Monday, May 30, 2016

Christi J. Whitney, Author of GREY and SHADOW

Welcome, Christi J. Whitney, author of the YA novels Grey and Shadow (Harper Voyager) to It's All About Story. Christi's website:


1) Describe Grey in one paragraph.

Grey is a YA fantasy, the first installment in The Romany Outcasts series. Sebastian Grey always thought he was a fairly normal teenager--good friends, decent grades and a pretty sweet job in his foster brother's tattoo shop. But when Romany gypsies arrive in town, Sebastian discovers that his world is not what it seems. There is an age-old feud between his family and the gypsies--and this isn't the only secret his brother has been keeping from him. His life is not his own. The girl he's been dreaming about has just turned up at school, and he feels compelled to protect her at all costs. even if that means life might never be normal again.

2) What inspired Grey?

Grey was inspired by several things, actually. First, I'd always wanted to write a fantasy novel, but something that was set in the real world. I also love the classic themes in the fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, and I wanted to do a little bit of my own take on them. And last, I'd had the character of Sebastian in my head for a long time. He really represents the type of character I've always been drawn to in books, television, and films.

3) Was Grey your first work of fiction?

It was! I'd written other things before Grey, but this was the first novel I'd actually seen to completion and really got serious about publishing.

4) What song or music piece would you put on a soundtrack for Grey?

Oh, tough one! I have a really long playlist for the entire Romany Outcasts Series. But if I had to narrow it down for just Grey, it would probably be a tie between Turning on My Own by Satellite and one of the newer additions to my list: Who Am I by Andrew Judah.

5) Which character in Grey was easy to write? Which was the most difficult?

The main character Sebastian was, by far, the easiest to write. I don't know if it's because we share some similarities or because we sometimes think alike, but I just found his head to be so easy to slip into. There's just something about writing him that flowed. Josephine was sometimes the toughest to write, mainly because the reader is seeing her through Sebastian's eyes, and he is limited in what he knows and experiences.

6)What is your writing space like? Or can you write anywhere?

I can honestly write anywhere, and I often have to. But where I'm most productive is probably my little office space upstairs in my house. It's my little geek sanctuary, filled with all things sci-fi, fantasy, and pop culture.

7) Any odd writing habits? Rituals?

I don't know if I have anything odd. I prefer to write with music, and I have a bad habit of not keeping a lot of first draft materials that I write. I delete pretty quickly, which I didn't think was weird until someone in my critique group pointed it out. She has files of unused material that she keeps.

8) George R. R. Martin describes 2 kinds of outliners, the Gardener (let it grow) or the Architect (plan it). Which are you?

Definitely the Gardener. I feel boxed in when I plan to much,and it sucks the creativity out of me. But, I always hit that point where I have to put on the brakes and plot things out and weave ideas together. I'm having to do that a lot more with book three in this series than I did with the other two.

9) What are some of your favorite world myths or fairy/folk tales? Why?

As I touched on in an earlier question, I have a soft spot in my heart for any retelling of the classic Beauty and the Beast tale. I love stories of transformation, inner struggles, and redemption. I also love themes dealing with not judging a book by its cover.

10) What is your favorite fictional world, one you'd want to visit?

There are just so many out there! I"ll go with one of the first to capture my heart: Narnia.

11) Who is your favorite fictional character?

This is like choosing a favorite child. I adore Puddleglum from The Silver Chair, and I found myself drawn to the character of Raistlin in the Dragonlance Series when I was in high school. I loved Wil Omsford in the Shannara Series. Probably my two favorite characters in recent YA fiction are Peeta Mellark from The Hunger Games Trilogy, and Simon Lewis from The Mortal Instruments series.

12) What is the best writing advice you've ever received?

"It's okay to write crap."

13) In Grey, are there any hidden acknowledgements to friends, places you've lived, favorite writers etc;

There are several, actually. I was teaching high school drama at the time I wrote Grey and several students found their way into my book. The character of Katie is probably the most spot-on to a student I had in class.  A few co-workers ended up in the book as well. The town of Sixes where Grey takes place is based on a community that existed here around the turn of the century, not far from where I live. And, lastly, I give a shout-out to the novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame with a couple of characters' names.

14) Can you tell us anything else about your writing experiences?

It's been a really long road to publication--actually, more like a massively scary rollercoaster ride, but I'm grateful to be where I am, and I owe so much of that to having a fantastic critique group. We've been together for over four years now, and it's the best thing to ever happen to me as a writer. If you are a writer and don't have a critique partner or group, I encourage you to find one.

15) What do we have to look forward to after Grey?

I'm super excited about the e-book release of Shadow on June 2. Shadow is the second installment in The Romany Outcasts Series, and it continues the stories of Sebastian and Josephine. Midnight, the third book in the trilogy, is due out in the spring of 2017.


Thank you, Christi!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Fantastic Fantasy Finds: Humility Garden by Felicity Savage


It's difficult to describe this surreal dark fantasy. The characters aren't human, but humanoid, with feline, avian, and dragon-like qualities. The heroine, Humility Garden, lives in a land that mirrors both the Victorian and the French Revolution eras. She's a ghostier, an artist who murders, turning people into works of art, yet her story arc is a Brontean one of tragedy and triumph.

Then she meets Arity, who is from a race considered to be gods--winged and green-skinned and beautiful. He becomes her lover in this nightmarish and elegant world, where treachery is a common practice. Although the characters are basically all anti-heroes and not human, they have poignantly human qualities. The world of Salt is immoral and decadent, with its manners and murderous magic.

The sequel, Delta City, continues Humility's and Arity's story. The villain, Pati, a god and former lover of Arity's, now rules, Humility and Arity are separated, and a rebellion is brewing.

With its lyrical language and wildly imaginative world building and complicated characters, this duology is a treat for anyone looking for something a little different.