Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Straight From the Mouth of 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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About the Book:

Sebastian Grey always thought he was a fairly normal teenager – good friends, decent grades, and a pretty sweet job in his foster brother’s tattoo shop.

But when strangers arrive in town, Sebastian soon realizes that his world is nothing at all what it seemed. Secretive gypsies surround him, shadowy figures stalk him, and the girl he’s been dreaming about turns up at school.

Now Sebastian must protect this girl at all costs, even if it means he will never be normal again.

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Thanks for letting us interrogate interview you!  Can you give us a go-for-the-gut answer as to why you wanted to be an author?

Sure! I always enjoy a proper interrogation. The simplest answer to your question is because I love telling stories. I’ve always been a daydreamer, inventing fantasy worlds in my head since I was a child. Creating stories with characters I love and then having the opportunity to bring them to life is just unbelievably rewarding, and being an author is something I’ve dreamed about for many years.

Tell us (we won’t tell promise!) is it all it’s cracked up to be?  I mean what are the perks and what are the demands?

Well, I guess when you tell people you’re an author, it can sound pretty cool and exciting, but it’s basically like any other job. It’s a lot of hard work and many lonely hours in front of a computer. Tempering the business end of things—like marking and deadlines—with the creative process of writing can something be a daunting challenge, but I get to go to work in my pajamas, which is a huge perk. I also get to lose myself in fantasy worlds on a daily basis.

Which route did you take – traditional or self-published – and can you give us the nitty gritty low down on what’s that like?

My YA series was picked up by HarperCollins’ global science fiction/fantasy imprint HarperVoyager in February of 2014. I was one of a handful of debut authors chosen as part of an open submissions call by HarperVoyagerUK back in 2012. The timeframe from that initial submission to the day I received the call offering to buy my series was sixteen months. It was another fourteen months before actual publication. So I’ve been working with them on this entire process for almost two and a half years. Before that, Grey had gone through another journey consisting of countless rejections before coming to HarperVoyager.

What’s the snarkiest thing you can say about the publishing industry (e.g. rejections, the long wait, etc.)

Oh, gosh, snark isn’t really my thing. I save that for my characters. But I suppose I’d say the same thing most people do. Publishing can be an incredibly long and often frustrating process.

Tell us for real what your family feels about you spending so much time getting your book written, polished, edited, formatted, published, what have you?

Well, when I wrote Grey, I was still teaching school, so I did a large amount of my writing during lunch breaks, between classes, and late at night. Now I’m able to do most of my writing in the mornings, which takes less time away from my family. Still, there are long nights of editing as I push to make deadlines, and I have to put extra hours into promoting the book. But my family has been so incredibly supportive throughout the entire process, especially my encouraging and very understanding husband. I’m a fortunate author.

What was the craziest or insane thing that happened to you in the book publishing process?

I once took a conference call with a few film producers while I was riding on the monorail at Walt Disney World during a vacation. It was crazy hectic, trying to plug my ear against the noise of a theme park while talking to people I’d never met before discussing my book and its potential.

How about the social networks?  Which ones do you believe help and which ones do you wish you could avoid?

If it connects you with readers, then it definitely helps. I use several different ones, most frequently Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr. But the social media you should avoid as a writer is any one that keeps you from writing. It can be such a time thief.

Book sales.  Don’t you just love them (or lack of?)?  How are you making the sales happen for you?

As a debut author, the majority of marketing and promotion is my responsibility. Trying to get the word out about your book can be daunting and tiring, but it’s also been really cool connecting with people who love reading YA as much as I do. Since Grey is a digital release first, I haven’t had book signings or launch parties. Most of my sales are coming my own marketing, from word of mouth, virtual tours, book reviews, book bloggers, and lovely interviews like this one.

What is one thing you’d like to jump on the rooftop and scream about?

Being a debut author is like being a tiny pebble dropped in an enormous pond. You’ve worked so hard on your book, spent grueling months editing and revising and revising again. You’ve gone through book cover samples and copy edits, while trying to build your online platform at the same time. You sweat blood and cry tears over your characters and your story. It’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done. And then, it’s publication time, and the ripple from your tiny pebble seems so small in all that water that is the book world, and you just wish you could yell in the loudest voice possible to every single reader on the planet . . . HERE I AM!!!!!!!

Okay, too much sugar for you today!  Here’s a nice cup of Chamomile tea and come on over and sit under the cabana and watch the waves roll in.  Now…can you tell us what you love about being a published author and how all those things above doesn’t matter because it’s all part of the whole scheme of things and you wouldn’t have it any other way?

Wow, that’s super nice of you! Could I have a bit of milk? As to what I love about being a published author, well . . . I’m a published author! I mean, what more can you say about getting to do something you’ve dreamed about doing for years? No matter how hard and frustrating it can be, it has actually happened! I’m so blessed, I’m determined to cherish and love every minute of it.

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