Title: What The Valley Knows
Author: Heather Christie
Publication date: January 25th, 2018
Genres: Romance, Young Adult
Millington Valley is a quintessential small Pennsylvania town: families go back generations. Football rules. Kids drink while adults look the other way. High school is a whirlwind of aspiration and rivalry, friendship and jealousy.
When smart and pretty Molly Hanover moves to town and attracts the attention of the football team’s hero, Wade Thornton—a nice guy with a bad drinking habit—longtime friendships are threatened and a popular cheerleader tries to turn the school against Molly.
The young couple’s future is shattered when Wade, drunk, wrecks his truck and Molly is thrown through the windshield. She wakes from a coma to find her beauty marred and her memory full of holes. As she struggles to heal, she becomes sure that something terrible happened before the accident. And there is somebody in the valley who doesn’t want her to remember.
1. What does your writing process look like? Do you know the whole story when you start? Or do you just start writing and go with it (seat of the pants writing)? If you plan it out, how do you do that? Outline, note cards, post-it-notes, etc.?
WHAT THE VALLEY KNOWS is my first book and while I started out as a panster, I would definitely now call myself a plotter. With WTVK, I had one scene in my head (an automobile accident and a girl with a head injury who is trying to remember a terrible secret). I built the story from that scene forward and then backward in time, having no real idea where I was going until many drafts later. At present, I am working on my second book and I’ve taken a totally different approach. I’ve plotted the entire story first by putting each scene on a post-it note. The sticky gets placed onto a big poster board somewhere along a W, depending on where the scene fits among the high and low points of the plot. Then within each scene, when I begin to write, I allow myself to meanander a bit, but I know where this story is heading.
2. How do you come up with your ideas for your stories?
Usually, it starts with an image or interaction drawn from real life. Maybe it’s a conversation I over hear or a newspaper article I read. Then I’ll begin to build a story around that kernel, asking, “What if?”
3. How long have you been writing?
My undergraduate degree is in Literary Studies, but upon graduation I became a flight attendant, then an account coordinator for Clinique Cosmetics, and finally a real estate agent. Two decades flashed by in a blink and it wasn’t eight years ago that I started writing seriously and went to graduate school to obtain an MFA in Creative Writing. So now I consider myself a writer/real estate agent.
4. What tips do you have for aspiring writers?
Treat your writing like a job. Set time aside to study the components of your craft that you need to get “your job” done, i.e. read widely across genres, study bestsellers, focus on technique (make a point to always be annotating a craft book along with your other reading), write a set amount every day even if it’s only 250 words. Writers write. Find trusted readers, listen to feedback and then rewrite. And while you’re doing all of your craft work, start thinking about how to find your eventual readers. Yes, begin building a platform, whether it’s a blog, long Facebook posts, etc. and be consistent in putting your writing into the world via these channels. When your book is ready to go, it will make it much easier for you to land a deal if you can tell an agent or editor that you already have built-in readers.
5. What are your favorite:
Books/authors/genres: I love end-of-the world stories. Two of my favorites are Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel and Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker. I’ve also been on a WWII kick lately, having thoroughly enjoyed We Were The Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter and All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.
Movies/TV Shows: I only watch two TV shows: The Walking Dead and Fear The Walking Dead. I’m in the market for a Netflix binge. Suggestions welcome. Recently, I saw the movie Wonder and loved it. Other favorites include: Boys N The Hood, Town, and Out of Africa.
Music: Bruce Springsteen
Food/Writing snack. Hot, black tea with honey (usually 5 cups a day)