Interview with Claudia Gray

I'm lucky to have the fabulously talented Claudia Gray on the blog today for an interview.  Her novel Hourglassthe third installment of the EVERNIGHT series, is due out Tuesday March 9th!

From her site:
Claudia Gray is not my real name. I didn't choose a pseudonym because my real name is unpleasant (it isn't), because I'd always dreamed of calling myself this (I haven't) or even because I'm hiding from the remnants of that international diamond-smuggling cartel I smashed in 2003 (Interpol has taken care of them). In short, I took a pseudonym for no real reason whatsoever. Sometimes this is actually the best reason to do things.
I am a full-time novelist based in Chicago. So far, in life, I've been a disc jockey, a lawyer, a journalist and an extremely bad waitress, just to name a few. I especially like to spend time traveling, hiking, reading and listening to music. More than anything else, I enjoy writing.

How long does it take you to finish a book? What's your writing process like?

There's no one answer to that -- I've had it take me as long as a year and a half to finish a book, and as little as four months. But I only recently went full-time as a writer, so I expect to work more quickly now that I can concentrate every day. My writing process also varies, but it starts with me putting together an outline. Outlining isn't for every writer, but I rely on it. The more I write, the longer and more detailed my outlines become. That said, I do sometimes deviate from the outline once I have it together, usually to add more action or scenes I didn't realize I'd need. But as a rule, once I have my outline, I know my central points for the novel and can dive in.

Usually I put together a soundtrack, too -- it helps me find the right mood and energy for the book.

Speaking of your soundtrack, what are some of the songs that were on your soundtrack when writing Hourglass?

These were probably the main songs:
"Keep the Car Running" by Arcade Fire
"Steal My Kisses" by Ben Harper
"Conquest" by the White Stripes
"Heaven" by Lamb
"You Got Yr Cherry Bomb" by Spoon
"Razor" by the Foo Fighters
"Apocalypse Please" by Muse
"Open Your Eyes" by Snow Patrol
"Breathe Into Me" by Red
"Through Glass" by Stone Sour
"Rolling" by Seal
"I Just Wanna Live" by Good Charlotte

So far, each book has had a great twist that caught me by surprise - did you plan for those or do your characters ever surprise you?

All the big plot turns are planned. I knew the big twists in EVERNIGHT before I ever started that book, and I knew the majority of the big twists in the whole series before I was done with the first one. Like I said, I'm an outliner; I have to know where I'm going.

But the characters do surprise me sometimes, just in different ways.

It's more likely to come out in terms of how a character feels about something that happens, or something they'll say about their past.

Raquel surprised me, BIG time, with something that started for her in STARGAZER but becomes part of her story in HOURGLASS. So it's not the overall plot that surprises me as much as the characters and how they develop.

Were you similar to Bianca when you were in high school (other than the whole *being a vampire* thing of course)?

I wasn't tremendously like Bianca, though I think we would probably have been friends if we were classmates. What we have in common:

shyness, bookishness, a lot of daydreaming. But Bianca is a lot more driven than I was, and after the first few chapters of EVERNIGHT, she's also much more independent. Her astronomy love is definitely her own. And she's a lot luckier in love than I was in high school!

None of my prom dates came close to Lucas or Balthazar, that's for sure.

Can you give us any hints about what's to come in Afterlife or Balthazar's stand alone novel?

Let me talk about Balthazar's book, because I was working on that a little last night. We're going to learn a lot about his past -- particularly who Jane was, why he's still so torn up about her after all these centuries, and also what really happened when he turned Charity. (Although Balthazar has told the truth about his sister's murder, in some ways we still haven't heard the full truth; it's darker and scarier than anything Balthazar was willing to discuss with Bianca or Lucas in the EVERNIGHT series.) 

We'll mostly be dealing with a new set of characters, and the setting moves to a town in upstate New York. An old enemy of Balthazar's shows up there, with a very evil plan of action that Balthazar will have to stop. I'm still working out the bigger plot details, but I know a lot of it and hope you guys are going to love it.

