Thank you for talking with Keystrokes & Closed Doors about your new number one best seller Slumber. I absolutely loved it and am keenly awaiting the next instalment! I have an in-depth interview planned for us, so that your fans can truly get to know you and what lies behind the creation of the world’s new phenomenon.
Why don’t you tell the readers a little bit about yourself before we move on to the nitty gritty on Slumber?
Hi readers! *waves*
I’m a mother of two beautiful daughters, Kendyl and Kyleigh, and I stay at home with them during the day. But at night is when the magic happens; I turn into a writer. My husband puts up with my weird imagination and supports my long nights. Most nights that I work he is at work as well and it’s a good balance.
I love to read as much as I love writing and I often wonder if I had to choose between the two if I could…I can’t.
I love reading YA and I’m not good at reading any other genre. I started YA through Twilight and then I turned into a Twi-fan.
I also enjoy streaming other shows like; Supernatural, Reign, Grimm, One Tree Hill (Oldie but a goodie) and just about every CW show there is.
When did you decide to be a writer? Was it an epiphany or something you had always been interested in?
When I was twelve my grandma said I had a gift. That gift was storytelling. I never thought I would write books. I always had an imagination; creating stories in my head. I’m glad I started writing them down because my brain was full.
When you first started, what did you do to create your platform and get a literary agent? Did you do to any spectacular feats to get your works out there?
I actually write without an agent. I am unagented. I have nothing against an agent. I just never went down that path. I just wrote books and found a publisher that didn’t require an agent. I was super lucky!
What is life like as a published author? Is it all you have expected?
All the glitz and glamour is not real. We’re mostly all normal people who have wild imaginations. Life is normal; just like yours. I do all the things book nerds do. I go to the book store and walk down the aisles and drool over covers. I also fangirl over my favorite authors. I recently went to a book con and met some really talented authors who made me incredibly nervous.
What has been the most exciting thing that has happened to you in your writing career?
This is hard, because many exciting things happened to me. Attending Y’all Fest South Carolina in 2012 and 2013 were huge perks of the career. I had so much fun there. And I met some amazing authors whom I looked up to immensely.
In general, what inspires you writing and where do you get your ideas from?
Ideas come from many things; art and music being the top two. I mostly get ideas when I’m in the shower or near water. I’m not sure why that is but I attribute it to being an Aquarius. I like to listen to music when I write because it helps the creativity flow. I also have to have a vision of my characters before I write the story. It helps when I’m creating their world and their minds.
You have written many books before of a similar nature. I was wondering, why do you cater to the YA genre in particular? In know many adults read YA, but have you considered writing fiction for “adults”?
I actually have two full length books for adults. My Past Lives Series is for adults but a lot of teens tend to still love it. I adore writing for teens, I think, because part of me will always want to recreate my teen life. It was far from perfect and I think subconsciously I write teen characters to supplement my crappy teen life.
Will I ever write for adults again? Not sure. I think most of my fans are adults rather than teens. I want to write books my daughters will want to read.
Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?
I always say never give up on your dreams. If you get turned down, don’t stop trying. If people don’t like your book, don’t change it for one person.
Get a trust worthy critique partner to help you.
Read books on editing and writing. My first book I wrote, the editing was terrible on my end. It needed a lot of help. But I learned as more time went on that the more I wrote the better I would get at it.
Everything About Slumber
Now, let’s talk about Slumber! Where did the inspiration come from to rewrite the classic tale of Sleeping Beauty?
Slumber came from an idea I had about Aurora. I have always loved the Disney rendition but felt it lacked her real story. You don’t see much of her in the movie and the part you do see she’s singing with animals or asleep.
As I started Slumber I wanted it to be truly different. I wanted her to be set apart from her world and what better way to do that but to put her into an asylum. We have an asylum here in New Jersey named Ancora and I had to name the Kingdom after it. Call it humor if you will.
Why did you decide to do a remake of Sleeping Beauty, instead of possibly creating a standalone book distinct from the fairy tale but use those folklore elements?
I have friends that have done the latter and I think that that is what stopped me. Creating a whole new story from Sleeping Beauty itself was more my route. It was my way to tell the story the way I wanted to. It’s very powerful being an author sometimes.
This is a classic tale, did you have reservations about adapting the story we all know so well?
I did when I first saw the trailer for Maleficent. I threw up my hands and stopped writing. I didn’t want to put a book out there that would be compared to something else. So I wrote Who We Were instead. I put Slumber off for a year. Went and saw Maleficent, then said, ‘Okay, it’s not the same!’ and went back to work.
But as far as the classic tale I knew my book was very different from it. Although my characters have the same names, it didn’t take away from the story in my opinion.
What kind of research did you have to do for Slumber? Did you create a lot of backstory which the readers are yet to find out and may be present in book 2? I found you alluded to a lot of faery lore and the rules which they have.
I studied the Fae and the many stories surrounding them. I also did some research on asylums, which was wicked fun.
