Monday, July 25, 2011

Interview with Christine Tyler

Christine is mostly-harmless. She lives in the underwater realm of the Pacific Northwest with her Submarine Lieutenant husband and has a two-week old son that squeaks like that baby raptor in that one incubation scene on Jurassic Park. Don't you think it would have been cool if Michael Crichton used John Hammond having all the raptors imprinted to him as foreshadowing? Watch that scene. Because they are. I mean, they could have some crazy raptor chase where they all surround him and then BAM, they'd all be like, "OMG, MOM?!" Christine digresses.

If you like digression and raptors, (although there is admittedly more digression than raptors), you should check out her writing blog.

Deirdra: What are your favorite kind of books to read and why?

Christine: I enjoy fantasy, or anything with a fantastic element really. I’d include the occasional Science Fiction as well. I read all age groups from Middle Grade (especially if it’s written by Bruce Coville), to Adult as long as the book is well-written. I have a lot of luck with the Classics, such as Peter Pan, Lord of the Rings, and The Once and Future King, but I’m always on the hunt for new favorites. I also read books on Writing, or whatever strikes my current interest. I pay a lot of attention to reviews before I buy books, and a good review will often catch my interest regardless of genre.

Deirdra: How many books on average would you say you read a year?

Christine: I probably read about 50+ books a year, which is much less than I would like. To be completely honest, I have a hard time finding new novels that strike my interest.

Deirdra: What is the most recent book you read? Can you tell us a little about it?

Christine: I actually just read Save the Cat by Blake Snyder. Save the Cat was written predominantly for screenwriters, but all of the advice is applicable to writing any genre of fiction. It gives some superb advice on structure, and planning out a clean-cut story. My favorite part was the slightly condescending and wry humor; it certainly does not read like a textbook.

Deirdra: What is the most disappointing thing authors do?

Christine: Well, there are two kinds of disappointing authors, I suppose: the kind that are so disappointing I don’t read, and the kind that I read even though they disappoint me.

With authors I don’t read? It’s usually because the back of the book sounds cliche. I imagine the author saw something that “sold” or a marketable topic that was “hot” and they figured they could bank on it without giving it much original thought. Or they write a “high fantasy” book made up of nothing but tired TIRED events and topics. I feel like fantasy authors especially need to have enough faith in their own writing that if they have a scene that resembles something already written, they can change it. They can kill their precious, sacred little cows, get over the fact that “they would have thought of it anyway,” and change it.

Authors that I’ll read even when they disappoint me usually just drop the ball on their characters motivations or consequences from their choices. For instance, I had some Young Adult books that I loved in High School, and read several series by the author. I was bothered though when I got to the end of my favorite series and the main character simply chose one of the four men she slept with during her adventures, and settled down happily with him...with no real emotional tribulation. Characters don’t have to be saints! But when I see them have sex, lie, or kill, I want some emotional repercussions or I have trouble connecting with them, and I lose faith in the “reality” of the authors world...even when it’s a fantasy.

Deirdra: Who are your top five favorite authors?

Christine: Bruce Coville owns Middle Grade. Unicorns, aliens or magic toads: he owns it. I will also give unicorns to Peter S Beagle.

CS Lewis had the incredible ability to recognize how a person actually goes about perceiving God, and then was able to filter it, comment on it, and translate his comments through fiction. Perelandra (second book in his theologic science fiction series--you heard me), is one of his best. The Screwtape Letters and Narnia series...oh heck, just read it all.

I would be a real goober if I didn’t admit that JRR Tolkien affected the way I read, write, and receive any story ever.

TH White made me cry tears of joy for one of the best books I’ve ever read.

JM Barrie never ceases to amaze me with his incredible commentary on adulthood and sexuality through a single children’s book.

Looking at this, I realize I need to find more favorite authors who are not dead.

Deirdra: How do you feel about e-books?

Christine: I compare going from print to e-books to going from illuminated text to the printing press. It’s a matter of distribution, not utter annihilation.

Personally, I prefer a solid book in my hand, the smell of old paper, and no buttons to push, but I anticipate this loving affinity for actual pages may wane if my husband got me a hot-to-trot Kindle for Christmas...

Deirdra: If you could give a message to authors what would it be?

Christine: Three things.

Write. Write everything. Write lists. Write bad poetry. Write crappy first drafts. Write your magnum opus. Write a blog entry about how you never write.

Love. Love people. Love stories. Love laughing. Love Harry Potter until you think you’re going to pop. Love heroes or dragons or God, or your stupid-looking hairless cat, but love something that makes your heart soar. Love everything. Love one thing.


Write what you love, love to write, or DON’T write.

If you don’t love it, why should I?

Deirdra: Have you ever thought about writing a book?

Christine: Yes! It’s a story about a woman who is the second wife of 13 to the ruling King. She escapes from her husband’s harem and joins an underground society bent on overthrowing him. Unfortunately her newfound “friends” have plans for her as well, and are willing to risk her life to achieve their own means.

Deirdra: What other talents and hobbies to you have?

Christine: Right now? Breastfeeding, haha! My first-born made his debut on June 4th, and he has claimed VIP status since then. Hopefully he will soon allow me to return to my lesser-loves: cooking fried chicken or blackberry pie, painting, and yoga. I also love to travel and be outdoors.

Deirdra: Congratulations!!!

Deirdra: Where is your favorite place to read?

Christine: I usually read in bed. When I’m hiding the fact that I’m still awake? The bathroom floor.

Deirdra: Do you have a favorite reading snack?

Christine: Carrots or cheerios. They last forever, have a satisfying crunch, and you don’t come back to reality in the midst of Chapter 32 filled with self-loathing.

Deirdra: What books have made you cry?

Christine: Martin the Warrior by Brian Jaques was the first book I ever cried over. I was 12. It’s been a downward spiral since then. I love to cry over books. I (weirdly enough), might even admit to trying to cry over a book.

Deirdra: What books have made you laugh?

Christine: The Last Unicorn by Peter S Beagle packs some funky little punches into its more serious scenes. Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott was actually quite a knee-slapper, and that wasn’t even fiction.

Deirdra: What kind of books are you looking to read next? What is on your reading list?

Christine: Currently reading 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Apparently it is categorized as “Magical Realism,” but Barnes and Noble probably shelves it under Literary Fiction. I’m really slogging through it, as there isn’t much of an overall arc or plot, but I can’t give up on it because every sentence is so darn beautiful. Next on my list is Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susana Clarke.

Deirdra: Is there any other message you would like to give the literary community?

Christine: Yeah...chill out. There are a lot of things to get mad about in this funny little world of books. There are authors to be angry at for ripping off other authors, for being successful when you are not, for making money on a story you hate. There are books about things you don’t believe, books that sell simply because they’re offensive, and books that aren’t worth your cat’s used litter. There are crooked publishers and fake agents, corrupt contracts and enough real-life villains to make your head spin, and you know what? You’re not going to accomplish anything by complaining about it. You’ll only come across as jealous (yes, very jealous), and scared. Believe me, I know. What do you do? Read good books. Write good books. Share good books. It’ll all come together. Chill out.

Unless you have a hilarious rant you want to post on your blog. In that case, I want to read it.

But it must be hilarious.


  1. It's nice to meet you, Christine. Thank you for the advice to writers.

  2. I think the first thing I learn from Christine Tyler here is that we should keep reading and read as many as we can.

    Celine Bags


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