Thursday, October 27, 2011

Imagine Being Sixteen & Told You Aren't Human - Guest C C Hunter

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!

41 comments:

  1. Thanks, Jordan, for bringing such an interesting author and Q&A to The Kill Zone. Another great post, as always.

    CC, since you'll be checking in today and answering posts, I just wanted to say thank you for sharing your journey. Your series sounds exciting. I'd love to read it. I love the paranormal exploration, and I love it when an author crosses genre's and puts the best of all elements in a story.

    That identity crisis theme rings true through the ages, and I like a story that has the element of a thriller, a great love story, and discovery of oneself (character arc...?) all woven through amazing characters on their journey.

    The comment about your Mom underestimating what makes you unique in voice and talent really made my day :):):):):)

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  2. Hi Paula!

    Thanks for stopping in. I really am having a blast writing this series and writing YA.

    CC

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  3. What a great interview! I love finding " New to me" series this way. Thanks too for the giveaway!

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  4. Hey CC. So great to have you on TKZ. I loved reading about your observations on YA vs Adult books. I've never heard YA plots compared to Women's fiction before but I can see the parallels. There's no need to force a happy ending & marriage to a romance in YA, for example. The "coming of age" journey is more important, especially when more than one relationship is explored.

    I also chuckled when you wrote that you thought YA books would be shorter. So did I. Oy! So not true, but I guess it's nice to know that if we turned in a book with a lower word count, a publisher might accept it.

    You also made observations on adults discovering these books & suspense being more sought after. VERY TRUE! YA thrillers are hot with editors. Dark world building with an imaginative plot is a plus too. But as you said, don't jump at a trend if it's not something you feel comfortable writing. That discomfort will show.

    Thanks for sharing your series & your thoughts on writing for the young adult with us. Bets wishes on your latest release, AWAKE AT DAWN. See you around Texas, I hope.

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  5. Sjune,

    Thanks so much for stopping by.

    CC

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  6. Jordan,

    Thank you so much for having me here today. I love talking about writing almost as much as I do writing.

    CC

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  7. SJune--Hey girl. Surprised you haven't run across this popular series before, Sarah. CC is also a TX author. Keep an eye out for her signings & definitely say HI. She's fun.

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  8. Hello CC Hunter! I love your series. My question is if you could write with any author who would it be?

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  9. Wow This was really great and quite interesting. I find it hard at times to read books set out for people that are quite younger then I am (19) But this book and the characters in it ( all of them) make it so much more enjoyable. I am excited for the next book in April.

    The Idea of how she struggles for her own Identity is really great because I always keep guessing and my idea changes constantly with each new bit of information given.

    - keep writing CC


    Jasmine

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  10. ohhh i hope this is open to canada! I got book 1 from the library, and turned around and ordered it for myself the next day!
    How many books do you have planned for the series?

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  11. Hi CC! I loved the Shadow Falls series so much, and I can't wait to read Awake at Dawn and Taken at Dusk!! Cheers! Lol, I noticed that I've used exclaimation marks for allmy sentences..

    CYP
    cypsays_hi@hotmail.com

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  12. KhelseyJackson,

    Good question. I admire so many authors, it would so hard to pick. In one way, it seems right to pick someone whose voice is similar to my own, but they again, it might be best to pick someone who writes different so it would add something new to the work.

    I co-authored two non-fiction books with my friend and writer, Faye Hughes. She is an amazing writer. We do share similar voices. I'm orginally from Al. She's from Mississippi. And we both write with a humorous voice.

    CC

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  13. Jazz,

    Thank you so much. I'm so happy that the series is being enjoyed by adults. I just finished the copyedits for the third book, Taken at Dusk.

    CC

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  14. alainala,

    I'm pretty sure it's available in Canada. I'm not sure if the publishing schedule is the same. I'll keep my fingers crossed that it is.

    I just signed a contract for two more books in the series. So we're thinking it will end with Book Five. It will be a sad day when I have to say goodbye to these characters.

    They have become so real to me.

    Thanks so much for stopping in.

    CC

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  15. CYP at Bookalicious,

    Thanks so much. I'm a bit of a exclamation abuser too! Hey...they just spice things up a bit. LOL.

    Thanks for stopping in.

    CC

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  16. I think it's probably easier to set a YA series in a fictional universe than in the current world where you have to deal with high school problems, lack of transportation, teen clothing, slang, etc. It's great that you can write in two genres. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

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  17. Thanks, Nancy.

    I'm really having a blast.

    CC

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  18. Thanks for the great interview, Jordan, and introducing me to another author. I've not read a current YA book yet, but these sound like a great place to start. The genre intrigues me since
    I have three grandchildren in that audience.

