Big Brothers Big Sisters Benefit Signing Recap

Last fall, just a week or so before Thanksgiving, I took about an hour and half off from work to jaunt down to my favorite local Barnes & Noble to attend a special signing with Krissi Dallas, Mary Gray, Heather L. Reid, and Victoria Scott that benefitted Big Brothers Big Sisters.

Q1. Describe your book!
Victoria Scott (VS): My characters make worse decisions. I have a 17-year old boy who dies and works for devil collecting souls. He is not a good person. I wanted a character who makes bad decisions. When he meets someone who makes good decisions, will he stay the same or change under influence? Fire & Flood is about people in a race searching for one dose of a cure. Each participant is given an egg, which is called a pandora. The pandoras are animals with powers that may help win race.
Krissi Dallas (KD): I write out of happy places in my life. Phantom Island series is dealing with two settings. There's a certain magic at camp. You make relationships and learn things about yourself. But I also wanted the real world and magic world to have their own special magic. There's a world with elemental magic. You can deal with issues in a magical world that are easier to deal with than in real world.
Heather Reid (HR): My main character has nightmares, and then the nightmares come to life and enter reality. It's a scary, creepy book about love or lies, faith or fear, darkness or destiny. When I was younger, I suffered from night terrors and sleepwalking. I thought, what if a  teen girl saw demons. The voices that say you're not good enough, not pretty enough...they were real voices. It's all about what's beautiful and broken.
Mary Gray (MG): My story used personal experiences, and exorcised personal demons. I wanted a story that was enticing and captured the manipulation of a bad guy on women, but also had hope. I wanted to show an unhealthy relationship. I also love classic characters and wanted to showcase that. Cheyanne has to learn to remove herself from feelings with the bad guy.

Q2. How did you get into writing and why?
KD: There's something in a writer where you see storylines around you. What if this happened? You create fantasies. I started writing things down as a child because I could see characters doing stuff. It wasn't until I was an adult that I had enough material, enough life experiences to put writing into a series. Let your creativity take you!
HR: If you love to write, don't worry about anything. Just put the words on the page. I remember when I was 4 or 5 years old, re-imagining favorite stories. I would staple pages together and tell my mom, "Look I have a book!" But I still wanted to be a Dallas cheerleader or an archeologist. Then I remember being 11 and wanting to be published author. I said would publish by 16. It didn't happen, but that seed stayed with me. It took seventeen long years of hard work; not everybody's journey is the same. If there's something you're passionate about or that you love, don't give up. You'll probably have to work hard, but don't give up. VS: *starts singing "Don't Stop Believing"*
MG: I loved essay questions as a kid. I always waited until end to turn mine in so teacher would see mine on top. My parents weren't very supportive of writing so it wasn't until I had my first child that I really started to write. I would be exhausted after playdates, but I would come home and want to have something special.
VS: I started writing just because I loved books. I worked in advertising after college. Get laid off a lot. What do I really want to do.... I didn't really like anything other than books.

Q3. How much time do you write a day?
VS: Two hours in the morning, two in the afternoon plus marketing, answering emails, online chatting, etc.
KD: I do most of my writing on Mondays and Wednesdays because I'm a part time teacher, and I'll meet with writing buddies and write for hours at a time.
MG: Since I have little ones, they come first. When all my kids are in school,I'll be able to write full time. It's whenever have time right now. I have to make it happen.

Q4. Does it "flow?"

HR: Sometimes, sometimes not. I write slowly, very deliberately, because I love words. I love the rhythm of words. You build momentum. At first it is hard, but the more you know the story, the characters, the better it flows.
KD: In the writing world, you're either a pantser or plotter. I'm a pantser, and we fly by seat of our pants. I let the story flow wherever it wants, but the revision stage is really important. By the third or fourth book, the characters know where they need to go. I do plot out points. Big scenes come out, but the way to get there, I have to fight for every word.
VS: I am a plotter. I loosely outline every book. I'm militant with writing. I do 2000 words every day. I always have an idea where the story needs to go and where words come out

Q5. How do you concentrate on writing and focus on story?
MG: One night a week, I'll take off, and my husband takes kid duty. In the afternoon,  if my kids can watch a show, I have some time. My best writing, though, actually comes in the car. Alone, in the quiet. 
HR: It depends on the day. Some days I'm focused on my book; other days my focus is on laundry or dishes. When I'm thinking over a scene, not sure where it's going, it takes time. But it's easier when I know where it's going. It helps to have friends to keep focus. A support system.

Q6. How are characters people? How do you have them in your head?
VS: My characters don't exactly feel like real people to me, at least until the third Dante novel was written, then I missed him. I could hear things he would say.
KD: Reading Dante, I can hear Tori. Dante and Tori are similar. Dante is a good guy.
VS: He's a horrible good guy.
KD: My characters' lives are different from my mind; I do think about what they would do in real life. I can't imagine being done [with the series]. It will be hard to say goodbye because it's such a reflection of your heart. There's no way to separate completely. It's hard to put out there, but it could be your story. It could be your friend who helps you walk through life. I do feel sad then they're hurt. I'm like, "I'm sorry! It's okay! Pep talk!"
HR: My characters live and breathe in my head. I write organically, definitely a pantser. I start with characters and get to know them before the story starts. I was writing a scene and I was like, "what? What are you doing?!" I knew that version was what really happened. She was telling her story to me, and I was just writing it down. There's a little bit of me in all my characters.
MG: I feel closest to my characters if I hear a song that encompasses their feelings. At the gym, I heard a song and I was like, "oh yeah! Standing up to the villain!" I heard a song in the car for the love interest and wrote a scene that didn't connect to any others, but I knew him in that moment. The villain is so real to me right now.

Q7. As you develop the characters, do the characters develop you in real life?
MG: I know a woman in real life who is having trouble standing up to her husband. My main character had to stand up to the bad guy. I told her, "you have to stand up to yourself." Sitting here, you think, yeah, stand up to someone who's abusing you, but I definitely learned it in that moment.
HR: Absolutely. My writing taught me a lot about my characters and about my own demons.
KD: One main villains in book is a female character. I find myself very fascinated with the way I wrote her. It's like if I gave in to every selfish, dark part of myself, and I realized that's how I wrote her. Villains aren't entirely evil. There are some that deserve what's coming to them, but there are others that are redeemable. They're the hero of their own story. I wrote her from dark place in myself.
VS: Fire & Flood didn't affect me, but definitely felt that way about Dante. He helped me get swagger in real life!

I don't have a corresponding giveaway for this recap since I didn't get anything signed, but I hope you enjoyed it and received some special insight into these awesome authors' minds. I know I'm really lucky that I get to call these amazing women my friends, and I love having the opportunity to see them often. Do any of their answers have special meaning to you?

1 comment:

  1. What a cool event to get to go to, especially since it was for such a great cause! You have had the chance to meet some really amazing authors. I wish some would come around here. Great interview, I love to hear about authors' writing process.