Christy: Inspiration comes to me from stories that I tell myself as I'm trying to fall asleep at night. I used to suffer from horrible insomnia. I didn’t want to get up and do anything, I just wanted to fall asleep, so I would stare in the dark and wait. Eventually, I got so bored I would imagine myself on a vacation to pass the time. Once it became monotonous, I moved on to telling myself fantasy stories complete with detailed dialogue. Each night I would refine the plot and characters until they drove me to get up and write it all down. At that point, I was writing the entire night and working a full time job during the day, every day for four months straight. A novel was finished and I had a month of blissful sleep with no insomnia, until the next novel wormed its way into my sleep pattern. Nowadays, the stories don’t keep me up all night, but they do form and edit themselves the first couple of hours as I try to fall asleep each and every night. My books are edited several times in my head before they even realize the light of day.
DBP: Are you a full-out plotter? Are you a "let's see what happens" pantser? Or do you think you fall somewhere in between? Describe your process in coming up with and executing a story idea.
Christy: I call myself a pantser. The only planning I do is when I am forming the story in my head as I try to fall asleep at night, but even that is quite linear in nature and just spills out as it happens. Otherwise, the characters tell me where things are going and although we argue about whether those ideas are the right way to go, I've learned I should always listen to the characters because they have always known what was right for themselves. When I don’t listen to them, they get rowdy and I usually give in to have some peace.
As I write, I use maps and tourism websites to determine where the warehouse district is, what streets are there, where houses and businesses are located and anything else that I need to place a character in that environment. I also check weather, snowfall, rain and which months would have how much of each weather event to make it as realistic as I can. Just because it isn’t real doesn’t mean it is lies.
DBP: Do you work any reality from your own life into your novels? If so, do you change it to make it more or less dramatic? How and why?
Christy: All of my novels have real events and real people in them, based on my life or the lives of people I know. I also use people I know for characters and give them different names or I name them for a family member or friend
Most events or situations don’t need to be more dramatic, just putting them in a fantasy setting can add drama and magic to it all. Mixing reality and fantasy is the best formula for success in my world.
DBP: How do you choose the names of your characters?
Christy: If I am writing a fantasy world that isn’t Earth, I use one name of someone I have known and create unusual names for all other characters. In an urban setting, I use names of people I know, usually family and friends so they feel like a part of my writing. I also use places I have lived or visited so I know the setting well.
One name is a requirement in any novel I write. I promised my husband that I would name something or someone after him in each novel. At the time, I didn’t realize how difficult it would be when immersed in a pure fantasy world. Sometimes he is a secondary character, sometimes a villain, sometimes a tertiary character, and once he was an octopus. He said he didn’t care what it was, even a business name or a horse, as long as he was in there somewhere. If it is difficult to work his name in the novel, he may be killed off for my own amusement, but he doesn’t mind that, either.
DBP: Did you ever write a novel with a message to the readers, or at least, a message you hope your readers garnered from it? What was the book, and what was the message. Why did you want to express it?
Christy: My Talia series is a Young Adult Dark Fantasy series that has a clear and intended message for readers. The idea is that no matter how damaged you are, mentally or physically, you can find a new normal for you and you can find happiness after searing defeat. I am a damaged person and I work at finding a new normal for myself all the time, so the message is one that I take to heart. It's okay to be different and no one is normal, so you find what is normal for you and learn to live in that place and be happy there, no matter what other people think. I have embraced my weirdness and no longer try to hide behind a façade.
DBP: Who is your biggest supporter? Tell us about them, and why they are such an amazing person.
Christy: My husband, Rodney, is amazing! We have been married for 23 years and are still glued to the hip. There are no arguments. If we go out somewhere it is always together and we can be together 24 hours a day with no ill effects. For 8 years, we lived in a tiny RV and never got tired of each other. We've worked at the same job together before and never argued or wished to have time apart. He has fully supported my writing from day one and pushed me to get published the first time. Unlike some spouses, he loves reading my books and gets frustrated if he has to wait long for the next chapter. While I'm writing, he takes care of any household chores and cooking and cleaning, anything to keep me writing. What more could anyone ask for?
One day we were in the car, in traffic, and it was silent. All of a sudden Rodney gets frustrated and says, "I hate Boone so much. I wish you would just kill him already. He makes me so angry." Boone is the bad guy in one of my novel series. That’s when I know I've done a good job, when a character simmers with someone and invades their thoughts at odd times.
DBP: Consider the main character in the last book you had published with DBP. What was different or special about him or her?
Christy: In the novel Dirty Deeds, Cameron James is a justice dealer. When the court system gets it wrong, she helps balance the scales of justice. Although she works hard to stay fair and just, the line is a thin one to balance and being immersed in an illegal world can wear your ideals down. In the course of the novel, Cameron learns the real reason she has chosen the job she loves and the stakes are higher than she could’ve ever imagined.
I enjoy Cameron so much because she is strong in her belief that what she does is the right thing to do, even though society would say otherwise. Instead, she is held to a higher calling and a higher rule for her actions.