From the Mind of Master Imaginationist Crystal Connor ~"A Trusted Name in Terror."

The Darkness, Artificial Light, In The Valley of Shadows

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

My 1st Official Author Interview =D

What was the last thing you read by Matt Nord? If your not already a Matt Nord, you will be! His work has been featured in The Book of the Dead, The Book of Cannibals, The Book of Horror, Letters from the Dead, FLASH!, 356 Days of Flash Fiction an Anthology and way to many to list here.

So let me direct you to his blog, where you can see his latest work or rediscover an old favorite...and while your there check out my interview! Or you can read it here! It's my very 1st one =D

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Author Interview with Crystal Connor

Crystal Connor is an up and coming writer who lives in Seattle, Washing ton that writes in several genres, including urban fantasy, science fiction, and horror. Her new novel, “The Darkness,” will be coming out in the near future. Crystal has spared a few moments from her busy schedule to discuss her upcoming novel, her other works and her future projects.

My Undead Mind: Crystal, thank you so much for taking the time to take part in this interview. Let’s get right into it. You live in Seattle, now. Is that where you’re from originally?

Crystal Connor: Yep, born at Ft. Lewis Madigan Hospital and I’m an army brat in every sense of the word.

MUM: When did you realize that you wanted to write?

CC: It’s just something that I’ve always done; I wasn’t thinking that I was going to be a writer when I grew up, I was just writing stories and plays to entertain my family and friends and the reason they were dark around the edges is because I was taking queues from shows like the Twilight Zone, Tales from the Crypt and the Outer Limits.

MUM: In your opinion, what is needed for a story to be good?

CC: For me intrigue, fast paced and a twist or unexpected ending. I think the ending of a story is almost more important than the story itself. I feel so cheated when the ending of a book or movie feels like the author just phoned it in.

MUM: Other than “The Darkness” what other published works can readers find of yours?

CC: The Darkness is my 1st published novel but there are a lot of short stories posted on my blog.

MUM: You write in the urban fantasy genre. What would you consider to be the defining characteristics of the particular genre of story or book?

CC: Ok, this is just between you and me…it will be our little secret, so don’t tell anyone else. I had no idea what the term Urban Fantasy meant until after our 1st focus group. The Darkness was sent to a book club and after everyone read it we all met for lunch. The president of the club said “I really enjoyed The Darkness; it’s a fast paced urban fantasy and science fiction story with an ending you can’t predict. I suspect that it will do well.”

After lunch I asked Rachel, who was my handler at the time, “why did she say that it was urban fantasy…is it because I’m black?” Rachel started laughing so hard she almost crashed us into the freezing waters of Lake Washington. There’s no way to explain how embarrassed I was when I read what Wikipedia had to say on the matter.

…the defining characteristics of the particular genre of story or book? Wow, you know I’m not really sure and it doesn’t help the “official description” is so vague. The Darkness is set in a city, several of them actually, because both main characters are insanely wealthy and are traveling all over the world, but they both have properties and spend the majority of their time in the same city. The Darkness is also 50% 1st person narrative, which is a requirement for an urban fantasy classification, but the other 50% is in 3rd. and there is the paranormal element comes from both the occult and genetic engineering elements. I started calling it urban fantasy because everyone else does.

MUM: What is your favorite genre to write?

CC: This genre question is going to get me a one-way ticket to the asylum; because I spend a lot of time worrying about what genre I write in. Back in June I entered my short story The Ruins into the Seattle Crypticon’s 2010 writing contest and I made myself sick because I started doubting that it fit the required genre.

I have no idea what genre I write in. I thought The Darkness was a horror novel, but I was told by a close friend of mine that The Darkness isn’t scary but it’s suspenseful another friend of mine said he thought it was a little scary but he thought it was Science Fiction. Some of my reviews are trickling in and two reviewers referred to The Darkness as an exotic-action packed-suspense- thriller.A romance novel can be frightening; a thriller can be science fiction, an action book can be a love story, a comedy can he horrifying…with it being so easy to cross and blend genres its really hard to say, I would love to be considered a horror or science fiction writer…but like beauty genre is in the eye of the beholder.

The only thing I can say for certain is that my writing is crossed and blended like my racial heritage. I'm proud to be Black, Mexican, Am Indian and white (Irish) maybe it’s a good thing that my horror is also sprinkled with science fiction, religious undertones, and a pinch of comedy and blended with the supernatural.

MUM: Do you find that you pull from your own life experiences when coming up with a story?

CC: Yes. While serving my country in the US Military and having the opportunity to travel to places that I saw as a child flipping through the pages of National Geographic magazines is why I think a lot of people say my writing is exotic and mystical.

MUM: How do you develop your plots and characters? Do you use any set formula?

CC: No I do not use any set formulas or outlines. I just pick up my pen and start writing. The more I write the more defined the plot and character become and the story starts to unfold. This is a little hard to explain, but I usually write the ending of my stories 1st or from very early on. Once I know the ending I use it as a foundation to build the rest of the story on.

