1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?
My early writing accomplishment were multiple hits within a few years: In my first year of writing back in 1987, I wrote three Sf short stories that were accepted by major slick magazines which qualified me for the Science Fiction Writers of America, and at the same time achieved a Finalist award in the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest. This recognition garnered me a top gun SF agent at the time, Richard Curtis Associates. My first novel went to John Badham (Director) and the Producers, the Cohen Brothers. Only an option, but an extreme honor. The writer who beat me out of contention for a feature movie, was Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park. My book was called Dinothon.
A year after that I published two best-selling non-fiction books and landed on radio, TV, in every library in the U.S. and in hundreds of newspapers.
I have been trying to catch that lightning in a bottle ever since. My YA dystopian novel, The Girl They Sold to the Moon won the grand prize in a publisher’s YA novel writing contest, went to a small auction and got tagged for a film option. So, I’m getting there, I hope!
2) What inspired you to write your book?
It all started with the dream catcher. This iconic item, which is rightfully ingrained in Indian lore, is a dream symbol respected by the culture that created it. It is mystifying, an enigma that that prods the imagination. Legends about the dream catcher are passed down from multiple tribes. There are variations, but the one fact that can be agreed upon is that it is a nightmare entrapment device, designed to sift through evil thoughts and images and only allow pleasant and peaceful dreams to enter into consciousness of the sleeper.
I wondered what would happen to a very ancient dream catcher that was topped off with dreams and nightmares. What if the nightmares became too sick or deathly? What if the web strings could not hold anymore visions? Would the dream catcher melt, burst, vanish, implode? I reasoned that something would have to give if too much evil was allowed to congregate inside of its structure. I found nothing on the Internet that offered a solution to this problem—I might have missed a relevant story, but nothing stood out to me. Stephen King had a story called Dream Catcher, but I found nothing in it that was similar to what I had in mind. So I took it upon myself to answer such a burning question. Like too much death on a battlefield could inundate the immediate location with lost and angry spirits, so could a dream catcher hold no more of its fill of sheer terror without morphing into something else, or opening up a lost and forbidden existence. What would it be like to be caught up in another world inside the webs of a dream catcher, and how would you get out? What would this world look like? How could it be navigated? What was the source of the exit, and what was inside of it that threatened your existence? Screamcatcher: Web World, the first in the series, was my answer. I can only hope that I have done it justice. You can be the judge of that.
3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?
The overall message of Screamcatcher is survival. This is accompanied by teamwork, love, persistence, loyalty and dedication. Teenager, although they can be reckless, they are nearly immune to complete failure and so resistant and resourceful that they often solve problems as fast as they encounter them. I always had The Hunger Games in mind because it showed undaunted courage and determination–that working hard and continuing on was the main thrust of the characters. I thought to mash-up Jumanji and The Hunger Games. There is a very slight sub-theme that I thought I would sneak in, whether it was popular or not. I didn’t care. And that was the message that sometimes, the nice does finish first and get the girl. Hardly an Alpha prospect, but one that I wanted to touch on nevertheless.
4) What drew you into this particular genre?
I do like adult thrillers and science fiction, but I’m now leaning toward upper YA in the low fantasy realm–portal fantasies. I’m really addicted to YA dystopian! Divergent and The Hunger Games had quite an impact on me, among others like Harry Potter series. There is a huge cross-over appeal to writing YA, and my sample is in the upper age range of YA, from about 14-15 to 19 years-old.
5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?
I guess I would ask Jory why she didn’t notice how infatuated Choice was with her, or if she purposely denied it. We find out later that his courageous and unselfish behavior gets the team out of quite a few jams. He’s smart and resourceful. She does notice him, but I wonder why she pushed those feelings aside at first. Since I’m a guy (no big surprise there) I was curious about the female mindset and how she would ultimately react to him. It seems I wrote my own nagging mystery, for which I had no real answer.
6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?
Gosh, I couldn’t pick just one, without admitting that I belong to over 25 major social media sites; display sites, writing groups, contest sites, promo companies and all others in Sundry. It’s very, very difficult today to get noticed. We have a glut in the industry like we’ve never seen before. Every author I know is clamoring for attention, some of them spending thousands of dollars on ads. I would imagine my FB followers of nearly 4,700 strong have contributed more than the others. I spend 14 years in a giant writing group and always got clicks from them about my posts and articles. My blog, Guerrilla Warfare for Writers helped out too, since my members were very familiar with all of my books, not just one.
7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?
If a budding writing asked me if they should pursue a career in writing, I would tell them to take a couple aspirin, go into a dark room, lay down and wait for the feeling to pass. Don’t stop until you’ve finished a first draft. Then edit like there’s no tomorrow. After publication,seriously watch your spending on ads–they can be grossly ineffective. Use social media and generously interact with fellow writers and readers. Don’t abuse FB and Twitter solely for the purpose of “Buy My Book.” Join writing groups and learn from the pros. Ask politely for reviews–don’t pressure, harass or intimidate. Be creative. Target your genre readers. Offer incentives and freebies. Craft a newsletter and send it out bi-monthly. Don’t take critiques as personal attacks–learn from honest opinions. Don’t despair. Never give up. Revenge query.Get started on your next book.
8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?
The Screamcatcher trilogy is bought, and the next two books are in the dugout awaiting my publisher’s editor, which should be soon. There is a lot to do there, even as far as doing some major revisions and added information in books 2 and 3. Book 2 is called Screamcatcher: Dream Chasers, and book 3 is Screamcatcher: The Shimmering Eye. I’m nearly done with totally revising a weird werewolf book, and I’m stuck halfway through a Middle Grade Fantasy.
I’m a diehard frantic creator of Young Adult fiction, whether it’s paranormal, science fiction, suspense or fantasy. I believe in pure escapism with unceasing action adventure and discovery. If you want a moral message or cultural statement, you’re apt to get a small one. But let me tell you something, reader, I want to make you laugh until you gag, cry until you’re dry and tear out tufts of your hair. Today, young adult literature needs some support and renewed interest.. How soon we’ve forgotten about Harry Potter, Hunger Games, Divergent and Twilight. Oh, the mania! Where has it gone? Are we losing our young readers? We need something really fresh and new. I and several writers are going to pour everything we have into that end. You are the kindly judge–help us get there and we will deliver!
Christy J. Breedlove (Chris H. Stevenson), originally born in California, moved to Sylvania, Alabama in 2009. Her occupations have included newspaper editor/reporter, astronomer, federal police officer, housecleaner and part time surfer girl. She has been writing off and on for 36 years, having officially published books beginning in 1988. Today she writes in her favorite genre, Young Adult, but has published in multiple genres and categories. She was a finalist in the L. Ron. Hubbard Writers of the Future contest, and took the first place grand prize in a YA novel writing contest for The Girl They Sold to the Moon. She writes the popular blog, Guerrilla Warfare for Writers (special weapons and tactics), hoping to inform and educate writers all over the world about the high points and pitfalls of publishing.
Amazon Page: https://www.amazon.com/Chris-Harold-Stevenson/e/B001K8UUBK
Christy’s Website: https://christysyoungadultfabuliers.com/