CHRISTINE---Well, this is a fun change of pace! I get to turn the tables for a bit! HA! Not to worry, the questions won’t be hard, ladies. *shifty smirk*.
(Looking around for Ryan) Well, I’m guessing Ryan won’t be here to ask questions with me, so I’ll just---
(Jonathan, 19 years old & fellow ABRAXAS Clan member, walks up behind her, drinking pickle juice out of a jar. Christine grimaces.)
JONATHAN---What’cha up to?
CHRISTINE---Trying to conduct an interview, sweetie.
JONATHAN---Ooo! Can I sit in?
CHRISTINE---(Hunching shoulders) Sure.
JONATHAN---Ooo! Can I ask them stuff too? Like, what’s their take on those dumb Easter eggs, and do they have better ideas on what to stuff inside of them besides candy and money?
CHRISTINE---Jonathan, Easter has come and gone--quit it with the egg tirade, already! Besides, I don’t think they care about the eggs, either.
JONATHAN---I hate those dumb plastic things. I have WAY more cooler ideas of what kinds of stuff to put in them…things TOTALLY out of the ordinary! I need my list to expand!
CHRISTINE---And the way your twisted mind works, I don’t think I want to know what those things are! C’mon, let me talk to these two talented women.
JONATHAN---(sighing) Okay…. (Sits down next to Christine.)
CHRISTINE---Alrighty then, first question. Your mind is your most important work tool. How do you take care of it?
CHRISTY---I’m constantly trying to learn new things. I grew up with the adage that if you didn’t learn at least one new thing per day, then the day was wasted. Another thing my husband and I do is when listening to the oldies stations, it’s artist and title of song. It’s not like the handheld computer games but it’s just as fun and not as costly.
CINSEARAE---I eat healthy--love my greens and veggies, lol. I meditate, read, spend quiet time in nature. It helps open my mind to my other senses as well.
JONATHAN---I like nature too!
CHRISTINE---Am I interviewing you too, Jonathan?
JONATHAN---Sorry. (Drinks more pickle juice.)
CHRISTINE--- How do you avoid repeating yourself, or falling into a formula?
CHRISTY---Try to alter what traits I use. For instance, if the male character does something like rue failure, then I have a female character do it later. I’ve used the same plot device but while the base idea is the same, the writing of it is different so that it doesn’t sound used. This also winds up being dictated by the characters and the way the story is taking them.
CINSEARAE---Hm, I don’t think I’ve done that yet, lol. Regardless, I always keep notes in my notebook as to what character has done what, where and when.
CHRISTINE--- Do you have a ritual when it comes to writing, like hiding out in a reclusive place occasionally to cleanse your mind? Maybe having a special spot where you write? Etc...
CHRISTY---Honestly, I don’t. The way I write, I put everything down on paper—steno pads—that basically go where I do. If I can, I write—works great in waiting rooms at the doctors, the mechanic, etc. I’d love to have a ritual but with the way my day goes, if I don’t write it down on a piece of paper, I’m sunk. I try to let the shower relax me so I can black things out but I’ve found I’ve gotten more thinking done there than anywhere. Just wish I could deduct the bathroom…
CINSEARAE---The hours that I type will shift like the moon’s phases, lol! For a couple of weeks, I’ll type in the early morn, then the following weeks, I suddenly shift to nighttime. I do have a room where I do all my typing. I wish I had a laptop sometimes, but if that was the case, there might be some days where I might not get out of bed, lol. Like Christy, I keep a notepad and pen with me too wherever I go. There’s been quite a few times while on the road, something comes to mind and I have to write it down…or else, lol.
CHRISTINE---(Leaning forward) Just between us, ladies, but if you ever saw Jonathan’s room, you’d probably die from the smell alone…)
JONATHAN---Hey! I heard that! It doesn’t smell like feet, cheese, or armpits anymore!!
CHRISTINE---(Sighing) ANYWAY…what cultural sources do you draw from (if any)?
