Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
My name is Chris H. Stevenson (pen name, Christy J. Breedlove). I’m 67 years-old, officially retired, but writing full time.
Fiona: Where are you from?
I was born in Los Angeles and raised on the beaches of California, one of the original long-board surfers. I’ve lived in Arkansas, Las Vegas, and I’m currently living in Sylvania, Alabama—down in a holler.
Fiona: A little about yourself (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
I was originally born in California and then moved to Sylvania, Alabama in 2009. I currently live with my sister and her husband. My occupations have included newspaper editor/reporter, amateur astronomer, federal police officer, Housecleaner and professional doll house and miniature builder. I’ve been writing off and on for 36 years, having officially published books beginning in 1988. Today I write in my favourite genre, Young Adult, but have published in multiple genres and categories. I 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. I write the blog, Guerrilla Warfare for Writers (special weapons and tactics), hoping to inform and educate writers all over the world about the highpoints and pitfalls of publishing.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
I’ve just had a new YA fantasy release, Screamcatcher: Web World. It is book one of a trilogy. I once wondered what would happen to a very old dream catcher that was overloaded with dreams and nightmares. What if the nightmares were too sick or horrible to contain? What if the web strings could not hold anymore negative images? Would the dream catcher melt, burst, vanish, implode? Something would have to give, if too much evil was allowed to congregate in one spot. I found nothing on the Internet that offered a solution to this problem, and asked myself why hasn’t anybody used this? So I took it upon myself to answer such a nagging question. Like too much death on a battlefield could inundate the immediate area with lost and angry spirits, so could a dream catcher hold no more of its fill of sheer terror without somehow morphing or transforming. What would it be like to be caught up in another world inside the webs of a dream catcher, and how the heck would you ever get out?
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I fondly remember picking up a copy of Twilight Zone magazine and reading a short story. I was so gobsmacked, totally taken in by the plot and characters, that I figured I could do that too. That was in 1986. I went on a quest to publish my own short stories in the small press, and one year later had success with selling about a dozen of them. That really opened things up, but my first real trade published book was a non-fiction guide about garage and yard sales. It did extremely well. My first published novel was in 2007.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I can explain the events better: 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. For joy!
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. I was convinced I was a writer then.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
I was engrossed in yard sales, indoor swap meets and auctions. It was truly a mania back then. I had such success at it that my friend dared me to write a book about it. I did, and that became Garage Sale Mania, the first ever book on the subject.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Now, as far as my most recent book, I derived the title Screamcatcher from the words dream catcher. It’s kind of a play on words, but it also hints at the plot. It’s the Screamcatcher series, with the sub-titles: Web World, Dream Chasers and The Shimmering Eye.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
I admit that my writing style/voice was/is deliberate, and I emulated who I considered stylists: Poul Anderson, Virgin Planet, Peter Benchley, The Island and Jaws, Joseph Wambaugh, The Onion Field and Black Marble, Michael Crichton, Jurassic Park, Alan Dean Foster, Icerigger trilogy, and some Stephen King. Anne Rice impresses me with just about anything she has written. I think it’s the humour and irony that attracts me the most–and it’s all character related.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
If I have a book in a contemporary setting, I strive to make it as accurate as possible. The world has to obey our general laws of physics unless I have created something fantastical that requires alternate world-building. I do have hints of personality traits in my characters that are based on real people, but not all. I’ll mix it up, so I stay away from stereotypes and clichés.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
No travel necessary. I can usually research exotic locations down to their exact, fine points. I try not to cheat, but if there is something I’m unaware of or do not know, I’ll avoid the nitpicking details of it, to stay on the safe side.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Caroline Andrus created the cover for Screamcatcher, and it’s a total mind-blower. I’m not just saying that. She has a saber-tooth cat clawing its way through a dream catcher, and the background is of the badlands of South Dakota. I’ve been told that the blurb, cover and title is an at-bat triple. Sales will eventually tell me if it is a homerun or not.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Aside from my theme that accentuates loyalty, survival and determination, I do have a very subtle, almost hidden message in the book. It’s gender related and really no one would ever suspect it, because it has nothing to do with the main female character. All I’ll say is, nice guys finish first and get the girl.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
Neil Gaiman is new to me. I loved his Stardust, and I plan on reading a lot more of his work. He writers with strong visuals and senses, and I like that. Susanne Collins and her The Hunger Games really impressed me. She has a prequel coming out in May of next year.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
Hands down, it’s my agent Sara Camilli. She has been through the thick and thin with me, always pushing me to strive and attain my goals. She is ultra-supportive of me, and quite concerned about my health and emotional state. She’s never given up on me and refuses to let me give up on myself.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Not in the sense that it supports me. It did support me for a very brief time but it is so difficult to keep up that kind of momentum. Becoming a writer is easy—staying one is hard.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Now that I’ve had a few constructive comments, yes. I would have my major male character “alpha-up” just a bit. He’s a tad too nice or desperate for the affection from his soon-to-be girlfriend. I would also calm down a racy sex scene that the main characters witness. The MCs don’t resort to overt sex or anything, but they do witness something I should have toned down.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
I learned some really neat things about Indian lore and culture. I love that type of diversity in this book. My main female character is half-blood Chippewa. She is at odds with her true cultural history with that of a modern, progressive teenage girl.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
Without question, my lead character, Jory, is an absolute dead-ringer for Katniss Everdeen of The Hunger Games. So she would have to be a very young looking Jennifer Lawrence.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
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.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
Only to support your indie and small press trade authors. You’ll find some gems there that will delight and shock you. Support your local independent bookstores—they need the love—they spread enough of it for you—pay it forward to them.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I’m re-reading Close Encounters of the Third Kind. It’s a novelization, but I like the style and wonderment.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
It was very early on in school when I read The Yearling. That was the first “classic” that I read. My first science fiction novel was Virgin Planet by Poul Anderson. He became my pen pal and mentor.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Bumping off a character in a book saddens me greatly, especially when I’m invested in that person. Great irony makes me bust the gut. Joseph Wambaugh and Peter Benchley are masters of it. Of course, the elder Benchley was a humorist!
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
I’d like to meet Stephen Spielberg. I’m as much of a kid at heart as he is and would love to discuss young adult characterization in book and movie plots with him.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
I watch any documentary having to do with Bigfoot, UFOs, cryptozoology, palaeontology, astronomy, archaeology, airline flight, history, hauntings, the planets and the universe.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
For TV it has to be non-fiction and associated with the core sciences—Nova, The History Channel, Hanger 18, Finding Bigfoot, Ancient Aliens, Animal Planet and other informative shows. Crypto-science is fine.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
My favorite food is Chinese all the way! My color is ox blood. My favourite music is movie soundtracks from some of my most favourite SF and fantasy movies. I do like hard rock and roll, but I’ll relax with ABBA anytime.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
I would tell stories in sign language and the spoken word.
Fiona: You only have 24 hours to live how would you spend that time?
I would write out a short synopsis of my history, seal it in a jar and bury it under a rock. Maybe somebody would find it and say, “This confirms it—these primitives were nuts.”
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
He came, he saw, he tried to conquer.
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
Christy J. Breedlove’s Young Adult Fabuliers: https://christysyoungadultimagineers.com/
Guerrilla Warfare for Writers: http://guerrillawarfareforwriters.blogspot.com/2019/06/ya-review-consequences-by-darlene.html
FB Author’s Page: https://www.facebook.com/Chris-Stevenson-Author-Page-177979902302440/
Amazon authors page USA https://www.amazon.com/Christy-J.-Breedlove/e/B07QL3HBVR/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1