"New Worlds Are Our Oyster."
Chris Marie Green
Chris Marie Green writes urban fantasy, but also has a career in romance as “Crystal Green” (Special Edition and Blaze). Her first vampire book, THE HUNTRESS, allowed her to indulge in her love of horror movies and novels. NIGHT RISING is Book 1 of the Vampire Babylon trilogy for Ace. (MIDNIGHT REIGN will be released in February, 2008, and BREAK OF DAWN in the fall of 2008.) You can find more information about her and her work at www.vampirebabylon.com, www.crystal-green.com, and www.myspace.com/vampirebabylon .
An Interview with Chris Marie Green
PNR: Can you tell us a little about how you started writing; was it something you have always wanted to do?
Chris M. Green: I always knew that I wanted to be a writer; I thought, in some way or another, creating stories or essays or poems would naturally be a part of my life. In grade school, I wrote a lot of short stories, and a few even hinted at a darker mentality, LOL. But I wrote Superman and Indiana Jones adventures, too. I think I was always drawn to action that featured a romantic subplot. In high school, I got into competitive essay writing, and I think that trained me to do well with deadlines. But when I got to college, I dabbled with screenplay writing, as well as trying my hand at an epic historical romance that will never, ever see the light of day again. I really didn’t know the ropes when I sent my work out at first, although I did use the Writer’s Market for help. However, I didn’t get a great education about how a professional author should present her work until I attended the San Diego Writers Conference. Joining RWA (Romance Writers of America) soon afterward helped me to finally sell.
PNR: Could you tell us about your writing routine, how do you balance writing and personal time? What do you enjoy doing when you are not writing?
Chris M. Green: Being a full-time writer, I have to stick to a schedule, and that schedule depends on my deadlines. Basically, I brainstorm with my charts (Goal, Motivation, and Conflict/The Hero’s Journey/character interviews). Then I write a first-draft manuscript like I’m in a boot camp: a chapter a day and then I revise after I’ve got about three chapters done. Then it’s rinse, lather, and repeat until I’ve completed the draft. Then I polish it up and send it out. After that, I start a new project and, since I write across the genres, the routine never gets old. There’s always a new challenge in having to adapt to a fresh style and story. As for personal time, my family energizes me. So do my friends, and when I’m not being Commando Robot Girl while writing a draft, I do my share of socializing. But during draft time? Hermit. I relax by practicing yoga, walking, traveling, and being a total pop culture junkie. (My Crystal Green blog will attest to that.)
PNR: What is the best part about being a writer? The most frustrating?
Chris M. Green: I love when someone contacts me to ask questions about my stories or to let me know that I connected with them through the writing. The most frustrating thing is not having enough time to write everything I want to, LOL. Luckily, I ‘ve got lots of stories filed away. I try to remember to write every idea down because it always feels good to have backups.
PNR: What do you consider to be the key elements of a great story?
Chris M. Green: As a reader, I love to be transported to a new world where I can learn. I love to be intrigued, as well. I always look to STAR WARS to analyze (and enjoy) what a successful story contains: a character who grows throughout the adventure; a well-lived in, fully realized world; an emotional arc that eventually pays off.
PNR: Who or what has been the biggest influence on your work? Who or what has been your biggest support?
Chris M. Green: I would say that every movie I’ve watched and every book I’ve read has influenced me. They were instruction manuals that told me how to tell a story and how to make the words on the page a reality for the mind. (I pretty much enjoyed the heck out of them, too.) If I had to pinpoint the most profound influences, I’d say STAR WARS is a biggie (see above). I had quite a few writing teachers who were mentors, too. Ms. Cheese from high school taught me to push myself and improve my craft. And there was an instructor who taught me the importance of details and of revising—and I didn’t want to hear how important revising was at the time. Believe me. When you’re just starting out, you want to believe that everything is gold the first time you write it, LOL. I’ve been fortunate enough to have great teachers, and I wish I could thank them all face to face. My biggest support has been my family. My parents didn’t put pressure on me, but they managed to let me know that they believed in me every step of the way. Of course, my critique group, including Judy Duarte (www.judyduarte.com) and Sheri WhiteFeather (www.sheriwhitefeather.com) have been instrumental, too.
PNR: Congratulations on your February release of NIGHT RISING from Ace; the first title in your Vampire Babylon series; could you tell us where the idea came from and a little about your vision for the series?
