Welcome back for another fun author interview. Christina Surretsky is another author I met on Facebook through the Books Go Social page.
Welcome Christina, and I am glad that you could stop by today.
Mind starting us off with a little bit about yourself, and where you are from?
- [I am originally from] New Jersey
- I didn’t start out wanting to me a writer. I went to college and grad school for business and spent my career working in advertising and marketing. However, when I had my first child I decided to leave the paid workforce and stay home. It was a few years after that, when my kids went to school, that I found myself with a bit more free time and a nagging desire to do something creative. So I decided to try something new. That’s when I started writing.
Besides needing to find a creative outlet, what inspired you to start writing?
- I remember loving writing as a kid in elementary school, but then I don’t remember really don’t much of it in high school so it’s not something I even thought to pursue in college. It wasn’t until much later that I started to put my ideas down on paper—mostly when I was trying to get other people to laugh.
- I started writing about five years ago to entertain myself more than anyone else. I would come up with funny scenarios or ideas and send them to my sisters or friends on email. The response was always good and they always said the same thing—you need to write a book. I didn’t really take the idea seriously since I didn’t know where to begin until a friend sent me a link to an online creative writing class, and that’s when it all clicked. I started taking classes, blogging and then soon after that I got the idea for my first book.
- As a children’s Catholic Sunday School teacher, I spend a lot of time trying to make learning about religion interesting—which is not always easy. So I try to bridge the gap by making analogies about miracles that happened in the Bible (angels delivering messages, parting of the sea, speaking in tongues, healing) to superhero powers and modern day paranormal books and movies. I started thinking about how we just accept that these people could do certain special things, yet if that happened today, how the world would just go crazy. That’s how I came up with the idea of a modern day teenager who could heal, but who knows if anyone finds out, her life would no longer be her own. While the book is not a religious or Christian book, its core idea is rooted in those biblical miracles.
Has this influenced your writing style, or what type of stories you write, of do you have other influences that have had more of an impact?
- My style is very conversational, very informal, and I usually try to add humor to whatever piece it is that I’m writing.
- Although I love to read all types of books, the ones that have seemed to stay with me most (even as an adult) tend to be YA with a skew towards fantasy: Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, The Chronicles of Narnia. I love seeing how kids react in extraordinary circumstances. Probably because, kids don’t know they aren’t supposed to be superheroes yet. And so I always find it more believable when a kid attempts to do something extraordinary because they haven’t been schooled by life the same way an adult has. There is a hope and a belief that anything is possible.
What a wonderful approach for your writing. Did you face any challenges, or learn any big lessons when you were working on your own projects?
- That’s a hard question! But I think overall, I wouldn’t change anything.
- Just finding the time to do it! There’s always too much going every day, especially now that my book is published and I’m trying to publicize it. Trying to find the time to write on top of that and doing all the “Mom” things that need to get done is tough.
- Just doing it. Making it a priority despite all the other things that need to happen in my day.
- [I learned] that I am a writer! Despite whatever doubts I had about my abilities, and myself I did it.
When did you realize you were a writer?
- I think I finally considered myself a writer after I completed my book. It was tangible proof of so much effort.
Has Writing become your career?
Did you have any support from anyone outside of your immediate family?
- I have a very good friend—Tara—who was really the one that lit the fire under me to write and believed in me before I believed in myself. She is the one who sent me the link to the first writing class I took. She’s the one who connected me with my first opportunity to blog for a wider audience. She’s been my champion from day one and I’m not sure I could have or would have done this without her support.
Can you share anything about what you are working on now?
- My book was just published in December, so I’m doing all I can to get the word out. Since Divine Bloodlines is in the YA genre, I recently visited my local elementary school to talk to the 6th graders about writing. I also have a book signing lined up on March 12 at a fantastic shop in NYC called Delphinium Home that I’m very excited about.
- Besides blogging, I am working on the sequel to Divine Bloodlines (Divine Bloodlines: New Blood). I also have some ideas for other books, but just don’t have enough time in the day!
- Divine Bloodlines: New Blood picks up where the previous novel left off, but it will challenge what readers thought about the good guy and the bad guy in Divine Bloodlines, as well as introduce a troubling, but fun new character.
Sounds like you’ve got quite a bit brewing right now.
I love the titles you’ve chosen for your books. Do you have a method you use in selecting your titles, or does the work itself suggest what the title should be?
- While I didn’t want to give away everything about why these characters have their abilities in the first story, I did want to hint at their roots, which is where the title Divine Bloodlines comes from.
Did you design your covers, or work with an artist?
- I published my book through Createspace and used them to design the cover. I had always had the image of “glowing hands” in my head for the cover, and talked about that, and they found perfect stock art to bring it to life!
Sounds like you’ve got a wonderful balance of catchy phrase and mystery about what it means. Does this also hint at a message you’ve hidden away in your work for readers to uncover?
- More than anything, I just wanted to write a fun story. But if there is a message to take away, I hope it is that good and bad isn’t always black and white. Something that can be thought of as very good, can also be very bad depending on how you choose to use it, and vice versa. I also think the idea that “just because you can do something should you” is resonant in this book and really reinforces the thought that with great power comes great responsibility.
Does this mean you use your own experiences and some realism in your writing?
- No. This is purely a work of fiction.
- I think the dynamics of how the characters interact and their relationships are realistic, however, clearly their powers are not.
Do you have an author you consider a mentor, even if you haven’t met them in person?
- Amanda Hocking. She’s a YA paranormal writer who started out self-publishing after getting rejected by traditional publishers thousands of times. However, she believed in her own work enough to put it out there and ended up becoming very successful. She now has a traditional publishing deal, which I think is great. But I love the fact that, despite the rejection, she believed in herself enough to do what she loved, and she succeeded. I started reading her work when she was still self-publishing, and was lucky enough to meet her when she appeared on Anderson Cooper’s daytime talk show.
I can only imagine how much of an inspiration that was. Have you met or found any new authors who have given you a similar boost?
- I’ve been trying to connect with other self published authors, and have the good fortune to read several of their books: Trail of the Raven, Haiti by Chip Davis; No Damage by Kathryn Hodgson; Only A Kiss by Ines Bautista-Yao. There are so many different voices out there, and so many great stories.
Fair enough. Has one come to stand out as your favorite?
- I love J.K. Rowling and the Harry Potter series. I was amazed at her ability to construct such a fantastical, yet still believable, world with such detail and complexity. It’s the first book that I think I ever put down and thought, “I wish I wrote that!”
I agree, the series is a wonderful read. Are you reading them now?
- I’m in between books right now, but I really want to read Girl on the Train. I also want to check out books from some of the great independent authors I’ve started getting to know.
From your own journey, do you have any wisdom you’d like to share with other up-and-coming authors?
- If you’re not sure where to start, take some classes. Online classes can fit into almost any schedule, and they really helped me remember the basics and get started.
That’s it for today. Thank you Christina for stopping by and visiting with us. Do you have any closing thoughts for your readers?
- I know there is so much stuff that competes with everyone’s free time, so I’d just like to thank everyone who used some of their very precious free time to read my book! I’m really grateful.
If you would like to connect with Christina, you can find her on her blog where Christina write[s] my own blogs, and also cross post blogs that I write for some other sites. on twitter, and on Facebook
If you enjoyed the interview, comments and questions are welcome in the comments section below.
If you want me to host an interview for you, please stop by my Offered Services page, and send me a submission.
It was wonderful having you all here, and I look forward to seeing you next time for the character interview with Alex! Till then… happy reading!
If you want to read Christina’s books, the image below will let you pick up your own copy.