It’s time for #VirtualVoyager! If you’ve never heard of #VirtualVoyager, it is an amazing week when HarperVoyager invites all its readers to celebrate Science Fiction, Fantasy, and amazing books. It’s a week full of everything a book lover could wish for: blog posts by fifteen Voyager authors, Q&As, giveaways, and plenty more bookish shenanigans.
As you can imagine, I am nothing but thrilled to take part in it. And so, it is with absolute delight that I welcome to the stage Christi J. Whitney, author of the YA fantasy novel Grey, who has an impeccable taste in television, books, theatre, and cosplay. Curious? Just keep reading.
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 strangers arrive in town, Sebastian soon realizes that his world is nothing at all what it seemed. Secretive gypsies surround him, shadowy figures stalk him, and the girl he’s been dreaming about turns up at school.
Now Sebastian must protect this girl at all costs, even if it means he will never be normal again.
A Soft Spot for Fantasy
I love fantasy stories.
That sounds like such a simple sentence, but it says so much about me and what makes me tick, not just as an author, but also as a human.
Growing up, I loved reading – basically anything I could get my hands on, really. There were the classics, such as the Little House on the Prairie books and the Nancy Drew Mystery Stories, The Secret Garden and Black Beauty.
But it wasn’t until I stumbled upon C.S. Lewis’ book The Silver Chair when I was nine years old that the world of fantasy books opened up to me. I’d never read anything quite like The Chronicles of Narnia before. It was a beautiful fairytale full of every magical creature you could imagine, brimming with emotion and passion. Its themes spoke to me so deeply that I couldn’t help but read them over and over again. From there, I moved into Tolkien’s works, and I also discovered the legendary stories of King Arthur and Robin Hood. In these books I found something completely different: a total escape from the reality I knew.
That love of fantasy spilled into other forms of entertainment. I can remember rushing home from elementary school to catch the latest episodes of Thundercats, He-Man, and Voltron. And I was privileged to experience in my childhood the magic of so many great fantasy films in all their cheesy glory – The Neverending Story, Labyrinth, Legend, and Willow, to name a few.
By the time I was a preteen, the floodgates of fantasy had spilled over into science fiction as well, mainly due to my growing love for Star Trek. And then, the most amazing show in all of time and space appeared on my television screen late one night when I was twelve years old. My local public broadcasting station was showing reruns of a British program called Doctor Who. I fell in love with the crazy alien with the big blue box and the insanely long scarf, and my love for the Doctor in all his regenerations remains steadfast to this day.
But what was it about all these books, films, and programs that captured my heart so completely? What did they have in common? For me, they offered a beautiful escape from the ordinary. They ignited my imagination. In short, they were magical.
They were the reason I wanted to write.
As a teenager, I wrote several high fantasy stories, but I didn’t have the confidence to finish any of them. Maybe I lacked the skill. Maybe it just wasn’t my niche. But then, thanks to television shows such as Beauty and the Beast and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I found a new type of fantasy to love – fantasy stories grounded in the real world.
Young adult novels fueled that flame. I began devouring paranormal and urban fantasy books, and I realized that I wanted to explore that same type of story for myself.
I live in reality, so it’s not often that I’m moved to read about it. When I pick up a book, I want to be transported – travel to another world, visit a strange dimension, or observe some supernatural creature living among us in secret. Those are the stories that excite me.
When I wrote Grey, I wanted to provide that same sense of escapism, yet grounded in reality. I wanted to explore that otherworld hidden within our own. I wanted to experience it through the eyes of a main character who was an ordinary person thrown into something fantastical. Writing fantasy is like opening the most amazing toy box in the world and getting to play with absolutely everything inside.
What’s not to love about that?