Friday, October 24, 2014

Interview with author Rebecca Chastain

Earlier in October, I reviewed A Fistful of Evil by Rebecca Chastain. Check out my five-star review here.
Today, I'm interviewing the author, so without further ado, please join me in welcoming Rebecca Chastain on Nadaness In Motion.

A bit about Rebecca:

Q: What is your favourite food?
Rebecca Chastain: It’s a toss-up between burritos and Thai food.
Q: You favourite colour(s)? RC: Green, specifically a bright new-growth green
Q: Are you a full-time writer now? Or do you have a job alongside your writing?
RC: I’m working toward full-time status and saving up to make the leap, but right now I have a day job as a freelance editor. If I can’t be a full-time author, this is the perfect job combo: I work from home and can squeeze in extra writing time between projects. Not to mention it keeps my copyediting and proofreading skills sharp.
Q: What countries do you hope to visit in the future? (Any chance Egypt would be in the list? J)
RC: I’d love to visit Egypt! I’ve been doing a lot of research about the Aztec and have added Mexico City and Teotihuacan to my travel plans. I dream of taking a month tour through Europe, too. The last time I went without my husband (it was before we met, so I didn’t ditch him), and I really want to see it with him.

Q: Will you be taking part in NaNoWriMo this November? (If yes, what's the title you're working on or what should the story be about?)
RC: I won’t be officially taking on the challenge, but I am in the middle of writing the Aztec story, and on good days (non-work days), I’m averaging 4,000 words a day, so I might succeed by default.

On A Fistful of Evil:

Q: What are your favourite and least favourite aspects about your lead character?

RC: I love Madison’s perpetual ability to bounce back to optimism and fool herself into thinking she’s got a handle on situations that are well beyond her expertise. It gets her into lots of trouble, which is fun for me. It’s hard to say I have a least favourite aspect of her. The novel I finished before A Fistful of Evil had a main character who spent far too much time in her head, which was annoying, so I was very intentional in creating a character I loved to write when I sat down to create Madison. But Madison’s tendency to jump before looking would drive me nuts if she were my friend.

Q: Apart from the second book in the series, are there any other projects you're working on?
RC: Yes! I have a couple of books in the works, including a magical realism romance called Tiny Glitches set in present-day Los Angeles that involves a woman whose very presence destroys electricity and her quest to hide/save a kidnapped baby elephant. That book is currently in edits. Right now I’m writing an alternate history fantasy novella set in the Aztec empire, with a main character who is half Aztec, a quarter Romani (Gypsy), a quarter Fae, and who could whip Madison’s region into shape with both hands tied behind her back (but this isn’t a competition of who is tougher, right?).

Q: How many parts are you planning for the series?
RC: There will be at least three books in the Madison Fox, Illuminant Enforcer series, and hopefully many more beyond that. I have a handful of ideas bubbling around in the back of my imagination, and I’m sure Madison will be getting into trouble that will have ongoing repercussions into future novels, novellas, or short stories.
Q: Have you finished your first draft for the second novel? Have you settled on a title?
RC: I finished a draft of the second novel. At one point, I thought it was the final draft. I wrote A Fistful of Evil years ago (7 or 8, I can’t remember now) for [National Novel Writing Month] NaNoWriMo, and then the sequel the following year, also for NaNoWriMo. I read back through book 2 recently, and what I wrote was a great rough draft/outline that needs a lot of polish and additional writing. I’m really looking forward to diving back into Madison’s world! I don’t have a title for the second book. Titles are hard for me. I filled out four pages of titles ideas (most absolutely atrocious, like IMPS, VERVET, AND DEMONS, OH MY! and FOX ON THE RUN) before finally getting to A Fistful of Evil.

Moving on to some book/writing/publishing-related questions:

Q: How did you design the cover of your book? Some writers say they use Pinterest, others go through Google Images; how was the A Fistful of Evil cover formed?
RC: I have zero design skills, and very little patience with Photoshop, so I knew I wasn’t going to attempt a cover on my own. I hired Damonza for the cover, and they wisely ask for examples of covers you like. For that, I took a trip to my local bookstore and cruised around online bookstores to find good examples. Then Damonza sent me two examples. I think they nailed it!
Q: What, in your opinion, is the hardest part about writing a novel?
RC: I’m an extreme outliner. I’ve learned by trial and a lot of errors that making an incredibly detailed outline can save me months of headaches in edits and rewrites. But it’s really hard once an idea starts to come together to not jump in and start writing too soon. I actually have created a checklist that the outline and all the characters and scenes have to pass before I begin writing. Getting the outline just right is the second-hardest part, because it means recognizing the flaws in my own stories. Sometimes I’m so close to the story and so in love with particular pieces that it’s hard to separate out what is going to make a good novel from what would be fun to write.
Q: Can we get a sneak peak about the second novel or the synopsis?
RC: I can’t provide a synopsis yet, but I can tell you that we’ll get to meet more enforcers as well as Madison’s family. Also, Madison’s not just fighting evil in book 2; she’s doing so in the middle of Black Friday. At a mall. (That just gave me chills. I really feel for the torture I put Madison through in this next book! J)

About Chastain's novella Magic of the Gargoyles:

Q: Is the novella Magic of the Gargoyles a standalone piece or are you planning a series for it?
RC: I wrote Magic of the Gargoyles with the idea that it would be a short story. I’d heard of other author writing a sort of palate-cleanser short story between novels, and that seemed like a great idea. Then Magic of the Gargoyles ballooned well past the 12 pages I’d originally planned, and the world became so much more than I first sat down to write. Long answer short: It’s a standalone story, but at some point, I’ll like to give the main character’s best friend an adventure of her own. I just don’t know when that would be.

Q: Is there anything else you'd like to add?
RC: Thank you for the fun interview. Talking about my future projects has re-energized me to get back to the desk and write some more!

I'll be reviewing Magic of the Gargoyles soon, so stay tuned!

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