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Hallie Christensen - Children's Author

Hallie Christensen is an award-winning children's author. She grew up in a small town in Alabama surrounded by professional storytellers - her family. Her life’s background helped to influence her writing and creativity. While growing up, she attended Young Authors conferences, played in a marching band, tried her luck as a magician, and earned Junior Ranger badges at many National Parks. Hallie resides in northern Alabama with her husband and a couple of cats.

1. What inspires you?

Everything, ha. Real-life experiences, nature, TV shows and movies, family vacations, etc! I keep all those stored in my mind and often when I'm writing I will draw on them and reflect on them. Family members and the advice they've given will appear in my books. People I've met and their personalities will come alive in my characters. Scenery will pop and be easy to visualize because I'm remembering a place, or setting, that I've been to before. Everyday life can all be used to write a book!  

2. If you could spend a day with another popular author, who would you choose?

Katherine Arden. I would love to spend a day with her! You might know some of her books too! She wrote the spooky Small Spaces series, and I've read them all! I love a good spooky book, but not too spooky! I've also read her YA Fantasy series, The Winternight Trilogy. She also lives where they get snow and I would LOVE to see that much snow! (I live in Alabama. We don't get snow. We get rain.)

3. What is your schedule like when you’re writing a book?

It's all over the place, ha. I don't have a set time that works best for me when it comes to writing. Usually, it's whenever I feel the most inspired. But when I do write, it's typically in the afternoon or evening. At night, when I'm trying to get ready for bed, is when I get the most new ideas, ha. But when I do have a book all planned out, I try to write a little every day. They say Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither is a book! I take my time. It makes the journey more enjoyable.  

4. What is the most valuable piece of advice you’ve been given about writing?

"The first draft is just you telling yourself the story." - Terry Pratchett

I never met Terry Pratchett, but this advice was an eye-opener. When you finish writing your book the first time, it's the first draft. It's not ready to be published. And that's OK. First drafts are meant to be sloppy. They aren't supposed to be perfect. You will edit and make changes for weeks and months later until your book is the best it can be. It takes time to write and edit a book. A lot of time. Let yourself and your imagination be free to write that first draft. Tell yourself the story as you write it. Then you can go back and fix things. 

5. What are common traps for new authors?

Getting discouraged. I think people think that once you write a book, you sell it to a publisher. And if they don't sell their book, they think "Well, I must not be a good writer." That's not true! A very famous and amazing author, Brandon Sanderson, wrote 10 books before any of his books were published. 10 BOOKS! And they were full-sized novels too! Now he's a best-selling fantasy author and publishes many books a year. He is a writing machine! He didn't let people not liking his books get in the way of his writing. He kept writing, he kept practicing, and he didn't give up. Don't give up. It is hard at times, but it's part of the process. 

6. What are the essential characteristics of a hero you can root for?

Your hero needs to have flaws. They need to make mistakes and learn from bad choices. They need to be relatable. Your hero can't be perfect from the beginning, or no reader will connect with them. Who is perfect? None of us. We have problems. We need help sometimes. We make mistakes. We have to learn and grow. Have the hero of your story learn and grow from his/her experiences. That's what connects readers to characters - they see themselves in the characters. 

7. Do you ever stop writing and start something different?

I have! My most recent novel that I'm writing was an idea I had while I was writing another story. I have put that story on hold and started this one. The story I put on hold was a Middle Grade Paranormal. The novel I'm currently writing is a Cozy Middle Grade Fantasy. That happens sometimes. You get really inspired and don't want to wait, so you start writing it then and there. Lots of writers have that happen to them. 

8. Do you let people read your work before it is finished?

It depends on what you mean by finished, ha. After I write the first draft, I let many other people read it. Then I edit on suggestions they made, let more people read it, edit it some more, and so on. You always want to have other people read your book before you publish it. Readers find mistakes or plot holes, or sometimes point out areas where they are confused and you realize you need to explain something more. There are lots of great ideas you can get from letting others read your book. I know it's super scary to have someone read your story. Trust me, I know. But it's so worth it!

9. Do you carry around a journal to note inspiration?

I have a ton of journals and writing pads in different areas of the house, so whenever I get inspired, I can jot down a note! I even have one in the bathtub, lol. It's a notepad that boaters use, so it's ok if the paper gets wet! If I don't have a notebook handy, I take notes on my phone.  

10. What do you do when you feel stuck?

That's a tough one. I take a break. Sometimes the words stop flowing, and that usually means you need to take a break, read a book, go for a walk, etc. And sometimes that break can last days to weeks. Sometimes you just need to step away from the manuscript for a while and come back to it with fresh eyes. That's totally fine. Many authors have to do that. There's nothing wrong with taking a break. Just don't give up!

Thank you, Hallie, for the lovely and encouraging interview! Please follow Hallie on her social media accounts and check out her book, Enchanted Misadventures with Great-Aunt Poppy, in our Bookshop!

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