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  19. Hi CC! I still recall that YA books is what first introduced me to paranormal stories even before they become popular. Ever since I have gone on to read both YA and adult paranormals and what matters to me is the story. This sounds like a good one! I like that more than one paranormal creatures are present and at the center is Kylie who I have a hunch has a lot to deal about herself and the world around her. Congratulations on your recent release.

    P.S. I have Don't Mess With Texas and can't wait to read it too. A sense of humor is important in stories too :)

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  20. Hi CC, welcome to TKZ! Your stories sound like great fun!

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  21. Hi Dave,

    Thanks for dropping by while I'm visiting. The YA market is exploding and I'm thrilled to be a part of it.

    CC

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  22. Na,

    You know, I learned years ago by judging contests that it's the story that counts. I was asked to judge an entry in a category that I normally don't read or thought I enjoyed. But the author blew me away. Now, I really will read just about anything if it pulls me in.

    Thanks for stopping in. Hope you enjoy Don't Mess With Texas.

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  23. Kathryn,

    Thanks so much for having me join you guys. You guys have a great blog here.

    CC

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  24. Hey Dave--I've loved YA ever since I read an article from the Wall Street Journal about the growing trend of dark edgy YA. I read the books they recommended and absolutely fell in love with the genre. I wrote my take on dark YA and love the cross genre nature of YA. You are only limited by your own imagination.

    I would encourage anyone to read YA. There's a reason more and more adults are discovering these novels. Even TKZ's Michelle Gagnon has branched out into YA, along with other notable thriller writers like Harlan Coben & Jonathan Maberry & Wendy Corsi Staub. It makes sense to stay in your comfort zone but explore gaining traction into a new age of readers with your thriller voice. It stretches you as a writer too. Love it.

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  25. Great post, CC- thanks for stopping by!

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  26. Thanks, Michele,

    I've been a fan of Jordan's for a long time. I'm honored to be here.

    CC

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  27. Thanks so much for joining TKZ as a guest, CC. And best wishes on your series. Glad we can look forward to more books on this one.

    The names of the two winners will be posted here in an announcement later today. Thanks everyone.

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  28. Hey CC welcome to our virtual reality....or real reality...or real virtuality....doh!....I'm confusing myself...

    Anyway, I'm Basil and welcome to one of the places I really enjoy spending a bit of time...TKZ

    Your take on trends...very wise.

    As a thriller writer considering delving into YA in a parallel series to my adult stuff I found your input insightful. Thanks.

    Oh my....it's after midnight Alaska time....that means it's well into tomorrow real time....dang....gotta go.

    Big boy job awaits in just a few hours.

    Brandy getting to my head....time for....snore....snore.....darn brandy.

    g'nite squirrels....

    note to self...never post to blogs after unmeasured amount of really good brandy....you might sound stupid....

    corollary to previous note to self....posting to blog after unmeasured but probably copious amount of brandy might actually make you sound smarter...further brandy research required....hmmmmmm...verdict to be announced later....if I remember.

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  29. Hi Basil,

    Really good brandy, huh? Sadly, I don't even need brandy to come off sounding pretty stupid. LOL. Thanks for stopping in.

    CC

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  30. Thank you, Jordan, for letting me stop by and guest post. It's great to meet you all you guys!

    CC

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  31. Basil--I think you owe it to science to do more research. This time without wearing the foil hat.

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  32. Winners! Winners!

    SJune and Paula Millhouse are the winners of the copy of Awake at Dawn and Born at Midnight. Contact Jordan for details on how to claim your prize.

    CC

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  33. Sjune & Paula Millhouse--I need email addys to send instructions. You can post them here or send on my contact page at www.JordanDane.com. Thanks & congratulations!

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  34. Thanks for the guest post. I am always interested in your novels and can't wait to get started reading.
    Question: If you could change anything about a character whom would you choose and what would you change?

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  35. Wow This would be amazing to get. I'm a huge fan!!

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  36. I love these books and can't wait to read the nexted one.This would be awesome to get

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  37. Jordan and CC,

    Thank you so much!
    I'm thrilled to be a winner - and can't wait to get my hands on these stories.

    This is an excellent example of Discoverability, Jordan. What a great idea.

    Made my day.

    You can reach me at pmillhouse@tds.net for my goodies.

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  38. Mama Rabbit,

    Hmm. Hard question. Let's see. Since I can change things about my characters, I guess you mean about other writer's characters. Hmm, maybe Twilight. I might change Bella's mind about Jacob. LOL.

    CC

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  39. Hi Rose,

    Thanks so much for stopping in. I really am having a blast writing this series. The whole paranormal world really opens up possibilities of plot twists.

    CC

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