Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Interview with Query Kombat Grand Champion Chris von Halle

You knew him as Jungle Vendetta, slayer of all who came against him. Survivor of five head to head query battles. Ultimate Query Kombat Grand Champion. Here is his story:

The judges went wild over your story of a boy and his uncle stranded on a dangerous safari. Tell us a little about the plot and characters of Savage Jungle.

My protag Kreith is a technologically savvy videogame lover without an ounce of muscle and who is a bit of a wimp.  He looks up to his Uncle Tonas, who plays opposite him as the big, macho tough-guy, and it’s through Kreith’s adventures in the jungle that he finds out what true toughness is and how useful his own strengths are.  Plot-wise, he and Uncle Tonas get stranded in the jungle by a man out for revenge on Uncle Tonas (wrong place, wrong time for Kreith), and they need to survive not only the lethal animals, but ultimately this vengeful sicko himself.

What inspired you to write it?

Oh, man…that’s a tough one haha.  I think most of the time I have no idea where my story ideas come from.  They usually just plop in my brain somehow, and the ones I love enough I start to write.  But I love sci/fi and survival stories, so it’s easy to see how this one came to be J

Have you written other stories and is middle grade and science fiction your preferred genre? How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing stories ever since I can remember, but didn’t start writing “seriously” (with the intention of publication) until about five years ago.  I always wrote fantasy, and thought for a while that middle-grade was my preferred genre, but surprised myself when I recently finished the rough draft of a YA dystopian, and I have an idea for an NA fantasy book that I’m pretty excited about.

How many drafts of your query did you go through and did you get any help from other writers prior to Query Kombat?

A LOT of drafts (too many to recall haha).  And yes—lots of help prior to the contest.  I have a beloved group of friends I met during my Writing Popular Fiction MFA program at Seton Hill University (we call ourselves The Troublemakers), and we’re constantly critiquing each other’s work/queries.  This query has also been critiqued by crit partners I’ve met online who have really helped chisel it into shape.

What was your favorite/most helpful part of Query Kombat?

This is tough to say—the whole thing was fantastic!  However, I think my favorite part was working with a mentor to really hone and improve my entry, and then having that entry go back into the crazy, frenzied battle that is Query Kombat!  Also—all the great feedback from judges, mentors, and fellow kompetitors alike at all stages of the tournament was incredible.

How was the Query Kombat experience and how did you survive all those rounds without going crazy?

It was a fantastic experience, and I’m so happy to have been a part of it.  It’s awesome being part of this wonderful writing community, and, like I said, getting all that helpful feedback from judges and fellow entrants right from the first round was so beneficial.  It was a win-win no matter what ;)

Any words of wisdom for everyone in the query trenches?

It sounds so clich├ęd, but it’s really a matter of not giving up, continuing to stick it out and get better, both when it comes to sharpening your query and writing in general.  The more advice you get (and give) and the longer you’re at the game, the more things stick and obviously the more you improve.  You never know when it will all come together for you, and at the end of the day, no matter what, you can be proud of being a better writer than you were before!

We would love to have you as a judge for the next Query Kombat. Would you come back next year and do some voting?

Sure.  I’d love to come back.  It really has been such a great experience, and once again I thank the hosts, judges, mentors, and all the great kompetitors for such an awesome tournament!  See you next year J

About Chris von Halle:

I’m an aspiring fantasy and science fiction writer.  I recently obtained my MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University, and I live in the otherwordly realm of Mendham, NJ.  Feel free to visit my blog at: http://chrisvonhalle.blogspot.com/ or give me a shout-out on Twitter at: @ChrisvonHalle.


  1. Thanks SC Author! I hope everyone found Query Kombat as fun and helpful as I did!

  2. Congratulations Chris! Wishing you all the best and I hope to read your book one day. :)

    -Kicking Ash