I am so honored to have with us today the super-awesome Chloe Neill! She's the very talented author of the Chicagoland Vampires series for adults, and the Dark Elite series for Young Adults. She's currently in the throes of a blog tour for the newest Dark Elite novel, Hexbound, which is why I was lucky enough to get to interview her! Enjoy the interview everyone, and be sure to check out the giveaway at the end of this post!
I was born and raised in the South, but now make my home in the Midwest, just close enough to Cadogan House and St. Sophia's to keep an eye on things. When not transcribing Merit’s and Lily's adventures, I bake (a lot!), watch entirely too much television, root for my favorite college football team (Go Big Red!), spend time with friends, and play with my dogs, Baxter and Scout.
So I have to ask the obligatory question that all writers get asked: "When did you know writing was the career for you?"
In about 2004, when I started writing for the first time. :) And I actually have a day job, so it's not a "career" per se. More a really involved hobby.
We often hear that regardless of the author's planned trilogy/series, the first book they try to get published must be able to stand alone. Firespell has a somewhat open ending. Is that the original way you wrote it, or did you end the story and go back and add the opening for a sequel after it was accepted for publication?
The Dark Elite books were originally contracted for three books, so it was always planned as a series. I prefer reading books in series, so I've never actually drafted (or planned to draft) a stand-alone book.
What is a typical "writing" day like in the life of Chloe Neill?
It's really not very exciting since it takes place after my day job, exercise, dog walking, dinner cooking, etc. Usually it involves a few hours meeting a daily writing goal--generally 1,000 words--while in pajamas in front of the television!
Some Girls Bite (Chicagoland Vampires: Book One) was your first book, followed by Book Two, and then Firespell. What prompted the jump to Young Adult (which we're so glad happened!)?
Thanks! It wasn't intended to be a jump from adult to young adult per se. I had the idea for the Dark Elite series--the idea that magic wasn't forever--and began drafting the book from there. My agent and I presented the idea to my editor, and she liked it!
The Dark Elite series has introduced us to some amazing characters (Lily, Scout, Jason, just to name a few) that leap off the page with their voices and attitudes and personalities. Did you take character-developing classes, or were you just born with the gift of creating realistic, fictional people?
Aw, thanks! I've never had a creative writing class, so I've never been "taught" how to write characters per se. But I read a lot (or did when I had time), so I'm sure I learned by seeing how other authors developed their own characters. I just try to be honest to the individual people and their motivations.
I have to say that Jason is my favorite in Firespell. He sounds complicated and I feel there may be a secret lurking (who knows, right?) - not to mention he sounds hot! And one thing mentioned in Firespell was that he had relatives in Alabama (yay!). I know you're originally from the south - any connection to Alabama, or did you simply pick the state randomly as the setting for Jason's past?
It was a random state. :) I'm from Arkansas, but have no connection to Alabama (other than driving through it). When I imagined a young werewolf running from his family, that's just the location I imagined for that particular scene.
Firespell isn't a tremendously long book, which is somewhat unusual for YA. Did you have to shorten/lengthen the original work to meet a standard set by your agent/publisher, or were they perfectly content with the length (as I was!)?
The length of all my books is set by the publisher in my contract. Thus, as I wrote FIRESPELL, I added or deleted scenes to make sure that I stayed on track.
Would you consider yourself a "plotter" or "pantser" when it comes to writing? Do you flesh out the entire story before writing a single word of the plot, or do you put pencil to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and let the ideas form naturally?
About half and half. My contracts require that I provide my editor with an outline for the next book in line. I try to keep the outline focused on big plot events so the individual evenings of writing still feel creative--instead of just rote filling-in-the-blanks.
And finally - though I could ask a million more questions! - If you were stranded on a deserted island and could only bring one book with you (ah! the horror!) which book would you choose, and why?
I would bring "Outlander" by Diana Gabaldon. It's long, romantic, and intensely detailed. It would keep me busy reading for a very, very long time. :)
Thanks for an awesome interview!
Thanks for having me today!
A huge thank-you to Ms. Neill for being so kind as to answer my questions! And as if that wasn't enough, she's also kind enough to offer up a signed copy of the first Dark Elite novel, Firespell, to one lucky commenter...how cool is that!? (I thought Firespell instead of Hexbound would be best, just in case some of you may not have read the first in the series yet...and if you haven't, shame on you!)
So people, leave a "meaningful" comment on this post (not just "Hi!" or "Enter me!"), and you'll be entered to win a signed copy of Firespell. Did I mention, it's signed!? That's right. You know you want it!
I'll choose a winner (actually random.org will) tomorrow, Tuesday Jan. 11th, so be sure to check back then to see if you've won!
And again, a huge thanks to Ms. Neill for the interview and giveaway, and go check out her Dark Elite Series or her Chicagoland Vampires Series...you're gonna love 'em!