Howdy lovelies! Welcome to Interview FoxSeat with guest author Chani Lynn Feener aka Tempest C. Avery
Chani Lynn Feener has wanted to be a writer since the age of ten during fifth grade story time. She majored in Creative Writing at Johnson State College in Vermont, and graduated in 2012. To pay her bills, she has worked many odd jobs, including, but not limited to, telemarketing, order picking in a warehouse, and filling ink cartridges. When she isn’t writing, she’s binging TV shows, drawing, or frequenting zoos/aquariums. Chani is also the author of self-published teen paranormal series, The Underworld Saga, originally written under the penname Tempest C. Avery. She currently resides in Connecticut, but lives on Goodreads.com.
Book blurb: Unhinged is a teen paranormal.
Spencer Perry lost everything the day her boyfriend died. Even when he came back as a ghost, she was never able to return to her old self. Determined to find a way to bring both of them back–him from the dead and her from her depression–Spencer hops a ride with a Reaper across the river to the Underworld where she meets the god of the dead. Hadrian isn’t what she expected Hades to be like, but when he agrees to a deal that can get her Micah back, she puts all caution aside and accepts. Too bad she didn’t realize that she’d also just accepted a lot more then one gorgeous yet frustrating god. Bad things are happening all around her, and now she not only has to worry about keeping Micah’s ghost status a secret from their friends, but also figure out who’s behind all of the accidents. All signs point towards Hadrian, but something about that just doesn’t feel right to her. Something that she hopes has nothing to do with her growing attraction towards him.
If you use a Pen Name why did you choose it? I only recently switched over to my real name because I’m going to be traditionally published. I’ve been using a pen name up until this point to make it easier to focus on my writing, and writing what I want to without having to worry about, say, a boss seeing and thinking it ridiculous. Basically, until I could make it my actual career, I didn’t want use my real name. I chose Tempest because that’s what it felt like was in me, and writing was my way of getting it out. Avery I decided on because I’ve always loved the name. And the middle initial C. was to help me transition to my actual name if/when I finally got picked up by a publishing house.
Why do you write? I love being able to tell stories, and put some of the made up places and things in my head down on paper. It’s a great outlet whenever I feel overwhelmed by anything; it helps ground me. I also remember what it was like when I was younger and needed an escape, and how books were the greatest form of getting out of my own head for a while. I’ve always hoped that I could do that for someone else, help them just step out of their life and their troubles for even twenty minutes.
When did you decide to become a writer? I decided I wanted to become a writer when I was nine. It was the middle of story time and my fifth grade teacher was reading BFG to us and suddenly it just clicked for me that someone had to have written it. Someone wrote it, and now thousands of people all over the world read it. I loved that idea that so many people could read the same thing and have different reactions and feelings for it.
How long does it usually take you to complete a book? Not long. The first draft always comes really quickly, especially if I’m excited about it. A few I’ve finished within two weeks, others take me about a month or so. But it’s usually not longer than that. Again, that’s if I’m really into what I’m writing. There have been times where a story got away from me and I was no longer excited. I’ve got at least six unfinished projects that I may never touch again.
What made you decide to sit down and actually start something? I wrote my first novel when I was fifteen. It was awful. Seriously, the worst. But after knowing that it was something I wanted since I was nine, I woke up one day and figured I might as well get started. Practice makes perfect, after all, and I realized that I’d probably write a lot of crap before I wrote something decent. Since then I’ve written over twenty books, not all of them good.
Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured? I write when I feel like writing. When the story starts distracting me so that I can’t focus on anything but writing, that’s when I do it. I try not to ever force it, or over think it. I’m lucky that I’ve gotten to a place where I’m comfortable doing that, and I know that I don’t have to beat myself up over writers block—which happens.
How do you think you’ve evolved creatively? I went to college and studied Creative Writing, which helped immensely. Having the correct tools and surrounding myself with likeminded people all reaching for the same goal helped me to focus and evolve as a writer. In comparison to that first book written when I was fifteen, my newer stuff is gold. That’s not to say it’s necessarily good, but my craft is definitely better than it was.
