Meet Author Crystal Lee

Posted on July 6, 2012

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The world is so incredibly large. So large that a few weeks ago, I reached out online to several authors to see if I could be a guest on their blogs. Crystal, my guest author today, was one of the authors who answered, but guess what? Turns out we both live in Arizona. Phoenix to be exact. I guess the world isn’t so large after all.

Tell us a little about yourself. I’m a mother of 4, married for 17 years and a native Phoenician. I grew up with a dad that wrote screenplays constantly on an old clunky typewriter. I never, ever wanted to be a writer even though I was pretty good at it. But about 2 years ago I was struggling with some personal problems I couldn’t talk to a lot of people about, and I found writing cathartic. After I entered The Writer’s Coffee Shop original romance contest in September of 2011 and won with what is now my 2nd volume in my Canopy series, I started taking my writing serious. It was time to publish…

Outside of writing, I’m a registered International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. I’ve been a local La Leche League leader for over a decade, and I used to be a Bradley natural childbirth instructor (did that for almost a decade as well). I’m an avid organic gardener (tough to do in Phoenix, Arizona), and I love to read and cook as well.

When you’re not writing, what do you do to relax and have fun? Writing is my relaxation and my fun, but I love to be out in the garden, I hike in the mornings, and I also really enjoy swimming with my kids. Wish we had a pool! I have also been known to scrapbook as well, although haven’t done it in a few years since I had a busy toddler around.

Tell us something few know about you. I grew up dancing in a Polynesian group and eventually became a professional at it. My favorite dance to watch is the Haka and my favorite ones to dance myself were the Samoan numbers. At one point I dated a guy from Tonga and thought I might actually marry an islander. As it turns out, I married a redhead with freckles, and he’s not much into dancing.

I brought pie to a cakewalk once, because I’m not a fan of cake, but I really like pie.

I broke my left leg when I was 15 and had pins sticking it out of it a portion of my sophomore year in high school. The next year I was the drum major in the band and ran around the field like a crazy person to make sure I was in the right place to conduct the music.

What genre(s) do you like to read? I enjoy science fiction (if it has a romance or at least some really strong relationships in it), historical fiction, romance and I’ve read hundreds upon hundreds books on breastfeeding, pregnancy, childbirth and attachment parenting. I read YA sometimes too, but I generally prefer books with adult topics.

What is your favorite novel and why? Scarlett, the sequel to Gone with the Wind by Alexandra Ripley. I read it 7 times and that thing’s mammoth. It’s 823 pages long. Why do I love it? It has everything I love—a strong woman with a wonderful romance that includes lots of wicked banter. It includes a hot man with a temper to match hers. It’s a historical fiction about the American Civil War so I feel like I understand the feelings of that time period better, and because Scarlett’s so misunderstood I get completely absorbed in the story. I tend to route for the underdog or the villain a lot of times. My writing reflects that as well.

When did you begin writing? Two years ago. Started with Twilight Fan Fiction.

What genre(s) do you write? Science fiction, romance, historical fiction, nonfiction: organic gardening in Arizona, breastfeeding and natural child birthing books. Yep, it’s pretty varied.

Where do your concepts for your novels come from? Various sources inspire me. Sometimes songs, something I see, or somebody says something to me that resonates and gets me thinking. I have a crazy imagination. My concepts mostly come from me asking, “What if.” For example, this is how I came up with the concept of inhaling bugs for my Canopy series:

On a really hot summer day 19 years ago I was looking out my back window at a cloud of white gnats floating around, and I thought, “If I walked right into them out in the sunlight I wouldn’t see them and could possibly breathe them in.” It grossed me out, but it also intrigued me to think about what could happen if they survived that. Would they latch onto my lungs for survival? And if they did, what would happen to me? Would I change? Then it turned into the vision of a mother dying in a hospital room and releasing those gnats into the air. Would the daughter breathe them in for her mother if she had rejected inhaling them all along based on her own principals? Would she do it to win her mother’s respect or love if that’s what all of society was doing and her mother wanted her to? The ending of book 2 was born. And I was a little more twisted than before.

How long does it typically take you to write a book? About a week to a week and a half. Although at the beginning of this month I was recovering from a bad weekend and basically sat and banged out a book in 3 days. I wrote it purely for myself so I didn’t hold back at all. It was 60,000 words. My wrists were sore after writing 20,000 words a day for 3 days straight. Normally I write 2 to 3 novels per month.

