Thursday, October 27, 2011
INTERVIEW WITH CHRISTIE CRAIG
What made you want to write YA?
Well, my story is a little different than most. I wasn’t writing or planning on writing a YA. One could call it luck, but I think it’s more about synchronicity. I had finaled in a contest years before and gotten my book in front of Rose Hilliard at St. Martin’s Press. She liked it but didn’t make an offer. Later, when I got an agent, we sent Rose a proposal for a humorous paranormal romance. Rose loved it and took it to the committee to buy. But it didn’t make the cut. However, she loved my voice. She kept an eye on my career as I started to publish. Then, when they were looking for writers for their new YA program, she contacted my agent and asked if I would be interested in trying my hand at writing a YA. I almost said no, because I didn’t have a clue if my voice would work in the YA market. When I shared my concerns with Rose, she said the reason she’d thought of me for this was because of my voice. She said I was a smarta$$ and teens liked that. Who would have guessed that being a smarta$$ would have gotten me somewhere in life? Especially when my mama told me it wouldn’t. LOL.
What difficulties did you face writing YA as opposed to your adult books?
Well, anytime you write in another genre, you need to be familiar with it. And because I wasn’t, I had to learn it and learn it quick. I read about a dozen YA books in a week. I analyzed what common elements they all shared. And what made them unique. Then I compared my notes to what I was writing, and figured out how YA books differed from Romance books. The one thing Rose Hilliard told me was to make sure not to change my voice. She didn’t want me to talk down to the readers. So I had to keep the voice, but I had to take some serious trips down memory lane to recall all the things that were important to me when I was sixteen. Because writing a YA meant I was going to have to get into the character of a sixteen year old girl.
Can you describe the series?
When Rose came to me, she had a two-word pitch. Paranormal camp. But for me, a story doesn’t come alive until I have my characters and the internal issues that my characters will face. I came up with a story about a sixteen year girl struggling to figure out who she is, only to discover that she doesn’t know what she is. Imagine being sixteen and told you weren’t human. Especially when you didn’t even know that non-humans existed. So the story’s theme is one of an identity crisis. It’s something I think teens and, heck, women of all ages face as we move from one stage of our lives to the other. Of course, there are also other threads running through the story, like friendship and romance. The title of the series is Shadow Falls, and Awake at Dawn is the second book in the series just released Oct. 11th.
What is your writing process? i.e. Do you write a set number of hours, pages? Do you write a rough first draft? Clean? Do you revise?
I work anywhere from eight to twelve hours a day. It’s not uncommon for that to be seven days a week. However, if I’m not on a deadline, I will take off early on the weekends so I can spend extra time with my family. Writing for two publishers and doing some self-publishing requires a lot of work. But since I love my work, it doesn’t feel so bad. I wish I could be so organized that could set out and write a certain amount of pages a day. But I never know how many will come out of me. I’ve written as many as 40 pages in a day, and as little as three. It all depends on how well the story is flowing and if the characters are talking to me. I’m dyslexic, and my first drafts are always riddled with mistakes, spelling errors, typos, and missing words. However, my first drafts are usually pretty clean when it comes to characters and plot. I will sometimes go back and up the conflict in a scene if I realize I didn’t bring it out enough. And I have been in the early stages of a book and came up with some plot twist and decided I needed to go back in and foreshadow it.
I usually reread and polish yesterday’s pages in the morning before I start the new pages for the day. Even then, I have lot of typos and nothing I write goes to the publisher without being read by my faithful critique group.
For the writers: Are you plotter, pantser, or both?
I am a true blue pantser. However, the business side of writing often tries to push me into being a plotter by insisting on little things called synopses and such. How dare they, huh? LOL. So now I will write a synopsis, but my editors know that things will probably change. I recently had another published friend ask to see my YA synopsis because she was attempting to write a YA. I sent it to her and after she read it she called me laughing. She couldn’t believe that at the end of the synopsis I wrote. I do not know who the villain is who lives inside the camp, but it will be the least likely person the reader will suspect. My friend asked me, did you really send that to your editor? I did. And honestly, my editor likes it like that. I haven’t even decided which guy my heroine will end up with at the end of the series. I mean…you know teenagers, my heroine might just change their mind. LOL. However, Rose says she likes me not knowing because then even the readers can’t figure it out.
What inspires you? (Music, movies, people?)
All of the above. I can honestly say that I think life inspires me. Which is why it’s important to find time for a life. It’s easy to submerse yourself in nothing but your work, but to do that is dangerous. When you stop living, you become susceptible to facing a lack of creativity. Even though I work too much, I still make time to walk, to chat with friends, to spend romantic evenings with my husband, to babysit my granddaughter, and to make sure I have plenty of time for laughter. Laughter, family, friends, and career, that’s the recipe for my life. Well, throw in some wine and chocolate and you’ll have it right.
What comes after this current YA book? Another YA or Adult?
Labels: author interview, Christie Craig, MVFreeman, Romance Writers, Writers, writing process, YA Paranormal
I am a writer of Urban Fantasy and romance, with a love of strong coffee and cream for late night writing. I adore dark stories with anti-heros and determined heroines. I am represented by Victoria Lea from the Aponte Literary Agency.