Monday, March 28, 2011

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


We are honored to have my friend and fellow author Christie Craig here today to talk about her new releases and tell us how she got to this stage in her career and signed a BIG deal with St. Martins Press with her new YA series. Not only is Christie laugh-out-loud funny, but she's got some great giveaways, including a Kindle! So with no further ado, here's Christie.

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, shape-shifters, 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. You can also read the first three chapters of Born at Midnight, too. All you have to do is visit my Born at Midnight page at Macmillan on March 15th – Born at Midnight Page. Or you can download a free eBook copy of Turned at Dark at all major online retailers. The download also has the first three chapters of Born at Midnight on there as well.

To celebrate the release of Born at Midnight, I’m running a “Tweet my Book and Win a Kindle Contest” from March 22th through March 29th. The grand prize will be the Kindle but I’m also giving away copies of Born at Midnight, some Shadow Falls swag and ARCs of Awake at Dawn, which is scheduled to release in October. All the details will be at my blog beginning March 22nd – Blog. So, please drop by and help me tweet my book and you could win a Kindle!

Finally, for those of you waiting for my next Christie Craig book, it’s in the pipeline. Don’t Mess With Texas, the first book in my Hotter In Texas trilogy put out by Grand Central, will release August 23rd. And, yeah, my editor let me kill somebody in this one, too. In fact, the dead body shows up when . . .well, that would be telling too much. But trust me. It’s funny . . .in a smartass kind of way, I mean.

Thanks so much Liz for allowing me to visit with your readers. 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.

32 comments:

Cozy in Texas said...

Just reading the review made me laugh I'm sure the books are wonderful, I'll have to add these to my list.
Ann

Liz Lipperman said...

Hey, Cozy, I screwed up and posted this a day early. Christie will be here tomorrow to comment.

As for my own identity crisis-- even though I'm not allowed to win the free book -- I chased romance for a lot of years until I realized that in every one of my stories, someone either died or something got blown up. Smart me finally quit entering romance contests where I always got dinged.

I'm also a smartass and so are my heroines. We ought to start a club, Christie--SAA!!

Lindsay said...

Love your post Christie. I can really see your humor come through here.
As with you I also have a love for killing people, but I don't bring them back. Your choice of weapons is to say the least standard except-how in the world do you kill someone with a tampon. And what on earth, or under the earth is a bad mole?
Well, that's it for now. I'm off to your blog to see if I can win a Kindle.

Vivien said...

I don't really have an identity crisis. I guess my talents would be cooking and baking. I'm a great amateur chef.

Vivien
deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

Lindsay said...

Did the Tweet. Now it's up to the lottery gods to see if I win.

Tonya Kappes said...

WOW! Congratulations to you and all your success!

C.C. Hunter said...

Howdy guys,

Thanks so much for stopping by and to Liz for letting me pop in and chat. A smartass club sounds like a good thing. LOL.

The tampon scene took place in my romance, Divorced, Desperate and Dating. Even funnier than the scene was doing my research...Asking a cop: Uh...what kind of gun has a barrel that is the same size as a super absorbent medium-sized tampon?

And hey, Lindsay, here's hoping those lottery gods are working in your favor.

I'll be out of pocket a bit this morning, but I will be back later. Keep those posts coming.

CC

Cassy Pickard said...

CC: Great fun post. Thanks for joining us today on M&M. Killing people can be great fun. I often have said, "Be nice to me or you might be the next one..."

As for an identity crisis, not sure I've really had one. I just keep remaking myself until it seems to fit. My PhD is in research methodology and now I plot others' demises. Seems kinda similar to me!

Anita Clenney said...

I got a good laugh from this interview. Your humor is great. I love humor, but I love mysteries and suspense and a good dead body does really liven up the party. I write a paranormal romance series and my editor is always complaining that I have too much suspense for a romance, so now I'm writing a cozy mystery as well. Thanks so much for sharing your journey with us. Oh, I LOVE the cover for Born at Midnight.

Identity crisis...I have at least one per day :)

Kari Lee Townsend said...

