Hi dear friends,
I am so happy to be on CC’s blog tour for her new story: In Another Life!
My review is coming your way in thirty minutes but to have you intrigued we have Q&A about the book, CC and her writing!
Let’s not forget the first chapter below either!
Firs about the book!
What would you do if your whole life was a lie and learning the truth could cost you your life?
From New York Times bestselling author of the Shadow Falls series comes C. C. Hunter’s new YA thriller about a girl who learns that she may have been kidnapped as a child, and must race to uncover the truth about her past before she winds up a victim.
Chloe was three years old when she became Chloe Holden, but her adoption didn’t scar her, and she’s had a great life. Now, fourteen years later, her loving parents’ marriage has fallen apart and her mom has moved them to Joyful, Texas. Starting twelfth grade as the new kid at school, everything Chloe loved about her life is gone. And feelings of déjà vu from her early childhood start haunting her.
When Chloe meets Cash Colton she feels drawn to him, as though they’re kindred spirits. Until Cash tells her the real reason he sought her out: Chloe looks exactly like the daughter his foster parents lost years ago, and he’s determined to figure out the truth.
As Chloe and Cash delve deeper into her adoption, the more things don’t add up, and the more strange things start happening. Why is Chloe’s adoption a secret that people would kill for?
C.C. HUNTER is a pseudonym for award-winning romance author Christie Craig. She is lives in Tomball, Texas, where she’s at work on her next novel.
Christie’s books include The Mortician’s Daughter series, Shadow Fall Novels and This Heart of Mine.
“Hunter deftly delivers a complicated back-and-forth point of view between Chloe and Cash, building suspense along with a steamy sense of attraction between the two teens.” — Kirkus
Now let’s read CC Hunter’s answers to my questions:
I loved this story like all others but your usual snark and laugh out loud moments where sparse. What was your frame of mind when you wrote it? Was it a conscious choice right from the start or something forced on you by the story and the characters?
It was characters and the story. I didn’t set out to cut back on the snark. I love snark. However, I did feel the absence of it when I was writing the book. I even tried to add it to a few scenes, but if felt forced and off. So instead, I let the characters take over.
· What made you choose this topic? Was it something you’ve read in the newspaper? Something else?
The bitter divorce theme In Another LIfe is one I lived. My parents got a divorce when I was sixteen. The story of being adopted is one that I was intrigued with when I was really young. I am and have always been different from my family. My two brothers and parents are people who like to work with their hands, who seldom slow down. They play sports, do crafts, and build houses. Me, I’m a thinker. I can sit and muse for hours. Being dyslexic, I wasn’t a reader growing up, but I was writing books in my head by the time I was eleven. Several of my stories included discovering that I was adopted. Also, if you think about it, almost every book I write has a little of the Who am I? or Who am I now? theme. I love an identity crisis in books.
· Chloe is the new girl in a new school. How often have you been the new girl? And how did you adapt?
We only moved once. But to be honest, I felt it at the start of every school year. You see, being dyslexic sort of made me a wall flower. I was a loner. So every year when I started, I felt like everyone had a tribe but me. I think I adapted by creating more stories. There was hardly a day that I didn’t go inside my head, where I lived an exciting life. I had a hot guy who loved me. Sometimes even two. LOL. I had best friends who would go to the end of the world for me and keep my secrets safe. It’s funny how creating stories got me through the teen years and how writing has brought me out of my shell. I’m no longer a wall flower or a loner. I love meeting new people. I guess you could say writing helped me survive and it helped me become the person I was meant to be.
And if you want more ….
- How did your love of writing/storytelling begin?
Being from the Deep South, storytelling was infused in my blood. As far back as I can remember, my grandfather would get all of us grandchildren around in a circle and he’d tell his childhood stories.
Storytelling was part of my immediate family as well. Our dinner table conversations were supposed to be interesting. If our day was boring, we had to find some deeper meaning to the mundane events or elaborate to make the conversation more interesting. Sometimes someone would ask, “Did that really happen?” And the person talking would say, “Almost.” I now call it “creative faction.”