MUM: Do you find that in writing there are some topics that you would consider too taboo? I.e. are there any lines that you won’t cross?

CC: The characters that I create have interracial families, come from single parent homes or have gay parents, some have enough money to do whatever they want while others are counting change to put gas in their 25 year old cars. Some are extremely self-centered whiles others will give you the last piece of bread, even if that means they won’t eat that night. I am not trying to appall anyone or create sensationalism.

My writing just reflects the live I life in. I was born on a military installation where having an Asian mom and white dad, or a black mom and a Norwegian dad who was as big and scary as a Viking and playing with so many different colors of kids that it made a rainbow look boring, seeing Muslim women completely covered and Hindu women with bright clothing and a red dot tattooed on their forehead was normal. I live in a fairly large and diverse city and have had the opportunity to travel outside the United States for extends periods of time. The characters I write about are based on the people and things I see around me.

MUM: I’ve seen in your blog that you hate this type of question, but I’ll ask it anyway! Can you give us a little of what your book, “The Darkness,” is about?

CC: Nooooo, oh why God, whyyyyyyy?!?! Lol, The Darkness is about rouge scientific research project that goes horribly wrong. The experiment they lose control of is a four-year-old little boy named Adam. What it boils down to is the unspeakable things people do when they have infinite power and influence and the consequences of arrogance and carelessness.

MUM: The book features some diverse themes; from genetic engineering to witchcraft. Did you find yourself doing a lot of research on these topics for the book?

CC: Well for Inanna, I spent a lot of time quizzing my mom, older cousins, and aunts. I wanted to be sure that she was believable but there was real fear that someone might try and cast a spell or recreate a ritual that’s in the book. So everything you’ll read about Inanna’s spells and the stuff she’s doing is either missing something or out of sequence.
As far as the science part goes, it’s fiction so the sky is the limit so I just made stuff up and I had a blast. For the most part the scientific research that is taking place in The Darkness is used as a backdrop for the rest of the story.

MUM: These are some pretty weighty topics. Do you consider them to be controversial?

CC: I don’t but you never know how some else might react. An anonymous person posted on my blog that children see enough horrible images and that I should use my talent more constructively because the book cover of …And They All Lived Happily Ever After upset her. A few days after my trailer went live a person posted a comment on youtube telling me I was going to hell, and a reviewer sent back a pretty nasty review because one of the sub characters is gay.

MUM: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

CC: No. I had so much fun writing The Darkness and I want who ever is reading to have fun too. I like to think of The Darkness as a literary equivalent of a roller coaster. There’s no message it’s just fun and scary.

MUM: How long, from conception to completion, did it take for you to write “The Darkness”?

CC: It took five years because in my defense it was just a short story and at the time I considered my writing a hobby. I was working as a mechanic in a Seattle boat yard and some of the guys told the welding instructor that I was a writer. Little did I know that Mike Jones and his wife were both editors and award-winning writers. He took The Darkness home with him, and the next day when he saw me he lost his mind.

He told me to stop fucking around and to start taking my writing seriously. He told me that the was no way that The Darkness was a short story and said that I was just being lazy. My pouting last for about a minute and a half, because the next thing he did was point out how certain sentences and descriptions that he loved and thought were amazing. When got home I started writing.

MUM: If you had to choose one book as your favorite, what would it be?

CC: When I was 28 I was working on a ship and a deckhand let me borrow his book. It was really old, a lot of pages were loose, and it was held together with a rubber band. The book was Homer’s Odyssey. I know, I know you guys are thinking everyone 1st read that poem in high school.

Ok so here’s the thing when I was in high school the only thing I wanted to read was Stephen King or Poe, so I did my BFF’s science homework and she did my Lit homework.

The Odyssey was amazing; the translation I read didn’t have the side and footnotes when I gave him his book back I also gave him a newer book in the same translation along with a copy of the Iliad and bought the set for myself along with the divine comedy. All five of those books were stolen from my library during a dinner party at my house. Who ever stole those books also took an antique bible but left the gold bracelets and rings that were in my master bathroom that’s directly across from my library. I was completely devastated you would have though someone had kidnapped my puppy.

The cop that came to my house so was pissed off, he was like you called us out here because of a couple of books? What is it with you people, you think we have time for this kinda bullshit, call Barnes and Noble we have real word shit to deal with princess. I have been trying to find those books for 8years now. I don’t know who translated it but I know it when I see it. It’s centered text and has old English writing style and word usage like Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner and the divine comedy had all three books in it, it was a large leather bond book with black and white illustrations. If anyone can tell me where to find those books I will be eternally grateful.

MUM: What are you reading right now?

CC: Stephen Kings Under the Dome and Phil Rossi’s Crescent.

MUM: What do you find to be the most challenging thing about writing?

CC: Being able to stop. There have been times that I’ve been up and writing for three days at a time, I’ve written on my forearm with a Sharpie while I was zooming down the freeway and there are times when I’m around people I care about but I’m not listening and I’m not really there because I’m working through a scene or dialog in my head.

