Christie Craig, AKA C.C. Hunter, a New York Times Bestseller, is an Alabama native, a multi-published writer, motivational speaker, and writing teacher. She currently hangs her hat in Texas and when she’s not writing her romantic suspense novels or her humorous romantic suspense novels, she’s working on her heart tugging young adult novels under the pen name C.C. Hunter.
A lover of good wine, good books and long walks with her dog, Lady, she considers herself extremely lucky to make a living doing what she loves. Learn more at www.CCHunterBooks.com or www.christie-craig.com.
1) First I want to thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview with us! When did you know writing was what you wanted to do with your life? What do you enjoy most about being a writer?
Growing up, I never thought of being a writer. For one thing, I’m dyslexic. So, reading and writing were a real struggle for me in school. Instead of reading stories, I would make them up in my head. The South has a long story telling tradition, and I learned what made a story more interesting at an early age.
It wasn’t until I was in my early 20’s when my husband number two asked me what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I told him, I’d done it. I’d married well. Then I confessed to him something I had never said aloud. I wanted to be a writer. He said, “Then do it.” So, this girl with no education, who is dyslexic, took every writing class I could, I read and reread my favorite authors and I wrote—every day. It took me ten long years to sell my first book, then another twelve before I sold my second. But when I did, I sold four books in one day.
I love being a writer for so many reasons. It’s wonderful to be able to share these stories in my head with my readers, especially when I hear that one of my books helped someone through a rough time. I’m also a people person and my writing career has given me the opportunity to meet so many amazing people. I also love that I can roll out of bed and start writing in my pajamas if I feel like it. How many people can go to work in PJs?
2) You have over thirty five books to your credit. Can you tell our readers where they can find them and find out more about you?
I write humorous, romantic suspense and thriller suspense under my real name, Christie Craig. I also write young adult novels under the pen name C.C. Hunter. You can find out about me and my books at my websites http://www.christie-craig.com/ and http://cchunterbooks.com/.
3) With so many books, can you share which books you’ve written, stand alone or series, are a favorite of yours? Where does the inspiration for your characters and the different places you create within your stories come from?
Gosh, that’s like asking me to pick my favorite child. I love them all. There is always something in a book that stands out from the others. I get asked this a lot and I normally say, my favorite is usually the book I’m working on at the time. The reason is because that book is the one I’m closest to.
That said, there are a few books that are a bit more personal. This Heart of Mine is about a teenage girl who needs and gets a heart transplant. She experiences a connection to her donor, and sets out to find out what really happened to him. A few years ago, my husband had a transplant. At first he was set to get a heart and kidney transplant. He ended up just getting a kidney because his heart had improved. I drew on that experience and the emotional roller coaster we were on to channel into This Heart of Mine. I cried a lot while writing that book.
Another book that strikes a personal chord is In Another Life. Releasing March 26th, the book delves into the effects of a parent’s bitter divorce on a teenage girl. Is it any surprise that my parents divorced when I was sixteen?
4) What does your writing routine look like on an average day? Do you outline your novels? How long does it typically take you to complete a novel? What projects are you currently working on?
Writers sometimes refer to themselves as either a plotter or a pantser. I consider myself a pantser. I do have a vague idea of two or three plot points, but that’s all. If I truly outlined a book, it would be boring for me to write it. I love discovering the story as I type the pages.
I write almost every day. That means getting up, grabbing a cup of coffee and heading into my study to write. I review a little of what I wrote the day before, then dig in. After writing for an hour or so, I usually take a break by walking with another writer friend of mine. Then, it’s back into my study. I’ll work all day, then relax with a nice glass of red wine and a healthy dinner. When I’m on a tight deadline, I work all evening, too. I’m also a bit of a workaholic, so I put in a lot of hours
Right now I’m working on a new young adult proposal. It’s what people call speculative fiction. A seventeen-year-old sole survivor of a plane crash learns she has the ability to go back in time to alter Fate. When I get that proposal to my agent, I’m finishing Three Heart Beats Away, the final book in my young adult Mortician’s Daughter series.
