In the Spotlight feature kicked off in April 2015 and is an opportunity for authors, editors and publishers (basically anyone in the book industry (yes, even bloggers!)) to connect with fans. There is an option to do an interview, guest post, feature a book sale or book release or a cover reveal. Best of all, it’s free! All you need to do is click on the image to reserve your spot!
Now on with the show!
C.J. Anderson is a new author who just released her first novel, Awakened, a young adult romance with a bit of science fiction last year. I first learned about C.J. and her debut novel at ICON when she attended the annual Barnes & Noble Author Fest that is held the day before ICON kicks off.
In the Spotlight with C.J. Anderson
Welcome to Second Run Reviews, C.J.! Thank you for being In the Spotlight. I appreciate you stopping by and answering a few questions. So let’s get things started
In a tweet (140 characters or less), tell us a bit about yourself.
out-of-the-box word slinger-bibliomaniac -SciFi geek -heavy metal enthusiast- outgoing/introverted fangirl
As a sci-fi and fantasy geek myself, I look forward to seeing you get more involved in ICON this year!
Please tell a bit about your journey to becoming a published author. What’s been the best things about it and the worst?
In a very vivid and imaginative dream, that was really more like a movie, I dreamed about Dru and Alayna and what is now parts of Awakened around 10 years ago. The characters just would not leave me alone and I would think about them often and it was almost as if they were talking to me. Around 7 years ago I took a creativity class and needed a project, writing a story seemed like the perfect opportunity to give life to these characters. I then took a creative writing class that focused specifically on writing young adult books. It just grew from there, although at first I was writing just for fun (even after the classes ended) and eventually became very busy with my job and put writing to the side for quite a while.
A few years later, I found out about NaNoWriMo and during that time went back to my story and ended up writing a lot of Awakened (which was then titled Revealed). Eventually that school year, a group of my 5th grade students found out about my writing and encouraged me to finish and publish it.
That following June I attended Utopiacon in Nashville. I learned a ton about the indie publishing world as well as networked with authors, bloggers, cover designers and even book cover models. Back to my students, the next school-year they had now moved on to middle school and had found me on Instagram. Through there they would still check up on me and make sure I was still going to publish my book. So, I kept working toward that goal and eventually published through Create Space and Amazon KDP in August of 2015.
Fun fact – those same students are now in middle school and are still to this day my biggest supporters!
The best thing about being a published author is meeting all different types of people. I’ve made so many great connections through both traditional means; conferences, signings, etc., and through social media. The worst thing is how much time is needed to market my book and effectively use social media. I actually like doing this, but since I teach full-time, I often feel like I’m walking a thin rope, trying to balance two careers as well as my family.
It is so cool that your students push you along and continue to check in the status of your novels.
Now, as you’ve mentioned, your first book is titled Awakened. Tell us a little about the book and where you drew your inspiration for writing it.
First, I would say the motivation to write this book in the first place stems from the fact that I am a complete fangirl, and get terrible book hangovers from loving and missing book characters so much. As a way to not have characters leave me, I created my own. Well, truthfully my subconscious created them, as I actually dreamed about Dru and Alayna several years ago. For some reason they stuck with me so I decided Drulayna would be my forever characters!
As for the rest of the book, ever since I was a little girl my favorite genre to read and to watch, has been SciFi. This fascination exists alongside an intense curiosity in science and history. What I find interesting about history is what was SciFi in the past has, in many circumstances, become a reality of the future and when you pay close attention you start to see that there are always three sides to every story; two opposing sides and the truth. Perception is reality.
I wanted to write a SciFi book with these themes and the plot then grew from a question of “what if instead of ‘science fiction becomes reality’, it is ‘reality becomes science fiction?’” I shared this idea with some students in a Greek Mythology class and it led to a conversation about the H2 series Ancient Aliens. I had not heard of the show, but soon became obsessed and began weaving different ideas presented to my plot.
