Interview with Christi J. Whitney

Today on the blog, I’m interviewing Christi J. Whitney a YA author with a successful series on the market. I’ll post links so you can all go follow her after the interview. I hope you enjoy getting to know her as much as I have. 

Justine: Hello, and welcome back to my blog! The last time you appeared on my site, it was in the form of an author spotlight, two years ago, and your last book release had been Book 2 of your Romany Outcasts series. Since then, Book 3 was released. Tell us more about that book. 

Christi: Yes, it has been a couple of years! Well, the third book in the trilogy is titled MIDNIGHT. It finishes out the story arc of Sebastian Grey and Josephine Romany, and it continues immediately after SHADOW.  Although I had originally envisioned The Romany Outcasts Series to be four books, my publisher wanted a trilogy, so I did a lot of editing and rethinking the storyline to bring everything to a satisfactory close in MIDNIGHT. I had the least amount of time to write this book, as I was under a deadline, so it was certainly a challenge, but I am pleased with how it turned out. MIDNIGHT differs from the other two books, in that a good majority of the novel is told from Josephine’s point of view, so we are able to get a more in-depth look into her life and emotions than I was able to present in GREY and SHADOW.

Justine: How did it feel to bring that era to a close?

Christi: Although my plan for four books had to change when I sold my book series to HarperCollins, I still have the outline for book four, and I do have plans to write it in the future. I don’t know what that will look like as of yet. It might be something I self-publish; but I love these characters so much, and I really want the chance to do a little more with them.

Justine: On my blog, we’ve been talking a lot about writing what you know. You don’t have to get super personal with this, but are there any aspects of your story which came from personal experience?  

Christi: Oh, there were definitely several aspects of my story that came from personal experience. At the time I began writing GREY (the first book in the series) I was teaching and directing theatre full time at a local high school. I modeled many of my characters directly from students that were in my program. In fact, my students were the ones who encouraged me to turn this story idea I had into a full novel, and a few of them even volunteered to read my chapters and give feedback as I wrote them. The Gypsy Ink Tattoo Parlor and the guys that worked there were also modeled after things and people I knew in real life. And finally, I gleamed the idea of the Romani characters from some of my own family history.

Justine: What are you currently working on? 

Christi: I have a completed novel called BLEEDER that I am currently shopping around. BLEEDER is also YA, but with a bit more urban fantasy and science fiction bent to it. The story takes place in a small coastal town in Georgia and deals with different dimensions, strange creatures, and a girl with unusual gifts. As to what I’m writing at the moment…I’m about half-way through a first draft of an untitled novel that I would categorize as light science fiction. The characters are fun, and I’m have a blast writing the dialogue in this novel.

Justine: Oh, BLEEDER sounds interesting. And I can’t wait until you’re ready to share more about that light sci-fi. On a different note, I see you like to Cosplay! A fellow geek like me. 🙂 Please, please, PLEASE share your favorite cosplay with us. Pictures or it didn’t happen. 😉 

Christi and friend as Sven and Kristoff from Frozen

Christi: I’m so pleased you asked me this! Yes, I definitely like to cosplay, and I am a huge geek. If it’s fantasy or science-fiction related, I probably love it (unless I am simply not familiar with it). And I do enjoy cosplaying characters that I really adore. I think my very first cosplay (years ago) was Jack Sparrow. Since then, I’ve done everything from dwarves from the Hobbit, Frozen, Alice in Wonderland, Doctor Who, Harry Potter, X-Men, and How to Train Your Dragon.

Christi as Nightcrawler from X-Men

My most recent favorite cosplay, however, has to be Professor Snape from the Harry Potter series. The Professor has been an unexpected, but wonderful experience for me.

Christi as Professor Snape from Harry Potter

About a year ago, I made a profile on  the Musical.ly app as a way to try and connect with readers. But I decided to sort of give it variety by posting a mixture of book/writing things with some cosplay. Not long after, Musical.ly became TikTok, and I began getting a lot of traffic for my Professor Snape cosplay. Fast forward a few months later, and it’s become a crazy thing! I’ve connected with so many readers and have been able to talk so much about writing and books…but it’s really all because of my cosplay. So I owe the professor quite a bit of love. I have a few cosplay pictures here, but if you’d like to see more of Snape, you are welcome to check out my TikTok page (christij.whitney)

Justine: Those are SO COOL. You just made the geek in me very happy. So, you clearly have a flare for the dramatic, between teaching theatre and cosplaying. What led you on the path to becoming a writer? 