CHRISTY---My family is in South Carolina, ergo I have an immense love of the South. I also have ancestors who were on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Line which gives me a chance to view the Civil War from the North side, the Confederate side and the facts that lie in the middle. I live around Philly which is why I’ve done several set in the city. I’ve got a heavy dose of British on the maternal side of my family which brings out my love of British comedy, actors and hot tea as a cure all for all ailments. I also wonder if I’ve ever been reincarnated because of my love for places I’ve either never been or feel very comfortable in for some reason though I’ve never been there before.
JONATHAN---WHOOOA…deja vu stuff. Cool….!
CINSEARAE---since I love the Goth scene, I’m always investigating the Goth clubs and gothic venues, checking out what folks wear, how they act, the songs being played. Listening to the news and reading papers helps me draw on city issues. Each clan member comes from a varied background, and since one Abraxas member is Chinese, I’m doing a bit of research on Chinese culture now. (Good thing Philly has a Chinatown too).
JONATHAN--Hey! Kim’s folks live in that area! Ooo! And I think Our Lord has British relatives, too. Hey, you like Mr. Bean, Ms. Poff? That dude’s a wackjob--funny as hell!
CHRISTY---Yes, I do, but I like Rowan Atkinson in The Thin Blue Line and Blackadder a bit more.
CHRISTINE---Jonathan, shh!…don’t say Our Lord in public, please! And who the heck is doing the interviewing here, anyway?!?!
JONATHAN--Oops. (burping) Sorry again. (The smell of pickles is now in the air)
CHRISTINE---(Wrinkling her nose) Why do you do that?!
CHRISTINE---THAT! (Pointing to pickle jar)
JONATHAN---Hey, waste not, want not, right?
CHRISTINE---(Groaning) Continuing…..who have your 'teachers' been?
CHRISTY---I’ve had several very close friends that I’ve learned from but I think I got the most from my Dad and from my aunt. She was a huge influence in my life and if I ever needed help, I called her and got what I needed.
CINSEARAE---I never had anyone really ‘teach’ me to write. Writing was something innate, I’m guessing--it came to me at such an early age. But my mom used to write a bit of poetry in her youth. Both my parents liked to draw, so maybe I garnered that talent from them as well, lol.
CHRISTINE--- Ideas can come simultaneously to different people in different places with no connection to one another whatsoever. How do you explain such a phenomenon?
CHRISTY---There are only so many ideas that can go around and if two entirely different people have the same one, then so be it. It’s a wonder how many variations on one idea can be written while creating an entirely different story, poem or song. It amazes me that there aren’t more duplicates out there considering how many people are in the United States and the rest of the world.
CINSEARAE--I agree. I believe there’s only, what, 34 or 35 ‘plots’ out there? One can only create variations on those plots. Scary thought, isn’t it?
JONATHAN---Here’s plot! Man goes to moon, gets eaten by Space Bear. Space Bear comes to earth, gets killed by 18-wheeler. 18-wheeler falls into Grand Canyon, blows up. Remains of man that got pooped out by Space Bear helps plants to grow in canyon, creating a mutant flower that glows in moonlight and eats people. (Space Bear DNA in his poop and all that.) Plant rapidly reproduces all over world, eating all of mankind. Nature inherits the earth!
(All three women stare at Jonathan)
CHRISTINE---That was NOT a plot. I don’t know WHAT the hell that was!!
CINSEARAE---Actually, I think that WAS a plot….albeit a kooky one.
CHRISTY---No comment. (snickering)
CHRISTINE---Jonathan, you made the bear DIE. How in hell could it take a crap in order for the rest of the story to happen?!?
JONATHAN---Ahh, see? He came to earth and got killed, true, but I didn't say he immediately got killed...he took a poop and probably did all kinds of other stuff too before he died. (Grins again.)
CHRISTINE---(Groaning) Dear God, help me. Anyway…Is creativity like an act of rebellion for you?
CHRISTY---It started off that way because I didn’t have the support of my husband. I was determined to write and finish a book to prove I could. The first one led to the sequel and then the others afterward. He’s more understanding now which helps so I don’t have to do it clandestinely any more.