5) What’s the first book you ever read that really touched you emotionally and moved you? What’s the first book you read that made you know that you could do this for a career? What book are you currently reading?
As I said, I’m dyslexic, so it took me longer than most to learn to write. It took me a long time to learn to read. I was in fourth grade when I finished reading my first book, Charlotte’s Web. The love between Charlotte and Wilbur deeply touched me. Maybe that’s why I write so many love stories today. Finishing Charlotte’s Web gave me a sense of accomplishment and while it was years before I really started reading for pleasure, that book sparked a love of storytelling. After that, I never went to bed without telling myself a story. So, one thing led to another.
I read a lot of books by my friends, because I have some very talented friends. I recently finished Brigid Kemmerer’s Letters to the Lost and loved it. So, I’m getting ready to read her newest release A Curse So Dark and Lonely. I’m also devouring Lori Wilde’s Texas Rascals series.
6) What are your thoughts on where the publishing industry stands today? Do you prefer traditional publishing or self-publishing?
I’ve been traditionally published with NY publishers and I’ve self published. I still do both depending on the book. I know authors that only self publish and others that stick with the traditional route. There’s no right or wrong answer here. Each brings a different set of problems and rewards. It’s whatever works best for the author. I like that it’s so open today, and I hope it continues that way. I do see traditional publishing getting smaller, but I don’t think it’ll ever really go away.
7) Have you had to deal with a lot of rejection on your journey to the successful writer that you are today? If so, how did that rejection strengthen you and how specifically did you deal with it?
I’m a big believer in that old saying, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” Well, I must be Superman! I literally have thousands of rejection letters—which I have kept. I learned something from every rejection. Sometimes the publisher gave very helpful criticism and other times it just made me more determined. The quickest way to make me do something is to tell me I can’t. I also use the rejection letters in my talks to tell people they shouldn’t give up on their dreams.
8) What has been your most significant achievement as a writer thus far? Where do you see yourself within your career in the next five years?
Good question. Or maybe I should say hard question. Every book is a challenge. I think that’s why I love this career. Changing genres was a huge challenge. I started out writing humorous, romantic suspense, then added young adult paranormal and have moved toward young adult contemporary with suspense. Plus, I’m writing adult romantic thrillers as well as still writing my humorous, romantic suspense. As for my most significant achievement…? Well, hitting number three on the New York Times bestselling list felt really good, but I think the more significant achievement is touching readers. I get emails telling me that I made a difference in someone’s life, that I got them through a hard time, those emails inspire me more that any number of sales. Yes, I need to be paid for my work, but the personal achievement is somehow more motivating.
9) Do you believe that there is ever a point in life where it’s too late for an aspiring writer to become successful in this industry? Do you feel a late start would hinder their chances?
I believe that a good story is a good story. If you write a really great book, it doesn’t matter how old or young you are. Granted, a traditional publisher might take your age into consideration as they like to have writers with long careers ahead of them. But self publishing is thriving. And I have good friends who didn’t start writing until they were in the seventies and they have published over ten books. Age shouldn’t stop us.
10) I feel like writing is a remarkable tool to help people not only express themselves, but also to cope emotionally and mentally. I know for me I write to be and feel more authentic. What unique quality is there about you, about your art, that you feel represents your authenticity? How does writing help you to be more empowered in your purpose?
There is no doubt that writing is therapy. So many of the things I write about belong to the fabric of my life. When I write about issues I’ve faced, survived, it not only gives my work an authentic message, but it allows me to face and beat the demon one more time.
The themes and issues you see often in my novels are: the difficulties of divorce to teens, abusive relationships, second chances in love, overcoming disabilities like dyslexia, dealing with health issues, self-discovery and choosing our own destinies and not the paths of our parents. All of them have been part of my story, and all of them are woven in my fiction.