Author Interview with Craig Hansen

This morning, I have an interview with Craig Hansen, author of Most Likely.

Becky Howard is a teen under pressure. Pressure from her best friend not to breathe a word about the abuse she’s suffering by her mother. Pressure from her sister to understand her marital difficulties. Pressure from her boyfriend to get more physical than she’s ready for. And pressure from the rumors about her boyfriend that are eroding her trust in him. As she prepares for the biggest track meet of her life, Becky’s about to learn that sometimes growing up is about more than having sex, and that clinging to ideals might not be as helpful as learning to expect whatever is MOST LIKELY.

So, when you sit down to write, can you tell us a little about how you go about it? What is the most productive time of the day for you to write?

I’m completely a night owl. I am no good with early morning activities of any sort. I do my best writing between 11 PM and 3 AM. I’m also pretty good in the afternoon.

Do you start your projects writing with paper and pen or is it all on the computer?

I’m probably a bit old-fashioned in this sense, but whenever I start a project, I grab a college-ruled spiral notebook and a pen and start brainstorming. Sometimes I’ll transfer these notes later on into a Word document, and sometimes I won’t. But I love having that spiral notebook close at hand whenever I need to reference something.

What do you draw inspiration from?

Each story is different, in that sense. MOST LIKELY came about when I was in college 20 years ago. I was reading a lot of coming of age novels at the time, but I was frustrated that so many of them were obsessed with sex as the defining event of growing up. I felt that was pretty narrow and wrote MOST LIKELY with the idea that there’s a lot more to growing up than sex. My next project is a series of novels about a teenage girl who starts fires with her mind. Part of the inspiration came decades ago, after reading FIRESTARTER by Stephen King and wondering what it would be like if Charlie had been a hormonal teenage girl. Also, it’s my subtle little way to do something that’s part paranormal suspense, part superhero, but something still uniquely all my own. The other short novel I’m working on, which for now I’m calling IDEA WAREHOUSE, came from a smart-aleck response I had when I was asked where I get my ideas from. I said, “From a warehouse in New Jersey.” That was the start of it, and then the short novel grew from that basic seed. So, there’s no one way I come up with ideas. Each novel has its own unique origin.

Do you set goals for yourself when you sit down to write such as word count?

When I’m working on a first-draft, I use a freeware word processor called FocusWriter. It allows me to set a daily word-count goal. I usually set it at 3,000 or 4,000 and try like crazy to meet or exceed that every day I’m actively writing.

What work that you’ve done speaks the most to you?

Whatever I’m working on at the moment. If I’m not feeling like my current project is the best thing I’ve ever written, that’s a red flag for me. Currently, I’m working on a short novel that acts as sort of a prequel to my next big novel, EMBER. It’s kind of like my tribute to THE BODY, by Stephen King… only with a female cast instead of four boys.

How do you come up with your cover art?

I worked closely with Glendon Haddix of Streetlight Graphics on the cover of MOST LIKELY. He’s a really generous guy with his time, and he presented me with well over a dozen options, maybe even two dozen. Then I posted some of my favorites on Kindleboards and asked for feedback. Some of the covers were more track-oriented, but then we decided to go for the heart of the novel, which is Becky’s emotional journey. Some of the covers we evaluated had girls who looked completely devastated and depressed, or extremely prayerful. The one we ended up with captured the best balance… she seems a bit down, but not defeated. And Glendon’s logo design work was brilliant, because it visually tips people off that there are some spiritual elements to the novel. Even though it’s not overwhelming, I do think people like a clue when a novel has some spiritual content.

Do you participate an any social media outlets like facebook?

Frequently. I took the advice of many of the smart independent authors who’ve blazed trails before me. I’m on both Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Craig-Hansen-Author/136888346383154) and Twitter (@craigahansen), and I have a home base Web site (http://www.craig-hansen.com/) where my blog resides. A lot of writers get overwhelmed by social media and wish they didn’t have to put so much time into it. I’ve worked it out where I put in a couple hours each day, six days a week, and then stop. Social media a great marketing tool, and a great way to connect with fans, readers, other writers and so forth, but the writing has to come first.

Do you own an ebook reading device?

I do! No offense to Nook owners, but I absolutely love my Kindle. It’s a third-generation Kindle with WiFi only and it’s what brought me into the world of eBooks. Both my wife and I own one. I’ve given some thought to a Nook Color, because it’s a great machine and I really like PubIt. But even if I do add a Nook Color in the future, I’ll always own a Kindle.

Were any real-life people the inspirations behind any of your characters?

No one directly inspired any of my characters. I’m not the type of writer who does that. My characters are usually a mixture of different qualities of several different people I’ve met or known. In MOST LIKELY, however, I did name one of the incidental characters after an old childhood friend from my high school years, as a tribute to that friendship.

Who was the most difficult character to write?

The owner of Heroes and Zeros was a challenge. I have known several of these sorts of “grumpy old men” who actually are really decent guys once you get to know them, over the years. I wanted to make him abrasive at first, so that when his character comes full circle and turns out to be this nice guy, it’s not necessarily expected. But I had a hard time getting the tone just right, and only really became satisfied with how I handled Leo Palmer in the final pass-through.

Do you have any new projects in the works?

I have the Ember series, which is my most important fiction project at the moment. The first full-length novel is about half finished right now. I had to set it aside to get MOST LIKELY to market. And right now, I’m doing a prequel short novel that I’ll release before EMBER, so that there’s a $0.99 introduction to the series. I have no idea at this point how many books I’ll add to the EMBER series, but if readers embrace it, I have many story ideas, a lot of ways to torment poor Ember Cole.

I also have a standalone short novel I want to put out as a $0.99 read, when I get the chance. It’s a pure psychological suspense novel, and not aimed at young adults but older readers. It’s a fun, frenetic thrill ride.

Outside of fiction, I have some theological books I’m working on that will explore topics related to Messianic theology. I’m a Messianic rabbi in training and hope to launch my own congregation soon, so those books will tie into that. The first of these is called DATING THE MESSIAH, which will be a researched piece where I explore when Jesus was born, when he died, how old he was at the time of His death and resurrection, why we’ve come to believe what we believe about that, and whether there might be valid alternate theories on the topic. I do have an opinion on it, and it’s not the traditional view, but I don’t want to say much more about it until the book’s ready for release.

My theology books will be featured more on my religious blog, MessianicMusings.com, rather than on my author blog, Craig-Hansen.com, since I expect I’ll be dealing with a significantly different audience for those.

Wow.. that’s cool. I think I’ve visited your website many times in the past. I didn’t realize that you were the author of that. It’s a great website, as well. Anyway, back to the interview… I like to end with a non-writing question: If you could take a trip anywhere, where would you go?

It may sound cliche for a guy who’s going into the ministry field, but I would very much like to visit Israel someday. Beyond that, my ancestors come from Ireland, so I’d enjoy a tour of Ireland, Scotland and London. Inside the US, I’m moving this fall to one of the areas I’ve always wanted to visit: the Pacific Northwest. Oregon, specifically. After spending most of my life living in Midwest flatlands and enduring long, ultra-cold, deep-snow winters, I’m very much looking forward to going where I’ll be close to mountains, the ocean and milder weather patterns throughout the year.

Thank you for your time today, Craig.

If you would like more information on Most Likely, you can view the Amazon link below.

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