Thank you so much for having me, Katy! My name is Christina and I write stories. I’m also mother to a toddler, a teen, and two middles, as well as a Chihuahua from hell. I love chocolate, blueberry Redbull, Daryl Dixon, clouds, and storms, and am entirely obsessed with end-of-the-world scenarios.
Here are my main social media links. (I have a ton, so the rest are listed at the end of the interview)
How did you decide to become an author? Any books, movie, or people that inspired you to pursue your dream?
I started writing poetry when I was 14, and from that point on I knew I wanted to write. But it wasn’t until I saw how enthralled my eleven-year-old was with “The Hunger Games” that my intrigue with YA Fiction was sparked. Before then I had never thought of myself as someone who’d one day write a novel. I was terrible at finishing things. I was a short story, poetry, and prose kind of girl. But my daughter and I started toying with plotlines and scenarios, characters (a group in particular known as shadow animal people… *giggle*), and the bonding this created between us was an amazing experience. I sat down and started writing . . . something. Haha
That story went down in flames fast, but another—“The Butterfly Prophecy”—was born. I finished that dystopian scifi in nine months, and although it wasn’t publishable, many of the themes and some of the characters and settings were transplanted into my third novel, “The Treemakers.” (Emerson and Ms. Ruby were two of my faves from “The Butterfly Prophecy” who were transplanted.)
About halfway through “The Butterfly Prophecy,” my daughter twisted my arm and made me read “The Hunger Games.” I devoured that series in two weeks, and that’s when I knew for a fact—I wanted to write some badass YA Fiction.
Are you self-published or traditionally published? Why did you choose to go that route?
I finally decided to give up my search for an agent and self-publish The Treemakers last year. I tried a small pub for a couple months recently and decided I prefer doing my own thing. I love the independence, the confidence, and the control being an indie gives me over my own work, my writing career, and my future.
But if someone from the Big Five offers me a ton of money, hell…
*Packs kids and bags*
Are you a plotter or a panster?
I once was a complete pantser. I just wrote and hoped it went somewhere good. LOL
I plot now, but considering I’m about to dive into the third book in my series, and my plots tend to be super complex, I kind of have to plot to make sure all loose ends are tied up. But if while writing the story wants to go in a direction that wasn’t plotted, I follow it where it leads me. Those dark alleyways and side roads, I’ve found, are often where the best scenes are hiding.
Interesting factoid about The Treemakers: When writing it for the second time after scrapping the first 100k word story, I had this kind of dark, but still mainly innocent idea of what I wanted it to be when I rewrote it. But it kept wanting to veer off into super dark territory that made me uncomfortable and nervous at first. In hindsight, I see that those are some of my best, most heart-wrenching scenes and the story wouldn’t be complete without them. I was so worried about what others would think at first, but eventually I just said “f*** it. This is the story that wants to be written and I need to honor that . . . And actually, I really don’t have much of a choice if I want to be a happy writer.”
That’s when I learned to walk the fine line between plotting and pantsing.
What draws you to writing in the Dystopian genre?
The light in the dark, the mystery, the adventure, the coming together of strangers to become unlikely families, and so much more . . . When society crumbles, the ‘weak’ can become strong, while the ‘strong’ can collapse. Everyday people become heroes. Our slate is wiped clean and we are all on an even playing field of sorts. Now we get to see who we really are. When faced with the bare bones reality of survival of the fittest, people change. They are pushed to the limits, to the edge. We get to see if we will fall . . . or fly.
This concept fascinates me. As does the idea of a still world. Everything stops, crashes down, dies. And the strong will rise again to recreate the new world. What will it be like? What will we do? Will we survive? Will the world be a better place? Or will it become a hell like none we could ever even imagine? These questions have spawned a thousand amazing stories.
What does the Band of Dystopian Authors and Fans group on Facebook mean to you?
I love BOD. It’s honestly the best group on Facebook. I love the camaraderie, the bond we share because of our fascination with all things end-of-days. And zombies. Let’s not forget those guys. 😉
BOD is a place where lovers of the genre, both readers and writers, can hang out and talk dystopia and post-apoc with others who “get it.” And we aren’t being spammed with constant sales posts, so… fist bump to Cheer, ER, and Angie for their superior admin ninja skillz. Love those ladies!
Oh, and their release parties are amazing. And free! Though, IMHO, they should charge because they’re outta this world fun and fab. <3
May I ask where the inspiration came from to write The Treemakers? It’s such a unique and interesting storyline.