Because I was dyslexic, I never allowed myself to dream of being a writer. However, from the time I was about eleven, I would run off by myself into the woods, find a tree to lean on, and I would create stories in my head. Stories of young love and adventure. It wasn’t until I was twenty-three, when my husband asked me what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, that I admitted I wrote stories in my head and I wondered if I could learn to put them on paper. I started writing that same week. It took me ten years to sell my first book. Then another thirteen to sell book two, but the day I sold book two, I actually sold four books. And In Another Life is my forty-third book if you count my novellas and my non-fiction books.
- Where do you get ideas for your books?
I used to say at Wal-Mart on the clearance rack. But honestly, they come from everywhere and sometimes I feel like they come from nowhere. A newspaper article sparks an idea or a conversation I eavesdropped on gets me plotting. A personal experience makes me ask, what if? An old memory is triggered and it leads me to a plot. Or an idea just falls from the sky and lands smack dab into the story-idea crevice in my brain.
- What inspired you to write In Another Life?
Inspiration comes from everywhere. A newspaper article, a personal experience, a word or two of dialogue you overhear from a stranger. The story of being adopted is one that I was intrigued with when I was really young. I am, and have always been, different from my family. Not so much in appearance, but in interests and preferences. My two brothers and parents are people who like to work with their hands, who seldom slow down. They play sports, do crafts, and build houses. Me, I would find a quiet spot and ponder. I always have been a lover of a good story. Being dyslexic, I wasn’t a reader growing up, but I was writing books in my head by the time I was eleven. These stories, starring certain characters, would last months. Several of my stories included discovering that I was adopted. And every book I write has a little of the theme, Who am I? or Who am I now? I love identity crisis books.
- What lessons did you learn from writing This Heart of Mine, and how did you apply them to In Another Life?
That’s a great question. I believe I learn and grow as a writer with every book I write. This Heart of Mine was inspired by husband’s kidney transplant, so I really tapped into an emotional vein to write it. I wanted that same emotional feel in my novel In Another Life. So I worked at creating that heart-tugging essence. What’s crazy is that I sort of tapped into another vein and didn’t even realize it at first. My husband walked into my study when I was writing the scene where Chloe finally unloaded on her dad and expressed how she really felt about his infidelity and leaving her mom. I was crying as I was writing, and when I explained the scene to my husband, he said, “So you were actually telling your real dad how you felt.” I was shocked, and how right he was, because a very similar event happened in my family, but I hadn’t really put the two things together. So I think perhaps learning to tap into my own emotional veins might be the lesson I learned from writing This Heart of Mine.
- What kind of people would be interested in reading your books?
Well, I have all kinds of people reading me. More females than males, but just this weekend at a book festival, I had numerous young men buying my books. I have gotten emails from readers as young at ten, and I would say that about half my readers are past their teen years. I think anyone who enjoys an emotional story with suspense is a targeted reader for my books.
- Cash seemed to have a very rough life, would you say that is important for the book?
Yes. I love creating characters that have lessons to learn and emotional hurdles to overcome. To me, this journey is what makes a story. It offers layers of emotion as we see a character struggle with their past and decide to break free of old beliefs and change their future. I also purposely created Cash’s past to both reflect and contrast Chloe’s past. It’s important that two people who are falling in love be able to empathize with each other.
- When do you think Chloe realized that she was Emily?
I think there’s a fine line between knowing and accepting. Deep down Chloe knew it was true when she was at the library and saw and heard Mrs. Fuller on the video. The voice resonated with her and stirred feelings of deja vu. She went back to denying it, but in her heart she knew the truth. And isn’t that the way we are in real life? When something painful presents itself, it’s easy to bury our heads in the sand.
- Did you plan on the adoption agency being the kidnappers all along? What gave you that idea?
The story of being adopted is one that I was intrigued with when I was really young. I am, and have always been, different from my family. Not so much in appearance, but in interests and outlooks. My two brothers and parents are people who like to work with their hands, who seldom slow down. They play sports, do crafts, and build houses. Me, I’m a thinker. Being dyslexic, I wasn’t a reader growing up, but I was writing books in my head by the time I was eleven. These stories, starring certain characters, would last months. Several of my stories included discovering that I was adopted, or that I had been mixed up with another infant at birth. And to this day, that theme still intrigues me.
