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Interview with Christina Daley, author of Seranfyll
YA Promos Central is happy to welcome Christina Daley to the blog! She’s here to answer some questions and to share some information about her new book, Seranfyll. If this sounds like something that you would be interested in, please use the buy links at the bottom of the post to pick up a copy or two.
YAPC: If someone else wrote a blurb about your book what would it say?
Christina: Some readers have summarized Seranfyll in their own words, and many of them I like better than mine. Ergo, I shall rip off one from Goodreads by a young lady named Stephanie:
“Rain was born into slavery. Her life has always been centered around a routine: take care of the master’s needs before your own. But Rain is happy with her life – her masters treat her and the rest of the servants like human beings, and she and her sister Snow have been allowed to grow up together and take care of each other.
But things can’t last. Master Peachtree sells Rain and a few of the other servants to help pay off his debts, and Rain and her sister are separated. Taken to market to be sold, Rain expects to be bought by another family and put to work right away. Instead, a young man rides into town, drunk out of his mind, and buys 10 slaves – including Rain.”
See what I mean? Quite good, in my opinion.
YAPC: Who is you mentor? Who do you look up too?
Christina: I don’t have a living mentor, but C.S. Lewis is my favorite writer. He had a great way of saying things. And he was hardly edited, so almost his all his work is just him. I wish I were that brilliant, but I’m not. (That’s a fact, not self-deprecation.) If he were alive today, he’d probably have to get a restraining order against me because I would move toCambridge and stalk him incessantly. But I have to be content with his books and essays.
YAPC: Who are your cheerleaders?
Christina: I’m blessed with four parents: my mother and stepdad, and my father and stepmom. Three of them went through the level of hell that we call the Vietnam War, and one came through the school of hard knocks. I can never be too grateful for them. And they continue to believe in me, even when I stop believing in myself from time to time.
I also have a pet plant named Herb. He hasn’t died after all these years, so I take his defiance towards death as a sign that he wants to live long enough to see me succeed at something.
YAPC: Do you listen to music while writing?
Christina: Sometimes. I like specific songs more than I like bands, but groups that have consistently produced projects to my liking include OneRepublic, Coldplay, and Hillsong United. Recently, I’ve discovered The Young Romans and like their first album very much. I also enjoy classical songs from composers like Vivaldi, Bach, Telemann, and Copeland. (I’ll let you in on something. Listen to Jupiter from Holst’s The Planets suite some time. There’s a flowing melody that occurs about three minutes in. That melody goes to the song Rain sings in Chapter 27 of Seranfyll.)
YAPC: What’s your favorite part of writing a book?
Christina: Almost all of it. I like learning new things while I’m researching for a book, whether it’s just searching the Internet or traveling. (Budget constraints allot for more of the former, less of the latter.) And I love physically writing the story. I don’t always have a clear idea of how everything is supposed to go. There will often be Point A, no middle, and a vague Point B. Writing for me is as much of an adventure as reading.
YAPC: What was your favorite scene?
Christina: There’s one in Seranfyll where Domrey, Rain, and Coal pay a visit to the house of Lord Peachtree, Rain’s old master. On a Sunday, some debt collectors come to confiscate some of Peachtree’s property while he and his family are away at chapel. They nearly take Rain’s sister Snow, along with some of the other slaves. But Domrey steps in and keeps the collectors at bay, essentially saving Peachtree’s farm. I like that scene because that’s the first time we really see the nature of Domrey’s character.
YAPC: Where do you get your inspiration?
Christina: Pretty much from anywhere it’ll show itself. Inspiration’s a clever chameleon and will often show up where it’s least expected. I may see things in movies, song lyrics, the news, real life, or other places that make an impression on me. For example in the first book, Seranfyll, there’s a part where Rain is trying to teach Coal the letters C and K. Coal gets frustrated because they sound the same and yet he isn’t allowed to use them interchangeably (i.e. “Kettle” and “Cettle”). I remember having the same frustration when I was learning my letters as a kid, so I wrote that in.
YAPC: Are there any particular books and/or authors that inspired you and continue to do so?
Christina: I’ve mentioned my obsession with C.S. Lewis, but other authors I admire are Diana Wynne Jones, Orson Scott Card, J.K. Rowling, and the cartoonists Bill Waterson and Jim Davis. I like them all for different reasons: Lewis and Card for their logic, Wynne Jones for her imagination, Rowling for her style, and Waterson and Davis for their snappy, goofball humor.
YAPC: How important do you find the communication between you and your readers? Do you reply to their messages or read their reviews?
Christina: I love chatting with readers! I’m pretty much unknown. I think there are unknown writers that are better known than me, actually. Regardless, I answer my own emails. I visit Facebook and Goodreads occasionally, but I’m on Twitter far more than what is probably healthy. So if you want to chat with me, Twitter and email are the best ways to get a hold of me. And I do read reviews (despite many people’s advice that I shouldn’t). But I want to know what works for readers and what doesn’t, and I can’t learn that unless I look at the reviews.
