Interview with Madeline Freeman author of Crystal Magic

Madeline Freeman is the author of young adult urban fantasy with ten books to her name across four series. Crystal Magic is the first book in the Clearwater Witches series. What was your inspiration behind writing Crystal Magic? What prompted you to tell Krissa's story? I wrote the first draft of what would become Crystal Magic when I was about 13. In the original version, there were something like 9 or 10 girls with the name "Crystal" (all with different spellings). I liked the idea of these girls being drawn together because of their name, and I wanted the Krissa character to be different, and to have a connection to Clearwater she didn't quite understand. That original story is, as you can imagine, pretty terrible. It's full of in-jokes I had with friends at the time, and the plot was nothing like it is now. But the story never left me. Over the better part of the next two decades (Crystal Magic was published when I was 32), the characters and the idea would come back to me. I have notebooks and files filled with ideas about what should be kept (almost nothing) and what should happen instead. After my first series (The Naturals Trilogy) was completed, I needed something else to work on. My father never forgot my first "book" (then called The Crystal Society) and would bring it up every once in a while, so I figured why not give that old idea some new life.

Crystal Magic opens with Krissa at the principal's office. Were you ever called to the principal's office? I was never called to the principal's office as a student--not for anything bad. But I worked as a teacher for ten years and spent some time in the office environment during that time.

Your website says you love dinosaurs and outer space. Will either of these feature in a future book? Perhaps both in a science fiction or time travel story? I don't currently have any ideas for books involving dinosaurs or outer space, but that's not to say they'll never happen. I enjoy science fiction stories, and I like learning about science, but I'm not sure I could write a sci-fi book. But who knows what the future will hold?

How did you discover the urban fantasy genre? What made you want to write in the genre? I think I've always been drawn to the urban fantasy genre. I remember devouring LJ Smith's books (The Vampire Diaries, The Forbidden Game, The Secret Circle, etc.) back in middle- and high school. I think I like the genre because it's like the world we live in, only there's magic.  I was having a conversation with an author friend of mine (Mary Twomey) recently where we discussed writing in more realistic genres. The problem? Outside of fantasy, you have to use conventional methods to solve problems--or, as she put it, "I can't werewolf my way out of this." I like building the magical worlds and giving regular characters extraordinary powers. It's fun to see what they do with them.

How long does it take you to write the first draft? Do you pre-plot or pre-plan your characters before you start writing?  I've written drafts in as little as 15 (working) days. I've also had drafts that take more than a year. The more I write, the more I streamline my process. I used to come up with a premise and an ending before sitting down to write. That's when writing would take me forever. I've found I thrive with a thorough outline. I like knowing where my characters are headed. In a way, writing my outlines is like penning a mini first draft. I can identify plot issues and slow spots in the outline. That saves on rewrites later.

What do you find is the most difficult aspect of writing? What is your favourite aspect of writing?  Sometimes the most difficult thing about writing is writing. I had to take some time off this summer due to injury, and even though I've been back to work for a month or so, my writing stamina isn't where it used to be. My favorite thing about writing is when the characters reveal to me something I didn't know. Sometimes this happens in the drafting process, but often it occurs in the middle of a scene. Something that wasn't quite right will click into place. It's like the characters poke me and say, "See?" It reminds me that the creative process is always active and evolving--no matter how prepared you think you are for it.

What resources would you recommend for writers? Susan Kaye Quinn's books The Indie Author Survival Guide and For Love or Money are full of great information. For plotting and outlining, I like Cathy Yardley's Rock Your Plot and Libbie Hawker's Take off Your Pants!: Outline Your Books for Faster, Better Writing. Chris Fox's Write Faster, Write Smarter series is also good.

Thank you so much for the interview, Madeline!

Crystal Magic is currently available for free. Try it!