As for deciding that the adoption agency would be the guilty party, I knew I didn’t want it to be either set of parents. And if Chloe’s parents thought it was legal then the deceit had to be on the part of the agency. When I was writing the book, I recalled the story about Britain’s Adoption Scandal where babies were taken from their mothers by the Catholic church. I don’t believe that sparked the idea, but it might have left footprints for the idea to follow.
- How do you think the relationship between Cash and Chloe affect her search for the truth about her origins?
I like this question. I think the relationship affects the search in many ways. 1. There are times that falling in love became so consuming that I think the search became less consuming. I wanted to show how great falling in love feels and how the wonderment of it can help soothe the bad things that come our way. 2. While their relationship brought them close. I wanted to showcase their different past experiences and how it affected how they each thought the search should proceed. Cash felt more loyalty to the Fullers, and naturally, Chloe felt more toward the mom and dad who raised her. 3. I also wanted show that while the bond Chloe and Cash formed was solid, it was tested because of their different backgrounds. Cash was willing to steal the information from the adoption agency, Chloe wanted no part of it.
- I ask each author I interview to do this (so I hope you don’t find it weird) but can you summarize In Another Life using 3-5 emojis
I would say the emojis would be, chew on your lip suspenseful, love, and either happiness or family.
- What is your favorite thing about being an author? And the hardest thing?
I wear my pajamas to work every day. LOL. Seriously, I do love that, but it’s not my favorite thing. My favorite thing is sharing my stories and learning that they touched, helped, or got someone through a difficult time in their own life. I’ll admit I started writing to entertain and that’s still my main objective, but when I get those emails that tell me my book touched them in a personal way, I get all warm and glowy inside.
And the hardest? I think it’s balancing and juggling. I remember there was a day when all a writer did was write. Now, with social media, blogs, and all the on-line opportunities and book festivals, it’s hard to keep up. But whenever I start to get stressed, I tell myself that I’m lucky I have these problems. This career beats any other career out there. This is what I’m supposed to do.
- You have a lot of awesome books under your belt! Tell me a little bit about how you keep yourself organized when writing!
I’m not really organized, but the fact that I have you fooled means a lot. LOL. Honestly, this career involves a lot of juggling. You have to write your novels, market, plan events and signings and do blogs and interviews. I often feel like I drop a lot of balls. That said, years ago, I read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. To this day, I try to remember to prioritize my to-do list and figure out what matters the most. And as a writer, it’s always to write the next book. Because I write three or more books a year, I have hired an assistant to help me keep up with the business side of it.
- What projects are you working on now?
Right now, I’m finishing the third book in my YA series, The Mortician’s Daughter: Three Heartbeats Away. It’s sort of Ghost Whisperer meets Veronica Marrs. Also, I just turned in a proposal for a speculative fiction YA. It’s about young girl who is a sole survivor and how she learns Fate sometimes get things wrong, and she might have the ability to change Fate and save hundreds of lives, including those of her own family.
- What advice to you have for aspiring authors?
- Writing is a tough business and only the determined make it, so be determined. Don’t give up. It took me ten years to sell my first book and another thirteen to sell my second, but I am now working on book 44 if you count my non-fiction books and novellas. It would’ve been easy to quit after the first year, or the second, but I’m so glad I didn’t.
- Write as often as you can. Writing is like exercise, skip several days and it’s harder to get back into it.
And now for your eyes only, the first chapter!
“What are you doing?” I ask when Dad pulls over at a conve nience store only a mile from where Mom and I are now living. My voice sounds rusty after not talking during the five hour ride. But I was afraid that if I said anything, it would all spill out: My anger. My hurt. My disappointment in the man who used to be my superhero. “I need gas and a bathroom,” he says. “Bathroom? So you can’t even come in to see Mom when you drop me off?” My heart crinkles up like a used piece of aluminum foil. He meets my eyes, ignores my questions, and says, “You want anything?” “Yeah. My freaking life back!” I jump out of the car and slam the door so hard, the sound of the metal hitting metal cracks in the hot Texas air. I haul ass across the parking lot, watching my white sandals eat up the pavement, hiding the sheen of tears in my eyes. “Chloe,” Dad calls out. I move faster.
