Monday 21 October 2013

Guest Author Interview - RJ Crayton

In today's guest author interview I welcome ninja mom RJ Crayton, author of 'Life First', you can find out what she has to say below:

Please introduce yourself, who are you and what do you do?
I call myself a ninja mom, I know how to hang drywall and I have a not-so-secret addiction to cupcakes. TMI, huh? OK. Let's start over. My name is RJ Crayton and I'm an American author, living just outside Washington, DC. The R stands for Rasheeda, if you're curious; and I tell no one what the J stands for because I don't have to. At present I write fiction and mom (yes, I'm using that as a verb). The fiction writing is actually very pleasant after dealing with the squabbles I referee as a mom. Prior to writing fiction, I was a journalist and worked for big publications like the Wichita Eagle and Kansas City Star and little publications like Solid Waste Report. If you ever run into me in person, I might tell you an American city with high levels of airborne mercury due to a checkered landfill incineration past (see, you thought working at a place called Solid Waste Report would be boring; so not true.)

What first inspired you to start writing?
I haven't a clue. I've always loved to write, ever since I was a child. I'm sure there was something that inspired it, but I'd be hard pressed to tell you.

If you could spend a day with anyone from history, who would it be and why?
This was a tough question to answer, because a lot of people popped into my mind. Famous noteworthy people like John F. Kennedy, Mother Teresa, Malcolm X. But, in the end, one of the things I'm most curious about is the Egyptian pyramids. As such, I think I'd like to spend the day with an Egyptian monument architect. I'm curious how they built the pyramids and sphynxes and what inspired them to design everlasting monuments such as these. Now, hopefully, if this were to really happen, I'd get to spend the day with two people: the architect and a translator (as I know exactly NO Egyptian; not a single iota).

What was the last book you read?
Hmmm. I'm going to cheat a little. The actual last book I read was a whimsical romance that I enjoyed. The last book I read that I just loved I read right before the romance and I would recommend this book to everyone. It's called The Genius in All of Us by David Shenk. It is a completely stellar book that explains how our genes are not these definitive things that tell us who we are or are going to be. We thought evolution happened over a period of centuries, but genes are built to adapt quite easily and depending on your environment, the exact same set of genes can produce two completely different creatures (turtles with the exact same genes exposed to light/vs darkness in their early months turn out completely different colors). It's the most fascinating book, and it discusses the fact that our DNA is wrapped in another layer of cells that react to the environment and tell the DNA whether/when/ and how to turn on. Absolutely a must read. Please do. (And, no I am not related to Mr. Shenk. It was just an utterly fascinating book.)

Where is your happy place?
Roller skating. I love to rollerskate, and when I'm on wheels and rolling, I'm happy.

What is the best piece of writing advice you have received?
Gosh, that's tough, because nothing has ever stood out in my mind where I go, yeah, that's perfect. I've sort of taken in lots of pieces of advice and integrated them into my thought/writing process, without distilling out some wonderful great thing. But, to answer the question as best I can, I'll offer you two things. The best piece of writing advice is: Capture the reader's attention and hold it. However that's a very wishy washy piece of advice as it offers nothing practical. The best practical piece of advice I've received is regarding the old adage of "show don't tell," which I find to be a particularly useless piece of advice. Instead, an agent once told me: "Imagine the scene you're writing is a movie. Describe everything that you would see/hear on the screen, as well as the stuff you wouldn't: smells, tastes." That was helpful, applicable advice.

What is your favourite song lyric?
I love songs that are stories and even have a note to blog about story songs. Some of my favorite song stories are Rupert Holmes' Escape (also known as the Pina Coloada song), Norweigan Wood (by the Beatles) and A Boy Named Sue (written by Shel Silverstein). If you've never seen the lyrics to these songs, Google them. You'll be glad you did. My favorite song lyric, however, comes from the Oscar nominated song Rainbow Connection (my favorite version is the one performed by Jim Henson as Kermit the Frog): "Have you been half asleep and have you heard voices? I've heard them calling my name. Is this the sweet sound that called the young sailors. The voice might be one and the same. I've heard it too many times to ignore it. It's something that I'm supposed to be." I guess that's really more than "a lyric," but I tried pulling out one line and it loses its luster alone. As a writer, this section just totally speaks to me. Though, it probably speaks to all dreamers.

What are you working on at the moment?
At the moment, I'm working on the sequels to my novel Life First as well as a young adult novel that I'm having a great deal of trouble coming up with a title for.

Tell us about your latest work and how we can find out more.
My latest work is Life First, and you can buy it online at several retailers, including: Amazon USAmazon UK, Smashwords and the Apple Store.

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