Love the humor CC. A smart ass club sounds like a riot. I love funny books!

Can't wait to read the new YA.

Donna Cummings said...

Christie, I'm used to seeing you at the Romance Writer's Revenge, so it's good to see you here too! It's always fun when you're around. :)

I think I'll call myself a wiseass, since it acknowledges my vast life experience. LOL (Better than being a dumbass, right?)

I don't have an identity crisis--I just keep tweaking until I get things where I want them. I think I'm almost there!

Laura Morrigan said...

Great post!
And, too, have been accused of being a smartass, to which I say--its better than being a dumbass.
As for an identity crisis...
I'm in one now. I, like Liz, thought I was a romance writer... but there was that whole "killing people thing" going on. So I moved to mysteries.
Then I decided to design covers for ebooks... and Friday during a walk on the beach, I was knocked upside the head with... wait for it... yes! a YA paranormal idea.
yep, we need a club.

Edie Ramer said...

Another fun post from you, Christie! I do read YAs, and yours sounds like one I'd love to read.

I think my identity crisis was last year, when I realized I was going to be an indie author instead of a NY published author. I had a big "ah" feeling, as if my unconscious was saying, "It's about time you listened to me."

Barbie Jo Mahoney said...

OMG - this was a great post CC!!! I'm all up for a smartass club. And identity crisis?? Oh boy, I think I'm still trying to figure it out!

Way back when, I started what I thought was romantic suspense, until I fell in love with my villian and redeemed him in the end. At which point my agent said "You have to kill him." I struggled for DAYS, WEEKS even. I didn't know if I could. In my eyes he was a product of circumstance. He needed his story to be told, to find love....but no. I taped a sticky note to my monitor "Dante must die. You need to Kill him." so I went back through the story, made him quite nasty, and in the end I succeeded in killing him. I remember holding my breath through that final scene, through his last sputter of life. Dante died and I survived it. And it felt GOOOOOOD!!

But then I got sidetracked because every contest I entered I always got feedback my heroines were immature and sounded too young. And after getting sucked into 2 YA novels (freebies from a conference) I thought...maybe my heroines are immature for a reason. Maybe I should be writing YA!! But when I try to write YA, I kind of end up with middle grade. So I almost have to fool my mind into thinking I'm writing an adult story, in order to get the YA voice to come out. Crisis, remember?

But all the while that thrill of the kill has been in the back of my mind, waiting to be released. After Kari and Liz sold their cozies, they kept saying "you need to write one!" and so I did. And plotting that murder and framing those suspects couldn't be any more fun!

so..while I haven't quite figured out who I am, I'm having lots of fun figuring out who did it!

Your books sound fantastic! I"m putting them on my TBR list for sure and I'm checking out the previews. Thanks for a great monday morning post!

Melanie said...

No identity crisis here, but I do try to change things up every now and then just to keep everybody on their toes. lol Your books sound great!

Donnell said...

Oh, how cute this interview is. DQing myself from the Kindle, I own one Christie. Your books are hysterical. Thanks for the laughs. Now, I just gotta know, when you threaten someone with a tampon, how does that work ;) Thanks Mysteries & Margaritas.

Lindsay said...

Hey Christie,
Can us guys join the smartass club?

C.C. Hunter said...

I’m back. And it looks as if we are doing great. Thanks everyone for dropping by. Cassie, we suspense and suspense writers are good at knocking off people who annoy us. LOL.

Anita, I think the reason it took so long to break back into novel writer was because I wrote such a mix of genres. I was too romancy to be straight mystery, too humorous to be straight romantic suspense, too suspenseful to be regular contemporary romance. I told them to they could buy me and put in all the genres, but they didn’t fall for it. Finally they bought me just to stop me from submitting. And I was shelved in different places in some stores. But I think now I’m seen mostly as contemporary romance. But hey…I just wanted to tell the story as they came to me.

Donna, don’t tell anyone over at the Ship that I’m cheating on them. LOL. I have fun their last week.

Laura, if you are a smartass, you might belong in YA. LOL.

Edie, I hope you enjoy BAM. I have you book, Catitude downloaded on my computer, and I’m waiting to out from under deadline for some R&R time—reading and relaxation time.

Barbie Jo, Love the story. I saved a villain once in Divorced, Desperate and Deceived. Well, he wasn’t the real villain he just worked for the real villain. And the funny thing was I got more fan mail about him than I did the hero or heroine. And for sure, girl, it’s the journey that is the most important thing. Enjoy the heck out of it!!

Melanie, I like keeping people on their toes, too. LOL. And Donnell, that tampon was a great weapon. Think about it…If someone comes up to you and put an unloaded tampon to the back of your head and says…”Drop that weapon or I’ll splatter your brains all over that there wall,” would you think it was a tampon? LOL

Thanks everyone for stopping by today.

CC

C.C. Hunter said...

Lindsay,

All smartasses are welcome into the club.

Thanks...

CC

Lindsay said...

Good. Sign me up and I nominate you to be president.

C.C. Hunter said...

Lindsay?

Oh, no. I'll be the door greeter of the club. Let's nominate Liz as Pres'!

CC

suzi1811 said...

I don't really have an identity crisis as such but I have in the past had to argue about my name! I was born in Jordan when my dad was working for a company out there and my mum went with him, the translator messed up and spelt it suZan instead of suSan, when I told a guy at work how my name was spelt he actually argued with me that that's not how you spell my name!?! I yelled at him that it was my name and I think I know how to spell it better then him! Lol! I have in the past gotten confused and thought I was a chipmunk, I started talking in a chipmonk pitch and couldn't stop, sadly I can't even blame it on helium!

suzi1811@fsmail.net

suzi1811 said...

I don't really have an identity crisis as such but I have in the past had to argue about my name! I was born in Jordan when my dad was working for a company out there and my mum went with him, the translator messed up and spelt it suZan instead of suSan, when I told a guy at work how my name was spelt he actually argued with me that that's not how you spell my name!?! I yelled at him that it was my name and I think I know how to spell it better then him! Lol! I have in the past gotten confused and thought I was a chipmunk, I started talking in a chipmonk pitch and couldn't stop, sadly I can't even blame it on helium!

suzi1811@fsmail.net

Lindsay said...

C. C
I second the nomination.
All in favor say 'go Liz'

Barbara White Daille said...

Hi, Christie - all your books sound great. Good luck with the new series.

If I did it correctly, I retweeted your tweet. LOL Would love to win the Kindle as a present to me because:

My identity crisis was more of an identity confirmation. It verified what I already knew. I'm a writer. Forever!

Barbara

Vicki Batman said...

Christie, you are such an inspiration from the moment I heard you at RWA and your journey in writing. It is truly inspirational (which I told you!)

Congratulations on all your new work. And hey, sassy is a good thing!

C.C. Hunter said...

Suzi1811,

People spell my real name, Christie, so many different ways that it's not funny. One time, I had newspaper do an article on me and they spelled it three different ways in the article. And, oh, my throat hurts thinking about talking like a chipmonk.

Lindsay, I say the vote sticks. LOL.

Barbara, when we finally accept our fate as being writers, it's a fine day. I hope you are meeting all your dreams.

CC

C.C. Hunter said...

Vicki,

Thanks. I love that I can make a living doing what I love. The fact that I can be sassy, too, is almost too good to be true.

CC

Liz Lipperman said...

Christi, you are such a delight, and it's been my privilege having you here today.

And hell yes I'll be president of SAA if all you lovely ladies (and gent) come to the meetings!!

Lindsay said...

What about having the meeting at Crime Bake. And you can buy

Tiffinie Helmer said...

I'm late to the party because I'm high on pain killers. Christie, I love your books. I have read them all. I busted a gut when you had the villain, turned semi-hero, and dumped the real villain in the port-a-potty with the note, "life's a bitch and then you die." Love, loved it! I don’t bother to read the blurb on the back of your books. If your name is on the front, the book goes home with me.

C.C. Hunter said...

Tiffinie

Tiffinie I hope you pain is almost over. And thank you for such wonderful words. You make me smile.

CC