Christi: My path to becoming a writer began, as many paths do, when I was a child. The first true fantasy book I ever remember reading was The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis. It opened up a door to me that I didn’t know existed. I would write little short stories and create characters in fantasy worlds similar to Narnia. By the time I was in middle school. I was writing quite a lot, but I had no confidence, and I refused to show anything I’d written to anyone. It all stayed carefully hidden in journals and folders. In high school, I was bitten by the theatre bug, and I went to college to become a theatre teacher. I spent many years doing that, but the stage became my way of creating stories, so my writing took a back seat. Then, one Christmas break, several years into teaching, I began having these ideas for a story pop into my head. I shared them with some of my students, and they convinced me to write it down. So I put on my dusty writing cap and began. It was a big learning process, especially because I was learning towards young adult fiction. I had to learn how to pace my writing and how to balance description and dialogue. Despite having an English degree, I felt like a complete writing novice. But I attended classes, joined SCBWI, found a critique group…and I got better at my craft.

Justine: I love it. What inspires you?

Christi: Gosh, everything! I get a lot of inspiration from film and television shows, and also from books. Theatre is inspiring because I love the process of creating characters and fleshing them out. Teaching novels to students does the same thing. I could discuss plot, characters, and motivation all day. As I said, I’m a huge geek, so I look to all kinds of fantasy lore to spark something fresh in my brain.

Justine: If you could pick the brain of any writer, which would you choose?

Christi: I have so many writers I adore, and they come from different places and times. I’d certainly love to pick the brains of some of the giants — Jane Austen, C.S. Lewis, and J.R.R. Tolkien. But I also wouldn’t mind sitting down with some of the great YA authors currently out there, like Cassandra Clare and definitely J.K. Rowling…I’d also love picking the brain of Jack Thorne and John Tiffany (who helped Rowling writing the script for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child).

Justine: If your geeky self could choose any imaginary world to live in, where would you go and why? 

Christi:  It is so difficult for me to chose the fantasy world I’d best like to live in. I suppose it depends on what type of character I was able to be in those worlds. I will always adore Narnia, but I would want to be some magical creature there. I would love to travel with the Doctor in the universe of Doctor Who (even if that’s more science fiction), but if I had to only choose one…maybe the Wizarding World…I’d love to be a Hogwarts professor like Snape or McGonagall. 

Justine: And now it’s time for our rapid fire Q&A segment!

Q: Favorite writing instrument? 
A: Computer

Q: Plotter or Pantser? 
A: Both

Q: Chocolate, Vanilla, or other?
A: Toffee

Q: Sweet or savory? 
A: Savory

Q: Favorite book? 
A: The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis

Q: Dream vacation?
A: The U.K.

Q: Dogs or Cats?
A: Dog

Thank you so much for joining us, Christi! If you want to follow Christi on the web, you can check her out at the following links:

Website: http://christijwhitney.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/christijwhitney/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ChristiWhitney
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/christijwhitney/


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Author Spotlight: Raven Williams

Today, I’m interviewing my friend Raven Williams, who writes amazing Fantasy novels. The last book of her popular Realm Jumper Chronicles series is out today! Her work can also be found in A Horde of Dragons, an anthology with five other authors, and a true story called My Brother’s Keeper. She has hosted numerous interviews and marketed other authors, and is instrumental in the administration of Virtual FantasyCon every year. Get to know Raven and her books and find your way to a new series. All seven books, officially no more waiting!

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Q – Welcome Raven. Wow, seven books. How long did it take you to go from start to finish in this series?

A – I started writing the first book, Elven-Jumper in March 2014.  That one took the longest to write and released in February of 2015.  After that, the words continually flowed, and now, two years later around Elven-Jumper’s anniversary date, I’m releasing the last novel, Elven Blood Oath.

Q – Can you tell us a little bit about the series?

A –  When I started Elven-Jumper, the premise was what happened to Elven souls when the Elves died on Earth or other realms.  The first book delves into this the most.  I had originally planned for each book to focus on one character having memories of an Elven life, but during the second book, the characters had another story in mind and hijacked the series.  In Elf-Witch (book 2) they revealed a prophecy and the beginning rumors of a possible war.  From then on, each book features a mated pair and further steps closer to war, culminating with the final battle in Elven Blood Oath (book 7.)

Q – Which book is your favorite?

A— I love them all, but I think my absolute favorite is Elven Dreams (book 4).  The mated couple in that book just manifested more fully than the others.  One thing about the Elder species, they are a reserved bunch and don’t always show emotions like we humans do, so getting them to express themselves even a little was like pulling eye teeth.  However, in Elven Dreams, they were quite expressive and I love how the story evolved.

