I am excited to welcome Chris Clarkson to the BookEnds team!
Chris and I connected through the good old slush pile. Yep, no contest, conference pitch, or Twitter event, just a query in my inbox, which led to an offer of representation. I couldn’t stop thinking about his YA manuscript, its powerful characters and premise, and his voice shined through on every page.
Hope you enjoy learning more about Chris!
Tell us a bit about your writing process. Where do you write, and how often?
I tend to be an all-or-nothing writer. When the creative juices are flowing, I can spend hours at a time writing. I once wrote sixty pages in a single sitting in a stream-of-consciousness fervor.
I prefer to isolate myself in a closed room or study when writing a scene that requires heavy emotions like sadness or anger, so I can ward off the questions:
Why do you look so sad?
Are you mad at me?
Do you have any writing rituals? (e.g. burning a candle if you’re having trouble getting started at the computer or writing longhand first if you’re feeling uninspired.)
I love to burn candles! It’s very rare that I end up writing in the setting that my book takes place in. If my story is set in south Georgia and I’m in Dallas I will go to a candle shop and buy scents to transfer me to the same space as my characters.
To create atmosphere, I will research the places that I haven’t been, from topography to the history of the area.
I also ‘cast’ actors who closely resemble my vision of the character to aid with the visual process of bringing my story to life.
What do you love about writing YA?
I am all over the map when it comes to genres. However, I consistently write YA and most of my stories are set in the Deep South.
I mostly write Southern Gothic, Sci-Fi and Fantasy.
Why did you choose the genre you’ve chosen?
What I love the most about Southern Gothic is that it takes the tropes typically found in Southern Literature and flips them on their head. Southern Gothic looks at the ugly and the good and blurs the lines.
What is the hardest part about writing Southern Gothic?
Southern Gothic requires the author to strip preconceived notions and look at the world and dig deeper. Typically, characters are not what they appear to be. The hero can also be the villain, and the villain—no matter how heinous—has another side to them.
What are the last two books you read?
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson
If money were no object, what would be your dream writing location?
What’s your favorite piece of writing advice you’ve received?
When I am unsure about what I’m writing I will tear apart every single word and hit delete-delete-delete like it’s my day job. In my writing group a friend reminded me that even artists started with a block of granite or a blank easel and the most important thing is to get something on the paper, so it can be perfected later.
Do you have a writing playlist or a vision board? If so, what’s on them?
I love instrumental music. The Album Leaf. Explosions in the Sky.
Drink of choice when writing? When not writing?
Coke when writing. Sweet Tea on tap.
What advice would you give to other authors in the query trenches?
Stick with it! I’ve been looking for a literary agent for a few years now. I would write a story, query about twenty agents, and then stop. Keep with it.
Also, write the book that you want to read. Before I got an agent, I would look for the current trends, but with Southern Blood I wrote the story that I wanted to read. And it worked for me!
If you could meet any author, living or dead, who would you want to meet and why?
Toni Morrison. She is a phenomenal writer.