Monday, May 25, 2015

Interview with Christi J. Whitney, author of 'Grey'

Christi J. Whitney is a former high school theatre director with a love for the arts. She lives just outside Atlanta with her husband and two sons. When not spending time with them or taking a ridiculous number of trips to Disney World, she can be found directing plays, making costumes for sci-fi/fantasy conventions, obsessing over Doctor Who, watching superhero movies, or pretending she’s just a tad bit British.

Her latest book is the young adult urban fantasy novel, Grey (The Romany Outcasts Series, Book 1).

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Can you tell us what your new book, Grey, is about?

Absolutely! Grey is a YA adventure fantasy, and it’s the first installment of The Romany Outcasts Series. The story follows the life of eighteen-year-old Sebastian Grey who is pulled into a hidden world of Outcast Gypsies, secretive creatures, and a destiny he
cannot escape.

Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

Honestly, it depends on the story I’m writing. Grey is a mixture of characters—some invented out of my head and others influenced by former students or types of characters I’ve been drawn to over the years.

Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel or do you discover it as you write?

Grey began as a series of scenes that had been knocking about in my brain, and I developed the plot around them. Not all my stories work that way, though. Some require some basic outlining so I don’t get confused.

If we were to meet for lunch to talk books, where would we go?

Oh, I love lunch! And just food, in general. I would totally suggest a good Japanese place for sushi, eating some Greek food out on a patio, or going for a nice bowl of guacamole at my favorite Mexican restaurant. I’m completely happy with any of those choices.

What do you like to do for fun?

I’m a huge science fiction and fantasy geek, so most of my fun times involve something in that realm. My family and I are Walt Disney World fanatics, and we vacation there at least once a year. And no, it never gets old. I watch a lot of British television. I love going to superheroes movies. I direct plays for community theatre. And I enjoy making costumes for sci-fi fantasy conventions.

Can you tell us about your family?

I can always talk about my family. I’m married to a pretty spectacular guy, and we’ve been together since I was seventeen, so yeah, I totally married my high school sweetheart. My first-born son is nicknamed “the hobbit”—a name bestowed upon him by my high school students when I was teaching, and it stuck. Even though he’s just turned twelve and is almost as tall as I am, he’s still “the hobbit”. We adopted our other son two years ago after having him in our home as a foster child. We affectionately call him the “man-cub”. My sons are less than eight months apart, which always earns us a humorous double take from people who ask the difference in their ages.

What do you like the most about being an author?

You mean apart from going to work in my pajamas most mornings? I really love being able to create worlds and characters. I have a theatre background, and I’ve always enjoyed bringing stories to life – whether it’s on the stage or on the page. That rhyme was just a little extra for you there. You’re welcome.

What kind of advice would you give other fiction authors?

I’m often asked this question by other writers just starting out or looking to get their work published, and the most important thing I can say is this: DON’T BE AFRAID TO WRITE CRAP. Honestly, getting that through my own head was a big revelation. I spent years wanting everything I wrote to be perfect, and when I didn’t meet my own standard; I got frustrated and wanted to give up. After joining a critique group, I began to see the importance of developing as a writer—and that meant allowing myself to write absolute rubbish and to own it when I did. It’s the only way our work can grow.

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