Yes my friends, it’s snowing in the coulee! Norma braved the storm to take this photo for one of our upcoming most anticipated reads Behind Every Lie by Christina McDonald.
Christina McDonald joined us in our Goodreads group Behind the Pages for a Q & A. We had such a great evening sneaking a peak into Behind Every Lie, talking about The Night Olivia Fell and getting some insight to Christina’s writing process. I am excited to share some of the spoiler free Q & A with you here
Brenda Hi Christina! I am so excited to be chatting with you again! Thank you so much for joining us! The Night Olivia Fell was a very loved story and there was a lot of love buzzing around for it and that was exciting to see. Now with the upcoming release of Behind Every Lie what does all this feel like for you?
Christina Well, I’m a little nervous, to be honest! Lol As a writer you feel like you’re only as good as your last good book, and now there’s a certain level I want to hit each time. And of course I don’t want my readers to feel let down in any way! lol I want to deliver a sharp, twisty, emotional book each and every time.
With TNOF I had no expectations, so learning how much people loved it and how much the mother-daughter relationship between Abi and Olivia affected people was just hugely rewarding. BEL is a little darker, it covers more sensitive topics. But it says things I want to say, and hopefully in a way that makes people feel things and explore how and why they feel those things, so I’m hoping readers love it just as much!
Norma Hi Christina! Thanks so much for joining us today! Congratulations on your success of being a USA Today Bestselling author! That is so awesome! Can you tell us how that feels and what that means to you?
Christina Oh man, I am over the moon! Lol I have literally been chasing this dream since I was a kid. I used to write silly stories for my sisters and I’d act out stories with my friends, so writing has always been my joy and my passion.
While I’ve had other jobs (that have mostly revolved around writing!), being an author and telling stories has been a dream come true, and becoming a bestselling author is just amazing. It just means so much to me knowing that my book has connected with readers in some way. It wouldn’t have happened without readers, so I’m just so incredibly grateful!
Brenda Can you give a sneak peek into what Behind Every Lie is about?
Christina BEL is about Eva Hansen, who wakes up in the hospital after being struck by lightning and learns that her mother, Kat has been murdered. Eva was found unconscious down the street, but she can’t remember what happened, which of course makes the police very suspicious of her. To clear her name and to find out if she is capable of something so terrible, Eva heads to London—Kat’s former home—and begins to unravel the mystery behind her mother’s murder.
Brenda How did the idea for Behind Every Lie come to you?
Christina There were two things that really factored into the idea behind BEL. The first is I randomly saw a picture of Lichtenberg figures, which are the branching electrical marks sometimes left on the skin of people who’ve been struck by lightning. I was so fascinated that I began researching more about lightning strikes, particularly how it affects short-term and long-term memory.
During this time I read the impact statement for Emily Doe, who was sexually assaulted by Brock Turner at Stanford University. It really impacted me and I thought: how do you go on after that? Your self-trust and worth would be eroded.
Now I know that sexual assault in a story can be incredibly unsettling for some readers (I don’t show it, but do reference it in this book), but I felt it was so important for women (and men, of course) to know they have a voice. Sexual assault has often been covered in stories, but not often is the pain explored through the victim’s eyes. It’s so common to see men presented as both attacker and savior, while women as powerless, and I wanted to flip that around, to show a woman taking control after that trauma and learning to trust herself again.
So I wrote BEL, which takes a thriller concept and places Eva, my protagonist, around a similar past. Now she’s been struck by lightning and can’t remember if she murdered her mother, and this further erodes her self-trust. So she embarks on a journey to find out who she really is and what she’s capable of, while trying to solve the mystery of who murdered her mother.
Brenda Can you describe Eva Hansen from Behind Every Lie in 5 or less words?
Christina Sensitive. Idealistic. Haunted. Insecure. Resilient.
Brenda What are three words you would use to describe Behind Every Lie? The Night Olivia Fell?
Christina Behind Every Lie – Twisty. Emotional. Empowering.
The Night Olivia Fell – Emotional. Compelling. Suspenseful
Lisa How long did it take you to write “Behind Every Lie”?
Christina Hi Lisa, It usually takes me about 3 months to get a first draft out of my head and onto the page. It’s a very, VERY rough draft of the final book – kind of like a chunk of ice I whittle away at until it becomes something more beautiful. 🙂
Brenda What comes first for you plot or characters?
Do you plan or does it come together for you as you are writing?
Christina I think a little of both! I definitely have the idea for plot first, then I sit down and sketch out who I think my characters are, their defining characteristics, how the story will change them and how they appear to others (sharp, business suit and hair in a bun says high-achieving lawyer while flowing peasant dress and long braids says carefree bohemian). I try to see my characters as a whole person, but mostly they just evolve as I write the story.
I have a general idea of what the book will be about and I might know maybe the chapter I’m working on, but that’s as far as I go with planning. Usually once I’ve written the book I look back and realize how much more I need to fill out my characters. It means a lot of edits, but it’s just the way my brain works! I have to get to know my fictional people, and like with real people, it takes time.
Norma I do love my covers and titles of books. Can you share with us if you had a vision of what you wanted the cover to look like or was it all in the hands of the publisher? Did the titles of your books come first or after you were finished writing?
Christina Hmm… good question! I might have a vague idea of what I want or don’t want. Like for TNOF I said something with a bridge and I didn’t want any faces showing, and the cover they gave me was just a gift from the cover gods.
With BEL I didn’t say anything about what I wanted, although in my head I’d thought lightning should be there somewhere, and again, the cover gods knew exactly what to do and they just got it so perfect! Ultimately my publisher has final say, but they’re amazing and they do consult with me.
With my first two books I had a title in mind, but neither were quite right. My editor, agent and I brainstormed ideas and then my editor took them to her teams and they made the final choice. So for my third book I’m just leaving it untitled for now. 🙂
DeAnn Will you be going on tour at all with this book? It seems like your first book was super successful, so I hope so!
Christina I really hope so one day! It would just be a dream come true to meet all you wonderful readers who have read and loved and talked about TNOF, and now BEL. I’m overwhelmed by the support I’ve had and would like to meet everybody. I think you all should email my publisher and get me sent out!
Brenda You added and showed some different emotions with your characters in The Night Olivia Fell and I went thought a few myself while reading. After writing do you feel exhausted or energized?
Christina I guess more than anything else I just feel relieved! lol I’m not really a planner so I don’t know where the book will go when I start. I have a general synopsis of the beginning of the story and what I want to say, but then I just sit down and go. Every day what happens is a complete surprise; every day my characters make choices and do things that startle me. I love it! 🙂
But that being said, sometimes at the beginning I don’t think it’s possible to write a whole book. I’m always a little surprised when I finish and I look down at my laptop and I’m like, ‘hey! I wrote a whole book!’
Norma I am always curious about while I’m reading. How does an author come up with their character names? So that is my question to you. LOL Do you have a connection to the names you choose or are they just random?
Christina This is such a good question and one that’s difficult to describe! It’s probably different for other authors, but for me it’s some sort of bizarre subconscious match. It’s like I see a particular type of person in my head and they match a particular name. So in a way they are random, but I must have some sort of subconscious connection to them.
What Christina has to say about us I had such a wonderful evening chatting with Behind The Pages with The Traveling Friends. The questions about my books were fresh and insightful, and I had so much fun. What a great way to spend an evening. The time absolutely flew by! Thank you so much for having me!
For more Q & A , highlights to The Night Olivia Fell you can find the full Q & A here