Q –  I really liked the Archangel Michael, and was it Tabris who was his leader?

A –  Yes, Lady Tabris was originally the leader of the Angels of Light.  Of course, things changed as the stories progressed and she stepped down, naming another to replace her.  In the future, there will either be a novelette or novella expanding on why Tabris stepped down.

Q – Okay, I told you my favorite character. Which is yours?

A – I think Damien (one of the Guardians) is my favorite.  Mainly because he appears to be on the side of Dark, but then we learn more about him and that he’s not as he appears.  His journey is something I can really relate to and I think he’s the one that has come the furthest of all the characters.

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Q – What was your biggest challenge when writing The Realm Jumper Chronicles?

A – Reigning in the characters.  I would plot something, and then they’d run roughshod over me and I’d end up having to not only replot the book I was working on, but subsequent books as well.

Q – You have some companion stories for the series. Tell us a little bit about those.

A –  Right now, I have two companion novellas published, Mixed Blood and Dragons of Pandryl.  The latter one is part of a multi-author anthology, A Horde of DragonsMixed Blood delves into the history of two secondary characters, Solana of the Elves and Izlal of the Guardians and takes place in the distant past.  Dragons of Pandryl tells the stories of the Ancient Dragons and their evolution to the Dragon-Shifters they are today.  I also have two short stories that are part of a Dark Fantasy Tale & Legends Collection, Haunted by Darkness.  Those two are Fall into Darkness, which tells the origins of the demon, Vaduxach, and Rise of the Dark Witch, which tells the origins of Cassie, the Dark Witch aligned with the demon.

Q – I’m crazy about worldbuilding and cultures. Do you have a favorite culture or creature?

A –  I really love the Elven culture.  So many things that the Elves revealed to me resonate with me and I can totally relate to.

Q – Now that you’ve finished The Realm Jumper Chronicles, what can we expect to see from you in the months ahead?

A – I’m working on a new dark paranormal series, Witch Hunter’s Society.  I’ve already released two short stories, Witch Hunter’s Rise and Witch Hunter Ordained, which are part of Haunted by Darkness.  I’m currently working on the first novel, Witch Hunter’s Prey and have plotted two more novels in the trilogy.  I’m also working on the second novelette in my Raven’s Twisted Classics series, The Beast & the Sleeping Prince.  It’s a mashup of Beauty and the Beast and Sleeping Beauty, but with a twist.  For those who’ve not heard of this series, the first novelette, Down the Rabbit Hole, released this past October.

Q – I heard there’s a taste of your next series at the end of book seven; Elven Blood Oath. Is that true?

A –  Yes.  The main protagonists of Witch Hunter’s Society make an appearance in Elven Blood Oath.  Of course, for those who’ve read the series, they also know that Daciana made a very brief appearance in Elven Dreams.

Q – When can we expect the first book?

A –  I’m hoping to release Witch Hunter’s Prey late Spring or early Summer.

Q – Where can readers follow you, or learn more about you?

A – Website: http://ravenwilliamsauthor.wix.com/booksandmore

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RavenWilliamsAuthorArtist

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RavenWilliams53

Google+:  https://plus.google.com/b/100047095810006000685/

Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/ravenwilliamsfantasyauthor/

Tumblr: http://ravenwilliamsfantasyauthor.tumblr.com/

Sign-up for Raven’s Newsletter here: http://ravenwilliamsauthor.wixsite.com/booksandmore/newsletter-sign-up

Q – Do you sell signed books?

A – I do.  There’s an order form on my website:  http://ravenwilliamsauthor.wix.com/booksandmore

Q – Where can we purchase Realm Jumper Chronicles; Elven Blood Oath, or other books from the Realm Jumper series?

A –  All the books are available in paperback and ebook on Amazon and in ebook on most ebook platforms.  For those who love hard covers, I have those available on lulu.com.

Here is the universal link to order Realm Jumper Chronicles; Elven Blood Oath at your favorite book seller. https://www.books2read.com/ElvenBloodOath

Q – Thank you for joining us today. We’ll be looking forward to seeing what you’re up to in the future. Best of luck on your new series.

A –  Thank you.  It’s been a pleasure.


Okay, that’s all for today! If you found Raven’s books interesting, please follow her on social media, and pick up your copy today. As for me, I’ll be back with my next post very soon.

Thanks for reading!

Interview with a Writer…of Vampires

Hello everybody!

