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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

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By Jordan Dane

I’ve had the pleasure of meeting C C Hunter years ago before I’d sold my first book. In a Texas term, she's a real HOOT! Her career always showed promise, but when she stretched into the Young Adult market, she has become a shooting star and I couldn’t be happier. I wanted to share her successful series at THE KILL ZONE with an overview introduction and Q&A.

Another choice BOOK GIVEAWAY for TKZers – C C Hunter will give away BORN AT MIDNIGHT & AWAKE AT DAWN plus swag to two lucky visitors who comment today. Those names will be picked at random & announced on this post. Now here is a summary of the series.

Imagine being sixteen and told you aren’t human?

The Shadow Falls series follows sixteen-year-old Kylie Galen, who, when the story opens, has had a lot of crap tossed in her lap. Her grandmother dies, her parents are getting a divorce, her boyfriend breaks up with her because she wouldn't put out, and her parents think she’s losing her mind because she’s acquired a stalker that only she can apparently see. When she attends a party with her best friend, and the cops arrive to shut it down because of underage drinking, Kylie finds herself being shipped off to Shadow Falls Camp. Kylie and her parents think it's a camp for troubled teens.

They thought wrong.

Kylie's surrounded by vampires, werewolves, fairies, witches and shape-shifters. And if she believes what they tell her, she's one of them. They're just not sure exactly how she fits in. And her stalker? Well, he’s just a ghost and he’s come to Kylie for a reason. Apparently, part of Kylie’s powers is being able to communicate with the dead. Not that’s she’s all that happy about it.

As Kylie struggles to cope with the realization that these supernatural beings even exist, and the fact that she might not be human, she's got two hot guys, a werewolf and a half-fairy, vying for her attention. She cares for them both, but how can Kylie decide between them when she doesn’t know who she is. Or worse, what she is.

Shadow Falls . . . it’s not your average identity crisis.

Q - How is writing for YA different from your adult writing?

CC: That’s an interesting question. My adult books are humorous romantic suspense novels, while my YA series is a paranormal romance. Now the genre itself brings in some differences. For example, the paranormal elements will bring in a bit more of a darker flavor. And when I studied the YA market, I discovered that most YAs resembled Women’s Fiction, when it came to their plotlines. By that, I mean that unlike in a romance, the book isn’t driven solely by the relationship between the heroine and her love interest. It’s a part of the plot and a very important part of the book, but it’s not the sole thing moving the story forward. Most YA novels are “coming of age stories” that blend romance, friendship, family, and self-discovery—a lot of the same things that women’s fiction novels bring to the table. However, other than the genre tweaks, and the blend of subplots, I don’t change anything about my writing voice when I write YA. The things that do change are the characters, their paradigm, and their world. When you look at life, sex, love, family, and friends from the viewpoint of a sixteen–year-old, it will not be the same as that viewpoint of a twenty-seven year old.

Q - Why did you make the switch from adult to YA?

CC: I love to write. I love to tell stories. And I’m having a blast writing YA. However, I’m still writing my humorous romance novels. My story of how I got into writing YA is a little different than some authors. I wasn’t writing or planning on going down this road. One could call it luck, but I think it’s more about synchronicity. I seriously believe that when you are on the right path, when you are following your heart, putting your best effort behind your goals and dreams, and working on your karma points, you will often find surprises along the road. You may find yourself taking a new road that you hadn’t planned on exploring, and yet it feels natural because in some crazy, subconscious way, it was part of the universe’s plan all along.

As for how I ended up on this path . . . I had finaled in a contest years before I had sold and I’d gotten my book in front of an editor at St. Martin’s Press. She liked my writing, but didn’t buy the book. Later, my agent sent this same editor a proposal for a humorous paranormal romance. The editor loved it, but the senior editor didn’t.

However, the editor who loved my voice kept an eye on my career as I started to publish in the romance genre. Then, when they were looking for writers for their new YA program, she contacted my agent and asked if I would be interested in writing a YA. I almost said no, because I didn’t have a clue if my voice would work in the YA market. When I shared my concerns with this editor, she claimed the reason she’d thought of me for this was because of my voice. She said I was a smarta$$ and teens liked that. Who would have guessed that being a smarta$$ would have gotten me somewhere in life? Especially when my mama told me it wouldn’t. LOL.

Q - What trends do you see in YA for authors interested in writing it?

CC: Trends? Okay, I hear the paranormal YA market is getting pretty crowded. I also heard that suspense YA is on the rise. Now, saying that, let me tell you my thoughts on trends. I will never tell people to ignore the trends, because I think we need to be aware of them. However, I think following a trend when it’s not your cup of tea is a big mistake. I think the most important thing you can do when plotting a book is to find a theme that is the most relatable to your audience. Some call it a universal emotion. Find a theme that will resonate to the largest audience possible. For example, one of my bigger themes in the Shadow Falls series is on identity crisis.

Q - Is there a difference between YA readers vs adult readers?

CC: I think a good story is a good story. And readers of all ages are looking for the same thing: A story that is hard to put down with characters they can care about. When I went to plot my Shadow Falls series, I knew right off the bat that I wanted a story that was relatable to both teens and adults alike. I had seen how the Twilight series had been embraced by both teens and adults, and I wanted to accomplish this myself. So what I concluded was that I needed a universal theme that would appeal to young and old alike. And I felt the theme of an identity crisis is one we all face as we move in and out of different stages of our lives.

As for the differences I see in how YA readers and adult readers relate to authors… Well, I do probably get more fan mail from teens. This is so much fun, because I love hearing from readers. However, it does take quite a bit of time responding to those emails. I also find that having an Internet presence is more important because teens spend so much time online.

When I first started writing Born at Midnight, I thought the books were going to be shorter than my single title romances. And before I really started writing, I sort of thought they would somehow be less complicated to write. Boy howdy, was I wrong. As the story started to come alive, I realized I had so many secondary characters and each character had a story to tell. I was grateful that my editor really allowed me to build the series the way I wanted to build it. To create and weave in the sub-plots that would involve all the things that my adult books have: humor, mystery, suspense, and romance.

That's our guest spot for today. Ask C C questions, she'll be checking in. Thanks for being our guest today, C C, and for the generous offer for swag and free books. Love ya, gal!

CONGRATULATIONS TO WINNERS - Paula Millhouse & Sarah Evans. The signed books have been shipped. Thanks, CC!


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