CINSEARAE---Well, yes and no. When I used to write a lot of poetry, it was my way to express myself without causing physical harm to others, lol. I used to have a few dream-killing exes that I kept my writing from as well. Nowadays, my writing is just a way to escape the norm, so to speak!
CHRISTINE---What is your creative process like? (What happens before you sit down to write?)
CHRISTY---The ideas come, I write them on Post-Its (great invention) or note paper then I build around it. Sometimes a note to myself could include several lines of dialog or just a plot device—it doesn’t matter as long as it winds up in a book.
CINSEARAE---I’m kinda the same way! It could be a piece of conversation between two people that just pops in my head. I have no idea what it’s from or when it’ll come into play, but it always does. Things just flow to me, anytime, anyplace, but as long as I write them down, that’s all that matters, lol. Once I get a whole bunch of notes and snippets, I’ll start sitting at the PC to type them down. Those notes are like puzzle pieces that get fitted into a story later on down the line.
CHRISTINE---What do you think are the basic ingredients of a story?
CHRISTY---A good plot is essential, likeable heroes/heroines and despicable villains. (I’ve had reviewers mention my villains as “those you love to hate”. That’s exactly what I want.) Exotic locations also help as well—anything to hold the readers interest and get them coming back for more.
CINSEARAE---Absolutely. Decent plot, and believable characters, as well as believable dialogue. Each should hold it’s own. Adding a bit of reality here and there doesn’t hurt either, lol.
(Jonathan, eyes closed, is slowing leaning towards Christine.)
CHRISTINE---(Nudging Jonathan) Wake up.
JONATHAN---(Snorts) Sorry. I nodded off while thinking about my Space Bear story.
CHRISTINE---Okay, you keep on thinking, kiddo. Let’s see…What voice do you find most to your liking: 1st person or 3rd?
CHRISTY---Definitely third person–for me, it’s easier to write. In truth, I’m not an “I” person, if that makes sense, so maybe that’s the reason why I’d rather describe things from the outside looking in, so to speak.
CINSEARAE---For me, it’s the opposite, lol! I like the idea of being ‘in’ the action, if that sounds reasonable. It allows me a chance to be in the character’s mind, and express things a bit differently than I could do if I wrote it in 3rd person. Once a while I can write in 3rd person, but it’s definitely not often. Usually my 3rd person stories are shorter works.
JONATHAN---Hmm, maybe I should do my Space Bear story in his point of view…
(Christine opens her mouth as if to say something to him, but closes it instead.)
CHRISTINE---(discreetly rolling her eyes) What makes a character 'believable'? How do you create yours?
CHRISTY---For me, the hero/heroine have to be extremely unique while also having flaws—it makes them human, for want of a better word. As to creation, I come up with a name and figure out who I may want to base the character on—I need somebody to visualize, what can I say? Then the characters take on their own lives and we go from there.
CINSEARAE---I agree there too. Your characters must have flaws. THERE ARE NO PERFECT PEOPLE! Lol! Folks don’t live Barbie & Ken existences, so I don’t expect they’d like to read something so fake and saccharine either! As for my characters, they just come to me in my head, requesting to be written about. That may sound lame, but I say it’s my Muse. Whatever she decides to konk me over the head with is what I go with, lol.
CHRISTINE---Deep down inside, who do you write for?
CHRISTY---In all seriousness – I write for me. If I don’t like it, then I’m sure others won’t.
CINSEARAE---Right there with you. Writing is my little getaway from everything else. I’d go nuts without my characters.
CHRISTINE---Is writing a personal form of therapy? Are internal conflicts a creative force?
CHRISTY---In more ways then I can count. When I wrote The Rebirth of Rachel, it all flowed onto paper after I’d had a major fight with my hubby. Internal conflicts are not as big a creative force or drive as the external ones whether they be mine personally or in the world.
CINSEARAE---Writing has been my therapy, for like, forever. It started out with poetry being my therapy. They helped a lot in my early 20’s, that’s for sure; my restrictive, boring life with my exes led me to withdraw into my room to write, write, write. Writing became my personal retreat away from them and the world. Some of my internal conflicts are very much a driving force, but only come into play in my stories when need arises.