Eyes still down, I yank open the door, bolt inside the store, and smack right into someone. Like, my boobs smash against someone’s chest. “Crap,” a deep voice growls. A Styrofoam cup hits the ground. Frozen red slushie explodes all over my white sandals. The cup lands on its side, bleeding red on the white tile. I swallow the lump in my throat and jerk back, removing my B cup boobs from some guy’s chest. “Sorry,” he mutters, even though it’s my fault. I force myself to look up, seeing first his wide chest, then his eyes and the jet black hair scattered across his brow. Great! Why couldn’t he be some old fart? I return to his bright green eyes and watch as they shift from apol o getic to shocked, then to angry. I should say something— like, add my own apology— but the lump in my throat returns with a vengeance. “Shit.” The word sneaks through his frown. Yeah, all of this is shit! I hear Dad call my name again from outside. My throat closes tighter and tears sting my eyes. Embarrassed to cry in front of a stranger, I snatch off my sandals and dart to a cooler. Opening the glass door, I stick my head in needing a cooldown. I swat a few stray tears off my cheeks. Then I feel someone next to me. Dad’s not letting this go. “Just admit you screwed up!” I look over and am swallowed by those same angry light green eyes from a minute ago. “I thought you were . . . Sorry,” I say, knowing it’s late for an apology. His look is unsettling. He continues to glare. An all in my face kind of glare. As if this is more than a spilled slushie to him. “I’ll pay for it.” When he doesn’t even blink, I add another, “I’m sorry.”
“Why are you here?” His question seethes out. “What? Do I know you?” I know I was rude, but— hotness aside— this guy is freaking me out. His eyes flash anger. “What do you want?” His tone carries an accusation I don’t understand. “What do you mean?” I counter. “What ever you’re trying to pull, don’t do it.” He’s still staring me down. And I feel like I’m shrinking in his glare. “I’m not . . . You must have me mixed up with someone
else.” I shake my head, unsure if this guy’s as crazy as he is sexy. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. But I said I’m sorry.” I grab a canned drink and barefoot, carry ing sticky sandals, hurry to the front of the store. Dad walks in, scowling. “Careful,” a cashier says to Dad while mopping up the slushie just inside the door. “Sorry,” I mutter to the worker, then point to Dad. “He’s paying for my Dr Pepper! And for that slushie.” I storm off to the car, get in, and hold the cold Diet Dr Pepper can to my forehead. The hair on the back of my neck starts dancing. I look around, and the weird hot guy is standing outside the store, staring at me again. What ever you’re trying to pull, don’t do it. Yup, crazy. I look away to escape his gaze. Dad climbs back in the car. He doesn’t start it, just sits there, eyeballing me. “You know this isn’t easy for me either.” “Right.” So why did you leave? He starts the car, but before we drive off, I look around again and see the dark haired boy standing in the parking lot, writing on the palm of his hand. Is he writing down Dad’s license plate number? He’s a freak. I almost say something to Dad but remember I’m pissed at him.
Dad pulls away. I focus on the rearview mirror. The hot guy stays there, eyes glued on Dad’s car, and I stay glued on him until he’s nothing but a speck in the mirror. “I know this is hard,” Dad says. “I think about you every day.” I nod, but don’t speak. Minutes later, Dad pulls over in front of our mailbox. Or rather Mom’s and mine. Dad’s home isn’t with us anymore. “I’ll call you tomorrow to see how your first day of school was.” My gut knots into a pretzel with the reminder that I’ll be starting as a se nior at a new school. I stare out at the old
house, in the old neighborhood. This house once belonged to my grand mother. Mom’s been renting it to an el derly couple for years. Now we live here. In a house that smells like old
people . . . and sadness. “Is she home?” Dad asks. In the dusk of sunset, our house is dark. Gold light leaks out of next door, Lindsey’s house— she’s the one and only person I know my own age in town. “Mom’s prob ably resting,” I answer.
