Christie Craig, an Alabama native, is an award-winning, multi-published writer, multi-published photo journalist, motivational speaker, and writing teacher.. Her non-fiction articles and photography have appeared in almost three thousand national magazines. A Golden Heart finalist, and a finalist in more than fifty RWA-sponsored contests, she has gained a well-deserved reputation for writing romance fiction that has both witty humor and a suspenseful, sexy tone. Published by Silhouette in the 90s, she recently broke back into fiction in a big way, making four book sales in one day. Her seventh humorous single title romance novel, published by Dorchester, will hit the stands in June 2010. Her non-fiction book, co-authored by Faye Hughes, released September 08, is The Everything Guide To Writing A Romance Novel and their second non-fiction book, a humorous self-help relationship book, Wild, Wicked and Wanton: 101 Ways to Love Like You Are in a Romance Novel is scheduled to be released December 2010. Craig's latest writing adventure is the sale of a young adult paranormal romance series, Shadow Falls Camp, that will be published by St. Martins Press in the near future.
What was your first introduction to YA literature, the one that made you choose that genre to write?
Okay, first, I want to thank you for having me here at your blog. I’m having a great time. Now, to answer your question. You know, I get asked this one a lot. When I was a teenager, we didn't have the wide variety of YA books that we do now. I read a few earlier books that I loved like Charlotte’s Web. But my first introduction to modern YA literature came when I was an adult. My editor at St. Martin's/Griffin had contacted my agent and asked if I would be interested in writing a YA paranormal series for them. She had read my romances and thought I had a smart-sassy voice, which she said was just perfect for the genre. (And here, my mama had always told me that being a smart-sass would never get me anywhere!)
Anyway, I did a lot of reading of popular YA paranormal books and discovered that my editor was right—my voice was a good match. Plus, I've always had an interest in ghosts. My editor had also given me an idea for the Shadow Falls series. She said, "paranormal camp" and that got my imagination fired up and the rest, as they say, is history.
What’s one thing that readers would be surprised to find out about you?
Hmm. Now that's a good question. One thing that readers might be surprised to know is that I really have no idea what is going to happen in a book when I start writing it. Now, let me explain that a little—I have a general idea of what is going to happen. It's just the specific details that I'm a little hazy on.
Every writer has her or his own way of writing. Some plot everything out ahead of time, and that works great for them. It doesn't work for me. I'm more of a pantser, which means I write by the seat of my pants. And there are a lot of other writers out there just like me, too. The thing is, I like uncovering things right along with my characters. It helps to keep me focused and it works, from a storytelling point of view.
When did you write your first book and how old were you?
Well, I'm from Alabama and like a lot of my kinfolk, I'm what you would call a natural-born storyteller. You see, everybody in my family loves to tell stories. They generally start out as the truth but, over time, well, that jack rabbit that hopped out in front of the car morphs into a seven-foot grizzly because, let's face it, grizzlies are a lot more entertaining than jack rabbits. A lot of my childhood memories are about our getting together and sitting around in the living room, trying to outdo the other with our stories.
Now, when I was in the third grade, I wrote my first story down on paper. It was a great story, too—for a third grader. It was about a little red shoe and it even won a school competition. But while storytelling was as natural as breathing, writing was a lot more difficult. You see, I'm dyslexic. That means I sometimes get my words in the wrong order. And I'm also a bad speller. So, getting the mechanics of writing right took a lot of effort but I did it. I wrote my first novel when I was in my twenties. It didn't sell, of course—I still had a lot to learn as a writer—but it was a great learning experience. My first published novel was a sweet romance, which was published by Silhouette. My next novel sale didn't happen until about thirteen years later—I took a break from novel writing to focus on writing freelance non-fiction. But when I sold that second novel, I actually sold novels 3, 4 and 5 at the same time. Yep. I sold four books in one day. And I've been writing book-length fiction ever since.
What was the greatest thing you learned at school?
Hmm. That's a good question. Because I was an undiagnosed dyslexic, my school experiences weren't always the most positive. It was hard. I couldn't understand why I always got the wrong answer. I didn't find out I was dyslexic until my son was diagnosed when he was having the same problems I had in school. It was a life-changing event for me and, honestly, I think being dyslexic makes me a much better writer. Dyslexics can read emotions a lot easier than most people; adding emotion to my writing makes it stronger.
