Monday, August 11, 2014

A fantastic interview with Author Chrystal Vaughn!

Welcome Conspiracy of Ravens Author
Chrystal Vaughan to the interview table!
Avid Readers: Tell us a bit about yourself that our readers might not know.

Chrystal: I am a big coward when it comes to scary movies. I can read anything, and I can write some of the most twisted murder scenes, but I can't watch scary movies. Paranormal Activity gave me nightmares for weeks and we still don't mention The Grudge in my household. 

 Avid Readers: What do you do to relax?
Chrystal: I read all the time. When I'm not writing I'm either reading, knitting, or spinning yarn for relaxation.
Avid Readers: As authors, we’ve sometimes been accused of being several people. How many personalities live in your mind?

Chrystal: No less than seven. It's very distracting and crowded up in my brain. 

 Avid Readers: What type of hero do you like best?

Chrystal: I like the flawed hero. Like Beowulf. He was completely badass and slayed monsters left and right, but he was too proud, over-confident, and it led to his downfall. He was a hero, but he had flaws. Take Batman for instance; that guy has problems but he's still pretty awesome. 

Avid Readers: How many plots do you include in one of your books?

Chrystal: There's usually the main plot, and then two or more subplots, depending on what I'm writing.

Avid Readers: Tell us about a typical day in your life as a writer. 

Chrystal: I know a lot of writers who say you have to sit your rear in the chair and write every day, and I do, but...if I'm not into any of the book writing projects I have juggling up in the air at any given moment, I write something else, such as a blog post, book review, or poem. I don't force the words to come, I let them come to me. I don't really have a typical day, since every day is different.

Avid Readers: Do your books have a common theme or are they all different?

Chrystal: All of my books have darkness in them. Usually death. My formative years as a reader were spent hanging out with Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and other horror/thriller/scary stuff so those influences are definitely ever present.

 Avid Readers: Where did your inspiration come from for this book? Was there a character that just had to be heard? Was there an event that inspired you to start writing?

Chrystal:  I was sitting in the car with my elder daughter, waiting for the younger one to get out of school, and we were talking about the different names for groups of animals. For example, a group of buzzards is called a wake. I was looking them up on my phone and found a whole list of them. I already knew a group of crows was called a murder but I was surprised by a few of them. Conspiracy of ravens just kind of stuck with me and lo, a seed was planted.

Avid Readers: Does your background (in terms of job, family, geographic location, etc.) play into your writing? What kind of research went into your story?

 Chrystal: For this story, I had to research prisons (not part of my family or background) and serial killers (not a norm in my family, I assure you). In fact, this book is different from anything else that I've written in that it's not set in the Pacific Northwest and does not involve teenagers or kids as main characters. 

Avid Readers: Describe the genres in which you write (paranormal, contemporary, westerns, etc.) If write in more than one genre or area (poetry, non-fiction), do you have a different process when you're writing different kinds of fiction or non-fiction?

Chrystal:  I write in several genres, but I'm published mainly in the paranormal/horror/thriller genre. I write romance, kid's books, poetry, non-fiction, literary fiction, sci-fi...I have a lot of different writer's hats. My process is always the same: I write whatever the voices tell me to write. It just sort of happens. I don't really set out to write anything. I just open up a pad of paper or my laptop and stuff happens.
Avid Readers: How do you balance writing with work and/or personal life? 

Chrystal: That can be harder. I work part time, so I have to write in the afternoons during the school year. That limits me because I don't always become inspired when I have time, so I started writing before bed too since I started writing long hand. Lugging the laptop to bed is a pain, but a notebook is much more portable and allows me to write whenever I have a free moment between juggling home and work. Conspiracy of Ravens is the first book I've written long hand, but I like it. All my new book projects are in various stages of completion and are all being written long hand, which means I have a gazillion notebooks lying around. A lot of my previous stories are still on the computer so those will be finished in the same fashion as they were started. 

Avid Readers:Do you have any other projects you're working on?

Chrystal:  There are always projects that I'm working on. I have so many ideas coming at me I can't keep up. I have a notebook app on my phone that allows me to use the voice recorder function and record my ideas while I'm driving, or when I wake up in the dead of the night with the urgent need to remember something. I always have a notebook around too. Just in case. I've got no less than half a dozen things in various stage of completion at the moment and many more waiting their turn. 


Avid Readers: When did you first think about writing? 

Chrystal:  I've been a writer my whole life, but I didn't write for a period of about ten years' time. I had a full time job that was very demanding and mentally taxing, and I had a family to raise; on top of that, I was attending college full time. I had no time for writing or for myself. Then I was taking a creative writing course in college for my degree and my teacher told me that I had to write a book, based on an assignment we did for class. I simply had to. So I did but I didn't let anyone see it...until I changed jobs and cut back on my workload and stress. I let a friend read what I had written and her encouragement was so enthusiastic that I just kept going. I really owe my rekindled passion for writing to my professor and my friend. 

Avid Readers: Generally, how long does it take you to write a book? 

Chrystal: It really depends. My first book took a little over a year. My second one was only a few months. The new one has taken me about eight months to stains...

Avid Readers: Have you experienced writer's block---> If so, how did you work through it? 

Chrystal:  I guess I have experienced something like that, only I call it post book let down. When I finish a book, I'm mentally drained and I feel sort of sad, kind of like the day after Christmas when all the excitement is over. Then I know I have to start editing, which I hate. When I get that way, I usually give myself a break and it's not uncommon for me to go a month without writing anything new on my book projects in between completing novels. I do write everyday, such as blogging or book reviews, even letters or short stories and poems, I just don't work on novels during that period of time. I have to recharge my batteries. Then, the voices get insistent that it's their turn and I start writing again...Haha! I have other issues on this subject too. For example, I have to kill off a beloved character in one of my projects in progress and I don't want to. To avoid having to write it, I wrote an entire new novel instead...Conspiracy of Ravens. Now that I'm done with that one, I guess I'll have to go back to the other project and just get it over with.

Avid Readers: What is the most rewarding thing about being a writer? 

Chrystal: Feeling like I might have the ability to entertain someone as much as I've been entertained by the books I've read in my life.

Avid Readers: If you weren't writing, what would you be doing? 
Chrystal:  I can't imagine not writing now that I'm back to it and I have a hard time recalling what life was like before I picked it up again. Most likely the same things, only with more Candy Crush Saga. 

Avid Readers: What book for you has been the easiest to write? The hardest? The most fun? 

Chrystal:  The book that was easiest to write was the second one, Dead in the Water. I wrote it for my students at the high school I work at and I had ample examples of how teenagers think and act. The hardest one to write is probably Conspiracy of Ravens; some of the murder scenes in that book made me feel like there might be something wrong with me. The most fun to write is one of the projects I'm working on now, a book called Misunderstood Monsters, that I'm writing for the 8-12 year old set. 

Avid Readers: What is next on your agenda? What can we expect to see from you in the future?

Chrystal:  I'm working on sequels for both Conspiracy of Ravens, and my first book titled Sideshow. I have the chapter book for kids I mentioned, a children's picture book (I know this is odd coming from a paranormal/horror writer), several romances, more paranormal horror, a historical thing, and a bunch of other stuff. I like to write according to my mood, so sometimes my mood is dark and sometimes it just wants to look at pretty pictures. The sequel for Sideshow, titled Straw Houses, should be ready for publication by Halloween of this year. 

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