There’s a pause. “How’s she doing?” You fi nally ask? I look at him gripping the wheel and staring at the house. “Fine.” I open the car door, not wanting to draw out the goodbye. It hurts too much. “Hey.” He smiles. “At least give me a hug?” I don’t want to, but for some reason— because under all this anger, I still love him— I lean over the console and hug him. He doesn’t even smell like my dad. He’s wearing cologne that Darlene prob ably bought him. Tears sting my eyes. “Bye.” I get one slushie dyed foot out of the car. Before my butt’s off the seat, he says, “Is she going back to work soon?”
I swing around. “Is that why you asked about her? Because of money?” “No.” But the lie is so clear in his voice, it hangs in the air. Who is this man? He dyes the silver at his temples. He’s sporting a spiky haircut and wearing a T shirt with the name of a band he didn’t even know existed until Darlene. Before I can stop myself, the words trip off my tongue. “Why? Does your girlfriend need a new pair of Jimmy Choos?” “ Don’t, Chloe,” he says sternly. “You sound like your mom.” That hurt now knots in my throat. “Pleeease. If I sounded like my mom, I’d say, ‘Does the whore bitch need a new pair of Jimmy Choos!’ ” I swing back to the door. He catches my arm. “Look, young lady, I can’t ask you to love her like I do, but I expect you to re spect her.” “Re spect her? You have to earn re spect, Dad! If I wore the clothes she wears, you’d ground me. In fact, I don’t even re spect you anymore! You screwed up my life. You screwed up Mom’s life. And now you’re screwing someone eigh teen years younger than yourself.” I bolt out and get halfway to the house when I hear his car door open and slam. “Chloe. Your stuff.” He sounds angry, but he can just join the crowd, because I’m more than mad— I’m hurt. If I weren’t afraid he’d follow me into the house all pissed off and start an argument with Mom, I’d just keep going. But I don’t have it in me to hear them fight again. And I’m not sure Mom’s up to it either. I don’t have an option but to do the right thing. It sucks when you’re the only person in the family acting like an adult. I swing around, swat at my tears, and head back to the curb. He’s standing beside his car, my backpack in one hand
and a huge shopping bag with the new school clothes he bought me in the other. Great. Now I feel like an ungrateful bitch. When I get to him, I mutter, “Thanks for the clothes.” He says, “Why are you so mad at me?” So many reasons. Which one do I pick? “You let Darlene turn my room into a gym.” He shakes his head. “We moved your stuff into the other bedroom.” “But that was my room, Dad.” “Is that really why you’re mad or . . . ? He pauses. “It’s not my fault that your mom got—” “Keep thinking that,” I snap. “One of these days, you might even believe it!” Hands full, chest heavy, I leave my onetime superhero and my broken heart scattered on the sidewalk. My tears are falling fast and hot by the time I shut the front door behind me. Buttercup, a medium sized yellow mutt of a dog, greets me with a wagging tail and a whimper. I ignore him. I drop my backpack, my shopping bag, and dart into the bathroom. Felix, my red tabby cat, darts in with me. I attempt to shut the door in a normal way instead of an I’m totally pissed way. If Mom sees me like this, it’ll upset her. Even worse, it’ll fuel her anger. “Chloe?” Mom calls. “Is that you?” “Yeah. I’m in the bathroom.” I hope I don’t sound as emotionally ripped as I feel. I drop down on the toilet seat, press the backs of my hands against my forehead, and try to breathe. Mom’s steps creak across the old wood floors. Her voice sounds behind the door. “You okay, hon?” Felix is purring, rubbing his face on my leg. “Yeah. My stomach’s . . . I think the meat loaf I had at Dad’s was bad.”
“Did Darlene fix it?” Her tone’s rolled and deep fried in hate. I grit my teeth. “Yeah.” “Please tell me your dad ate a second helping.” I close my eyes, when what I really want to do is scream, Stop it! I get why Mom’s so angry. I get that my dad’s a piece of shit. I get that he refuses to take any blame, and that makes it worse. I get what she’s been through. I get all of it. But does she have a clue how much it hurts me to listen to her take potshots at someone I still sort of love? “I’m going to sit out on the patio,” she says. “When
you’re out, join me.” “Uh huh,” I say. Mom’s steps creak away. I stay seated and try not to think about what all hurts, and instead I pet Felix. His eyes, so green, take me back to the boy in the store. What ever you’re trying to pull, don’t do it. What the heck did he mean?