Chris M. Green: Thank you! I was writing something other than mysteries and vampires at the time, and I realized that I wasn’t using my love for horror and darkness much. So I wrote my first vampire fantasy book, THE HUNTRESS, and the experience was so fulfilling that I wanted to do it again. While I was plotting THE HUNTRESS, I had another idea for vampires, but I knew the story couldn’t be told in only one book, so I went for a trilogy. At first, I thought about using a stuntwoman who gets drawn in to solving a mystery by a strange paranormal agency in L.A. That evolved into having her father disappear and having her solve his whereabouts at some point. Then I worked in that THREE MEN AND A BABY urban legend about the ghostly boy who’s supposedly lurking in the background of a scene. The noir tone came naturally, and I realized that the featured vampires were going to be pretty erotically inclined, and I love to write those steamy scenes (especially when it comes to The Voice, the head of the “agency”). Since Vampire Babylon will be told in trilogies (I just sold a second trio to Ace.), I had the room to flesh out several elements that would’ve been shortchanged if they’d been limited to just one book. First, there’s the heroine’s need to fight her own personal demons, because Dawn has to deal with more than vampires: she has to evaluate how far she will go to reach an understanding about herself. Initially, she’s not fighting to save the world as much as to keep hers together. Second, I was able to add complexity to the mysteries—and there are quite a few of them. All of them couldn’t be solved in the first book, so the solving had to be gradual. For instance, a main question concerning the heroine’s father will be answered in the second book, even though there’s another main mystery going on—one that will still be entwined with this vampire underground that the heroine and her team discover in NIGHT RISING. The third book will tie up the loose ends, including the identity of a main character, but there’s still plenty to deal with in a new trilogy, believe me.
PNR: Readers and reviewers are raving about NIGHT RISING, how does it feel to have such positive recognition for your work?
Chris M. Green: It’s a relief, <G>. I’m really grateful to the people who take time out of their day to reach out with a congratulations. This has been said before, but it’s worth repeating: a book is an author’s baby, and we love them. Hence, all positive recognition is much appreciated, LOL.
PNR: Your story blends a number of paranormal abilities and beings, was this challenging?
Chris M. Green: Oh, yes. I decided right off the bat that it might be worth my while to sit down and write out a bible so I could refer to which vampire had this or that ability, or what the background of so-and-so was. If you add the mystery element to all the paranormal things going on, that doubles the potential confusion. You have to recall who knows what, and how would so-and-so react to what another character just revealed?
PNR: Can you tell us about the challenges you face in world building and making it work with the ideas you have in mind for the progression of your characters and the series? Do you write your characters to fit the world you have created or vice versa?
Chris M. Green: I can’t tell you how many times I’ve woken up in the middle of the night because of some plot/world hole that my subconscious has just discovered. Seriously, when I’m writing these books, I’ll wake up about five times per thwarted slumber session. I keep paper by the bed, but this doesn’t mean that what I scribble down makes any sense in the morning. In essence, I am whacked out during the writing process with Vampire Babylon.
It’s hard to say whether I write mainly for my world or for my characters because they feed on each other as the story goes along. I do try to keep my world pretty close to what I’ve written in the bible though, because otherwise, it’s massive confusion. I pencil in every single change to the world, no matter how minor, because it will come back to bite me in the butt. I just know it.
PNR: Do you feel your writing is character driven or plot driven? How do you balance these two elements?
Chris M. Green: I think I start with characters most of the time, but the characters and the story are usually so braided into each other that it’s hard to say which comes first…. I did have an initial premise in mind for the plot’s driving mystery (I shouldn’t reveal it because some of you haven’t read NIGHT RISING yet!), so there’s that. But then again, the heroine often makes choices that drive the story.
PNR: Could you tell us a little about how you develop your characters? Who has been your favorite character to write? The most challenging?
Chris M. Green: When I brainstorm, I start off with a GMC chart (Goal, Motivation, and Conflict—Debra Dixon, thank you!). Not only does this clarify the essence of a character for me, it also gives me a clear idea of what needs to develop with a premise. Then I ask interview questions. There are the basic ones (What do you look like? Hobbies? Family?) and the more interesting ones (What did your high school yearbook say about you? What’s in your purse/wallet? What’s your motto?) One of the most important questions is: What is your greatest fear? The characters always strive to overcome this, without fail, and it normally results in the “dark moment.”
My favorite character? That’s the toughest question, LOL. I love my fierce ones a lot: Dawn Madison, Camille Howard, Katsu Espinoza. They all go balls out to face the challenge they’re given, even if they’re scared to death at the horrifying stakes. The most challenging of those was probably Katsu Espinoza, the heroine from an atmospheric thriller I wrote called BAITED. Not only did I have to deal with how she reacted to the mystery and the terrifying things that happened to her in the book, but she was half-Japanese, half-Mexican/American. Research would’ve been more of a battle if I hadn’t been lucky enough to visit some friends who were living in Japan. While I was there, I was able to really form her character because I’d already sold the story.
PNR: How would you describe the sensuality level of your books; do you find it challenging to write the love/sex scenes?
Chris M. Green: All my books really vary, from sweeter to hotter. Vampire Babylon is hotter, and writing the love/sex scenes are some of my favorite parts, <G>. There’s something freeing about being able to just go for it, no matter who I think might be reading the book (Hi, Mom!). Back when I wrote my first hotter love scene, I freaked out, so I sat myself down in front of the TV, watched WILD ORCHID, and drank amaretto over ice. Then I had no issues. Now I just hop right in to it.
