Can you tell readers a little bit about yourself and what inspired to write in this particular genre?
Well, I’m a former English and drama teacher, and I’ve always loved telling stories. Directing shows and writing novels are very similar in that way. I’ve also always had a soft spot in my heart for fantasy. Reading fantasy novels is an escape from normal life for me. When I decided to write, it was an easy plunge into YA fantasy. It felt the most natural.
Please tell us about your latest release.
Shadow is the second book in my YA fantasy series The Romany Outcasts. I’m really excited about the novel, because it continues the stories of Sebastian and Josephine.
Do you have a special formula for creating characters' names? Do you try to match a name with a certain meaning to attributes of the character or do you search for names popular in certain time periods or regions?
Names are extremely important to me when writing a story, and Grey was no exception. I chose the name Sebastian Grey for very specific reasons, which are revealed throughout the course of the entire story arc. I also like to name characters as homage to other things. I have two characters in my series whose names were inspired by The Hunchback of Notre Dame – but I can’t tell you more than that!
Is there a character that you enjoyed writing more than any of the others?
Oh, definitely. Sebastian has been my favorite character to write, without a doubt. There’s just something about him I truly connect with, and it’s been so much fun to travel down his very difficult and transformative road during the course of Grey and Shadow.
Do you have a formula for developing characters? Like do you create a character sketch or list of attributes before you start writing or do you just let the character develop as you write?
Honestly, the process varies depending on the character and the story I’m writing. Sometimes I sketch them out ahead of time, detailing their appearance, personality, and character traits. Other times, I have an essence of who they are in my head, and the character continues to grow and deepen as I work my way through the story. I love using dialogue to help me understand my characters as well.
What is your favorite scene from the book? Could you share a little bit of it, without spoilers of course?
Oooh, so difficult to choose just one! I loved any scene in Grey where Sebastian had to directly confront what was happening to him. He’s dealing with quite a lot! There are a couple of scenes where Sebastian is rehearsing for the school play with Josephine and he’s finding it extremely difficult – for some pretty unusual reasons. Those were great fun.
Did you find anything really interesting while researching this or another book?
I did a good bit of research on the Roma culture as I was writing the first two books in this series. I’ve always been fascinated by this rich and diverse culture, but it certainly deepened my appreciation for it. Even though the Gypsies in my series are fictional, I wanted them to feel real, and I wanted to be respectful of the culture as well.
What is the most interesting thing you have physically done for book related research purposes?
Book three of The Romany Outcasts Series takes place in the beautiful coastal town of Savannah, which is located in the southern part of Georgia. I asked my husband a couple of years ago if we could spend an anniversary weekend there because I wanted to do bit of research for the book. I really love the city, and I’m hoping to go back there again before I finish Midnight.
Can you tell readers a little bit about the world building in the book/series? How does this world differ from our normal world?
There are really two worlds that exist in The Romany Outcasts outside of the normal world. The first is the world of the Outcasts Gypsies, who keep a low profile and live fairly hidden wherever they go. They don’t interact with the outside world more than they have to. But there is also another hidden world within the Gypsy one – a world that has a long history and is steeped in fairy tales and legends. Sebastian is pulled into one world and forced to confront another in Grey.
With the book being part of a series, are there any character or story arcs, that readers jumping in somewhere other than the first book, need to be aware of? Can these books be read as stand alones?
When writing a series, I’ve learned you have to give enough information in each book to clue the reader in, while at the same time, not getting bogged down with exposition. Even if a reader has read the first book, details can get fuzzy, and the author needs to solidify key points from the first book with the second. I believe that the reader would understand Shadow enough without having read Grey, but The Romany Outcasts is certainly a chronological story, and it was written to be read in that order.
Do any of your characters have similar characteristics of yourself in them and what are they?
I relate to Sebastian because he and I share some personality traits and a similar sense of humor. I also see a little bit of myself in Ms. Lucian – but honestly, it’s because I wrote her as sort of a representation of my own experience as a high school teacher. She was originally meant to be just a bit character, but she took on a life of her own as the story progressed, and she became something much different.
Other than writing, what are some of your interests, hobbies or passions in life?
I’m a theatre director on the side, and I direct plays and musicals for local theatres. I’m also a pretty big geek. I love watching anything sci-fi or fantasy, and I tend to get fan-girly about a lot of things. Oh, and I make costumes to wear to sci-fi/fantasy conventions. I’ve attended dressed as everything from Jack Sparrow to Bofur the dwarf from the Hobbit. Some of my favorites have been the White Queen from Alice in Wonderland and Missy from Doctor Who.
What can readers expect next from you?