On October 24, 2013, the Treemakers came to be during a perfect storm of various muses. My children and I lived in a bad neighborhood near these gigantic powerline towers, and I’d always think how they looked like mechanical trees. We had just ended another terrible summer (we live in Texas) where the kids stayed inside to play most days (bad neighborhood, plus heat) so the idea started brewing that summer. These orphan kids were in my head, and they were responsible for building these mechanical trees. They couldn’t go outside because of the bad air and the heat. The world was destroyed. Their lives were full of misery and despair, but they had each other, and their love for one another would pull them through….
In my house during that time we hung pictures of different paradises everywhere, to remind us that there was a better life somewhere, waiting for us. We’d get there one day, but first we had to weather the storm, push through the darkness of poverty and other obstacles to find the light. This was the emotional inspiration for the story, I think.
As far as the characters directly: my Nana was an orphan who was a mother figure to her twin baby sisters, and later she became a foster parent at the orphanage she grew up in. We’d go visit on Thanksgiving and I remember being fascinated with these orphan girls, inspired and in awe of my Nana’s ability to love so much, to feed and care for 10-20 girls on a daily basis, and do so with grace, strength, and nurturing.
And The Treemakers were born…
Another interesting factoid: The first edition cover of The Treemakers was actually a slightly modified version of an original painting by my Nana. (You can win a copy of it, or other cool prizes in my Rafflecopter here: http://gvwy.io/wcegq9)
Do any of your characters represent you as a whole or someone you know? Or are they qualities you admire in others?
As with all of my characters, they just kind of hop into my head and say “okay, it’s my turn now.” So far I’ve only based one character off of an actual person, but I can’t tell you who it is because it’s a character from book two, which some of you have yet to read. 😉
I think my characters are a montage of everyone I’ve ever met in my life. Different qualities, traits, quirks, looks, habits, etc., originated from someone, somewhere in my life, but they flesh into their very own special beings in my head, becoming their own unique selves.
Are there any genres of literature or movies that you won’t read or watch? What’s your favorite genre to read/watch?
I’ve always had a hard time with anything historical. For me, it’s a snooze-fest. I prefer speculative/future/scifi/fantasy because the possibilities are endless and my imagination can run wild. I’m honestly quite hard to appease, as far as books are concerned. The books I like most are well-written in first person present, and yank me into the story by my heartstrings against my will. If a story does this, I don’t care what genre it is.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
#1. Go to that place inside you which scares you the most, set up a little desk for your laptop, and write your heart out from there. Write things that scare you. Make yourself laugh, cry, get angry—whatever. Just make sure you are feeling whatever you’re writing. If you aren’t feeling anything the reader won’t either.
#2. Get an amazing editor. I hear all the time “I can’t afford one.” And to those of you I say “How bad do you want this thing?” If you want to be a successful author you HAVE TO HAVE AN EDITOR. Sure, there may be what others perceive as exceptions to this rule. Maybe they are very clean and superior word-slingers. But I promise you they’d be twice as successful if they had an editor who helped them polish their writing and cultivate their craft.
#3. Quit making excuses. If you love something you make time for it, and you make a way for it.
P.S. Kimberly Grenfell (my editor) is amazing. Her prices are beyond reasonable and she’ll work with you on payment plans, if needed. I wouldn’t be the writer I am today without her. No doubt in my mind about that. Here’s her FB link. Feel free to shoot her a friend request and a message. She’s super sweet, too. https://www.facebook.com/kimberly.grenfell?fref=ts
Any upcoming projects you’d like to share?
I’ll be busting my butt on the third and final book in the Treemakers Trilogy for the next year. Other than that, though, I’m constantly taking notes for new stories. So far I have 16 files on my computer of stories spanning a wide variety of speculative fiction—and other—genres. What will I write next?? I haven’t quite decided yet. Guess you’ll have to stick around and find out!
Anything else you’d like to add?
I want to thank everyone who is reading this, and those who have read my work and shown their love and encouragement by sharing and reviewing, and saying such beautiful, uplifting things. Knowing people enjoy reading what I write means the world to me, and helps to push me forward every day.
Thank you for joining me on THE KATY today, Christina!
Thank YOU for inviting me to be here, Katy! I appreciate it so much, you’re a sweetheart, and I love that you are such a supporter of the indie author community.