YOUNG ADULT: What prompted you to move from the world of journalism to the world of fiction writing? How does writing YA literature compare to writing news stories?
WYNNE CHANNING: As a newspaper reporter, I covered murder trials and political elections, so colleagues and sources were taken aback when I published a paranormal YA novel. (Try having this conversation with the local politician: “Hi, how are you? I’m fine. Oh, I’m writing a book about a girl who falls into a well filled with blood…”) But what they don’t know is that the fiction writing came first. I started writing creepy, gory, weird, dystopian etc. stories when I was a little girl. Both fiction and non-fiction writing require strong storytelling skills.
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YA: Tell us a little bit about your latest work.
WC: What Kills Me begins very deliberately, like any vampire story might: with an innocent girl meeting a mysterious, handsome stranger. But the heroine, Zee, quickly realizes that this young man is actually a monster and he leads her to a horrible death. And that’s where all the fun (for me, and for the reader) begins. This is where Zee gets to be a survivor, and then a fighter.
YA: What are some of the qualities in your latest work that set it/you apart from what’s currently our there on the market? What do you make of the inevitable comparisons to Twilight?
WC: I had imagined parts of my vampire story long before Twilight was published. I grew up reading Anne Rice. My favorite television show was Buffy the Vampire Slayer. But I understand that any vampire book today will be compared to Stephanie Meyer’s famed series. Some of my readers have said that What Kills Me is the anti-Twilight. Firstly, it’s an action-adventure. My vamps fight and bleed, they burn and die. Also, romance is secondary to the story. Relationships develop organically. There is no swooning. Unless a character is weak from lack of blood.
YA: What attracts you to the Young Adult genre specifically?
WC: My teen years were not the easiest. Bullies would stuff my backpack into the garbage and pelt me with snowballs. Books were my escape. I loved them. This is me paying it forward.
|YA: Who would you count among your strongest influences, and why? Have you interviewed anyone in your career as a journalist that has helped you as an author?
WC: My parents are my strongest influences. My mother is uber-creative with a sewing machine and my father is very hardworking. Successful writers need both diligence and imagination.
I love interviewing film directors. They’re amazing storytellers. I could talk to them for hours. I also love speaking to real-life heroes. (One of my favorite interviews was with a man named Paul Rusesabagina. He saved more than 1200 lives and inspired the film Hotel Rwanda.) Their stories inspire my stories — regular people who’ve done extraordinary things and who’ve been called upon to be brave. That’s Zee in a nutshell.
|From the Book:|
YA: If you could cast the Dream Film Adaptation of your work, who would you cast?
WC: Zee exists only in my mind. I can’t think of an actress who would play her. But I can tell you who inspired the vampire empress: I pictured Isabella Rosellini’s character from Death Becomes Her when I was writing.
YA: What are your pursuits outside of young adult fiction?
WC: When I’m not writing or researching for my writing…which is pretty much all of the time, I teach and perform Latin dance. It gets my butt out of the chair!
About the book: An ancient prophecy warns of a girl destined to cause the extinction of the vampire race. So when 17-year-old Axelia falls into a sacred well filled with blood and emerges a vampire, the immortal empire believes she is this legendary destroyer. Hunted by soldiers and mercenaries, Axelia and her reluctant ally, the vampire bladesmith Lucas, must battle to survive. How will she convince the empire that she is just an innocent teenager-turned bloodsucker and not a creature of destruction? And if she cannot, can a vampire who is afraid of bugs summon the courage to fight a nation of immortals?
About Wynne: Wynne Channing is a national newspaper reporter and young adult novelist. Wynne loves telling stories and as a journalist, she has interviewed everyone from Daniel Radcliffe and Hugh Jackman to the president of the Maldives and Duchess Sarah Ferguson. The closest she has come to interviewing a vampire is sitting down with True Blood‘s Alexander Skarsgard (he didn’t bite). She briefly considered calling her debut novel “Well” so then everyone would say: “Well written by Wynne Channing.”