Recently, I was contacted by myself and asked if I was interested in being interviewed, and after some messaging back and forth, a time was set when we’d be together. I was expecting more of a studio atmosphere, but instead it was more like my office. Anyway, following the initial embarrassment stemming from wearing the same thing to the interview, we got down to business.
Okay, more serious now. There was an element of stream of consciousness to this. I just started and went as fast as I could…
ME (interviewer): So, a little background. You’re a fantasy writer currently working on your fourth unpublished novel? Good gosh, is that right?
Christina (interviewee): It’s complicated. They’re interconnected and I’m rewriting the second book.
ME: And your brand of fantasy is what?
Christina: Other world fantasy with an early 20th century feel. A bit like the world my grandparents grew up in, I suppose, but with magic. My connection to the era is that my grandfather worked for Thomas Edison for awhile. I didn’t know that until after he’d passed away.
ME: So, that would have been on the east coast…
Christina: Yeah. I grew up on Long Island, New York. I’m a product of the suburbs, but I’ve lived in many different places across the country.
ME: Such as?
Christina: New York, of course, but also Vermont, Florida, Washington, Wyoming, Montana. I love the coasts, but they don’t love me … awful allergies.
ME: That must present you with some unique perspectives.
Christina: I suppose. I don’t think about it much. It’s all a mashup in my brain through which everything is filtered. There are more profound influences, like being an INFJ, for instance. Before I started exploring it last year I thought I was crazy. I’m a mass of contradictions and just know things about other people—even via their written word choices. It’s creepy.
ME: So, you read a lot as a kid?
Christina: Yes and no. There were children’s books—loved Curious George and the Cat in the Hat—but I don’t recall ever seeing either parent reading fiction. All that was around—and I’m dating myself here—were encyclopedias.
ME: So, you read what?
Christina: What you can find in an encyclopedia, especially history because it told a story. A certain period, for instance, would have a beginning and end just like in fiction. Of course, when I discovered fiction I was blown away because it was storytelling that was even more exciting!
ME: That first fiction was…?
Christina: There wasn’t the abundance of YA literature then like there is now, but I remember reading some science fiction in late elementary. When I was about fifteen and read The Hobbit/Lord of the Rings that changed everything. When I entered high school and was introduced to other great literature … mind blown.
ME: So you then started writing fantasy?
Christina: Actually, no. Through high school I wrote a lot of awful short stories and short novels where I dabbled in a broad array of genres. You know, experimenting. Focus wasn’t my strong suit at the time. My childhood was—challenging.
ME: After high school?
Christina: A handful of aborted novels over the following decade-and-a-half. There was an intense inner struggle going on that was preventing me from finding my voice.
Christina: I returned to school in the 90s for my Bachelor’s degree and that was kind of a course correction in my personal and writing lives. Basically, I discovered a lot of great literature, my writing, and myself. I graduated in ‘96 and from that point forward Ontyre, my fantasy world, began taking shape. I started writing it down in 1999. Between 2000 and 2005 I wrote three novels, but only one was set in Ontyre.
ME: So, you’ve had a lot of time to work on the world then.
Christina: Yes and no. My life tumbled into a crisis of epic proportions in late 2004 and was followed by an illness that almost killed me in 2010. So, there’s been stuff.
ME: Okay. Then, let’s talk about Ontyre.
Christina: I’ve always had an eclectic appetite—that’s me being an INFJ again—so from the beginning I wanted a world where I could tell just about any story and it’s worked better than I’d hoped. There are what I think of as the primary novels that take place in Carrdia and are centered around Riparia Dellbane. Even so, there’s already a related novel outside her thread that could easily be classified as YA and tackles a lot of LGBT issues.
ME: Are there non-primary novels?
Christina: *hangs head* Not yet. I’ve resisted. Sometimes I curse my fertile imagination. Bingo! … INFJ. I rediscovered writing short stories in 2015 and the dam was completely swept away. It didn’t take long before I realized I was most comfortable setting my short stories in Ontyre. For a change I’d set them during the time of the Old Empire that predated Carrdia.
Christina: I was in the process of recreating my continent map and became fascinated with the Tri-Islands that evolved into the republic of Pannulus. Stories literally popped up there faster than I could write them, especially YA stories about teens coming to grips with their developing Partial abilities, like the Seeker gift that enables detecting evil, reading character … other things.
ME: That’s interesting…
Christina: It didn’t stop there. I’ve also explored young witches and those struggling with their gender spirit.
ME: Gender spirit?
Christina: You know, those who are themselves on the inside, but not the outside. It’s inner conflict in the extreme, and cruel, though people’s reactions are often more cruel. Seekers can detect if someone is dysphoric if there’s physical contact. Anyway, recently I was overwhelmed by the idea that a school for these gifted teens would bring all these ideas together, including gender spirit and other LGBT issues.
ME: You should totally do that.
Christina: I don’t know if there’d be interest, but I’m considering it even though it’d be quite a departure for me. I’m cautious because I don’t want to write warmed over Harry Potter and, really, what do I know about YA? One element that really fascinates me is that the various gifts are unique, yet have aspects that overlap the others. Too, there are additional possibilities when they work together.
ME: Huh. It’s interesting, but I’m having difficulty wrapping my brain around it…
Christina: *laughs* Yeah, me too. Like I said, I don’t know if it’s viable, though I indulged the notion and found a location for the school on Cape Harmony along the Gulf of Astell. It’d be near the city of Raspell in the Spectral Hills. Not that that means anything to anyone.
ME: Oh wow, we’re running way over our time. Maybe you could talk more about this idea next time?
Christina: Sure, if it’s still an idea then. *laughs* I have four novels worth of editing to do, after all, and there are the short stories. I’ll see if the idea continues to fight to make itself heard.