Like most writers, Chris was first a reader—of books, of course, but also cereal boxes and shampoo bottles and billboards. Her favorite gift as a kid was a dictionary, which she read from cover to cover. After she published her first poem and won a regional creative writing contest, both at age ten, she knew she’d spend her life pursuing happiness via the written word.
Chris graduated from the Honors Program at the University of Houston in 1990 with a BA in French and a minor in Political Science. In 1994, she attended the Ploughshares International Fiction Writer’s Seminar at Kasteel Well, Netherlands. The following year, she attended the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference, where she was able to work alongside some of her favorite authors.
Although she now focuses her efforts on fiction, Chris also writes children’s books and continues to write articles for health and fitness, lifestyle, and parenting magazines, and is collaborating on two screenplays. She is also a writer-teacher for Houston-based Writers in the Schools (WITS), which engages children in the pleasure and power of reading and writing. In her spare time, she works as the PR chairperson for her children’s elementary school. Chris well knows that the pen is mightier than the sword, but she’s willing to wield one of those, too. A former fitness competitor and model, she currently holds a 2nd dan in taekwondo.
Chris is a member of of the American Society of Journalists and Authors, Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, the Author’s Guild, and MENSA. She lives with her husband and children in Houston, Texas.
Find out more about Chris at her website
and below in her interview!
At what age did you start writing?
I can't remember a time when I wasn't writing; everything about it held me fascinated--from learning to hold a pen to pulling stories from my imagination to actually crafting a narrative.
Patty Campbell talks about the germ for a piece of writing being like the sand in the oyster. What is your grain of sand? Do you begin with character or setting or something else?
It starts with an idea: I wake from a dream in which I hear a line of dialogue spoken in a distinctive voice; or an unexpected character shimmers to imaginary life like a mirage in my mind, compelling me to find out who she is and what she wants; or I’m stuck in a thought-loop about one of humanity’s conditions and I want to explore it from a safe distance. Then I wander into the story, letting the characters reveal themselves, and over the course of a novel, I figure out the “what happens” parts and hopefully, we all (the characters, the readers, and I) end up in a satisfying place.
Do you outline before you write or just dive in?
My friend Lisa Cron, author of WIRED FOR STORY talks about the benefit of building the framework that will underlie the story before the writing begins, figuring out exactly what it is that the characters think they want, what they want, and what’s keeping them from getting it. That sort of pre-writing makes a lot of sense to me, but actual outlining? No. Part of the magic of writing—maybe most of it—comes from the spontaneous adventures that unfold on the page as I’m doing it.
Why do you write for Young Adults or Children or Adult (whichever is pertinent)?
I write for children because I have them and those are the stories they want to read. I write books for adults because those are the stories I want to read.
Thanks for taking time to let us get to know you, Chris!
Meet Chris at the
on February 15, 2014.