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Presenting ... Claudia Gray!

evernight
Claudia Gray is a newbie to the publishing world, but you wouldn't guess that from reading Evernight, the first in a YA quartet about vampires. While it's not being released until May 27th, I was one of several lucky readers to get a sneak peek at the story of Bianca and Lucas, two seemingly ordinary teenagers who are actually neck-deep in a struggle that goes back centuries. It's not another badly-written epic fantasy, however, where the characters could be anyone and all that matters is the plot: these kids not only have to face insurmountable odds that hit close to home, but deal with young love and vampiric cliques to boot.

None of this adequately describes exactly how incredible and complex I found the story Claudia created, so I asked her over to my blog for an interview, hoping to shed some light behind the scenes.

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You and Bianca, the main character of EVERNIGHT, are both immense fans of Cary Grant: which of his movies is Bianca's favourite and why?

Bianca's favorite is "An Affair to Remember," because it's so lush and romantic, and because Nicky's artistic streak is so sympathetic to her. (My personal favorite is "Notorious.")

What do you find most detestable about Bianca?

Detestable? Nothing, really -- I'm very fond of her. But if you're asking about her main flaws, to me, it's that she has always been too quick to accept easy explanations; she hasn't spent nearly enough time challenging people's assumptions about who she should be and what she should think. In many ways, the EVERNIGHT series is about Bianca's shift from being passive and trusting to becoming proactive, questioning and independent.

One thing I thought was particularly excellent in EVERNIGHT was the cast of supporting characters, like Balthazar (who also happens to be my favourite character). How do you, as the writer, get to know your characters?

I try the same tricks a lot of writers do -- doing character questionnaires, looking for images that seem familiar, etc. -- but honestly, I find that for me there's no way to learn the characters except to write them out. Sometimes I feel that I know them immediately (Balthazar was one of these), and others take longer (both Lucas and Raquel fell into that category.) I simply have to keep spending time with them and seeing what they think of the events of the story, until it clicks. That might be two pages or twelve months, and there's no way to know before I begin.

How much did EVERNIGHT change from your original concept to what it is today?

The first book, EVERNIGHT itself, didn't change that much; I knew what I wanted to do there very early on. Within the first day of thinking about the concept, I saw a very strong visual from near the end of the book (without giving anything away, I'll say that it involves stained glass), and really the whole story fell into place around that. However, the series overall went through many transformations. Although the second book, STARGAZER, was fairly close to my expectations, the third and fourth books are dramatically different from what I first envisioned. (Although the core of the series ending -- the point the story is working toward -- has remained constant. I'm simply taking a very different route than I thought I would.)

How did you develop such a rich vampiric culture?

I feel like that culture is developing all the time! But I've been a vampire fan for a long time, and I really enjoyed the TV show "Alias," which had an immortality cult as the baddies, so I suspect I've spent more time than most people thinking about how weird/difficult/great/bizarre it would be never to die.

What's the one thing you must have with you (other than pen/keyboard and paper/computer) in order to write?

Nothing, really! But the one thing I can't have is loud noise. I actually had to move to a new apartment because of this; I had some neighbors who loved playing loud music so much that I worried at times about never finishing STARGAZER at all.

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Thank you, Claudia, for being such a wonderful guest! And thank you, friends, for sitting down with us. If you'd like to read more about (or by) Claudia, hop over to her blog and/or her website, where she holds contests; talks about the writing process, and hiking; there's even wallpaper for your computer desktop! (And blog icons -- woohoo!)

Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
2skippingstones
May. 20th, 2008 07:31 pm (UTC)
While I'm not a fan of vampire stories, you have me intrigued. A great cast of characters, a main character who loves "An Affair to Remember", stained glass, and a book that held your attention to the point of completely ignoring me while you were reading it ~ that's enough to get my attention!
britlitfantwin
May. 29th, 2008 06:12 am (UTC)
Isn't it, though? That stained glass scene made me cry. (Not telling whether they were sad or happy tears!) So powerful ...
debmarshall
May. 20th, 2008 07:47 pm (UTC)
Excellent interview and review! Looking forward to EVERNIGHT's release so I can read it and checking out more about Claudia and her writing journey--you've appealed to me as a reader of Vampire fiction and a writer-thanks!~
britlitfantwin
May. 29th, 2008 06:12 am (UTC)
Thanks, Deb! I'd love to hear what you think of EVERNIGHT once you've had a chance to read it.
java_fiend
May. 21st, 2008 04:47 am (UTC)
Great review and interview, Miss Tori. Very well done. As always.
britlitfantwin
May. 29th, 2008 06:13 am (UTC)
Thank you! As always, I love knowing they're enjoyed.
morgensenj
Oct. 19th, 2008 09:45 pm (UTC)
evernight
I am a grandma who just enjoyed the young love,trying to get her footing newbie Bianca. If you love a good story with great characters and a little vampire stuff thrown in. Cool read.
britlitfantwin
Oct. 20th, 2008 01:45 am (UTC)
Re: evernight
It's a very cool read! I think my favourite scene was the one mentioned by Claudia in this interview, the one near the end of the book involving stained glass. Thank you for commenting!
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )