How did you come up with the title for your latest book?
I came up with the name of my main character before I wrote anything else. Sebastian Grey was named for very specific reasons, which I can’t really tell you here, but using his last name for the title of the first book works on many levels and goes along with what happens to him throughout the course of the story. The one-word title just felt right, so I continued it through the series with Shadow and Midnight. Each title reflects the emotional journey of the characters in each book.
Is the book, characters, or any scenes based on a true life experience, someone you know, or events in your own life?
I based the location of Grey on an area near where I live. Sixes is a fictional town, but it’s named after a community that used to exist there around the turn of the century. Many of the characters are based off former students I taught – a couple of them, like the character of Katie, quite specifically so. And the inspiration for Hugo and the Corsis comes from a former co-worker of mine, combined with some other people I’ve known.
What books/authors have influenced your life?
C.S. Lewis is the author I credit with giving me a deep love for fantasy novels. The Silver Chair was the first fantasy book I can remember reading as an eight-year-old. Tolkien also fueled my passion for the genre. I was hooked on the Shannara series and the Dragonlance series in high school, and I read a lot of X-Men comics. I also read anything I could get my hands on concerning Merlin or King Arthur. (I loved Mary Stewart’s books in high school). But as far as young adult authors, I really enjoy the storytelling of authors such as Cassandra Clare, Lisa McMann, and Suzanne Collins.
What book are you reading now?
I’m working my way through some of my fellow HarperVoyager authors right now, and I’m a few chapters into Detective Strongoak and the Case of the Dead Elf. I’m also trying to get some headway with Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson. And I’m reading Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl with some friends of mine. But I’m also currently writing book three of The Romany Outcasts Series, so my reading time is taking a hit.
What books are in your to read pile?
My pile is huge – just like everyone else’s – but next up is An Ember in the Ashes.
What is your current “work in progress” or upcoming projects?
Midnight (The Romany Outcasts, Book Three) is due to my publisher by September, so that’s my biggest project, but I also have another YA fantasy and a sci-fi manuscript I’m working on.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Outlining is always a challenge for me. I tend to write until I hit roadblocks and then I’m forced to stop and work my way through. I’ve gotten much better at outlining over the years, but it’s still a struggle.
Do you have a song or playlist (book soundtrack) that you think represents this book?
I have a really long playlist that I’ve been using for the entire series. There are certain songs that help get me in the right emotional space for my characters. If I had to choose one song to best represent Grey out of my list, I’d go with Turning On My Own by Satellite. For Shadow, it would be a tie between Demons by Imagine Dragons and Who Am I by Andrew Judah.
Just for fun
If you could have one paranormal ability, what would it be?
I don’t know if you’d consider it more a paranormal or a superhero ability, but I’d absolutely love to be able to teleport, like Kurt Wagner from the X-Men. Just maybe without the stinky smoke. That would be fantastic!
The Romany Outcasts Series
Christi J. Whitney
Genre: YA, fantasy/urban fantasy
Date of Publication: June 2, 2016
Number of pages: 400
Word Count: 98,754
Cover Artist: Cherie Chapman
The second volume in this incredible YA trilogy.
When stone hearts break they shatter.
Sebastian Grey used to be a normal teenager. Now he’s a creature whose sole purpose is to be a guardian for secretive gypsy clans.
When the Romany gypsies need his help, Sebastian is given a second chance to protect Josephine Romany – the girl he loves. But this is no easy task when some of them think he’s as bad as the shadow creatures attacking their camp.
Yet to keep Josephine safe, Sebastian might have to embrace his darker side. Even if that means choosing between his humanity and becoming the monster everyone believes him to be.
‘My apologies if Caliban hurt you,’ said the man. ‘It’s what he’s trained to do.’
The men lowered their hoods. It was Phillipe and Stephan – two of Quentin’s Marksmen. They watched me with disgusted expressions as I forced myself to stand. My muscles felt like iron cords.
‘You’ve trained him to attack innocent people?’ I snarled, brushing myself off.
‘Of course not,’ Phillipe sneered. ‘He’s trained to attack your kind.’
I really hated that phrase.
I examined my arm. The sleeve of my jacket was ripped, but there wasn’t a mark on my gray skin. My eyes widened. Not even a scratch. But it still hurt like crazy, and I rubbed my arm gingerly.
‘It’s fortunate we weren’t out with the rest of the dogs,’ said Stephan with a cold smile. ‘Caliban here is relatively mild-tempered.’
As if on cue, the dog’s muzzle flashed with sharp teeth.
‘Nicolas asked me to come,’ I said evenly.
Stephan tilted his chin. ‘Yes, we know.’
I was about to get an escort, I realized.
‘Come with us,’ Phillipe ordered.
Stephan slid his bow from his shoulder and fitted an arrow to the string. ‘Caliban and I will follow behind. Just as a precaution, of course – in case you start getting any ideas in that ugly gray head of yours.’
Quentin Marks’ welcoming committee was not something I’d anticipated. I gathered my bags, and Phillipe led our unpleasant little party across the Sutallee Bridge. I unconsciously slowed as we passed over the abandoned mine shaft where Josephine and I had taken refuge so long ago. There was a sharp poke in the middle of my back, right between my pent wings.
‘Move it,’ Stephan said, jabbing me again. ‘We’re already late for lunch.’
I fought the insanely strong desire to whirl around and shove the arrow down his throat. Instead, I bit my lip, tasting blood, and picked up my pace. We reached the iron fence that surrounded the Fairgrounds. Phillipe pulled out a ring of keys and opened the gate.
I’d assumed everything would look as it had the last time I’d been within the walls of the Circe de Romany. But there were no tents or pavilions. No rides or decorations, either. Only trailers – along with several RVs, trucks, and buses – arranged in a tight circle, right in the middle of the property.
Their configuration created a large open space in the center of the caravan. Tarps were arranged over tables and chairs. A fire pit had been built, and laundry hung from clotheslines spread between trailers. People bustled around the clearing, preparing for the approaching storm. Another peal of thunder echoed overhead. The clouds had thickened, and the sky looked ready to split apart at any moment.
‘Hurry it up,’ said Stephan with another jab to my back. ‘I don’t intend to get wet.’
Lightning flashed. Women scurried to get the clothes off the lines while men anchored the tarps more securely in the ground. Phillipe led me to a small trailer and flung open the door.
The howling wind was motivation enough – even without Stephan’s sharp arrow in my back – and I scampered up the steps. My nose instantly wrinkled at the unpleasant smell. Phillipe caught my look.
‘The dog trailer,’ he said.
‘Just be glad they’re out on patrol,’ said Stephan with a malicious laugh. ‘They’re quite territorial.’
The Marksmen backed me into the stinky enclosure, weapons drawn.
‘We’ll come for you when Nicolas returns,’ said Phillipe. ‘Until then, welcome home.’
With that, he slammed the door, locking me inside.
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).