Tuesday, May 10, 2011

From Sweet Romance to a Murdering Smartass: One Writer's Journey

Winner!!! Helen, you have won the copy of Born at Midnight. Please contact me through, cc(at)cchunterbook.scom.

Thanks everyone who stopped by and posted!!! I'm about five pages now from writing "the end" and doing a happy dance.

Hey...well, I'm "this close" to finishing Taken at Dusk, my third YA. So today I'm posting guest blog I wrote and that was published over at http://www.mysteriesandmargaritasblogspot.com/.

And because I'm feeling generous, I'll give away a copy of Born at Midight to one lucky poster. So make sure you leave a comment.

Years ago, in another life, I wrote and published a Silhouette Romance. It was a sweet story with wholesome characters, and I’m proud of that book. However, after having some difficulties selling another book, I put novel writing on the back burner and focused on my photojournalism career. I took pictures that appeared on the covers of national magazines, and I wrote nonfiction, wrote words to feed knowledge-hungry individuals. I wrote about China, about the homeless, about calligraphy, about horny felines, window fashions, skunks, tomato horn worms, ugly shoes, and bad moles.

Basically, if an editor would pay for it, I wrote it. And after about an eight-year sabbatical from writing novels, and too many years of writing about things other people thought were important—like tomato horn worms—I suddenly had an uncontrollable urge not to die a one-book wonder. I wanted to write my own thing, to write my own story as it played across the screen of my mind.

Now the thing you have to know about me is that when I really get a bee in my bonnet, I don’t play around. I announced my intentions to my husband, to my kids, my friends and to the innocent bystander behind me in the grocery store line. I even announced it to my gynecologist, during a pap smear. I, Christie Craig, was going to write, sell, and publish another book even if I had to kill somebody to accomplish it.

While I didn’t realize it at the time, that’s exactly what it would take to make my dream come true--killing someone. Well, it wasn’t just one person, there were several. And I admit when I whacked my first person, I suffered terribly. My heart ached and I cried, and guilt sat on my shoulders like a five-hundred-pound gorilla. But as soon as I knocked off the gorilla and washed the imaginary blood off my hands, and I reread my deadly scene, I had an epiphany: Nothing can liven up a party or a plot like a dead body. I really found my mystery-suspense voice and that’s when I sold my books.

Since then, suspense, mystery and murder are as prevalent in my work as flies are on a bad banana. Yes, there’s romance, and lots of humor, but to be honest, I’m not sure I can write a story without having one person kick the bucket. Or at least having someone try to kick someone else’s bucket. Let’s face it, death or someone facing death, just adds a zing to a manuscript. It can be more of a zinger than even a hot sex scene.

Now since then, I’ve sort of gotten creative on how I kill people, or how I keep my characters from being killed by other people. Of course, I’ve used the typical guns, knives, and an occasional vehicle—from a Cadillac to a Saturn. But I’ve also gotten creative and threatened people with toilet plungers, the tank top of the back of a toilet, a tampon, and an egg beater. Hey…it just keeps things interesting.

And when I was approached to write a young adult, my first question was: will I still be able to kill people, because I’m good at that?

The editor assured me that I could kill people, bring them back to life, and then kill them again if I wanted to—this was going to be a paranormal. Another thing she told me was I wasn’t going to have to stop being a smartass. As a matter of fact, she said the reason she wanted me to write a young adult was because I was a smartass. Dag-blast it, I didn’t even know I was a smartass. Yeah, I had a few zingers here and there but . . . Right then, I added being a smartass to my list of talents. Hey…you take what you can get.

Writing young adult has been a blast. If you are familiar with my Christie Craig books, you’ll still see some of my smartass humor in my Shadow Falls series for St. Martin’s Griffin. And someone is either gonna die, or come close to dying, and while these books might not have as much sex, you’ll find plenty of sexual tension.

In a nut shell, Born at Midnight, the first book in my new Shadow Falls series under my new pseudonym C.C. Hunter, is about young girl who has spent sixteen years trying to figure out who she is, only to discover she doesn’t know what she is. As the tagline of the book says: It’s not your average identity crisis. Kylie Galen is about to go on an adventure of self-discovery, love and friendship. There just happens to be some vampires, shapeshifters, werewolves, faes and a few witches around, too. And when she’s told she’s one of them, but they don’t’ have a friggin’ clue what she is, well her life pretty much goes to hell in a hand basket. Trying to figure out what she is is a real mindbender.

Personally, I think identity crises, aren’t just something that happens to women in their teens. Heck, with each new stage of life, I find myself reevaluating--trying to reinvent myself with a new wardrobe, hair cut, or hair color. And when I look at the woman in the mirror, sometimes I just stare at her trying to figure out who the heck she really is. Life is a journey of self discovery. It’s so difficult at times it can drive a person to being a smartass and a murderer on paper. Not that I’m complaining, those are my talents.

So there you have it, how I went from sweet romance to being a murdering smartass who also writes YA. Ahh, but it’s been a good journey. I hope some of you will give Born at Midnight a try. You can even snag my free short story, Turned at Dark. It’s Della’s story and it introduces the Shadow Falls series.

And I’d love to offer a free copy of Born at Midnight to one person who posts a comment and tells me a little about their own identity crisis. Or maybe about some of their talents in life. Come on, share a little.


Erin said...

I already own Born at Midnight, though if I win I have friends I can pass it along to. ;) I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed the interview. I love reading about how authors get to where they are from where they were. Christie, you are a funny, amazing woman!

Hellie Sinclair said...

I clearly have an identity crisis. By day, I'm a secretary, but by night, I'm a pirate--as everyone can see on my blog. And I recruit other pirates (other women obviously in the throes of an identity crisis.)

And I have an identity crisis about every 4 years. The biggest one was when I turned 26 and I was SINGLE, unpublished, living at home, and unglorious in every way imaginable for a young person to be. When you're 10 and you think you'll know everything by the time you're 22, it's really disappointing to realize you don't know shit. And then to get to age 26 and realize you still don't and your hopes for marriage, publishing, or anything glorious are dwindling like a puddle in Arizona--well, you can see why I broke down.

catslady said...

I love that you found what you wanted to write as opposed to some that write what they think people want to read. My oldest daughter (now 27) introduced me to YA books and I've been enjoying them. I love your sense of humor (smart ass humor haha) so I think it fits in wonderfully with YA. As to identy crisis, I tend to keep things to myself but my youngest just graduated college so who knows...

Teri Thackston said...

Another great post, CC--glad you've added 'smart-ass' to your list of talents. My identity crisis is between my 'regular' romances and my erotic ones. My brain has to think in totally separate ratings levels. Of course, I find that Tea Trelawny's eroticism tries to creep into Teri Thackston's non-erotic stories, but I manage to subdue it to more of a seductive level...successfully, I hope.

Anonymous said...

Identity Crisis?
Not me! I AM a super secret agent posing as a writer/housewife in Spring! I am, however, feeling a bit constricted by this occupation and feel the need to become a kick-ass epidemiologist fighting unknown biological weapons in the rain forest...well maybe I'll do that next week because the kids need me to take them to track practice on Thursday night.
No identity crisis here!

stacey purcell said...

Identity crisis?
Not me! I am a secret undercover spy living in anonyminity(sp?- it's so secret I can't even spell it!)as a housewife pseudo writer in Spring, Texas!
I'm also a widely acclaimed epidemiologist who

Susan M said...

I have a friend who is 74. She turned to me the other day and said, "I never dreamed I'd get to be this age and still not know what I'm doing half the time. Really, when you were 22 didn't you think you'd have aquired wisdom by the time you were grown?"

She's the smartest, most together person I know, and if she thinks she hasn't aquired wisdom yet, there's not much hope for the rest of us.

Maybe admitting you don't know everything and are still willing to change and learn new things is the best we can hope for.

After all, we have a long time to live. Who said we could only have one identity?

Diane Kelly said...

Better to be a smartass than a dumbass! (So says a fellow smartass). Great blog! You're quite the versatile writer!

Brandy said...

I am not a writer (though I do write poetry). I am a stay-at-home Mom who homeschools and yet I often wonder. What am I going to be when my kids don't need me anymore? I love photography (taking pictures of what captures my attention and interest) and would like to maybe do something with that, but wonder if I'm too old to go back to school to do anything with that!
I admire your courage in tackling something you wanted to do and not giving up!

Helen said...

Hi Christie,

I loved your "Divorced, Desperate and Delicious," so I'm defintely looking forward to your YA. As to identity, I think I'm on my third. Most people know me as the super mom and the super competent English teacher. They don't know this rather staid person spends her free time creating fantasy worlds full of sword-wielding heroes and adventurous heroines.

donnas said...

Is it possible to have one everyday at some point?

Seriously though my biggest was a few years ago, came though it ok. Involved a complete uprooting and city/job change but so far so good.

Unknown said...

Do any of us really know who we are. We change our hair and our looks sometimes but do we really change. I do a little of every thing and now sure what I am good at. I have worked in factories on machines, doctors offices, a little of everything. Also make quilts but still don't know what I am cut out to do in life. My neighbors even say I am the man of the house because I do everything.

Sandy said...

I tried writing sweet romance but didn't get published.

Romantic suspense is what I write now, and I am published. lol I have always liked an action-packed murder mystery with romance. Smile.

Donna Marie Rogers said...

Christie, I've already read and own Born At Midnight (so don't worry about putting me in the drawing), and I absoilutely loved it! I don't think there's any genre you couldn't write. And I'm going to look for that sweet romance of yours...is it still available? *g*

Talent? Well, it's not the most exciting answer, but I'm pretty good at gardening and home canning. Pathetic as far as talents go, hey? LOL