that resonates with you, SHARE IT WITH AS MANY PEOPLE AS YOU CAN. Social media, word of mouth, share a business card, introduce creatives who don’t know each other. You know, basically treat creatives like equal members of society and share what they do if you think it’s cool.
We’d love to hear the story of how you built up your social media audience?
I started building my following by connecting with people who do the same things I do: writing and/or podcasting.
DON’T. DO. THAT.
I mean…follow anyone you want if you truly like what they do. But Twitter is full of writers who start a “#writerslift”, which is where everyone follows everyone.
PROS: You have more followers.
CONS: They will likely never interact with, buy from, or promote you. They just want more followers for the sake of having them.
Take your time and work on interacting with the few followers you DO have, and more will show up as time goes on. Don’t shortcut getting followers. People can tell and, yes, it looks worse to have thousands of followers who don’t care about anything you post than it does to have…[checking IG/Twitter]…600+/800+ who will actually FOLLOW you, buy things, spread the word, etc…
We all gotta start somewhere. Start with authenticity.
- Website: www.christophertallon.com
- Instagram: @tallonwrites
- Facebook: @tallonwrites
- Twitter: @tallonwrites
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCgzvutrD42jdSP6M4hfmUwg
- Other: Linktree: https://linktr.ee/tallonwrites
Personal photo by Savannah Jade (IG: @start_arting)
Additional photos: -Fox17 Morning Mix | pictured: Michelle Dunaway & Christopher Tallon
Photo by Andrea Shaner -Book cover art by Kirk Ross -B&W author photo by Rachel Joy