Interview With the Author
Hi Chantal! Thanks for joining me today to discuss your new book,Seven Seeds of Summer.
For what age group do you recommend your book?
Honestly, I’d have to say that I always imagined my book for readers like me; ranging from thirteen to thirty. As a twenty five year old, I have a guilty pleasure of enjoying the Young Adult genre. Seven Seeds of Summer is a book for any age!
What sparked the idea for this book?
This originally started as a homework assignment in a Novel Writing class I was taking at Susquehanna University as a Junior in college. It was my first real “novel writing” class; I had taken fiction short story classes, poetry, non-fiction, but this class was a head-on towards my dream of who I wanted to be as a writer: a novel writer. As a class we had to design a story board of a story idea, from start to finish, with pictures of our characters, settings and other details. After a failed attempt of my first “novel” idea, I sat down one night, reading and studying a few of my favorite books: Beauty by Robin McKinleyand East by Edith Pattou. I knew I wanted to write a book just like theirs – a retelling of a fairy tale, with twists and characters that felt like branches of your soul. So, the first few pages started with a point of view from Hades, and slowly Summer and her story evolved.
Which comes first? The character's story or the idea for the novel?
For me – they come hand in hand. Summer and Hades told me their story. While I started with a “spark,” … an “idea,” it was Summer and Hades who guided the story. I knew that Summer had a love for Hades that was much more than just a “fan-girl” related. Summer started to reveal a past, or a history that started to pull together the more I wrote. Once Hades entered the story, everything just came together after that. So, in the case of Seven Seeds of Summer, the idea of the novel came, but the characters’ stories brought it to life.
What was the hardest part to write in this book?
I would have to say the ending. I still feel as though it’s not at all what it should have been. I had this huge idea in my mind, and no real understanding of how I would end it. By the time that I reached a real ending to the novel, it had been over three years since I had first started writing it – and the characters were almost like friends I had lost contact with. I’m afraid that some readers might actually feel that – a disconnect with the story, or the characters at the end. I wanted Hades and Summer to have a happy ending, but I also wanted to keep the ending open for a sequel, in case I ever wanted to do so.
How do you hope this book affects its readers?
I hope it just brings joy to readers. A world where anyone can escape, and go on an adventure with some really fantastic characters.
How long did it take you to write this book?
Drum Roll for this: four Years. Roughly. Seven Seeds of Summer has been through a long journey.
What is your writing routine?
My professors often spoke of having writing routines. Getting up early in the morning and writing for a few hours and then going to work and, obviously, for them, they could write as much as they wanted when they weren’t teaching classes. I often heard classmates, when in college, starting writing routines. Back when I first started to write in college, I often had very late nights. So I would write then – it was my way of escaping from the day, relaxing and letting all the thoughts I had go, and form into something positive.
How did you get your book published?
This is kind of a strange story – I finished writing my novel, and actually wrote a status about it on my personal Facebook. A cousin of mine actually wrote to me and told me that he knew someone who was starting a publishing company, and was looking for novels to publish. I sent him my novel, the first couple of chapters and a summary of Seven Seeds. It was about a month later that he sent me a message saying, “Sit down! You’re a published author!” The next day I was on the phone with the Fantastic Barbara from Waldorf Press, and everything now is history.
What advice do you have for someone who would like to become a published writer?
The advice that I’d have to give is – it’s a hard journey. Writing a novel is the hardest part; getting all the words down, editing something until it drives you crazy to get it just right. But for those who love writing, for those who find nothing but joy or liberation in it – it’s worth it. Don’t ever stop believing that you can write a novel – because you can do it. I always like to quote Walt Disney: “If you can dream it, you can do it.” Writing should be fun, and as long as it is, you’re doing something right.
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
Honestly, the truth is that I’m constantly writing every day. I really enjoy writing with a friend of mine in my free time; we’ll either make writing posts on Tumblr, or just write back and forth on Skype. When I’m not writing (which isn’t very often) I’m often spending time with my boyfriend, Robert(o). We’ll go see movies or go to the beach (since Delaware is famous for its famous beaches!). I enjoy staying at home and catching up on a show on Netflix, or traveling back to Muncy, Pennsylvania, to visit my childhood home and parents. I love to paint, knit, crochet, listen to music, etc.
What does your family think of your writing?
When I was fourteen, I probably would have answered that my parents hated me wasting so much paper in the house. I’d go through reams and reams of paper; writing constantly in the late hours of the night and printing pages and pages of drafts and redrafts. My Mom, who shared the love of books with me, is a big supporter of me. She often calls me her “John Boy”, from The Waltons. My Dad is just waiting for me to get rich and famous and buy him his retirement already. And my sister – I know she’s very proud of me.
That's great. Please tell us a bit about your childhood.
I was blessed as a child to have the childhood my parents strived to give me. My childhood was completely enveloped by Disney, and Disney movies. If I wasn’t reading story books, or watching Faerie Tale Theatre, I was playing with my Barbies, creating these fantastical love stories. I was able to use my imagination freely and often played outside with neighborhood children. I was in a few activities as a child; ballet, soccer, basketball, but my favorite was singing. It’s fitting that my name, in French, means “to sing”.
Did you like reading when you were a child?
Very much so! I can still remember my favorite book as a child! Once Upon a Golden Apple. My mother would make special trips with me every Saturday to the library, where I would search for this book and the Golden Treasury of Disney Stories, and the four VHS videos of Faerie Tale Theatre I was allowed to check out. I was completely fascinated by the covers of my mother’s books; wild pirates and beautiful princesses. I couldn’t wait until it was my turn to read about those lovely adventures.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I never really had this big “Ah-Ha” moment. I can remember buying Twilightwhen it first came out in 2005, and it was a really unknown book. I was completely in love with the writing style (or really, the way Stephenie Meyerused first person in writing a novel). I wanted to do exactly that, and I started to! In High School, I wrote with a group of girls, using famous anime characters and our own original characters. When it was time to start looking for a college to attend, I began to toss around the idea of actually going to school for the one thing I felt I was good at.
Did your childhood experiences influence your writing?
I would have to say yes - in a way that I haven’t really realized just yet. I loved to create stories with my dolls, and I loved to read books, so I suppose it was only natural for me to want to be a part of that world with the written word. I grew up with books, discovering worlds and meeting new friends in each new page; when I began to write and create new people, it only felt natural to do so.
Which writers have influenced you the most?
My writing days really began with R. L. Stine’s Fear Street Sagas. I poured over each book, loving each new story, each new character and each new plot twist. To this day, I still have One Last Kiss which was, by far, my favorite of the series. I started to discover re-tellings of fairy tales, such as Beauty andRose Daughter by Robin McKinley. East by Edith Pattou became a quick favorite. When Twilight by Stephenie Meyer came out, I loved the style of her writing - at least, in how she portrayed the voice of Bella Swan.
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
Not very often. I have a few friends who have read my book and have left me either messages on social media or reviews on Amazon, but I can’t say that I’ve heard much from any “new” readers. So far I’ve been given good reviews - but I’m ready to see what the world really thinks of Seven Seeds of Summer.
I hope this book tour brings you a bit of feedback, Chantal. What can we look forward to from you in the future?
Hopefully more books. Hopefully either the fairy tale that I’d like to re-tell, or possibly something completely fresh and new. I’ve thought a lot about writing a book about certain things that have happened in my life, and I do have the start of something non-fiction from a few years ago in college. I guess the future holds surprises and what I might write about next will be among those surprises.
Thank you for taking the time to stop by today, Chantal. Best of luck with your future projects.
No! Thank you! It was great having the chance to be here!