YA writing, dyslexia, “no such thing as plumber's block”

"I am what the writing business calls a pantser—meaning I write by the seat of my pants and don’t plot out my books."


LONE STAR LITERARY LIFE: I understand that you’re originally from Alabama, but now you call Texas home. What brought you to the Lone Star State?


C. C. HUNTER: A good-looking Texan. I had moved to Los Angeles in 1984 and met a Houstonian engineer who, because of the oil bust, had moved to find work. When the economy improved we moved here.


What surprised you about Texas when you arrived here?


I would have to say it was the small-town flavor with big-city rewards. Houston has some of the finest museums, restaurants, and entertainment venues, but still has Southern charm.


I’ve read that you come from a family of storytellers and wanted to be a writer, but you had to overcome being dyslexic. How were you able to do that?


When I was a child even dinner conversations were expected to be interesting and tell a story. Yet dyslexia kept me from dreaming of being a writer when young. Other than my grandma, no one in my family was a reader. If I hadn’t been dyslexic, I’d probably have been a book nerd. I didn’t read for pleasure until I was in my twenties. Yet by the time I was eleven, I was writing books in my head. I spent months in the same story. Always about a cute boy, of course.


I started writing at twenty-three. It took ten years before I sold my first book. I still deal with the issues of dyslexia. That said, I don’t think I’ve accomplished what I have in spite of dyslexia, but in part due to it. Being dyslexic taught me perseverance. I still leave out words and I’m still an atrocious speller—and yes, I had to look up that word. I’ll never write perfect copy, but I’m a better writer than I was, and I have everything proofed before being submitted.


As a widely published and read author in both the young adult and romance genres, but you said that you published your first book in 1994 and then didn’t publish your next until 2007. How did you handle that, and what was the turning point in 2007?


When I couldn’t sell that second book in 1994, it broke my heart. But like I said, I had dyslexia-induced tenacity. I started writing short pieces for magazines. It came with rejection, but I improved and eventually turned [that stint] into a day job. In 2000, I delved back into novel writing. I got tons of rejections then too. I’d cry, give myself a few days to have a pity party, then I’d start another book. Eight novels, seven proposals, and six years later, I not only sold my second novel, I sold four books that day. While I was improving with each book, I think the real turning point was getting an editor to take a chance on me. At the time, no one was publishing humorous romantic suspense. Janet Evanovich wrote humorous suspense, but it wasn’t really romance. They decided to give my blended genre a shot, and it paid off for them and me.


You write YA dystopian books as C. C. Hunter and humorous romantic titles as Christie Craig. Do you write one book in each genre each year? How many total books have you written?


Midnight Hour will be book thirty-five—thirty-three of which were published [since] 2007. I’ve been averaging three to four books a year, two YA and at least one romantic comedy. One or two of them of them are usually shorter works of fiction.


As someone who is so incredibly productive, can you describe your creative process for our readers?


I’ll admit it. I’m a bit of a workaholic. But I love what I do, so putting in ten to twelve hours a day is not a hardship. I am what the writing business calls a pantser—meaning I write by the seat of my pants and don’t plot out my books. I get a general idea and I just sit down and write—in my office at home. I don’t produce as well in coffee shops or even on my front porch.


When asked about writer’s block, I answer that my work ethic came from my father, who was a plumber. Not once do I recall hearing him say, “I cannot plumb today because I have plumber’s block.” Like him, I go to work every day. Some days I’m more creative, but generally, after an hour of staring at the screen, the words will flow.


More than a million readers have enjoyed your YA series Shadow Falls, and the final volume, Midnight Hour, is coming out October 25. Can you describe the series—and the latest book—for our readers?


My books are about young people dealing with various teen-related issues: identity crisis, accepting change, self-esteem problems, discovering romance, parental issues, and learning to avoid peer pressure. My characters attend Shadow Falls camp/school, and yes, these teens are all supernaturals. I like to believe I’ve humanized them by passing on my own teen issues. 


In Midnight Hour Miranda Kane is dyslexic and suffers from low self-esteem that is compounded due to being raised by a perfectionist mother. Considering Miranda is a witch, this causes chaos with her spells. Miranda not only learns to deal with her disability, but when someone she loves ends up in jeopardy, she taps into undiscovered strength and courage. All my books come with suspense, action, humor, and heart.


How has publishing changed since you started in the business?


Writing is an entertainment business. It’s constantly changing. If you don’t believe me, try to get your teen to sit down and watch Gone With the Wind. This is the reason a writer should never stop working on craft that meets today’s standards. However, the biggest change is with the ability to indie publish. Writers no longer have to conform a to publisher’s guidelines. This can be a good and a bad thing. Some writers may end up publishing their work before it’s ready.


How have readers changed since you started in the business?


In a way, readers haven’t changed. They want entertainment. However, how they read books, what they prefer to pay for a book, their desired pacing and subject matter has changed. They also want books quicker.


One final poser for you: Can you compare and contrast the writing styles of C. C. Hunter and Christie Craig?


A singer can sing country and pop and if you know that artist, you’re likely to recognize them. And [it’s] possible [to] enjoy both. I think a writing voice is the same. While my Christie Craig books are funnier and sexier, my humor and romantic tension are alive and well in my YA titles. Mystery is found in both, and while my YAs have magic, the tone is the same. In fact, I wasn’t writing YA fiction when an editor who read my adult titles approached me to write YA. Her first piece of advice, was “Don’t change your voice.”


I think one thing that defines my voice is the blending of humor and heart. Several years back someone posted on my Facebook page, “Wow! I just discovered that my two favorite authors are the same person.” Because my C. C. Hunter books are read by 60 percent adults, I have a big crossover readership.


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Praise for C. C. Hunter’s Shadow Falls series

“Fans of the Twilight series will love this series. I cannot wait to see how this all plays out in book three.” ―Fallen Angel Reviews

Awake at Dawn is addicting. Somewhere close to the middle, I knew I had to finish that day or I would not be able to sleep. I needed answers, and I just knew if I waited a little longer I would get some Lucas action. C. C. Hunter really brings these characters to life and you feel like you know them.” ―Awesome Sauce Book Club

“The newest in the super-popular teen paranormal genre, this book is one of the best. Kylie is funny and vulnerable, struggling to deal with her real-world life and her life in a fantastical world she’s not sure she wants to be a part of. Peppered throughout with humor and teen angst, Born at Midnight is a laugh-out-loud page-turner. This one is going on the keeper shelf next to my Armstrong and Meyer collections!” ―Fresh Fiction

Born at Midnight has a bit of everything ... a strong unique voice from a feisty female lead, a myriad of supporting Supernatural characters, a fiery romance with two intriguing guys—mixed all together with a bit of mystery—making Born at Midnight a surefire hit!” ―A Life Bound By Books

“I absolutely LOVED it. Wow, it blew me away.” ―Nina Bangs, author of Eternal Prey

“Fun and compulsively readable, with a winning heroine and an intriguing cast of secondary characters” ―Jenna Black, author of Glimmerglass


Houstonian Christie Craig is an award-winning author whose nonfiction and photography have appeared in almost three thousand national magazines. A finalist in more than fifty Romance Writer of America–-sponsored contests, she is known for writing romantic fiction that has both witty humor and a suspenseful tone. But her paranormal young adult series written under the pen name C. C. Hunter have catapulted her career into new levels selling more than one million copies of the Shadow Falls series.