JONATHAN---Maybe I should write a short essay on why I hate plastic Easter eggs so much. That’d be my therapy.
CHRISTINE---Yeah, you go do that.
(Jonathan jumps up to get a pen and notebook, returns, and sits back down to write.)
CHRISTINE---(Shaking her head) Do you listen to music as you write? Can you give us a few artists/bands?
CHRISTY---It really depends on my mood. It could be country and Brooks and Dunn, Gary Allan and Miranda Lambert, the Rolling Stones, Linkin Park, Nickelback, Elvis or Michael Buble. I like all types of music except opera and hip hop.
CHRISTINE---(Leaning forward) Did you know Jonathan likes musicals?
CHRISTINE---Give it up, kiddo. I heard you singing "Maria" from West Side Story in the shower.
JONATHAN---Aw crap, was I that loud???
CINSEARAE---(laughing) I listen to music too, depending on the type of writing I’m doing and what time of day it is. At night, it’ll be instrumental stuff only; bands like Midnight Syndicate, Nox Arcana, A Murder of Angels, or Delerium. My other fave bands I’ll listen to are Depeche Mode, The Cure, Diary of Dreams, H.I.M., Marilyn Manson, Nine Inch Nails, and Gary Numan, to name a few!
JONATHAN--(Gasping) Marilyn Manson? Nine Inch Nails? The Cure?!?! I love you.
CHRISTINE--Will you stop trying to embarrass our guests?
JONATHAN--But… Manson rocks! And so does The Cure! And Nine Inch Nails!! They kick ass! (Scratching head) Not sure who Brooks and Dunn and Gary Allan are. Miranda or Michael either. Who are they, Ms. Poff? Heeeyyy!…Isn’t that Elvis dude the one who supposedly died on the--
CHRISTINE---ENOUGH, Jonathan, before you irk our guests.
JONATHAN---inquiring minds, that’s all….(shrugs)
CHRISTY---I listen to a lot of country and what some folks call easy listening (ugh!) Music is music plus I’ll listen to Marilyn every once in a while.
JONATHAN---(Gasping again) YOU ROCK, Ms. Poff!!!
CINSEARAE---I have a guilty confession, lol. As far as ‘easy listening’ goes, I do like Neil Diamond….
JONATHAN---He sounds like an old dude. A reealllly old dude.
CHRISTINE---Dammit, will you stop it?!?!?
(Jonathan laughs so hard, he falls out of his chair)
JONATHAN---(Rubbing the side of his butt.) Owwww……
CHRISTINE---Okay, last question, before Jonathan goes off on another tangent, lol. What type of reading inspires you to write?
CHRISTY---That’s a good question because I read so many different authors. I started the Civil War series after I read Heather Graham/Shannon Drake while I’ve always read vampire tales and those of werewolves. I love WEB Griffin’s Badge of Honor series which is set in the heart of the Philadelphia Police Department plus I can go for Jackie Collins. Nothing like a mishmash, wouldn’t you say?
CINSEARAE---My mom used to read Jackie Collins, lol. I’ve read everything from Judy Blume to L.J. Smith, to R.L. Stine when I was young. Two of my fave childhood books when I was a kid were “How To Eat Fried Worms” and “Freckle Juice”. I was reading Stephen King in Junior High, which got me plenty of weird looks, lol. But many other things outside of books inspires me as well!
CHRISTINE---Well, I think you ladies very much for your time! This was quite a fun interview, and I hope Jonathan wasn’t to much of a pain in the ass for you.
CINSEARAE---Thank you for the interview! And, he wasn’t all that bad, lol. I thought he was charming…in a weird way, lol.
JONATHAN---(Looking at Christine) HA! See? Not a pain in the butt.
CHRISTINE---but she did say you were weird…
CHRISTY---Weird can be a good thing—trust us. Thanks, Christine, it’s been fun.
JONATHAN---(Waving) Bye! Hope we can talk to you both again soon! (Glancing at Christine) So, uh…you gonna tell me who Neil Diamond is, now?
CHRISTINE---(Groans and slaps a hand to her forehead, mumbling something to herself.)