(Swoon - I can't wait for this! :)

What's one book that changed your life?

Honestly, I would have to say the biggest game-changer for me was AND THE BAND PLAYED ON, by Randy Shilts. I was never a homophobe, but reading his amazing study of the early years of the AIDS epidemic, and how hard it was for gay people to even get into hospital rooms to see their sick partners -- it just woke me up to how wrong that kind of prejudice is. Also, I made the decision to get involved in AIDS-related volunteer work and spent two years helping out at an organization that helped sick people sort through any legal problems that might arise. I know this question probably was looking for a book that made me want to be a writer, or something like that, but in truth there were dozens of books that played a part in that. For one book having significant impact on its own, this would have to be the one.

Thanks so much to Claudia for the interview!  Check out the Hourglass trailer and Claudia's upcoming tour dates below, and get a sneak peak inside HERE.

Tuesday, March 9
Anderson's Bookshop
7:00 PM
123 West Jefferson
Naperville, IL 60540

Wednesday, March 10
Barnes & Noble
7:00 PM
1201 Lake Woodlands Dr. #3008
The Woodlands, TX 

Thursday, March 11
7:00 PM
603 N. Lamar
Austin, TX 78703

Saturday, March 13
Barnes & Noble
2:00 PM
7660 North Point Parkway
Alpharetta, GA 30022

Thursday, April 1
7:00 PM
1 N. La Grange Road
La Grange, IL 60525

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Sarah Wylie said...

Great interview, Suzie and Claudia! I'm going to have to check out the Evernight series - it sounds amazing!

Anonymous said...

Excellent interview! Thanks, Claudia and Suzie!

Just Your Typical Book Blog said...

Great interview! My sister is a HUGE FAN of Claudia's series. (I have the books, it's just getting to them is the problem right now, lol) I really like the playlist for Hourglass!

Jordan Deen said...

Evernight is amazing I can't believe the way Stargazer ended (Don't worry, no spoilers from me!) Can't wait until tomorrow! I've already got mine on hold at the local B&N.

Great interview Suzie and great blog. Can't wait to see what you have up your sleeve next!

Suzette Saxton said...

Thanks for the peek into your writing process, Claudia! Great interview questions, Suzy.

Unknown said...

Great interview! I'm looking forward to read Hourglass

buddyt said...

I was very glad to see your remarks about the whole AIDS problem.

I follow a lot of book blogs and I have never seen anyone make a remark on this subject before.

I hope this will spark some other book blogers to comment.

Surely this is more important than whether a cover correctly reflects a heroine who is a person of color ?

Thanks for the interview.

PS. I am not gay

Carol T

Van Pham said...

great interview you guys! I have read the first two novels in the series and loved it. Looking forward to reading Hourglass :)

Crystal Cook said...

Love this interview! I really like to hear about how my fav authors write.

throuthehaze said...

Great interview! I can't wait to read more of this series :)

Marjorie said...

This is a very interesting interview with Claudia Gray. Thank-you, Suzie!

Susan Fields said...

Very interesting! I'm an outliner, too - if I didn't have a set path before I started, I'm afraid I'd just wander forever. The series sounds great!

Alyssa Kirk said...

I enjoy hearing about others' writing process. And the playlist was fun. Thanks for sharing!

Aik said...

I enjoyed reading this interview. Thank you!

Janet Johnson said...

It's so interesting to see how other writer's work. Thanks for the interview!

Unknown said...

Yay! A separate Balthazar novel!! *squeals* Great interview, I always love to read about authors and their writing process, to get a glimpse behind the scenes of a novel. The soundtrack sounds great, I love listening to most of these artists.

Can't wait to read Hourglass! :-)

whitewolfreads said...

Awesome interview! Thank you so much! So exited to read this series!

Unknown said...

I can't believe I it when she came to Austin Texas :((

jellybelly82158 said...

Great interview!!!

Anne said...

Great interview, I didn't realize there was going to be a stand alone Balthazar novel, can't wait.

ajolly1456 at gmail dot com

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