About RJ Crayton:
R.J. Crayton grew up in Illinois and now lives in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, DC. She is the author of the Life First series of novels, which includes Life First and Second Life and Third Life:Taken. Prior to writing fiction, Crayton was a journalist, writing for newspapers, including the Wichita Eagle and Kansas City Star. Crayton also worked for several trade publications, including Solid Waste Report, Education Technology News, and Campus Crime. In addition to her novels, Crayton published Four Mothers, a short story collection, in 2014. Crayton is a monthly contributor to the Indies Unlimited blog and a regular contributor to the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies blog. When she’s not writing, Crayton spends her time being a ninja mom (stealthy and ultra cool, like moms should be) to her son and daughter. You can find out more about her at http://rjcrayton.com.
What inspires you to write?
That’s a tough question to answer, because it’s so vague. I’m inspired by stuff that interests me. If I see something intriguing and I start to think, “what if…,” then I might write about it.
I’m like that awful child you try to give a simple instruction to, but they ask, “But what if [x absurd scenario] happened?” And it’s annoying because the scenario they propose could never happen. However, if you ask what if enough times, you do come up with some fairly plausible things, and that’s where I like to write.
My first novel Life First, poses the question: What if your government wanted to take your kidney and give it to someone else?
While that is in no way a fun situation for our protagonist, it is ia fun for the writer because you really get to think through what might cause a world like this to emerge and what would the consequences be in that world. All of the stories in my short story collection emerged as what if scenarios. What if a grandmother had an insolent grandson she wanted to get rid of? What if a woman’s two-year-old daughter nearly choked to death on beads? That’s the central question in my story, The Beads, which is part of the collection.
So, essentially, I’m inspired to write when the what if question really intrigues me.
Tell us about your writing process.
My writing process is fairly simple. I sit down and write. Then I read it over and edit it. Then I work on a different piece and when I finish it, I come back to the first piece and read it over an edit it again. I don’t outline or create charts or maps or family trees or things like that. I sit down and write. It’s pretty straight-forward for me.
Each day, when I do write, I have in mind what specific scene I want to write out before I start. It’s much more efficient that way. During my supposed downtime, my brain thinks of the things I want to accomplish when I sit down to write, and I’ve found it goes much smoother that way.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I listen to my characters in that they guide my writing. I hear their voices in my head. However, I don’t talk to my characters. As ridiculous as this is gonna sound: it would feel weird to talk to my characters, but I don’t mind if they talk to me.
What advice would you give other writers?
Write and listen kindly. Obviously writing is a good thing to do. It helps you practice your skills.
I also think writers should listen kindly. Often times, people seem bent on pushing forward their agenda, and they don’t listen to other people’s opinions. I’m not saying you have to agree with everything everyone says, but I find the kneejerk reaction of, No you’re wrong, to be offputting. I think listening with kindness and respect, the same as you’d want others to listen to you, is becoming a dying art.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I was originally looking to publish traditionally, but heard good things about self-publishing and decided to give it a shot. I really like it, so far.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I think it has a future. I think, like any other industry, it’s going to change. Nothing stays the same forever. I don’t know exactly how it will change, but it is going to, and we just have to embrace that change and go with the flow. Whatever changes occur in the book publishing industry, I think our goal as writers should be to encourage and foster reading whenever we can. Our livelihood depends on their being a group of people who adore words and ideas, and studies keep showing the time and interest in pleasure reading decreasing among youngsters. I’d like to see that trend reverse itself.
What do you use?: Professional Editor, Beta Readers
What genres do you write?: thriller, dystopia, short story, nonfiction
What formats are your books in?: Both eBook and Print