Do you listen to music or watch TV/movie while you write? I’ll sometimes listen to music, depending on if there’s anyone else in the house, just so I don’t get distracted. Usually I’ll pick one song that mirrors the mood of the book I’m writing and I put it on repeat. When I’m burned out/hit one of those writer blocks, I’ll watch TV and or a movie to sort of recharge creatively. Watching other people’s stories—or reading them—helps inspire me to get back to working on my own.
What have you written? Currently, I’ve got a teen paranormal saga available, the first book of which is titled Unhinged. I’ve also got a book that’s going to be published by Swoon Reads next summer that’s in the editing process. The title of that has been changed, but it was originally Prisoner of Glass. There are also two more books available on Swoonreads.com right now that can be read for free for the time being.
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just seeing where an idea takes you? I like to have a basic concept, like, this is going to be about aliens, or werewolves, or Norse mythology. Then I like to get a couple of the characters down, just their names really. The main character I flesh out a bit more, maybe decide on hair and eye color and whatnot. Other than that, I just go for it. Most of the time I have no idea what’s going to happen next. Sometimes a twist will just happen and I’ll have to sit back and be like, “Oh, so that’s why this person said/did that four chapters back!” I think those are the best, the books that just pour out of you.
Do you design your own book covers or have someone else? If you use someone else would you tell us who/website? Up until this point I was designing them myself. My next book I won’t be because for books that are traditionally published covers are usually handled by the publishing house.
Is there any marketing technique you used that had an immediate impact on your sales figures? For Unhinged I did a lot of self promotion using sites like Goodreads, and I offered up a lot of giveaways where people had the chance to win the book. I also posted certain books for free up on sites like Wattpad, just to help build a small following.
Any advice for aspiring authors? Just keep writing, and don’t make excuses. Everyone feels like they’re too busy to write, I know I do half the time as well, but you can only lean on that for so long. Sometimes, even if I only have five minutes, I’ll make sure I type a thought down or a line or two. Half the notes on my phone are snippets of books I’m currently working on. Even if it’s just a sentence a day, that’s still more than you had before, and you can’t go anywhere if you’re doing nothing.
Give us an insight into your main character. What does he do that is so special? The main character in Unhinged is a girl named Spencer Perry, whose boyfriend recently died in an accident. She decides that she’s done grieving, and that there has to be a way to bring him back. This leads her to the Underworld, and has her making a bargain with Hades. I think the fact that she’s willing to risk everything is what makes her special, though, I’m pretty biased.
Where do your ideas come from? All sorts of things. Sometimes I’ll read a book and think, what if this happened instead? And then an entirely different story will steam from that. Other times I’ll see a fight scene on TV and think, I’d love to write a really badass character who knows martial arts, and another story will come of that. I’ve looked at a starling before and thought, huh, how can I make a book out of that.
What is the hardest thing about writing? Pushing yourself to just do it. Like I said earlier, I’m lucky that now I’m comfortable sitting back and going a day or two without writing because I know I’ll eventually have that spark again, but I think for most people merely sitting down and committing is hard. Even if it turns out to be crap in the end, writing a book is writing a book. I think everyone who wants to do it, should. After actually finding the time to write it, editing is probably the next hardest. Personally, I hate rewrites.
What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book? I put a lot of myself and my own experiences/thoughts in my latest book, which isn’t usually something that I do. At least, not to that extent. Writing it, because of that, was extremely hard and I had to keep stopping and asking myself if I was writing more crap or if it was somewhat decent. It’s hard to put so much of yourself into something that you know other people are eventually—hopefully—going to read and judge. I have to keep telling myself that if even one person likes it, it was worth it.
What is your favorite movie or TV show? My favorite movie is Four Brothers, and my favorite TV show is Buffy the Vampire Slayer. MF: I love Buffy! And Four Brothers is a movie I can watch over and over and never get tired of it.
