Hi CC! Thanks for chatting with me about the upcoming release of In Another Life.
In Another Life has already received such great reviews on Goodreads. Do you read reviews? Do fans ever give you ideas for new stories?
I do read reviews. Most of the time with one eye closed and a promise to myself that I won’t take the bad ones personally. I know most writers prefer not to read them because some are . . . mean spirited. I keep telling myself that books are like ice cream and not everyone likes the flavor of the books I write. I can accept that because I’m picky about my ice cream flavors.
Fans do occasionally offer ideas. But I find most ideas need to be organically grown from my own experiences and emotions for me to feel passionate about it.
Your recent YA novels meld serious life-circumstances (such as organ donation and adoption) with traditional teen themes of school, family, and romance — and then to make things even more interesting, you infuse mystery and suspense! How do you juggle all of these threads? Do you outline your novels or do you just free-write?
I didn’t start out writing YA. An editor had read my humorous romantic suspense novels and asked if I would write a paranormal YA series. Because I wasn’t a YA reader at the time, I had to do a crash course.
I bought about sixteen books and I read and analyzed them. Then I took a long stroll down memory lane back to my teenage years. I learned the things that concerned me, pained me, and inspired me were the same elements I found and loved in certain books: romance, friendships, parents, self-discovery, self-esteem, and the need for independence. To me, those are the elements that make a great YA.
On top of the life-issue themes, I search for plots with a wow factor, i.e. Girl gets a heart transplant, but it comes with the donors memories—This Heart of Mine. Girl, adopted at three, learns at age seventeen that she may have been kidnapped and not given away—In Another Life. Daughter of a mortician’s can see and speak to the spirits her dad works on and they insist she fix their last problems—The Mortician’s Daughter series. As for the suspense and mystery, call me an adrenaline junkie, but I love what a little danger brings to a story.
That said, I’m not a plotter. Yes, I start by knowing my wow factor and a few of the plot points, but if I knew everything, writing would be boring. I see writing as sort of like weaving. The themes/elements are threads. If the suspense and parental issues of the story are woven into one scene, I know I need to pull in the threads of romance and friendship into an upcoming scene.
On your website bio I learned that you sold your first book in 1994, but then didn’t sell another until 2007! I imagine that can be extremely daunting. What gave you the motivation to keep going as a writer? Did you have an agent during those quiet years?
What’s even more disheartening is I started writing in 1984. So it took me ten years to sell my first book and thirteen more years to sell my second. That said, I sold four books at once when I sold my second. And In Another Life is my 43rd book if you count my novellas and non-fiction books. So I am not what you would call an overnight success.
I have received over 3000 rejections. Was it daunting? Yes, but you have to understand I’m dyslexic. Nothing came easy for me. And maybe because of this, I was willing to fail and try again. Now, those rejections are not just from novels. When I couldn’t sell my second book in 1994, I started writing for magazines. I wrote travel articles, fillers, essays, profile pieces, and columns. I wrote approximately three pieces a week and if it came back rejected, I’d try to improve it then I’d send it right back out. Part of what kept me motivated was a sale here and there. Eventually, I was selling to the bigger magazines. I put the novel writing on the back burner and focused on my freelance career. In 2000, my love of fiction pulled me back to novels again. It still took six years for me to sell, but during that time, I wrote eight completed novels and five proposals.
I think most of my motivation came from my love of storytelling, that and my stubborn drive. I also found ways to keep my spirits up by entering contests, and joining a critique group. And I learned how important it was to hang around positive people versus negative. As parents we always worry about peer pressure, but we forget that it’s true with adults as well. Hang out with people with dreams and you’ll keep dreaming. Hang out with quitters and you’ll likely quit.
I didn’t have an agent until 2005.
Thank you so much for the interview.
About the Book:
What would you do if your whole life was a lie and learning the truth could cost you your life? From New York Times bestselling author of the Shadow Falls series comes C. C. Hunter’s new YA thriller about a girl who learns that she may have been kidnapped as a child, and must race to uncover the truth about her past before she winds up a victim. Chloe was three years old when she became Chloe Holden, but her adoption didn’t scar her, and she’s had a great life. Now, fourteen years later, her loving parents’ marriage has fallen apart and her mom has moved them to Joyful, Texas. Starting twelfth grade as the new kid at school, everything Chloe loved about her life is gone. And feelings of déjà vu from her early childhood start haunting her. When Chloe meets Cash Colton she feels drawn to him, as though they’re kindred spirits. Until Cash tells her the real reason he sought her out: Chloe looks exactly like the daughter his foster parents lost years ago, and he’s determined to figure out the truth. As Chloe and Cash delve deeper into her adoption, the more things don’t add up, and the more strange things start happening. Why is Chloe’s adoption a secret that people would kill for?
C.C. HUNTER is a pseudonym for award-winning romance author Christie Craig. She is lives in Tomball, Texas, where she’s at work on her next novel. Christie’s books include The Mortician’s Daughter series, Shadow Fall Novels and This Heart of Mine.
“Hunter deftly delivers a complicated back-and-forth point of view between Chloe and Cash, building suspense along with a steamy sense of attraction between the two teens.” — Kirkus