Today we’d like to welcome the #1 New York Times best selling author Christine Feehan. Christine has written over 40 novels, starting with her debut novel Dark Prince, and currently has four series in the paranormal genre. Her Leopard series (The Awakening, Wild Rain, Burning Wild and Wild Fire) happens to be our favorite here at Behind the Words.
Christine took some time out from the completion of her latest novel to share some thoughts with us in this interview. Enjoy!
Behind the Words (BtW): What was the first story you ever wrote?
Christine Feehan (CF): I can’t remember that far back. I think the first one I ever finished was a mystery in the grand tradition of Nancy Drew and Trixie Beldon. A family of brothers and sisters who solved great mysteries. I was certain it was a work of art. I was probably ten.
BtW:What made you decide to write about the paranormal, specifically shifters?
CF: I started with contemporaries and suspense, but my interests were always with paranormal things. I researched all the time and told stories to my kids. I began writing the Dark series and really enjoyed the freedom of writing shifters.
BtW: One thing we’ve found while putting our book together is the characters very rarely pay attention to the “script”. We have one thing planned and our characters insist on going their own way. Next thing we know, the whole outline is tossed out the window and the story writes itself. Does this ever happen to you?
CF: All the time. I have to be careful about telling my editor ahead of time who the book will be about because even the hero and heroine have changed. Once a character comes to life for me, they definitely go their own way!
BtW: Do you follow a specific structure when plotting out your books?
CF: As a rule I do, but once the book is started, I know it will take off.
BtW: Did you have a series in mind first or did each of your series start as a single book that later begged for a sequel?
CF: The Series have been planned. I occasionally have a single title in my head and then an interesting character pops up that is very demanding. I try to squash them as my time is limited and the stories are abundant.
BtW: What was your first experience with publishing like?
CF: I had no idea what to expect so it was all very interesting to me. I’m the type of person to ask a lot of questions because I want to understand what I’m doing. I believe my career is in my hands and I had better have as much knowledge as possible about the industry I’m in.
BtW: When researching some of your exotic locals, do you ever go visit these places?
CF: Some, I don’t travel much anymore. I have a wonderful couple who go for me and do videotaping, interviews, hiking and photography as well as documentation. Fortunately they are the intrepid type and hike with a guide into impossible locations.
BtW: On average, how much time to you spend on research before sitting down to write the story?
CF: This is a difficult question now, because I have so much research at my fingertips. The GhostWalkers remain the most difficult for me because everything is now and on the cutting edge. I try to have primary sources and get it right. Inevitably I make a mistake somewhere. The subject matter is tough, but I really love it. Probably I’d have to say months for them. The rest is gathered far in advance and I read and study it very quickly.
BtW: What are your thoughts on self-publishing versus traditional publishing?
CF: I’m a big fan of what works for individuals. I wouldn’t have had the first clue on how to publish, distribute or get my name out there without help.
BtW: Who are your favorite authors? Who influenced you the most growing up?
CF: The favorite author thing is difficult. I read nearly every genre, so it’s all about what I’m in the mood for. Robert Ludlum, Faye Kellerman and Jayne Ann Krentz have always been favorites. When I was a child it was Louisa May Alcott and Gene Stratton Porter.
BtW: Of all your characters, which one is your favorite?
CF: This is like asking a mother which is her favorite child. The characters I’m working with are usually the ones I think, wow, I love them so much, but honestly, I couldn’t pick a favorite.
BtW: What would you say was the marketing tool that brought you the most exposure in the early days?
CF: The internet.
BtW: How long is the average time from when you start a book until it hits the bookshelves?
CF: About six months. It’s a tight schedule and rather dicey at times.
BtW: How many edits does your books go through?
CF: Usually about eight.
BtW: Thank you for taking the time to be with us today, Christine. So much of what you’ve said here resonates with many of us, especially Wendi and myself. We’re looking forward to your next release and keep up the excellent work!
Note: If you’d like to find out more about Christine and her novels or contact her for yourself, please visit The Official Website and have a look around.