Untitled1Today I have a guest visiting me. Charles O’Keefe! Charles lives in the beautiful province of Newfoundland, Canada, with his wife and two feline ‘children,’ Jude and Eleanor. He is a co-owner of a Beauty Wholesale Business and enjoys many hobbies and activities that include writing, reading, watching fantasy/science-fiction movies and television shows, gaming, poker, walking, Pilates, martial arts and of course fantasizing about vampires. He is also a vegetarian, animal activist, environmentalist and Agnostic. His novel, The Newfoundland Vampire, will be available from Distinguished Press on April 24, 2015.

For anybody who doesn’t know him, Charles is very friendly and fun and it’s been great getting to know him. Please check out our interview below.

JM: Tell us about your book.
CO: The a Newfoundland Vampire is my first novel and was originally published back in April of 2012 by Penumbra Publishing. It will be rereleased by Distinguished Press in March 27th of this year (2015 if you’re reading this in the future). It was a labor of love and something I originally thought of back in 2002 and wrote the first chapter only to leave it for a long time. Then, in 2010, I got inspired and finished the rough draft in about 8 months.  But enough history – here’s the summary:“Like every other geek alive, Newfoundland native Joseph O’Reily secretly wants to be a superhero. At thirteen he fantasized about being a vampire, and ten years later he’s still fantasizing – but mostly about a beautiful redheaded woman who has eyes only for him. The one thing different about Joseph’s adult fantasy is that, amazingly, it comes true one night when he goes to a local university pub. Cassandra Snow, literally the woman of his dreams, invites him to her place for an evening of personal pleasure. Of course he’s not going to say no. But when strange things start happening afterward, Joseph quickly learns that not all dreams should come true.”

It’s a book for adults that tries to approach vampires from a different perspective.  How does a regular guy cope with becoming a vampire? While I deal with lots of serious issues I still have a lot of fun with it. One of the main characters, Cassandra, is based on a real person from history, Catherine Mandeville Snow. She was the last woman hanged in Newfoundland and the twist here is that a hanging is not enough to kill a vampire. The other main character is Joseph is based highly on me as I was at 23. I couldn’t resist the temptation to put myself in and have fun imagining what I would do as a vampire. He gets to make a lot of choices I couldn’t make and of course does things that I never want to do. It’s a great exploration of a what if type fantasy for me, what if vampires were real and I was one? The rest you’ll have to read and find out.

JM: What made you choose your subject matter?

CO: I’ve loved vampires since I was around 12 or 13 and horror about since then too. To be more specific though, I think for me the idea of a vampire is so fascinating. You are immortal, forever young, powerful and (in some versions) still yourself in terms of your personality, feelings and memories. ​I think the vampire creature is familiar to everyone in the world (at least most of it) that it give you the ability to play around with, changes things but still have the reader have a good idea coming in how they work and at least partially what to expect. Plus for me someone who lives forever could be any historical figure from the past and this idea fascinated me as well.

JM: How is your approach to vampires different from other authors?

CO: I made a fair number of changes. First off my vampires are not destroyed by sunlight, rather just weakened. They are unaffected by any holy symbol​, holy water or garlic. I gave them an origin story that explained why a wooden stake to the heart works and why silver can harm them. My vampires don’t sparkle and they certainly don’t go to high school for hundreds of years. I also gave my vampires the ability to change their appearance and even gender. With minor shape-changing abilities they can literally be anyone they want, so as to have many human lives without looking suspicious. I also defined how they can sense each other and how the creator and progeny relationship (as I call them) works.

JM: What was your a ha! moment? When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?

CO: ​Excellent question! Well I had a few. First back in 2006 when my friend published a book and I got mentioned in the acknowledgements (I helped him edit it), I thought “I want more than that, I want to write a book, not just be mentioned in it.” Really thought it was just driving in the car one day listening to an interview R.A. Salvatore (who I’ll admit I’ve never even read). He talked about how great it was to be a writer and I just thought, “that’s what I want, more than anything.” So the next day I got writing and almost 2 years later I was published.​

JM: Is there anything about you as a writer that you consider to be a part of your signature style?

CO: ​That’s a tough question! I think you pick up traits and ideas from writers you like, perhaps even on an unconscious level. ​I think for me though it would be I love music so much that I try to put songs (usually 10 or 11) in each book that fit the scene they are in. I have always imagined my books as movies, so I have tried hard to supply each one with a kind of soundtrack.

JM: Sound great. I can’t wait to check it out.
CO: Thanks for having me, great questions!


Check out more from Charles O’Keefe over at his website, http://www.charlesokeefe.com/.