Canadian teen fiction author Christine Rees is a Western University graduate, Sheridan College alumni, cat enthusiast and lover of all literature. Christine is passionate about helping other writers find their voice and challenge themselves. Her debut YA novel The Hidden Legacy is a paranormal story filled with romantic inklings and suspense.
What made you want to be a writer?
In high school, I went everywhere with a book in hand (I still do), but after reading everything I brought as a teenager to our cottage, I started writing my own story. Right then and there. Granted, that book is yet to be published and needs plenty of work, but it’s how this journey first started. Now I write on anything I can get my hands on if I feel the burning need to do so. Whether it’s on my phone, a piece of paper or a napkin, I find a way to write what’s going on in my head.
What inspires you to write?
A song on the radio. A good conversation. A walk through the forest. The sounds of nature. An emotional movie scene. A train ride, and even people who are in my daily life. My inspiration comes from everywhere because at certain times things speak to you more than others. If something sparks a light inside, use it. Let that inspiration grow into something more.
Is there any particular incident that has happened along your writing journey that you’d like to share?
Music. It is kind of crazy that this whole thing actually began because of music. Since I can remember, music has been a gateway to my imagination. I can’t really explain it, but songs conjure action scenes or romance, and everything in-between. From there, a story forms. I never thought about writing these stories until I didn’t have anything left to read.
It took a bored teenager up North with no internet or friends to hang out with that made me realize my passion is storytelling, not just being the listener.
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Never stop writing.
Write about your experiences. Write about your dreams. Write about unforgettable moments. Embed a piece of yourself in your story to make it authentic. Make it real. Channel your emotions into writing to create something that is completely and utterly you.
Any advice for approaching publishers?
Research, research and more research!
Make sure the publisher is a right fit for you and your story. It is just as important as them deciding if you are a good match for their collection.
First beginning this journey, I was determined to take the traditional agent-before-publisher route. After all that querying, I realized it wasn’t the best fit for my first story after all. That’s when I looked into publishers like Evernight Teen, and my experience with them has been amazing.
What do you think is the biggest marketing challenge for new authors?
Saturation. There is so much out there, it can be difficult to navigate through the marketing hype to find the best way to advertise your story. Do your research and learn about your audience. Where are they online? Look for influencers that can help you. Speak to other authors who have been able to break-through.
You don’t need to spend a fortune on advertising to get the word out. Sometimes the best way to market your story is to network and utilize the tools you already have.
What methods of book marketing do you find the most effective?
I use a variety of methods when marketing my book, but my main two are social media and influencers. Book bloggers in the YA market are not only helpful, they are invaluable. They can speak from an honest standpoint and give your audience a well-defined grasp of the book’s contents without completely giving it away.
Social media is fantastic, especially with YA readers because they are really involved. I will soon be adding more giveaways and book signings to this list, but have yet to use these tools to their full extent.
How do you handle rejection as a writer?
With a grain of salt. Not everyone will like your story or want to take a chance on you. Accept that and move forward in your search. Just because you receive a few rejections does not mean you are a bad writer. It means you need to redefine your next goals. Should you continue to query literary agents if you are receiving rejections or is there another way for you to get your work out there?
How do you deal with isolation, as writing is an inherently private exercise?
By keeping my family and closest friends involved with the process. After spending hours drafting my story with headphones on, I share it with the people closest to me along the way. Either by giving insight into what I’m working on or letting them read pages for feedback, I don’t allow my writing to be entirely private. It carries a piece of myself within its pages.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with aspiring writers?
It’s easy to measure your success based on others in the industry, but you shouldn’t. You may not be the “next J.K. Rowling” because you are making a name for yourself differently than she did. Take pride in your accomplishments and own it.