Tell us about your latest book? I’m working on a few different novels right now, but the most pressing is book 6 in my Canopy series. I thought I was done with the series after I wrote book 5 and then found out I left a major vein open and bleeding. Uh, yeah, that’s a problem. So now I’m writing what is probably going to be the hardest novel I’ve ever written due to the main character and the content.

Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel, or do you discover it as you write? It varies from book to book. I have tried to be better about having an outline in place, but I’ve found my writing is actually more organic and flows well if I go with it and allow my characters to dictate what they do and say, rather than me working on getting them to follow an outline. So the answer is yes and no. Sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t. And a lot of the times when I’m following my outline, the characters take a serious detour and lead me off-road. Those are my favorite trips! And I rarely stop them from doing that.

Book 5 in my Canopy series for the most part stuck to the outline pretty well (probably because I know that character so well), but book 4 went off course so many times I lost count. And to tell the truth, I probably enjoyed writing book 4 more. I like it when things get messy and chaos ensues as long as it unwinds in the end.

Tell us a little about your main and supporting characters of your current book? In the first book of Canopy, we see two young men fighting over the same girl. They are polar opposites in a lot of ways, but they both find a place into her heart. Trystan is affectionate, emotional and tends to live his life from day to day without much ambition. He has talents, but he’s more concerned about winning the girl and seducing her while trying to avoid dealing with his dysfunctional family life problems at home. Jashen is the guy-next-door, best friend, always reliable and hard working, intelligent guy that comes from a good family background. He’s shy around the girls, but he has a sultry, passionate side to him he keeps hidden and to himself.

Their love interest is Anallis, a purist that refuses to inhale the gnats everybody in society deems a miracle cure to all of humankinds’ ills. She’s strong-willed, opinionated and smart enough to keep these two guys begging for more. Even though she’s an outcast in society because of her choices, she finds a way to gain an education and be a leader in her community.

Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination? Both. A lot of the characters in this first book in my Canopy series are based on real people. Bits of my personality are in a few of them too. Both Trystan and Jashen are based off people I know.

Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story? Yes, it does. It’s set here in Phoenix where I live, but for a good reason. This series explains some of the odd things in Arizona like the healing vortexes in Sedona, Arizona, the red mountains set in the middle of Phoenix—the Papago Mountains, and the excessive desert heat plays a role in why a lot of the purists live in this area.

Where can readers purchase your latest book?

For the ebooks:

BookTango: http://t.co/YFyQ9jkR

Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/Canopy-Volume-1-ebook/dp/B008HN09TE/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1341506996&sr=1-2&keywords=Canopy+by+Crystal+Lee

For the paperback version:

CreateSpace: https://www.createspace.com/3926209

Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/Canopy-1-Crystal-Lee/dp/1478175354/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1341543762&sr=1-1&keywords=Canopy+by+Crystal+Lee

What do you have on the burner for the next year?

Here’s what I’ve got and will be publishing for the next 3 years (most of these are halfway done):

  • 2 gardening books (1 for summer and 1 for winter)
  • Currently writing the 6th book in the Canopy series (should be the final book, but no promises there)
  • Breastfeeding after Breast Cancer
  • Birth Your Way (this is a 6 week class I developed and taught myself. I’m turning it into a how-to manual)
  • A romance series called Swim, Tadpole, Swim (with a much older woman and younger man)
  • Scrapping Tin (a science fiction romance story involving robots and genetic manipulations)
  • Slick as Ides (a science fiction romance)
  • Shroag 50 (a time travel science fiction romance, may turn into a short series)
  • Hart Coursing: a series on Henry VIII (already wrote the 1st book and plan to write 2 more. Told entirely in POV and we get to see how he was actually a victim in a lot of what happened in his reign. I have a very unique perspective on him.)
  • Time of Salt (a science fiction apocalypse story of hidden identities and cults)

How can readers reach you?

Website: http://bit.ly/C_LeeAuthor

Facebook: http://on.fb.me/CLeeAuthor

Facebook author page: http://www.facebook.com/crystalleeauthor

Twitter: @CLeeAuthor

Goodreads: http://bit.ly/LeeGoodreads

LinkedIn: http://linkd.in/CLee_Author

Google+: http://bit.ly/CLee-Author

Email: crystalsgarden@hotmail.com

Do you have anything else you’d like to add? Thank you so much for taking the time to interview me, Deatri. I’m very honored.

Dee here: Thank you Crystal for dropping by. We love to read here and hear about new titles. Come back any time.

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