Author Interview with C.J. Redwine
Get to know C.J….
C.J. Redwine loves fairy tales, Harry Potter, and Sherlock. She is the author of the Defiance trilogy, a post-apocalyptic fantasy from Balzer + Bray. C.J. lives in Nashville with her husband and children. If the novel writing gig ever falls through, she’ll join the Avengers and wear a cape to work every day. For more info, visit her website.
What would motivate you to run a marathon?
A pack of rabid zombies closing in behind me. Benedict Cumberbatch running in front of me. Goats. (No really. Goats. Freaky eyes, personal space issues, and a proclivity for chewing on parts of me that I’d rather remain unchewed.)
If you were a talk-show host, who would you want as your first guest?
If you were to write a song about your high school years, what would you title it?
Things Can Only Get Better (with the follow up hit “Girl, Step Away From That Can of Aquanet”)
What could never be considered “art”?
Absolutely anything that I draw, paint, or attempt to make with a glue stick.
What have you tried in life, and simply were not good at?
See above. Also I suck at aerobics. That crap requires coordination and focus!
If you were to sell something at an auction, what would you sell?
My Harry Potter memorabilia collection. (Actually, no. You’d have to pry that from my cold dead fingers. But it’s pretty much the only thing I own worth auctioning off.)
What are you most neurotic about?
Traveling by myself. Cue panic attack. The closer it gets to the day that I have to leave for a book event/speaking engagement by myself, the more I have to talk myself out of canceling.
Can you share an embarrassing story?
Yesterday while writing at the local book store, I tried to swallow carbonated water too fast and snot it straight up my nose instead. I don’t know how to describe the noise I made, but if there were any moose in the area looking to mate, I got their attention.
What is the strongest bond you have with an inanimate object?
I love my bed. No seriously. It’s a king-sized Sleep Number bed, and it’s pretty much the best thing ever.
What is your favorite movie line?
Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die!
If you were given a canvas and watercolors, what setting would you like to paint yourself into?
Hogwarts. Always Hogwarts.
What celebrity/actor irritates you the most?
If you were the personal assistant to one celebrity, who would you choose?
This will come as a shock to your readers but … Benedict Cumberbatch.
What is one thing you could probably not lift over your head?
Benedict Cumberbatch. But we should probably test that theory. In real life. I’m sure he’d be fine with that.
What traits, if any, do you think that creative people have compared to people who are not creative?
Creatives tend to see the world through a lens of highly imaginative possibilities. For example, the other day I walked out of the book store and a woman in the parking lot sneezed. I immediately wondered if she was Patient Zero and decided I should buy a can or two of baked beans in case the apocalypse was nigh.
Also creatives think big but we’re generally not the sort to expend our energy on stuff outside the stories and art we create so while I *thought* about getting baked beans in case of an apocalypse, I went through the drive through at Burger King instead.
I also think creatives tend more toward depression and what others might term “neurotic” tendencies. Maybe the parts of our brains that dive so deep into darkness and stay there are the parts that are able to process that pain into art.
Have you ever felt that your personal expectations have limited your creativity? If so, how have you dealt with this?
I don’t think my personal expectations have limited my creativity, but after I became published and had reader expectations, I floundered for a bit. It was really hard to shut out my fear that I might disappoint them and just write the story that needed to be told, but that’s what I had to learn how to do.
Do you ever feel that you have to censor your creativity because you don’t want to offend anyone?
Not because I don’t want to offend anyone. I push myself to be honest and vulnerable in my art, and that’s more important to me than someone feeling like I’ve gone too far. But I do pull back when I realize that I’ve been edgy where it wasn’t needed. I don’t believe in being edgy for the sake of being edgy. I believe in being absolutely truthful to the story and the characters.
Why were you drawn to a career in writing instead of to a job that might offer more stability and security?
Because I’ve been writing stories since I was in second grade. It’s what I was made to do. And I love sharing those stories with readers. It’s so fascinating to see readers develop relationships with my characters. Often readers will see things in my characters that I didn’t see myself, and I love that art is this multi-dimensional thing that can be approached and experienced from so many different angles.
Who do you consider a literary genius?
Oh man … so many names to put on this list. The short list of those who are incredible literary talents and who have strongly influenced my own writing: C.S. Lewis, J.K. Rowling, Rae Carson, and J.R.R. Tolkien.
What obstacles have you had to deal with in your career?
Books that I wrote that never sold, even after I had an agent. (I have three unsold books written after being agented.) Going for years without selling after getting an agent and having to white-knuckle my belief that I could do this. Having my personal life become difficult and time-consuming just as huge deadlines were hitting. Traveling even though it causes me severe anxiety. Having entire drafts of a book handed back to me by my editor with notes that basically meant I had to start all over again.
What are the biggest challenges you’ve experienced in the realm of your writing?
Finding my unique voice. That takes time and a lot of writing. I had to work to discover my style, and then I had to work to accept that my ideas are often a bit out of the box and that I could either embrace them, even though they might never sell, or pull back and copy what someone else was doing. I chose to embrace them (see my note above about 3 manuscripts not selling), and I don’t regret it.
Do you do anything special to get your creative juices flowing?
I have playlists created for each individual project so that it’s like a Pavlovian thing—when I hear that music, I’m back in the world of that story. But honestly, as a professional writer, I get my creative juices flowing by showing up and typing.
What are your words of wisdom for someone starting out in the field of writing?
Read widely, including outside of your genre. Treat every book like it has something valuable to teach you about your craft. And write constantly.
When did you know for certain that you wanted to pursue a career in writing? Have you ever questioned that decision?
It was always in my mind, but seemed like this far off goal that I would tackle one day. But then I got very sick when I was 30, and I didn’t know if I’d make it. When I did survive, I realized that it was foolish to keep waiting around for my life to slow down or be perfectly suited for writing a book. I started writing in the small chunks of time I carved out of my hectic schedule (kids, job, life) and never looked back.
What life experiences have inspired your work?
Spending hours and hours as a child who didn’t own a tv reading fairy tales and Narnia and Lord of the Rings. Also, coming from a traumatic childhood and dealing with the fallout of that. I never saw myself accurately reflected in books, and I wanted to write a character that others, who might have had similar traumas, could relate to.
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