I created a whole kingdom that you will find out more about in book two. You’ll also see the map of the kingdom and the dark forest that surrounds it.
The fairies backstory will also come to fruition in book two. There will be more reasons for why a certain ‘bad girl’ acts the way she does.
I love how all writers seem to have their own unique way of writing and yet, at the same time it is quite similar. How do did you go about writing Slumber? What was your process?
I write all my ideas, outlines, in a notebook first. Character names go next and all of their attributes. Then I make boxes for the chapters and in each chapter box I write what I hope to see happen in that chapter.
If I’m really into the story, I will draw a few of the characters or in this case, the kingdom map. I’m not an artist but it helps to envision this ‘other world’ that I created.
Once everything is all mapped out then I write the story chapter by chapter. It plays out in my head like a movie. Some days are better than others when it comes to working but it usually takes me from 3-4 months. Then comes the most annoying part; editing.
Editing is like stabbing yourself in the leg over and over and over again…except without all the blood.
It’s a very painful process and it makes you sick of your own book. But it’s a necessary part of writing.
What I really liked about your story was the depiction of the main character Rory or Princess Aurora- I actually wanted to name my future daughter Aurora after Sleeping Beauty- she is spunky and tough. At the same time, she exudes a youthful exuberance that young girls her age have. I really admire that you have done this in a subtle and realistic way. How did you create such a genuine and unique voice for Rory? Did you have to revise it many times to make sure you were not overplaying the youthful aspect?
I honestly based her on my two daughters. They are both innocent and ruthless at the same time. And living with two girls who are such princesses, I tend to pick up on their behavior. I dedicated the book to Kendyl, my youngest, because like Rory, she is a princess but she can be tough as nails when it counts. And being the little sister isn’t easy.
I knew Rory had to be both sweet and strong. She couldn’t be this ditzy princess and she couldn’t be a warrior either. I had to create my Aurora the way I want my girls to be in the world. Don’t take any crap from anyone but also, remember where you came from.
Christy's Pictures To Help You Visualise Her World!
At first when I wrote Sawyer and Rory they both hated one another and I was going to have them learn to fall in love. But after reading that over a few times, I pulled it out. Rory had no memory of him and I needed someone to be there for her in an emotional way. Someone who she had a connection with, and that was Sawyer. Then their love story came to me and I just knew that they had to have this once in a lifetime romance. But like you said, they’re young. So it’s hard to write romance for teens about teens without crossing a line.
I’ve read a lot of YA books and some authors just go for it. So that one scene, when he kisses her on the stairs. I just went for it. I wrote it and thought to myself, ‘Rory deserves to feel wanted. She needs to want Sawyer just as much.’ I pulled out the big guns and wrote a sexy scene just for the readers.
I can’t write with limitations or with someone telling me I can’t write a sexy scene, because in the end, teens aren’t holding back. They are kissing in stairwells. And they can have a passionate relationship at sixteen.
Just not my daughters. They aren’t allowed to meet boys like Sawyer.
What is your take on sex scenes in books? There was a moment with Maleficent and Stephen, but you made it very classy and something you had to read between the lines.
I’ve written many sex scenes in my other books. In my YA book, Who We Were, I wrote it and you knew what was going on. Those characters were having sex for the first time.
In The Brown House, my character Brylee sneaks around with the boy next door. My author friend told me, ‘If that was my daughter I would beat her butt!’ And it made me laugh, because it’s so true. But Brylee was in love with him and she was a teen with raging hormones.
I do it with a thought that someday my daughters will read my books. So I make my sex scenes ‘closed door’. You get a peek inside and you see what they’re doing and you know what’s going on. But it’s not raunchy or dirty. It’s beautiful and natural.
Maleficent and Stephen’s scene came out of nowhere for me. I wanted to show the reader the part of Millie that only Stephen saw; her tender sweet self. The woman he fell in love with.
Because you are catering for the younger YA audience, are you very mindful of the age of your readers when you write? Do you have any tips in this regard?
I write for the ages 14 and up. I keep in mind that some readers may be younger but the book is clearly YA. I think if you are going to write YA don’t forget that you mention the rating of your book because it could be mistaken for a Tween or Middle Grade book. Most YA are 14 and up.
What everyone is truly wanting to know is if you have started writing book 2?! If so, please I am dying to know! What can we expect of Aurora and her adventures in the second book?
I have! I started writing it after Slumber was edited and I received the final copy. I took a deep breath and wrote the first chapter of Awaken. It’s been slow because I’m working on promoting Slumber still. So the book will be out this year, I’m happy to say. I can’t say when just yet but I will let you all know when I find out.
Aurora will become Queen of Ancora and with that title comes more responsibility than she anticipated. She isn’t a weak and frail princess anymore so you will see her growth.
You can expect to see a new prince come around but I promise you there will be NO love triangle. I can’t stand them.
And as for Raven, well you thought she was evil before, you haven’t seen anything yet!
You’ll also learn more of why Raven is the way she is.
I hope that gives you something to look forward to!