You shipped a name for them. That is so awesome. No arguments from your fan club on that one; you’ve already decided what it will be.
I saw something on Facebook about the cover art for your novel. Tell us more about it! I hear it was quite a team effort. And I want to know more about the star!
…the entire project has turned into a local (Eastern Iowa) endeavor, which I did not plan or expect. But, it’s super cool and it means a lot to me!
The cover concept with the half faces of Dru and Alayna and the star in the middle was created by my 17 year-old daughter, Julia. A young man named Darian, who I met through my daughter, drew the star as well as the concept with their faces so I could share that with a graphic designer. My cover designer ended up actually being our family photographer, who works as a graphic designer.
As for the star itself, well, that is a topic in and of itself. In a nutshell, this particular star is called a Merkaba and is created by taking two tetrahedrons (one of the five platonic solids) and merging them together to create a star, one tetrahedron pointing up and one pointing down. At its most basic meaning you can see the concept of duality.
The Merkaba, however, is a very complex shape having many different properties. It is part of Sacred Geometry and its blueprint can be found in nature, for example in sunflowers and red blood cells of humans. It is also believed to be part of the electromagnetic field in the microwave range but not solely mechanical, as It is also considered to be a living energy field that responds to human thought and emotion.
As I said, the Merkaba is complex. There is a lot to it, but basically it is important in Awakened because it is the shape on Dru’s and Alayna’s rings. The Merkaba does serve a purpose, but is also important to start looking at it in this first book with regards to the symbolism of duality. More will come to light in the next book.
Wow! That’s a wonderful story. There can be so much detail about a book in a simple yet elegant cover. Thanks for sharing.
What types of books do you enjoy reading the most? What three books to you find yourself recommending to your fans over and over?
YA Science Fiction & Fantasy. Not books, but series.
- The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare
- The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
- Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
That was quick. 🙂 I can get behind The Lunar Chronicles. Loved that series and can’t wait to read the latest release that JUST came out. I believe it is a set of short stories.
What is your current obsession? Any secret obsessions you would like to share?
Currently I’m over the top obsessed with the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas. I’m sure I’ll make some fan art soon!
As for secret obsessions, I’m a fangirl, so there isn’t much that is secret about my obsessions. LOL But, most people are surprised to learn, although I fangirl Star Wars in general, that I am obsessed with Darth Vader and also another Sith Lord named Darth Bane. (Darth Bane is known for being the one to instate the “Rule of Two” where there can only be one Sith Lord and one apprentice in the galaxy at a time).
Ah, a Star Wars gal. Can’t say I ever got into Star Wars. I just missed that in my time growing up. I really obsessed about Star Trek: TNG. I had a bit of a crush on Wil Wheaton.
Any last thoughts or wise words you want to pass along?
I would encourage all the readers out there to not just look, but to SEE!
Excellent advice, C.J. I wish you luck in writing and publishing book two in the God & Guardians series and I hope that you will drop by and tell us about it when it is ready. Thank you for being In the Spotlight.
Synopsis: The new guy in town has a few secrets, among them, the ability to levitate and use telekinesis to move objects. Dru Sanjay has never been able to share his secrets outside his family. . .that is, until he meets HER. Alayna West sees the emotions of others as vivid colors, swirling in the air. She’s looking forward to a fun, normal senior year with her friends, followed by college far away from her rural roots. Those plans change when she meets HIM. Dru and Alayna have a hair raising, skin prickling, and unexplainable connection. As Alayna is drawn into Dru’s world, she learns of the Guardians-others like her who have special abilities, whose genetics can be traced back to the Gods. . .except both the Gods and the Guardians are actually extraterrestrials. . .and they aren’t the only ones who have found their way to Earth. The chemistry between Alayna and Dru is electric. . .but even while Dru struggles to keep his last secret and Alayna grapples with her emerging powers, the pair must face a threat that could change their futures forever.