Thursday, October 27, 2011

INTERVIEW WITH CHRISTIE CRAIG


On November 5th, 2011 is the Southern Magic Romance Readers Luncheon.  Among the authors attending is Christie Craig, a versatile writer who not only writes fun adult contemporary romances, she also writes Y.A. paranormal under the name C.C. Hunter.  When I had the opportunity to interview her for this blog, I jumped at it. Please join me in welcoming her to Romance Magicians. You will find her a delightful, sharp, and  an inspiring woman.
                                                                             M.V. Freeman
                   
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?
The last book I completed was Blame it on Texas, the second book in my Hotter in Texas series, which is a humorous romantic suspense trilogy I’m doing for Grand Central/Forever as Christie Craig. It will release Sept. 2012. I’m about to start the fourth book in my YA series. It’s not even titled yet and I have a feeling I’ll be hearing from my editor this week about getting her some suggestions for the new title. The next book to release will be Taken at Dusk, April 2012, which is the third book in the Shadow Falls series.                                                            
 

How fast do you write? For example does it take you a year from start to finish? or months?
I write three and a half books a year. Hence, the eight to twelve hours a day. LOL. It’s a tough schedule but as I said, I do love what I do. Most of the time I can finish a book in two months—but then there’s the editing I do after I get all the critiques back from my group. And as most people know, being a writer involves more than just writing. I have to work on copy edits, promotions, emails, blogs, research, and staying on top of the market by reading. So I generally give myself three months to write a book.

Thank you so much for having me here today. I love talking about writing. And I can’t wait to see everyone in November!

Christie Craig.
AKA C.C. Hunter

16 comments:

C.C. Hunter said...

Thank you so much for having me here today. I can't wait to see everyone in Al.

CC

RedPeril said...

Ah, marvelous! I think I've added a few books to my to-read pile.

All this buzz about Christie Craig I've been hearing the last few months, and I had no idea you wrote YA Paranormal! I can't imagine how time consuming it must be to try to promote and keep up two pen names...especially on your schedule. And yet, it must be working.

Well, thank you for taking the time to interview and be here! I was on the fence about being able to rearrange a few things and make it to the luncheon, but now I'm pretty well sold. I look forward to meeting you. :)

~Angela Blount

C.C. Hunter said...

RedPeril,

Thanks so much. I look forward to the luncheon. I love getting back to Al. every chance I get.

Can wait to see you.

CC

Lexi said...

This is fascinating! I always love to read about how other writers approach things. I must say, you are a writing warrior and a disciplined one at that. I shall keep you in mind when I'm feeling lazy! "Christie writes X number of hours a day, you lazy slob. Get your butt in the chair."

C.C. Hunter said...

Lexi,

Thank you. But just remember what works for one writer doesn't work for another. It's not a race, it's a journey and you should enjoy it.

CC

Rashda Khan said...

Hi Christie!

So good to see you here, one of my favorite online places.:)

I love Christie's books and I got to meet her earlier this year. Woot!

Y'all are going to have so much fun at the Luncheon...wish I was going. Here's a tip: Beg her to tell the Mattress story.

You won't regret it :D

M.V.Freeman said...

Christie,
I am so looking forward to meeting you at the luncheon. :)

I have a teen who is lobbying heavily for your books. :)

M.V. Freeman

M.V.Freeman said...

Rashda,
I hate that you can't be here. :(
When I remember where you live, I am surprised, I keep thinking you live not too far away!

M.V.

Sharon Wray said...

I've always loved your books, but didn't realize you were writing under the name CC Hunter. I love YA Paranormals and am off to Amazon to place an order. Thanks for the interview, Mary. You did a wonderful job.

M.V.Freeman said...

Thanks Sharon! ;)
I'm going to get those YA paranormals too!
I'm glad you stopped by.

M.V.

Diane Garner said...

Christie,
More than three books a year? Do you eat or sleep? Your series sound amazing.
Mary,
Great interview!

M.V.Freeman said...

Thanks Diane,
I am amazed at Christie too! :)

Carla Swafford said...

I'm gonna check out those YAs. I had no idea you wrote those too. Awesome!

M.V.Freeman said...

Carla,
I was tickled to find out that she wrote those YA's...I can hardly wait to read them. :)

Louisa Cornell said...

Hey Christie! Looking forward to seeing you at the luncheon!

You talked about the YA's in New York and I can't wait to read them! But your writing schedule makes me feel like such a slacker!

I hope to one day be able to write for a living full-time and see if I have the stamina to sit in the chair for 8 hours!

Marley Delarose said...

Hi, Christie,
I'm so looking forward to reading your YA and to seeing you again next week on BIOTM.

Your discipline is enviable. Thanks for sharing your process and all the best with this new book.