Thursday, February 25, 2010
Interview and Giveaway with Debut Author Christa Allan
Jen here. It's my pleasure to introduce you to debut novelist (and fellow Abingdon Press author) Christa Allan. Please join our virtual chat where she tells us all about her new book, Walking on Broken Glass, including how she came up with the musical title.
Q: Have you always wanted to be a writer?
A: In high school, I was always the chick everyone wanted on the other team in P.E. I couldn’t dance, sing, draw, play music or flirt. I had short hair when long hair was in, curly hair when Cher-hair was popular, and a “fluffy” body when Twiggy appeared. I had enough teen angst to market it in bottles as a new perfume. One day, after watching my friend across the street get picked up by my ex-boyfriend for a date, I put pen to paper and felt healed. That’s when I started writing. Thinking of myself as a writer is something I’ve only recently come to recognize.
Q: How do you come up with your story ideas?
A: Honestly, I drive my family crazy with the “What if” syndrome. For example, “What if a woman walked to her mailbox and disappears?” is the one they’re all ready to choke me over. But I jot down things I read, hear, see…That’s the best part about being a writer. The entire world is your scratch pad of ideas.
Hey, I like the woman-at-the-mailbox idea. If you write it, I will definitely read it!
Q: How does your faith impact your writing?
Q: How do you deal with writer’s block?
A: Well, sometimes I use “weed therapy,” which, when I said that to my students, caused them to raise their eyebrows. One of those language/generational gap issues. What I really mean is that I’ll wander outside and start pulling weeds out of the garden. Often, I use journaling a la Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones where I just pick a topic, a word, an idea and just write for 10-15 minutes without any thought to spelling, grammar, punctuation, or even sentences. I just write. Eventually, something will break out of my brain. And, if all else fails, chocolate and/or Blue Bell.
Q: How long does it take to complete a novel? How many drafts do you go through?
A: I’ve completed only one novel, which is Walking on Broken Glass, I’m not sure I have a track record yet. Hurricane Katrina happened in the middle of Broken Glass, so I didn’t write for the two years we were displaced. So, eliminating Katrina from the equation, I’d say a year. Drafts? I don’t do drafts, at least not of the entire novel all at once. I’ll review what I’ve written in chapter chunks along the way. My oldest daughter, Erin, proofreads/critiques for me, so I’ll send her chapters to review. She’ll let me know if I need to pay more attention to or change something. Erin’s also great at telling me I’ve use the word “so” fifty times on a page… For now, the chunk method words.
Q: Do you plot out your story ahead of time, or do you dream it up as you go?
Q: Do you treat yourself to something special when a project is completed?
A: Sleep? No, completing it is my reward.
A: Be teachable, be willing to spend money before you make money, and be persistent. Also, it’s easy to justify not reading as much because I’m writing. But I think that’s a fatal mistake to my growth as a writer. I need to absorb other books by writers whose works I admire to learn, almost by osmosis, how they work plot angles, use words, and create characters, for example.
Of course, spend money with discretion. For me, spending money on attending my first ACFW conference was the single most important investment I made that year. It’s tempting to spend money on a shelf full of “how to” writing books. Before doing that, I’d suggest asking for recommendations from other writers who are where you want to be.
Here’s my defining moment of persistence: Between the decision to attend that first conference and the actual conference date, everything that could go awry absolutely did. My husband’s job opened up again, so I returned to my former job, but he had to work for two more months before leaving. I came back and lived with a friend for two weeks. I didn’t have an internet connection, so all of my work had to be finished at school. And since funds were tight, I attempted to print my own business cards. The school web blocker wouldn’t allow me on the site, then-when I finally found a site it wouldn’t block-my printer died! I left school two hours late and, what should have been a five hour drive to meet my daughter who would eventually drive me to meet my ride, ended up being almost seven hours because of an accident. My cell phone died in the process, so I had to make the last few miles on a prayer because I’d never been to my daughter’s new apartment. And, because I couldn’t call her, I didn’t have the code to enter the apartment complex’s gate. I believe that the one who doesn’t want us to succeed is always on the sidelines waiting for us to give in to despair.
Q: What’s the one far out sci-fi technology you’d most like to see become a household item?
A: A robotic housekeeper and chef.
MORE ABOUT CHRISTA
With the exception of having spent some years in Texas, I’ve been a lifelong Louisiana girl. After college, I started teaching high school until the mommy years. I have five children, who are now 32, 29, 26, 26, and 24, a son-in-law, and two precious grandgirls ages 4 and 2. Twenty plus years ago I returned to teaching high school, and I’m hoping to graduate in the next five or so years! My husband Ken and I spend our time with our three neurotic cats, play golf, and dodge hurricanes.
Visit Christa at her website - http://christaallan.com/
WIN THE BOOK
For a chance to win a copy of Walking on Broken Glass, just comment on this blog. Please leave an email address so we can contact you if you're the winner (include spaces or brackets around the "@" sign so Net spiders, etc, can't phish your address). I'll pick a winner at random on February 28th. Good luck!
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