I’m currently writing the third book of The Romany Outcasts Series, which is due out in the spring. And I’ve got a couple of other projects in the works.
Where can readers find you on the web?
I love to connect with readers! You can find me here:
Would you like to leave readers with a little teaser or excerpt from the book?
Most definitely! I’ll leave you with a little bit Chapter 2 of Grey, the first book in the series.
‘Sebastian, are you still there?’
I transferred my phone to my other hand as I buckled the seatbelt. ‘Yeah, I’m here.’
‘Weren’t you listening to me?’ Katie asked.
I paused, trying to remember what we’d been talking about. The two hours since lunch had been a blur, and my brain was mush. ‘Um . . . ’
Katie sighed on the other end. ‘The project Ms Lucian talked about in class today,’ she continued impatiently. ‘When are we going to work on it?’
‘I’m sorry,’ I replied, starting the engine. ‘The pounding in my head’s making it difficult to think.’
‘You know me and sunny days,’ I said dismissively. I stepped on the gas and coaxed my old van onto the road. ‘But about the project. I don’t know if I can do it this week. Can I get back to you?’
‘Yeah, just don’t wait too long. I know we’ve got almost a month to work on it, so Ms Lucian’s not going to cut us any slack, and the rest of our group is totally avoiding me about the whole thing.’
Katie hated procrastinating on anything related to schoolwork. This was probably killing her. ‘Look, don’t worry about it. I’ll talk to the guys, and we’ll come up with a day to work on it. I promise, we won’t let you down.’
‘Thanks, Sebastian,’ she replied, sounding relieved. ‘You’re not nearly as much of an idiot as the rest of your species.’
I chuckled. ‘I think you mean gender.’
She giggled. ‘No, I don’t.’
‘Talk to you later, Katie.’
I tossed the phone on the passenger seat and rubbed my temples. By the time I made it through town and steered my van into the parking lot of the Gypsy Ink, my headache had traveled, setting up residence between my shoulder blades. The last thing I felt like doing was homework.
I shuffled through the waiting room, giving a brief wave to Kris, who was busy behind the counter. I’d grab a quick snack and then lay out flat on the floor of the apartment for a while. Just until the aching eased. I paused in the hallway just outside the door of Hugo’s workspace. I didn’t have to say anything. My brother knew I was there.
‘Hey, Sebastian.’ He glanced up from his sketchbook. ‘What’s up?’
‘Do you have any sports cream?’ I leaned against the wall and squinted as a sharp pain lanced through my shoulders. ‘My back’s killing me.’
Hugo’s brows settled low over his dark eyes. ‘In the drawer beside my bed.’
I continued down the hallway, followed by the weight of my brother’s stare. He probably thought I was trying to get out of work, which wasn’t a bad idea. I chucked my bag on the bed and rummaged through Hugo’s nightstand until I located the tube of medicine. I worked the cream into my back, but it felt as if someone was digging long fingers between my shoulder blades, attempting to separate muscle from bone.
I gave up with the cream and stumbled to the bathroom on a quest for aspirin. Just as I reached for the medicine cabinet, another shock of pain doubled me over. I gripped the edge of the counter and straightened. My gaze flicked to the mirror. For a moment, I almost didn’t recognize the face staring back. I was crazy pale, even for me, and my skin made the hazel color of my eyes look dull. But then I noticed something else. Another chunk of gray was poking through my disheveled hair.
The Romany Outcasts Series
Christi J. Whitney
Genre: YA Fantasy / Urban Fantasy
Date of Publication: E-book - 4/30/15
Date of Publication: Paperback 10/22/15
Number of pages: 344
Word Count: 91,640
Cover Artist: Cherie Chapman
Can you still love with a heart of stone?
Sebastian Grey always thought he was a fairly normal teenager – good friends, decent grades and a pretty sweet job in his foster brother’s tattoo shop.
But when Romany gypsies arrive in town, Sebastian discovers that his world is not what it seems. There is an age-old feud between his family and the gypsies – and this isn’t the only secret his brother has been keeping from him. His life is not his own. The girl he’s been dreaming about has just turned up at school, and he feels compelled to protect her at all costs.
Even if that means life might never be normal again.
Book Trailer: https://vimeo.com/125617735
About the Author:
Christi J. Whitney is a former high school theatre director with a love for the arts. She lives just outside Atlanta with her husband and two sons. When not spending time with them or taking a ridiculous number of trips to Disney World, she can be found directing plays, making costumes for sci-fi/fantasy conventions, obsessing over Doctor Who, watching superhero movies, or pretending she’s just a tad bit British. You can visit her online at www.christijwhitney.com or connect on Twitter (@ChristiWhitney).