Which writers inspire you? All of them. Anytime in the past when I felt like giving up, I just took a breath and thought back on all of the books in the library or books store. If they could do it, surely I could to. I think that alone, the fact that they worked hard and achieved their dream, is inspiration enough.
What is the current book you are promoting? I guess technically I’m supposed to be promoting the book that’s getting published, but…I don’t think I can release the new title yet, and because it’s still undergoing edits there’s really not much I can say. It’s about aliens and a girl who gets mistake for one.
You mentioned you’re writing a new story. How about a teaser? The story I just finished is about a girl who travels between this shadow world that she doesn’t believe is real. After her best friend’s death, she basically think she’s hallucinating and doesn’t care because it helps her to cope. Then she finds out the world is actually real, and that there are dark things lurking within. The book is titled Ulalume, and the shadow world is vaguely described as the setting in that poem.
Who is your favorite character in your book and why? I guess I’ll go back to Unhinged for this question, because it’s so readily available. I think my favorite character in that is Hadrian, aka Hades, because he’s so clever yet so easily distracted by the heroine, Spencer.
Who is your least favorite character and why? That would probably have to be Micah, Spencer’s deceased boyfriend, because even as I was writing him I realized how wrong for her he was. But the heart wants what the heart wants. Even fake hearts.
Who is your favorite fictional character and why? Gansey from Maggie Stiefvater’s the Raven Cycle. I just love his character.
Do you have any fur babies to brag about? I have two cats, Sylar and Mystik. They’re the best. Sylar plays fetch, and they both come when I call them. Sometimes they think they’re dogs, clearly. MF: Adorable!
Do you ever feel self-conscious when writing love/sex scenes? Yes! I felt less so when I had a pen name, but now that I know all of my books are going to be under my actually name…yes. It’ll be pretty awkward if any of my friends or family reads my work.
What are some of your favorite books and why? I have a bunch of favorites, but my all time would probably be The Road, by Cormac McCarthy, The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater, Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, and Life of Pi, by Yann Martel. All of these books focus on different aspects of what it means to be human, and how people react and deal with the hand that they’re dealt. I love books with characters who seem like real people, and who handle conflict in realistic ways.
What do you think of traditional publishing vs. self-publishing? I love them both. For me, self-publishing was as way to get my name out there (or at least my work, seeing as how I used a pen name initially) and acted as a first step towards getting traditionally published. I mean, let’s face it, we all want to see our books on shelves at Barnes and Noble or the like. That being said, while, for me anyway, getting traditionally published has always been the goal, self-publishing is a great way to discover new authors and stories that I might not have gotten the chance to otherwise. There are a ton of indie books that I’ve read over the years and immediately wondered why they hadn’t gotten picked up by a publishing house.
Would you say there is a stigma to being self-published? I think when you initially tell someone that you self-publish there isn’t a lot of reaction, good or otherwise. Usually it’s met with, “Oh, that’s nice”. This is probably because of how easy it’s been made over the past few years. Literally anyone can self publish their book, whether it’s good or bad. Unfortunately, you’ve got to shift through to find the gems, and a lot of people don’t have the patience for that so they avoid indie books altogether.
What book are you currently reading or just finished? I’m currently reading The Rose and the Dagger, by Renee Ahdieh.
What do your fans mean to you? I absolutely love hearing from people who’ve read one of my books. It makes my day when they go out of their way to post a comment, or even just ask a question. It definitely helps me want to keep writing.
Tell us something unique about you. I love collecting things. I have almost 400 Funko Pop, over 30 book inspired candles, a couple thousand books, and about 107 shot glasses from around the world. I also have 12 tattoos, and I guess they’re sort of a collection. In a way. MF: Wow! I have over 400 TY Beanie Babies and 6 tattoos.
How can readers discover more about you and you work? The best way is through my blog which is: http://tempestchani.blogspot.com/
Or my instagram account which is @TempestChani . I post a lot of pictures of books and my cats though, fair warning.
There ya have it folks! For more about the fabulous Chani follow the links below: