Monday, June 23, 2014

Award Winning Author of The Fey and Denver Cereal, Claudia Christian, Shares Her Writing Life

     Reader's Choice winner, Claudia Christian, writes serial fiction and novels about good people in difficult situations not settling into any one genre. Today she takes time from her busy schedule to talk with me and share a few insights into her writing. 

"I make sure to write every day, so I spend most of my time in the company of my characters."
How did your writing life begin?

The real seed to my writing was that I was desperately unhappy as a child. My mother was schizophrenic and each of my siblings had a trace of some form of insanity. My father was so overwhelmed that there was little he could do for me.

Out of desperation, I learned to read when I was just under three years old. I’d finished every children’s book in our small town library before I graduated from elementary school. They gave me a special pass to read teen and adult books when I was ten. My father encouraged me to read, particularly the old stories such as mythology and Shakespeare. Because I don’t have any rituals, routines, or best times of day, I tend to believe that most people don’t have them as well. (Yes, I’m saying most authors lie about their rituals.)

I wrote and submitted some stories when I was a young person. Like most people, my stories were rejected by magazines and publishers. I was so overwhelmed by the madness in my life that I had very little capacity to absorb this kind of rejection. I stopped writing and submitting.

Do you practice any rituals or routines to get in the writing frame of mind? Do you set aside time during the day when you are more productive?

I’m embarrassed to say that I don’t have any rituals or routines. I make sure to write every day, so I spend most of my time in the company of my characters. I think that makes a big difference.

Because I don’t have any rituals, routines, or best times of day, I tend to believe that most people don’t have them as well. (Yes, I’m saying most authors lie about their rituals.) 

Writing on your blog you posted a piece entitled “Forget About Them.” It lists what a few bestselling authors have done to accomplish their writing goals. Have you done anything that might be considered ‘over the top’ to get your books seen and read?

I don’t believe there’s anything that’s too ‘over the top’ to get my books read or seen. ;)

The most over the top thing I do to get a book written is that I shift to polyphasic sleep when I’m working on the Alex the Fey thrillers. I sleep about six hours a twenty-four hour cycle, split up into a variety of naps. This is a training regimen for US Special Forces and helps me stay focused on the task at hand.

As for writing, the most over the top thing I write traditional serial fiction. These are stories that are published as they are written. I start with an idea and continue writing. The Denver Cereal has published one chapter a week for the last six years. We are currently at Chapter 315. That’s pretty intense! Denver Cereal is also read every day by over ten thousand people a week. Serial fiction is about as “over the top” as it gets.

I recently started a new serial fiction which will go for the next fifteen months called Suffer a Witch. It’s set in Boston, so I get a chance to get to know Boston. Right now, we’re just finishing up Chapter One with twenty-nine more chapters to go. It’s a real adventure because I have no idea where it’s going. I’m just along for the ride.

Do you have a favorite character that you have developed or worked with in any of your writing?
I know it sounds crazy, but I love them all. I don’t think I could spend so much time with them if I didn’t love and understand them on a deep level.

That said, Alex Hargreaves, from the Alex the Fey thrillers, demanded that I return to writing. She convinced me that I was born to write her story. She will always hold a special place in my heart.

Is there any one thing that inspires your stories and novels or do ideas just sort of ‘hit you’? 

I write what interests me. I’m very interested in how people overcome difficult situations. I’m interested in that moment of transition from one place to another. I’m interested in what couples do after a big fight or a betrayal. I’m also interested in good people who try very hard to lead good lives. Thus, I tend to write about good people who, for reasons that don’t have anything to do with them, are caught in some difficult situation.

Suffer a Witch, my new serial fiction, is about the men and women who were convicted of witchcraft in Salem Village in 1692. I became interested in this story because these people are essentially good people who were labeled witches, many times for no reason at all. In Salem Village, more than one hundred and forty people were charged with witchcraft. Only twenty people stood their ground and refused to confess to something they were not. This is the type of situation I’m intrigued with — good people caught in tough situations which are not of their making.

Do you serialize all of your books on your website,

Yes. My novels — the Alex the Fey thrillers and the Seth and Ava Mysteries — are serialized on Stories by Claudia. You can also read my current serial fictions, Denver Cereal and the new Suffer a Witch, as well as my completed serial fiction, the Queen of Cool, set in Fort Worth, Texas in 2011-2012.

Please tell us a bit about Suffer A Witch. 

Suffer a Witch is a traditional serial fiction about the modern day life of the five men and fourteen women who were convicted of witchcraft and hung in Salem Village, as well as the one man who was pressed to death. In the story, they become immortal witches after they are hanged. The story follows their modern lives in Boston, MA as they run into a man determined to destroy them.

Suffer a Witch is published six days a week — five pieces of the story and one post about the characters. The story will be published two chapters a month for the next fifteen months. The eBook will be available in September 2015. 

You write mysteries, thrillers, and serial fiction. Do you have a favorite sub-genre? 

I don’t feel like I have a ton of control over what type of stories come to me. I will say that I love really good mysteries. I grew up reading the short, complicated mysteries of the 1940s and 1950s. I attempt to mimic this genre in the Seth and Ava Mysteries.

I also love a good international spy thriller. I think John Le Carré and Robert Ludlum define that genre. The Alex the Fey thrillers are in the same vein as these old style thrillers. I attempt to mimic the intrigue, heart-pounding suspense, and the relationships that Le Carré, in particular, is great at writing.

All of my work has a splash of romantic-suspense. People fall for the friendships and relationships in the books. Because I write about good people, I tend to write about good men – something that’s fairly unusual now.

I don’t know what I find more unexpected, the fact that you’re a beekeeper or a bodybuilder! (Of course, I don’t think I’ve talked to any predictable authors.) Can you tell us 5 other things about you we wouldn’t expect to happen in your daily life? Do you like peanut butter, photography? 

Gosh, I don’t know whether these things are unexpected or not, but here goes:
a. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry from UC Berkeley. I can hold my own in conversations with biochemists and research scientists.
b. I’m a vegetarian. It’s something that just happened one day. One day I was eating meat; the next day I couldn’t stand the smell.
c. I lived in LA during the punk explosion there. I spent all of my free money and time going to X, Black Flag, Circle Jerks and other punk concerts. This ended for me when Darby Crash died because of the reason he killed himself.
d. In spite of the punk thing, I listen to a wide variety of music. I like everything and anything. If it’s four minutes long, has a good beat, and I can sing to it, I’m in!
e. In the Denver Cereal, the main characters bond over bowls of Cap’n Crunch with Crunch berries. I had never had a bowl of the cereal until the first Volume was published.

Thanks for taking the time to talk with me today Claudia. 

Connect with Claudia at her Website: or on Twitter at @ClaudiaC

Be Sure to Check out Suffer A Witch

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