My guest today is versatile author, Christine Verstraete. Christine is an award-winning journalist who enjoys writing nonfiction and fiction for newspapers, online and in magazines.
Mary: Chris, I'm excited that you're going to be a "fellow author" at Quake! Can you tell us about your upcoming YA novel, Searching For A Starry Night?"
Chris: I'm excited, too, and thanks for the welcome, Mary. Searching For A Starry Night features some of my favorites: a dog, a mystery, and miniatures. The book involves Sam and her best friend Lita's search for a lost miniature painting in a spooky old Victorian house. That's with the help - or hindrance, if you will - of a mischievous Dachshund, Petey, who seems to have a knack for digging up trouble - and old family curses!
Mary: The story is about a missing Van Gogh miniature. How did you become interested in miniatures?
Chris: I've been collecting dollhouse miniatures for more than 10 years. I've always been fascinated by them, perhaps after seeing the fantastic Colleen Moore fairy castle at Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry. Not that any of my miniatures are that exquisite, but I enjoy creating them just the same. I enjoy creating things and it's another way to use my imagination by dreaming up new themed projects. I'm also enjoying featuring Dachshund-related miniatures and scenes made by others at my Candid Canine blog
Mary: The dachshund, Petey, uncovers a family curse in the book. Is there a real Petey?
Chris: Petey would argue that he's real, although my actual real-life dog, Shania, wouldn't like that idea! I've always had big dogs all my life, though I kind of fell in love with Dachshunds after watching a "wiener dog" race awhile ago. I get a big kick out of them!
Mary: I read an excerpt from your horror fiction story, The Witch Tree, and found the birds to be quite unsettling. It reminded me of the old Alfred Hitchcock movie. Were you influenced by any particular writer (or movie-maker)?
Chris: The birds are real! Once spring arrives, the red-winged blackbirds start flocking in nearby trees at dawn and sunset. By dinnertime, there must be hundreds screeching and chirping. It can be unsettling (and very loud!) I am a big Stephen King fan, and I also enjoy reading books by Dean Koontz and Peter Straub. I love watching scary movies, too!
Mary: My dad was a journalist for a large newspaper, and he also wrote wonderful human interest stories. How do you think your journalism degree helped prepare you to write adult and young adult fiction?
Chris: Human interest and personality features are still favorites of mine and I still freelance for different newspapers, too. While it was an adjustment to switch from nonfiction to fiction, journalism is excellent writing training since you learn to write regularly, on deadline, and to be observant. I enjoy learning and reading about new things, too, which I like to try to add to my fiction as well.
Mary: We both share a Belgium ancestry. Do you ever include family stories or history in your books?
Chris: I haven't included any family history yet, though I did write a story on my search for my family's origins at my genealogy site (link on my website.) But you never know. My family history is somewhat sparse, but there are some funny family stories that I may adapt sometime for fiction.
Mary: And, finally, can you share something funny about yourself that your readers might not know?
Chris: Funny as in odd? LOL. Oh, you mean ha-ha funny. The funniest thing I can think of is that I have a bad habit of taking shortcuts that never work out. As a teen, I hoped to beat my dad home on my bicycle and ended up in the shrubbery instead! As an adult, I've learned not to take roads home that I don't know. They always seem to end up with me being lost by some cornfield.
Thanks, so much Chris. And the best of luck with your upcoming release with Quake, Searching For A Starry Night.
Thanks again, Mary.
Coming Spring '08: "Searching for A Starry Night" - A nosy Dachshund digs up a family curse... is Sam's quest to find the missing miniature art, and save her longest friendship, doomed? Quake/Echelon Press