YAPC: If I give you a time machine, what time period and in what place would you travel to?
Christina: The easier question to answer would be where wouldn’t I go. I think, against my better judgment, I’d go to the future. I’m a bit of a sci-fi nut, and I’d want to see what kind of technology and other stuff we have. Or if Siri is really SkyNet in disguise, and we’re fighting terminators.
YAPC: What projects are you currently working on right now? Would you mind sharing them with us?
Christina: I have a pretty full plate, and I’m quite excited about everything on it. I’m heavily into a YA project that is more paranormal/sci-fi in nature. It’s about a girl who’s nearly killed in an accident. But she’s saved by a guy whom she thinks is possessed. So, she takes it upon herself to exorcise him, with some funny results.
I’ve also just finished jotting down a working synopsis for a historical YA about a girl who’s taken from her family along with hundreds of other young women to become part of the king’s harem. It’s a lavish life style that many women dream of, but she just wants to go home. So, she plots how she can do that. I’m still working out details, but I think it’s going to be an interesting one.
And I want to start working on the third book in the Seranfyll series. The second book, Eligere, ended on sort of a cliffhanger. Not a terrible one, but a definite “to be continued.” So, I’m continuing it
About the Author: Christina Daley made her first book with neighborhood friends when she was four years old. They “wrote” out some semblance of lettering with crayons, cut up a cardboard box for the cover, and bound it all together with clear adhesive tape. It was brilliant.
Quite a few years later, Christina is trying her hand at writing “real” books. She lives in Dallas, Texas, with a pet plant named Herb.
Seranfyll(Ages 10+) For the first time in her life, Rain has a choice to make.The thirteen-year-old slave girl lives in the country of Yoan, where slaves aren’t allowed proper names, let alone anything else. After being sold by a gambler and “bought” by a thief, she ends up purchased by an eccentric young nobleman named Lord Domrey Seranfyll…while he’s drunk. He’s so smashed that he actually buys nine other slaves with Rain and takes them to his massive manor in the countryside, which is rumored to be haunted. In fact, loads of rumors surround Lord Domrey. Like that his horse can fly. Or that he’s a devil.But after getting even more intoxicated, Lord Domrey does something rather peculiar: He sets all ten slaves free that same day. And then he passes out. Many of the newly freed slaves leave, but Rain chooses to stay and look after the odd young lord. He freed them, so he can’t be as bad as people say, right?But Rain’s going to learn quickly that choices have consequences, and that being “free” means much more than what she thought before.Fans of Harry Potter and Howl’s Moving Castle will enjoy this humorous and magical tale about choices, consequences, and what it really means to be free.
Lord Domrey ignored the pointing and laughing and continued singing his slippery and senseless song. His horse sidled up next to Snevil’s cart and snorted. Rain had to look twice. She thought the creature had rolled its eyes.
The rider turned in her direction and hiccoughed in surprise. “Ay? Who are you?” he asked.
Rain said nothing. She wasn’t sure how to respond, or even if she should.
He leaned towards her, squinting. The alcohol from his foul breath nearly knocked her over. “You are organic, aren’t you?” he asked. “Or am I talking to a statue again?”
Snevil ran to the horse’s other side. “Beggin’ yer pardon, young Master. But let me introduce meeself. I am Snevil, yer humble servant.”
Lord Domrey looked down at the slave trader. “Snevil?” he repeated, followed by a hiccough. “That’s a funny name. It sounds like you’re a sick and serious fellow.”
Snevil snickered. “I’m about to close up for today, m’ Lord. But if you happen to see any lass or lad servant here that you’d like to purchase, I’ll be happy to stay open a little longer.”
“Servants?” Lord Domrey repeated. He swung his leg around and slipped from the horse. His boot heels landed on the ground with a clomp! “I don’t want servants. I want guests! Don’t you know that today is my birthday?” He jabbed an unsteady finger into Snevil’s weak little chest four times with his last four words.
“And many happy returns, m’ Lord,” the slave trader said. “As a birthday present, I’ll give you a discount.”
Lord Domrey swept erratically around to the back of the cart. He pointed the same unsteady finger at each of slaves as he counted, which he bungled twice. After the third time, he said, “My good Snevil. Am I correct when I say that you’ve ten children for sale?”
“Right you are, sir. A sharp young man, m’ Lord is. Wise beyond his years.”
Lord Domrey grinned at the compliment. He raised the bottle to his lips, but when he discovered it empty, he tossed it aside. “Right then. I’ll take the lot.”
Rain gasped, and others started to whisper. Who’d ever heard of someone buying ten slaves all at once?