Priest by day, writer at odd times of the day and night, I live with a small green parrot called Tilly because the upkeep for a dragon is beyond my current budget. Plus I’m responsible for making good any flame damage to church property. I love ‘Doctor Who’, landscape photography, single malt whisky, and my job, in no particular order. When I’m not looking after a small parish church in the Midlands (England) I like to go on far flung adventures to places like Peru, New Zealand, the Arctic, and North Korea.
What’s your favourite part of the lifestyle of an Author?
As with probably most authors, I’m not full time. I have a ‘real’ job which takes up my morning and afternoons, so it’s on evenings and days off that I can concentrate on my writing. What I enjoy about this is that I can disappear into my own imagination after a day of working with others. And I can choose whom I decide to spend time with, namely my beloved characters.
What made you start writing?
I have the first short story I wrote down when I was seven years old, based on a vivid dream. I haven’t really stopped since. If I don’t write, my characters gang up on me and demand that I continue their adventures.
Is there an Author that you consider your inspiration?
My favourite writers, when I was a teenager, were Anne McCaffrey, with her ‘Dragonrider of Pern’ books, and Patricia McKillip. Her ‘Riddle-Master Trilogy’ remains my favourite set of books. Both authors’ works taught me a lot about world-building and character development.
What’s your number one tip for an aspiring Author?
Learn how to write realistic dialogue. Listen all the time how people express themselves.
What type of book do you like to read and does this differ from the genre that you prefer to write?
I prefer to read non-fiction, such as biographies and history. Although I love fantasy, I find myself writing the books I’d like to read, as I can’t seem to find them written by others.
Which one of your characters would you most like to spend time with?
Raven. He’s the darkly beautiful dragon who features in my ‘Penny White’ novels. I’d love to go for a ride on his back.
Which book do you consider a must-read?
I adore ‘Atlas Shrugged’ for its mixture of drama, romance, and ideas (although I don’t agree with all of the latter).
What’s been the hardest edit that you’ve had to make? Why did you want to keep the material in?
Actually it was the opposite, namely adding material. I had to do something very cruel to one of my main characters, and when I wrote the scene the first time around, it hurt so much that I kept it very bare bones. I had to force myself to go back and add more details.
If you could live in a book, which one would it be?
I’d love to live on Pern, but there’s the slight problem that I’d like to be the rider of a bronze dragon, but I’m a woman…
If you could pick an Author to write your biography, who would it be?
Neil Gaiman, and I’d like him to make it a ‘Doctor Who’ episode.
Is there any conflict between what you want to write and what you think your readers will like?
I used to worry about this. But for my ‘Penny White’ series, I’ve written what I wanted. For example, I’ve long wanted to feature an intelligent snail in my novels. And Clyde, the hymn-singing snail shark, has become a fan favourite.
What effect can a review have on you, if you read them at all? Both the good and the bad.
The good ones are very encouraging. The bad ones can hit hard. I like to apply Rudyard Kipling’s thought from his poem ‘If’–‘If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster, And treat those two impostors just the same’. Reviews are only an opinion, and what one person loves, another will hate.
Can you sum up your life story in ten words or less?
Early disaster broadened eventually into hard-earned joy.
What’s exciting you about your next project?
I’m working on the seventh (out of nine) ‘Penny White’ book. Seeds sown in earlier books are now coming into play. The books have always combined British humour with serious issues. Now the main character, Penny herself, has to face some home truths.
And finally, you have one quote to be remembered by, what is it?
‘Laugh hard. Run fast. Be kind.’ Taken from the Twelfth Doctor’s last speech before his regeneration. I’m thinking of having that tattooed on my left arm.
Thanks to Chrys for her time in answering these questions, some really interesting answers!
If you want to find out more about Chrys, and sample her writing, then you can get two free short stories just by signing up to her newsletter. One is the prequel novella to her Penny White series!
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