But back to the greatest thing I learned in school . . . I think that would probably be just the love of learning. You see, while it was hard, I loved and still love the feeling I get when I suddenly sense I’ve mastered something. Be it math, or some new words in Spanish. I especially love the feeling I get when I see myself growing as a writer. And I hope and pray I never stop growing.
How would you describe yourself in three words?
In only three words? Now, that is going to be a tough one but I'll give it a try. If I had to describe myself in only three words, they would probably be: Laugh. Love. Read.
Yeah, I know it kinda sounds a little corny but that's me. I love to laugh. My family always believed that if we could laugh about whatever problem we were facing, we could live with it. That's why, when things are their toughest, you'll probably see me finding a way to laugh about it.
As for love . . . well, love truly is why we are here on this earth. To love someone and to be loved by them. Love is such a universal emotion, and there are so many different kinds of love. It's a pure emotion, too. I truly believe the world would be a better place if we loved more.
And as for reading . . . well, what can I say? I'm a writer but I was a reader first. Reading is even more important to me now than it was before I ever got published. And what's not to love about reading? It can transport us to different time periods, to different worlds. It can keep us entertained for hours and sometimes, it can even change our perspective on things we thought we knew.
What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?
A writer needs all the basics, of course—a good dictionary, a word processing program and a computer and printer. And she'll also need to know the basics of good writing, so I'd recommend taking a few writing courses. Local colleges and universities often offer these type of "how to" classes, and they can be worth their weight in goal. But the best tool a writer can have is a healthy imagination. So, let yourself daydream. Take a long walk out in nature and let your imagination take flight. You might be amazed at the places it can take you.
Did you learn anything from writing Taken at Dusk and what was it?
Great question. Honestly, I think I learn something from every book I write. As I mentioned above, I'm more of a pantser than a plotter, so I learn about events at the same time Kylie does. The lesson I learned from Taken at Dusk is that sometimes the people we think are our enemies can actually be our friends. As I'm sure you may have heard, there are some deaths in Taken at Dusk, and writing those scenes were hard, especially the scene I just mentioned. I don't want to give anything away but just make sure you have a box of tissues handy when you read it.
What was your inspiration for the series?
As I mentioned above, my editor at St. Martin's/Griffin approached my agent and asked if I would be interested in writing a YA paranormal series. She had a two-word idea for the series—paranormal camp. All the rest—characters, plotlines—I developed. And I had a blast developing the storyline, too. However, I think I borrowed from my own teen issues to create my characters. I have also always loved ghost stories and I knew from the start that I would somehow work in the ghost angle.
Which character have you enjoyed getting to know the most over the course of writing Shadow Falls?
Hmm. Well, I've actually enjoyed getting to know all of my characters. I'm probably closest to Kylie, since the books are told from her point of view. One of the characters I've really enjoyed getting to know is Holiday, the camp counselor. She's a strong, positive influence on Kylie and a good friend, as well as mentor. Learning about Holiday's past and watching her developing romance with Burnett has been a lot of fun.
For those who are unfamiliar with Kylie Galen, how would you introduce her?
I think the first thing I'd do is suggest they watch the video for Taken at Dusk. It gives a lot of insight into Kylie as well as the Shadow Falls series.
What part of Lucas did you enjoy writing the most?
I love Lucas. Okay, I love all my Shadow Falls characters but there is just something about Lucas that tugs at my heartstrings. I think it's because of his backstory. When Kylie remembers how Lucas was her next-door neighbor when she was a little girl, and the bond they had formed then, it shows Lucas in a completely different light from the "bad boy werewolf" he pretends to be at Shadow Falls. I just finished book 4, Shadows at Moonrise, and Lucas is still surprising me. I can't wait to see what happens in book five.
If you could introduce Derek to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
Hmm. That's an interesting question. I think it might be Katniss and her friends from the Hunger Games. The characters in that book are in an impossible situation—they're forced into a life and death struggle, which makes their lives very hard emotionally. Derek, as an empath, could offer comfort and solace.
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
I've been so lucky to have had several writers as my mentors over the years. I owe a great debt of gratitude to Romance Writers of America. Through that organization, I met other writers who shared their wisdom and knowledge through writing contests. I met critique partners who became good friends. I made contacts that helped me advance in my career. For anyone who is writing romance, women's fiction, or YA with a romance, I strongly recommend joining RWA. You can find them on the web as www.rwanational.org.
How many books have you written?
As C.C. Hunter, I've written five novels with a sixth about to be written. As Christie Craig, I write humorous romantic suspense novels, and have published nine novels with another coming out in September. I have also written three non-fiction books.
You have the chance to give one piece of advice to your readers. What would it be?
I think the best piece of advice to give to my readers is to never stop believing in your dreams. Keep striving to achieve them. Keep working hard. You may fail but that's okay. We all fail at one time or another. Just pull yourself back up and keep trying. Don't be afraid to start over, or to tweak your game plan. Doing that just means we're trying to learn from our mistakes. And if you keep trying, keep moving toward your goal, I can assure you that, eventually, you will get there.
When asked, what’s the one question you always answer with a lie?
Honestly? It's my height. You see, I'm a little on the short side—I'm 4'11". But I always like to wear heels and that makes me feel taller, so when people ask how tall I am, I will say, 5'7". Hey. A woman can dream, can't she?
Who was your first boyfriend?
My first boyfriend was an older man with a lot more experience. He was six. I was five. (And, trust me, at that age, a single year represents a vast amount of experience.) He would meet me out on the playground during recess. And did I mention how cute he was? He didn't have his two front teeth but his smile could light up a room. Ahh, first love. There's nothing quite like it.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I love getting together with my girlfriends for a long lunch, filled with laughs and some good red wine. I like getting together with my family, too, and sharing some laughs and creating new memories. It's a struggle maintaining balance but I truly believe a well-balanced life, keeping work, family and play in balance, is the key to a healthy, happy life.
What would I find in your refrigerator right now?
Well, this is a scary question. I've just come off a grueling deadline and spent several days out of town at a writing conference, so you'd probably find a lot of food in my refrigerator that is way past its expiration date. LOL. But, as for things I always try to keep on hand—fresh veggies, fruit, Diet Coke, non-fat yogurt and Lean Cuisines in the freezer.
Where can readers stalk you?
Readers can find me at my website, www.CCHunterBooks.com. I blog every Tuesday. They can also find me at Twitter as @CCHunterBooks and at Facebook at www.facebook/CCHunterBooks.
Thanks again for having me at your blog. I've had a great time.
[Jean] - You're welcome! It was Amazing having you!
Step into Shadow Falls, a camp for teens with supernatural powers. Here friendship thrives, love takes you by surprise, and our hearts possess the greatest magic of all.
Kylie Galen wants the truth so badly she can taste it. The truth about who her real family is, the truth about which boy she’s meant to be with—and the truth about what her emerging powers mean. But she’s about to discover that some secrets can change your life forever…and not always for the better.
Just when she and Lucas are finally getting close, she learns that his pack has forbidden them from being together. Was it a mistake to pick him over Derek? And it’s not just romance troubling Kylie. An amnesia-stricken ghost is haunting her, delivering the frightful warning, someone lives and someone dies. As Kylie races to unravel the mystery and protect those she loves, she finally unlocks the truth about her supernatural identity, which is far different—and more astonishing—than she ever imagined.
C.C. Hunter brings a suspenseful, edge-of-your seat drama in Taken at Dusk. C.C.’s creation of a camp filled with paranormal teenagers is truly imaginative and fascinating. Kylie is a character that readers can immediately root for. She has strong ethical values and is unyielding to what she believes in. The supporting characters are just as appealing. It was a delight to have all of these paranormal entities in one book.
The third book in the Shadow Falls Series takes off immediately where Awake at Dawn left off. Kylie is looking forward to meeting her adoptive parents because they might just have the information that will tell her exactly what she is. The meeting is cut short and Kylie is still left with no clue as to what she is. Kylie has come to terms with herself and is slowly learning her inevitable life. We also get more in-depth details of Kylie’s feelings for Lucas and Derek. The inner turmoil of the love triangle she suffers felt real and sincere. C.C.’s writing style is on point and makes the reader feel each drop of emotion poured out by Kylie.
My breath was taken away with this book. From beginning to end, it delivered action, mystery, suspense, romance, and even some light moments. Kylie is heroine that we can all cheer for and back up 100%. C.C.’s writing is amazingly beautiful and the way she presents the characters and their world on paper is remarkably unmatched. She is a master of descriptions which made the book more exciting and enjoyable to read.
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