HarperVoyager has a new release come out that I know young adult urban fantasy readers are going to love. Grey is the first book in The Romany Outcasts series by Christi J. Whitney. We’re excited to interview Christi about her book, writing for young adults and her experience with publishing with HarperVoyager.
Thanks for this interview, Christi. Young adult urban fantasy is hot right now! Can we begin by having you tell us a little bit what your new book is all about?
Christi: You’re quite welcome, and I’m delighted to answer your questions. Grey is the first installment of The Romany Outcasts Series, and it follows the story of eighteen-year-old Sebastian who finds himself pulled into a secretive world of Outcast Gypsies, shadowy creatures, a mysterious girl, and a destiny he can’t escape.
Why did you decide to jump into the YA field?
Christi: Well, there wasn’t too much jumping involved, really. I was a high school teacher for many years, so I spent more time with students than anyone else. But even before that, I’ve always been drawn to the genre—both as a reader and as a writer. It represents a time in our lives when anything is possible, and there’s just something about writing YA that feels comfortable to me.
Can you tell us about your publishing experience with HarperVoyager? Where did it all begin?
Christi: Well, it’s been an unexpected and exciting journey. Back in 2012, I read that HarperCollins’ global imprint for science fiction and fantasy was opening its doors to un-agented submissions for a couple of weeks with the intent of finding new talent. I submitted Grey, but I didn’t hear anything back for a year and a half. I tried to put it out of my mind while I continued to work on other projects. Then, one day, I received an email, followed by a phone call, from the editor of the UK branch of HarperVoyager. They wanted to sign my series.
What was the hardest part about being published with such a well known publisher? Any kinks along the way?
Christi: It’s pretty thrilling being published with HarperCollins, and it’s definitely been a learning experience for me—and for the publisher as well, after this open submissions call. It was something groundbreaking and ambitious for HarperVoyager to do, and it’s been new waters to navigate for all of us, I think.
How are they helping you promote your book?
Christi: HarperVoyagerUK has done a cover reveal for me, and I was asked to participate in a virtual science fiction event called BFI Voyager, which included doing a guest post on their blog. Being a debut author is daunting, no matter how you are published and in today’s market, the author is expected to handle a great deal of the marketing for their books. But my publisher has been super supportive of anything I’ve organized on my own, in addition to the efforts they are putting forth as my publication day draws near.
Out of all the social networks, what do you feel is the most stronger for you as far as getting your message out about your book?
Christi: I use different social media for connecting with different people. I’m most often on Twitter and Facebook, but I also enjoy Instagram and Tumblr, especially for my target audience—and for my own personal fangirling and geeking out about things that interest me.
If you had to give one tip to other authors wishing to sign up with HarperVoyager, what would that be?
Christi: Most big publishers are closed to un-agented submissions, and I signed with my agent as a result of HarperVoyager’s offer for my series. But, in general, having an agent is great for helping you get through those normally closed doors. My journey has been a long one, full of countless rejections and discouragement, so I always encourage inspiring authors to keep their eyes and ears open for opportunities and to never give up.