Hey everyone! Today I’m posting something super exciting! An author interview with the one and only Christine Manzari (or @xenatine)! I had the amazing opportunity to ask her some questions a couple weeks ago and I’m so excited for you guys to see this!!!!!! Eeeek!
If you don’t know who Christine Manzari is, she’s the super awesome author of The Sophisticates Trilogy, a YA series (that I read two books of and absolutely loved) and many other amazing books! She’s also like the best bookstagrammer ever and owns so many books! I’m so grateful for this opportunity so thank you Christine for taking the time to answer these questions!
Buy Christine’s books on amazon here.
When did you begin writing?
I have always loved writing and even went to writing camp during the summer for a couple of years in middle school but I didn’t start writing my first book until January 2010.
What would be considered your favourite book?
It’s a toss up between The Cruel Prince and Gemina, although I love the Harry Potter series and one of my new favourites is A Curse So Dark and Lonely. I also really loved Dance of Thieves.
Where are you from?
I’m from Maryland, USA. I’ve lived most of my life here and can’t imagine living anywhere else.
Where did you go to university?
I went to the University of Maryland and got my degree in Fine Art.
What are some your sources of inspiration while writing?
I actually find most of my inspiration in quiet time. Sometimes I’ll take a drive at night by myself and I come up with a lot of my ideas that way. Anything can be inspirational though….a pretty landscape, an interesting road name, a news story, a unique person I see out and about, a song. Inspiration is a funny thing…it’s not found in any one place. It comes from the world around me.
What was your favourite book as a child?
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I was also really obsessed with the Chronicles of Prydain. I never hear anyone talking about that series.
What do you think is hardest about writing?
Finding quiet time. I can’t do it with distractions around.
What book character would you like to meet the most? What would you guys talk about?
I’d want to meet Ella Malikova. We’d probably just gossip about everyone. I love her sense of humor and that she never plays the victim card.
What do you like to do other than read and write?
Are there other things to do? Just kidding. I like to exercise and go to the movies. I’m also very close to my family so I like to spend time with them as often as possible. But I’d probably say one of my favourite leisure time activities is going to the movies.
Who is your favourite author at the moment?
Jay Kristoff and Holly Black. Jay is hilarious and brilliant and so down to earth. Holly has written a series I’m obsessed with. I would read anything either have them have written and plan to go back and read some of their backlist books.
When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
I always wanted to be a writer. I think the better answer to that is when did I realize I COULD be a writer. It was when I was pregnant with my third child and I knew I had to channel my creative energy. I read a blog post by Stephanie Meyer about how she would write while her kids were at sports practice and such. I realized that just because I was a mom, that didn’t mean I couldn’t be a writer too. That blog post inspired me to give writing a try.
Are the characters from your books inspired by anyone in your life?
There are definitely characters in my books that have been inspired by friends. In my YA dystopian series, there is a character named Sterling who is snarky like a friend of mine from college. In Hooked, the character Jay is inspired by my friend José who actually calls himself ‘cupcake’ just like Jay does. In Hitched, the character Flex is inspired by a friend from college who is named Felix. And just like Flex, Felix was passionate about his ping-pong games. In my co-written book The Pledge, Caz is inspired by my adrenaline junkie friend Dave. All of these guys had larger than life personalities that I wanted to capture on the page. And the funny thing is that people often say those are their favourite characters.
Have you ever gotten into a major reading slump? If so, how do you suggest we get out of one?
I’ve never gotten into a major one, but I find that switching genres helps me avoid reading slumps. If I just read a fantasy, often I’ll pick up a romcom or contemporary to switch it up a bit.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a writer and an artist. I was a graphic designer for 10 years after college and now I’m a writer.
What is the first book (if you remember) that made you cry?
I don’t cry very easily. I can actually name the books that have made me cry. Clockwork Princess, The Fault in Our Stars, and Brightside. There is also one scene that I wrote in my co-written book The Color of Us that always made me cry when I had to edit.
What author do you own the most books of?
It’s a tie between JK Rowling, Sarah J. Maas, and Cassie Clare.
What are your favourite genres of books?
Fantasy is my first love but I also really enjoy scifi, dystopian, and romcom.
What is an under-appreciated novel?
The Iron Fey series by Julie Kagawa.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Read. Read a lot. The more you read the better writer you will be. I’d also say write even when you don’t feel inspired. You can edit bad writing but if you don’t write, you have nothing. And if you’re feeling uninspired to write the next chapter or scene, write one you’re excited about even if it’s not what’s next.
Which books did you just finish reading recently and enjoyed?
A Curse So Dark and Lonely, is a Beauty and the Beast retelling which was amazing. One of my new favourite books. I also recently finished King of Scars and it had an epic plot twist at the end. And of course, The Wicked King. I adore that series and Jude and Cardan.
What do you need to have with you when you are writing?
Mostly I just need quiet and something to drink…a water or a coke.
What does your writing space look like?
I have a couple places. I have a secret room hidden behind a bookcase that I write in at night. It’s painted turquoise and has tons of Cardan and Jude fan art in it. During the day when no one is home, I write in my library which has two huge bay windows that overlook our property. We live on 9 acres and so it looks like farmland. Very peaceful. I also have a writing desk for my treadmill down in my home gym but I don’t use that often.
Approximately how long does it take you to write a novel?
Usually about six months if all goes well. I edit as I go so I usually write pretty clean manuscripts.
What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?
I think good self-editing is important. Make sure you’re not overusing words or phrases. Most importantly you have to show not tell. Too many authors like to do info dumps where they just give a lot of facts. Make the reader feel and see and hear what is going on, don’t just tell them.
How do you handle literary criticism?
It depends on who it is from. If it’s from an editor or beta reader, I take it very seriously. I have asked them to help me make my story better so if they have a question or concern, likely a reader will too. After the book is published, however, I avoid reviews like the plague. There is nothing I can do to fix the story once it’s been published so I don’t read the reviews. I realize that not everyone is going to like my books and one bad review can erase 100 good ones in my mind, so I don’t read them.
Which of your books were the most enjoyable to write?
Hated was the easiest one for me to write, but Redemption was my favourite. I have always loved reading and writing YA and everything came together so perfectly at the end. Even things I hadn’t originally planned while writing the first book. There is one particular character who became so much more than I had hoped. One day I might write a spinoff series about her. There is actually a short story I wrote about her that is available in the ebook boxed set.
What are you reading now?
I am reading Queen of Air and Darkness. It is a massive book but I love these characters.
Roughly how many books do you think you own?
Somewhere between 1,000-1,500. There are piles of books everywhere.
Do you plan on publishing more books soon?
Yes! I’m actually writing two books right now. One is a fantasy and one is a steampunk fantasy. I hope to try to get a literary agent and get traditionally published.
Which author (living or dead) would you like to meet?
Jay Kristoff, Holly Black, Leigh Bardugo, Cassandra Clare, and Mary E Pearson are all authors I would love to meet and haven’t had a chance to yet.
Check out Christine’s series Hearts of Stone, College Bound (co-written with Laura Ward), and The Sophisticates on Goodreads!
Christine’s Instagram: @xenatine
I hope you enjoyed this interview and thanks once again to Christine Manzari for this opportunity! I can’t wait to read your upcoming novels! 🙂
Have an awesome weekend!!!!!