Sweet Sixteener Holly VanDyne recently spoke to Fearless Fifteener Christine Hayes about her middle grade paranormal novel, MOTHMAN’S CURSE (June 16, 2015, Roaring Brook/MacMillan).
Growing up, Christine Hayes loved reading stories about creatures that curl your toes and legends that send a shiver down your spine. Now she loves writing about them, too. Christine seeks inspiration by haunting flea markets and estate sales, searching for cool vintage finds with a story to tell. While earning her degree in music she visited Asia for the first time, and later moved there with her family for several years. She has been addicted to travel ever since. Christine and her clan now live in northern Utah.
Josie may live in the most haunted town in America, but the only strange thing she ever sees is the parade of oddball customers that comes through her family’s auction house each week. But when she and her brothers discover a Polaroid camera that prints pictures of the ghost of local recluse John Goodrich, they are drawn into a mystery dating back over a hundred years. A desperate spirit, cursed jewelry, natural disasters, and the horrible specter of Mothman all weave in and out of the puzzle that Josie must solve to break the curse and save her own life.
Holly: When and how did you know that you wanted to be a writer?
Christine: I’ve known since my early grade school years, when they started a school newsletter and asked me to be one of their “reporters.” One of my articles was three sentences long. It was about a classroom with pet snails. I still have a copy of that newsletter!
Holly: How did you come up with the idea for your novel?
Christine: I love ghost stories. I love going to auctions. And I really love weird cultural phenomena. I already had the first two pieces in place (a ghost story set at an auction house) when I spotted a copy of The Mothman Prophecies by John A. Keel at my local library. It was an incredible stroke of good luck. As soon as I started reading, I knew Mothman would be a key figure in my novel.
Holly: What has been your favorite part of the book publishing process so far?
Christine: I’d say it’s a tie between holding my hardcover book for the first time and reading my first review (Kirkus) and sobbing like a little girl because it was positive.
Holly: Imagine your perfect reader. How would you describe that person?
Christine: I imagine a 10-year-old (girl or boy) reluctant reader who picks up the book off the shelf, without prompting from a grownup, and immediately sits down to read. My ultimate goal is to reach that type of reader, to help kids develop a love for books that lasts a lifetime.
Lightning Round Questions
Favorite writing snack? M&Ms
Oddest job you ever had? An assembly line at a fish cannery, inspecting tin cans for defects
Music to write by? Movie soundtracks, especially anything by Hans Zimmer
What were you reading when you were 16? Calvin and Hobbes
Are you an outliner or pantser? 80% pantser, 20% outliner
Do you write longhand or type? longhand
In addition to being a writer, Holly VanDyne is also a librarian, computer and art teacher at a small, private school in the middle of Ohio where she lives with her husband and two daughters. Her book, THE INHABITANT OF ALEXIS O’RILEY, was previously scheduled for publication with Egmont USA and is looking for a new publishing home. You can find her on Twitter.