My family and core friends are used to it but new friends and potential “love interests” don’t like it because they don’t get they think I’m ignoring them and I am but not because I’m not interested or bored its just that I’m preoccupied.

MUM: What have you found to be the most difficult thing to be in breaking into the writing world?

CC: Building the right team to support me through the transitional phase of writing a book to selling one.

MUM: Do you have any advice for other writers?

CC: I’m glad you asked this question because the answer is the 2nd part of the question you just asked me. When you’re excited about your work, other people will be excited too because excitement is contagious. You need to triple check the people around you to ensure they have you and your book’s best interest in mind…not theirs.

The first time I heard the name Scott Sigler I was on a site called and he has audio books that you can download for free, everyone on Podiobooks does. That’s how I learned about an author named Robert R Best. So I was super excited and we did a casting call for voice actors and found a guy that were we head over hills over…and then I downloaded Miles Reid’s Are you watching me, an audio drama produced by Darker Projects 5 Minute Fears and was blown away. I knew then The Darkness would be an audio drama.

I offered our voice actor the choice of roles and explained the change in plan and he spent almost a week complaining about how no one would listen to an audio drama, and telling me that’s just not how its done and the very best audio book that I could produce was…wait for it… with him as the sole reader. He wanted to negotiate a contract for him to receive royalties, he said I should take that he was confident in me and was betting on my success. It was so insane and at 1st I was really bummed out but then I got really angry. I invited him to be a part of my project and then he throw a diva fit when I changed the way I wanted to do things.

Almost a month went by and I wasn’t focusing on the audio portion of The Darkness, then I was sent a link to a story by Jen Rhodes called The Omega Road Chronicles which is another audio drama that was produced by Necropolis Studio Productions.

Now I know this is going to sound blasphemous but except for David Bruckner’s The Signal, 2007 8 Films to Die For’s Mulberry St, The 28 later films and George Romero’s The Crazies circa 1973 I’m not a zombie fan so I didn’t listen to the entire Age of the Zombies series but after listening to the “Call Me Jack” for just 15min I was fired up about doing an audio drama again.

I sent the gatekeeper an email with a link to my synopsis and asked how much it would cost to commission NPS to convert The Darkness into an audio drama and I get an email back from Dave Frizzell that said “we’re non-profit so we can do it for free, do you need us to write the script as well? The Darkness sound great btw.” (insert angels signing here)
It doesn’t matter if you’re the new kid on the block, like I am or if your about to sell your 100th book, you can never be careful enough about the intentions of the people you keep around you.

MUM: How about those looking to start writing?

CC: 1. If someone tells you your work is not worthy or marketable ask someone else.

2. Learn the difference between constructive criticism and criticism from someone who enjoys being mean.

3. Learn to tell when the constructive criticism isn’t beneficial for you or your writing.

4. If your paying someone for their services do not be afraid to speak up when your not happy with the services they are providing. I cannot tell you how many stress and tension headaches I suffered through, the countless nights of lost sleep and all the time that was wasted because I was afraid of hurting someone’s feelings. The hardest thing I had to do is tell someone that I was not 100% happy with their work or that I did not like the suggestion that they’ve made. It changed the working relationship but at the end of the day you have to take ownership of your artwork. You cannot say oh my book didn’t turn out the way I wanted because so-and-so did this and he didn’t do that…no, people only do what you let them.

5.As a new writer it doesn’t matter if you’ve signed on with a large publishing firm or go the self publish route you’ll be responsible for most of your marketing, do your due diligence and do the research. Know what your paying for and why, and make sure that the people you are working with at the very least, knows and understands your genre. There’s no point in working with a man who boasts his skills produce New York Times Best Selling authors if all of his author’s write romance and your book is about a zombie that needs to find a buried treasure to return to the realm of the living

6.Pay attention to the economy, remember who your competing against and price accordingly.
For example paperbacks by L.A. Banks and Dean Koontz are less than $8.00. Stephen King’s Under The Dome is over 1,000 pages is just $19.99, you can download Scot Siglers books for free. With those types of choices it’s going to be extremely difficult to convince someone to pay $25.99, or $19.99 for that matter, for a book by an author they don’t know.

MUM: Is there anything additional you would like to share with your readers?

CC: Yep. Don’t be an ass, it’s extremely humbling when a person takes the time to conduct an interview or to review your book never forget that. Never lose your enthusiasm or let someone take it away from you and above all else have fun.

Any upcoming appearances you’d like to share?

CC: Yeah I’m going to be on Oprah and The Today Show…lol I’m just kidding! No appearance scheduled a of yet, unless my court appearance for a speeding ticket counts.

MUM: Again, thank you for the interview, Crystal. In closing, are there any other works, websites, products or blogs that you would like to plug?

CC: Thanks Matt for having me, this interview was a blast. I hope to do it again for Artificial Light.

Click follow on to stay tuned for Artificial Light and …And They All Lived Happily Ever After

and for amazing audio drama books check out Dave Frizzell’s Necropolis Studio Productions at:

and go here for 5 minute fears:

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