PNR: Why do you feel the vampire is such a popular character in books, movies and television?
Chris M. Green: For me, it’s the fear mixed with the sexual forbidden. Vampires can represent either one, or even both. They’re above death, and never have to worry about aging, which is an issue our society encourages us to fear. Men have searched for eternal youth for eons, but these are creatures who have the power to stay vital. I think most vampires are all about ecstasy, too, and they want to initiate the innocent in to that realm…at a cost, of course. And the victims don’t always mind paying it.
PNR: Paranormal romance is experiencing an incredible surge in popularity, what do you feel accounts for the sudden interest in the genre? What is it about the paranormal genre that captures your imagination?
Chris M. Green: I’m surprised interest ever waned, to tell you the truth. But I personally think BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER had a lot to do with this popularity. BUFFY was of such high quality that it attracted people who wouldn’t have otherwise given horror/paranormal/fantasy a chance. I was teaching eighth graders when the series was at its strongest, and I was surprised at who was watching the show. I think the program revitalized the genre, and so did the Anita Blake books.
As far as the paranormal genre in general goes, I’m attracted to the fact that anything can happen. Your imagination is the limit, and that lends a feeling of freedom and power.
PNR: Could you tell us about your writing as Crystal Green; why did you decide to use a pseudonym for different genres?
Chris M. Green: Vampire Babylon is more extreme than most stories I’d always written. It’s more of a “book with romantic elements” than a pure romance, which is how my other stories had been marketed. I decided that “Chris Marie Green” was going to signify my more mainstream urban fantasies or thrillers and that “Crystal Green” would become my pure romance pen name.
PNR: What is your favorite genre to write? Is there any style or genre of book that you would like to try but haven’t yet?
Chris M. Green: I love all of them, but I’m most challenged by urban fantasy and the atmospheric thriller. I’d like to do another thriller like BAITED, but right now, I’m content with what’s on my plate. <g>
PNR: Could you tell us about your current projects, what can readers expect to see in the coming months? A sneak peek perhaps?
Chris M. Green: Cool! This month I’ve been doing just about everything: another Special Edition proposal for a miniseries called The Suds Club, a Blaze that takes place on Route 66, and a noir vampire novella for Berkley Sensation that I was recently contracted to do. That one, tentatively entitled FIRST BLOOD, will come out in June, 2008, after Vampire Babylon Book 2 and before Book 3. The story will use the VB world, but it’s going to explain what happened to Sorin’s twin vampire “daughters” who are mentioned briefly in Book 1. (You’ll see them again in Book 2, as well….) Since Books 2 and 3 are already turned in, I’ll be starting on the second VB trilogy in a few months. I have it planned out and…well, I can’t wait to get it going!
PNR: Thank you Chris, for taking time out to talk to us. Where can readers find out what’s new and how can they contact you?
All the best, to everyone, and I appreciate your time and effort, Dee!
a.k.a. Crystal Green
February 1, 2007
Vampire Babylon series: Book 1
Welcome to Hollywood—after dark…
Stuntwoman Dawn Madison is a girl with a lot of attitude—and a lot of issues, mostly about living up to the legacy of her mother, a world famous movie star/sex symbol, whose death left Dawn to be raised by her dad Frank, nobody’s notion of single-father-of-the-year. Now that she’s all grown up, she and Frank aren’t on the best of terms, to say the least.
Still, he is her dad, and when he vanishes while investigating the bizarre sighting—caught on film—of a supposedly long-dead child star, she comes home to Tinseltown to join the search for him. Working with his colleagues—a psychic short in stature but big in dreams of stardom, a beautiful Latina techno-geek, and the P. I. firm’s never-seen boss—she discovers an erotic and bloody underground society made up of creatures she thought existed only on the screen.
They are devious. They are deadly. And some of them are dangerously attractive…
Vampire Babylon series: Book 2
~Coming February 2008
Break of Dawn
Vampire Babylon series: Book 3
Harlequin Blaze #334
July 1, 2007
One dark, wild night a mysterious stranger seduced Kim Wright, changing her forever. He did wicked things to her, things she'd never dared dream of.
He even bit her! And by doing so, he transformed Kim from an inexperienced mouse to a sinfully sexy woman.
A woman who craved more of what only Stephen could give her.
Now, a year later, Kim has finally found Stephen again. And she still wants him, desperately. But Stephen's not like other men. He can't get attached to any one woman. Still, he can't resist sinking his teeth into Kim just one more time.
Too bad Kim's not going to let Stephen get away that easily.
Titles Writing as
Featured in this issue:Interviews with: L. A. Banks Margaret L. Carter Nathalie Gray Chris Marie Green F E Heaton Doreen Orsini Jaden Sinclair
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