A Conversation with Crystal Connor, author of “The Darkness”

About Crystal Connor

Crystal ConnorI grew up telling spooky little campfire style stories at slumber parties. We’d make a tent in the bedroom, and the only source of light would be from a flashlight that was about to die. I’d tell my tale of doom and then while everyone was jumping at the tree branch scraping against the window and I’d be sound asleep!

I served my country in the United States Navy working as a boiler technician on board the USS McKee AS-41 assigned to the 7th fleet.

While deployed at various ports-of-call throughout Africa, Asia and the Middle East I began to learn about other cultures’ monsters and nightmares and I use my world travels and experiences take you to some of the exotic places that I’ve been but have altered and embellished with my twisted view of how a story should end…while at the same time taking you on a journey you might not otherwise be able to afford or brave enough to undertake.

The Darkness, is my first full-length novel, is published by Bennett and Hastings. My current projects, “…And They All Lived Happily Ever After” and “Artificial Light,” the sequel to The Darkness will be released in 2011. My short story “The Ruins” was the runner-up selection of Crypticon Seattle’s 2010 writing contest, and accepted for publication for The Static Movement Anthology “Sowing the Seeds of Horror.” My short story “The Monster” will be featured in the anthology “Strange Tales of Horror” published by NorGus Press.

Q: Thank you for this interview, Crystal. Can you tell us what your latest book, The Darkness, is all about?

A: Thank you so much for your time today. The Darkness is a sci-fi thriller told in an urban setting about a rogue scientific experiment that goes horribly wrong. The experiment that the scientist loss control of is a little boy named Adam.

Q: Is this your first novel? If not, how has writing this novel different from writing your first?

A: Yes, this is my 1st novel. I have been writing, or at least telling stories, for as long as I can remember but they were always short stories.

Q: How difficult was it writing your book? Did you ever experience writer’s block and, if so, what did you do?

A: It took me five years to write The Darkness, not because it was difficult but because for one it started out as a short story so I thought The Darkness was complete at around the 2,700 word count mark.

Another reason it took so long to write The Darkness was because I wasn’t working on it everyday. I was working in a small Seattle shipyard when I met a man named Mike Jones, who by the way is an award winning author and editor. When the guys in the shop learned that I was a writer they introduced me to Mike.

When he read the 1st few chapters of The Darkness he said that there was no way that The Darkness was going to be a short story and he recommended that I start taking my writing seriously.

As far as writers block is concerned I suffered quite the opposite. I’d be so excited about a scene or chapter that I was working on or have so many ideas about what to write next that I would get frustrated because I couldn’t translate what was going on in my head on to paper exactly the same way I envisioned it.

There were times that I wrote and then rewrote the same scene over and over again until I got it just right.

Q: How have your fans embraced your latest novel? Do you have any funny or unusual experiences to share?

A: Right now my biggest fans are my family and friends and they have been far more than just supportive.

There was a time when I wrote for 2 or 3 days straight, I didn’t eat and couldn’t sleep, my eyes felt like sandpaper and in a sleep-deprived state of delirium I called my sister at 3am mumbling frantically & incoherently about a character from The Darkness. Because I startled her awake and I was near hysterics I scared her pretty bad and when she realized I was talking about the book she was more than mad.

Q: What is your daily writing routine?

A: I write like a raving lunatic! I was once told that the way that I write is raw and undisciplined and I think he said that because I’ve never taken any type of writing classes.

He was reviewing a chapter of The Darkness and three pages consisted of one giant run on sentence. My written grammar is atrocious and my spelling is even worse but I don’t care because I know what I’m trying to say; and besides that why God created editors.

I just write and I write on everything. I have several note pads full of what appears to be the ramblings of a madman, reams of scratch paper full cultural proverbs, references to the Bible & Koran and random quotes; and my research consist of sticky notes that are plastered everywhere…and once I wrote on my forearm while I was driving on the freeway because I didn’t want to lose an idea.

Q: When you put the pen or mouse down, what do you do to relax?

A: I catch up on my sleep. When I’m writing I tend to stay up all night and half the next day writing. When I’m in a zone I can write for days at a time with maybe a just a few hours a sleep a night.

I love watching scary movies reading scary books. I go to the spa whenever I can and just enjoy hanging out with my family and friends.

Q: What book changed your life?

A: I wouldn’t say it changed my life. However it did change my prospective as a writer. I don’t think change is the right word. I will say it strengthened my conventions as a writer. The book was Octavia E. Butler’s The Fledgling.

I read the Fledgling in a day and a half. I started reading it on a Friday afternoon and was done by like 10am Sunday morning. I read it straight through I didn’t sleep, I was starving, and my eyes felt like sand paper because I couldn’t put that book down.

Never before had I seen a black woman as a main character in a book, never before had I seen real world issues woven into the fabrics of fantasy and for the 1st time that I could remember I was reading a story where the lead female character was not weak and timid.

When The Darkness was about at the midway point I was really nervous and doubtful that I as a black female writer would be able to capture an audience in a male dominated industry.

I was scared because when I compared my story to the industry standard mine didn’t look like theirs; my story looked a lot like hers and she reigned supreme. Octavia E. Butler was a mentor to me even if she didn’t mean to be.

Reading her work I realized that your differences are your strengths. Once The Darkness entered the editing and reworking stage I fought fiercely to keep The Darkness the way that I had written it. With powerhouse authors like Octavia E. Butler, Tananarive Due, Nnedi Wahala, and L.A. Banks as role models I feel that I can tell a fantastic, compelling, and frightening story without compromising myself as a writer or changing the characters or the tone of stories that I write.

Q: If someone were to write a book on your life, what would the title be?

A: The Girl With The Blue Ink Pen.

I write everything in longhand 1st and I only write with a blue ink pen or a pencil.

I’m not sure what my issue is with black ink, I just know if a psycho maniac killer told you that all you had to do to live was to break into my home and find a black ink pen is that you would perish.

Q: Finish this sentence: “The one thing that I wish people would understand about me is…”

A: I would like for you to know not only about my writing but also who I am as a person. I want you to know that I’m not some stuck up or pretentious author who thinks I’m the greatest thing to pick up a pen since Octavia Butler or Stephen King.

I’m still that goofy, nerdy, sometimes self-conscious chick who screams warnings at the people in horror movies and reads books about dragons.

Thank you for this interview Crystal. I wish you much success on your latest release, The Darkness!

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