Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Interview with Chrysoula Tzavelas

Do you have a specific writing style?
It's funny, I was just talking about this with my publisher. While my novels are generally written in third person, I still vary the voice I use to suit the protagonist. With my current work in progress, this was a real challenge, because I needed a punchy, action-focused style. My regular without-trying style is more introspective and moody. Fortunately, this was perfect for the protagonist of Matchbox Girls.

Do you write in different genres?
I like both modern urban fantasy and other-world fantasy. Sometimes I imagine writing fiction without some speculative element to it and it just never seems to go anywhere.

Do you title the book first or wait until after it’s complete?
I always need some title when I'm working on it, although it might be quite casual or nonsensical (“Trashy Fantasy Novel” or “Caleb and Indigo”). The original title of Matchbox Girls was Under Bridges. I never commit fully to a title until the end. With my current work, I thought I had the title before I even started writing it, but once I reached the end of the draft, I started questioning whether it was actually the right title after all. I still haven't decided.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
It's not a “message” book, but there's an ongoing theme of “protection” throughout the book: who you can protect, who you can't, what you can protect people from, what you can't, and so on.

Is the book, characters, or any scenes based on a true life experience, someone you know, or events in your own life?
My books do draw on my life experiences. While none of my characters are completely based on one individual, many of them draw on the people I know well. Also, three of the characters in Matchbox Girls are derived from role-playing game characters from a game I ran, although two of them have been changed significantly and one of them is minor. Finally, I'm not sure I would have been inspired to write a book about taking care of children in the face of serious adversity if I hadn't just had my own first child.

What is your current “work in progress” or upcoming projects?
I'm currently working on the sequel to Matchbox Girls! Hopefully by the time you read this, it's in my publisher's hands. The sequel to Matchbox Girls focuses on a supporting character, Branwyn, and her attempt to resolve some of the loose ends of Matchbox Girls.

Can you share a little of your current work with us?
I would love to. There's some really choice bits! But after consideration, I shouldn't. I think they all spoil the first book in some fashion. :-)

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
I used to have trouble finishing things, but once I embraced outlining, that challenge became surmountable. These days, my biggest challenge is finding time to write. And the focus to use that time wisely.

Do you have any advice for other writers?
I often wish I could go back in time and give myself advice. Maybe it can help other writers, too. Here you go: "Average but hardworking beats brilliant but lazy." Don't wait for the muse. 90% of any story comes from work, not grace. You can fix it later. Beauty can be built in layers.

Do you have a song or playlist (book soundtrack) that you think represents this book?
I didn't discover this song until the book was about finished, but Rise Against's "From Heads Unworthy" is pretty appropriate for Matchbox Girls. I did have a soundtrack I wrote the novel to, but while I now associate all the songs with specific elements from the novel, probably nobody else would see the connection.

Matchbox Girls
Chrysoula Tzavelas

Paperback: 324 pages

Publisher: Candlemark & Gleam

ISBN-10: 1936460203
ISBN-13: 978-1936460205

Book Description:

Marley Claviger is just trying to get her life together. Stumbling into an ancient conflict between celestial forces is going to make that a whole lot harder... When Marley wakes up to a phone call from a pair of terrified children, she doesn't expect to be pulled into a secret war.

She rescues them from an empty house and promises to find their missing uncle. She even manages to feed them dinner. But she barely feels competent to manage her own life, let alone care for small children with strange, ominous powers... And when a mysterious angelic figure shows up and tries to claim the girls, it all falls apart...

Plagued by visions of disaster, Marley has no idea what she's gotten herself into, but she knows one thing: magical or not, the kids need her.

"Lovely worldbuilding and an unusual heroine surrounded by strong relationships and good intrigue kept me reading Matchbox Girls until well past my bedtime. Tzavelas has created a winning story universe and I'm impatient for the next book!"

- CE Murphy, author of Urban Shaman and The Queen's Bastard

About the Author:

Chrysoula Tzavelas went to twelve schools in twelve years while growing up as an Air Force brat, and she never met a library she didn't like. She now lives near Seattle with some random adults, miscellaneous animals, and a handy small child. She likes combed wool, bread dough, and gardens. She's also a certified technology addict; it says so on her (trademark-redacted) music player.