“Shakespeare was totally correct when he said ‘to thine own self be true.’ Don’t change yourself to be viewed as cool. You can’t keep it up because it’s not who you are.”
I’m all in on anyone who lists her job titles as, “…writer, chauffeur, maid and short order cook. My paying job is a Media Para-pro at a middle school (pray hard for me).”
Christy Breedlove is all these things and more. She’s an especially good writer, with the gift of making you feel you know her from the very first word. In this interview, Christy shares about her two novels, goats, and how being normal is so overated.
Jim Wall Coaching (JWC): When did you know you had an interest in writing?
Christy: I remember not wanting to write because I hated working on my handwriting in primary school. But when I was in 3rd grade, one of the nuns who taught said I had a talent for telling stories and that I should write down all the stories I told.
JWC: What’s your earliest writing experience?
Christy: I’m sorry to say that it was in 3rd grade when we had to do an “All about Me”. How Sister Josephina saw anything in me was incredible. One question was what do you like to eat? My erudite 3rd grade response? Food. My first “paid” job was in 7th grade when I had to write a poem about family for a contest and I won $1!
JWC: Who has influenced your writing the most?
Christy: I love comic books and reading but what got my butt in gear for writing books is working in our local middle school media center. The Wimpy Kids series always has a waiting list. It taught me that to grab a reader, you need to begin, well, at the beginning of your story.
My husband and two kids have always encouraged me. Because I work in a middle school, I get summers off. That’s when I write and my kids have done pretty good by not killing each other so I can concentrate. But most of my ideas are not from my imagination. They have actually happened. The stuff I overhear in the media center is gold. I found out that goats can be hermaphrodites from our Agriculture teacher! Also one of the students has a mowing service called “The Lawn Pimp”. You can’t make this stuff up! I keep a notebook for story ideas.
JWC: Who or what inspires you now?
Christy: My dad was and still is my hero. He always told me that I could do anything I put my mind to and I had better use it to make the world a brighter place. But his best advice is change happens when one person helps another, whether it be making them laugh or giving blood.
JWC: How much of yourself do you see in your first novel, When Lightning Strikes?
Christy: Oh my goodness–the vast majority of the things that happen in WLS happened to me personally. There was a scene where the main character, Sabine, falls into a fire ant mound. She runs to the health department where she is mistakenly diagnosed with an STD. Yep, happened to me in real life. (I also want to say I don’t have a STD.) I had a pair of “septic tank” shoes when I went on investigations.
JWC: Your second book in the Dixie Days Mysteries series is called When Bees Buzz and is due in bookstores November 19th. What are the challenges and joys of writing a sequel?
Christy: The biggest challenge is keeping the characters in sync. You don’t want to kill off someone and in the next book, they make a non-ghostly appearance. Of course that works with soap operas but it wouldn’t work for me. I have a drawn map of Jaemore County to keep track of places.
What I love is that I can expand on the character. They grow and make stupid mistakes (again very life-like). And unlike real life, if I don’t like the direction where a character is going, it’s time to move them out of the county.
JWC: What’s your inspiration for combining humor with mystery?
Christy: There is so much material that goes on in my home and work life that it’s easy to put it in a book.
JWC: What do you hope readers learn or feel after they read your books?
Christy: I like to make people’s day lighter. It may be just to escape in the pages of a book but if it helps others, then I’ve accomplished my goal.
JWC: What kind of structure or processes do you have in place for writing?
Christy: As I said, I write during the summer. Every book has a binder filled with who did what during that book. Who slept with who. Who insulted someone with a “Bless your heart!” When was the last time Sabine got cheese sticks? Stuff like that.
As I write, I turn on different music. During a chase scene, I listen to classic rock. Whatever I am writing influences my choice of music.
JWC: What do you wish people knew more about you?
Christy: I’m actually introverted. Small talk with strangers terrifies me. My first instinct is to clam up and disappear to find a quiet place. I also seem to have no filter. Instead of politely asserting myself when something is wrong, I tell them off. I’m getting better. I’ve learned to walk away when my mouth wants to tell people off.
JWC: How would you encourage your younger self?
Christy: Shakespeare was totally correct when he said ‘to thine own self be true.’ Don’t change yourself to be viewed as cool. You can’t keep it up because it’s not who you are.
JWC: What encourages you to keep writing?
Christy: When someone came up to me at church, they asked when the next sequel is. I was totally astounded! Did that mean someone actually read my book? And they quoted from it. It means the world to me that someone not in my family or small circle of friends says they enjoyed my writing.
JWC: What encouragement would you give writers?
Christy: Keep a notebook handy and never let someone tell you shouldn’t do when you know in your heart, that it is your dream. Also, and I cannot stress this enough–embrace your weirdness. Being normal is so overrated. The media specialist and I have a core group of students who proudly call themselves “weirdos.” Why blend when you were meant to stand out!
JWC: Great point! How can we learn more about you?
Christy: My website is christybreedlovewrites.com. I’m on Facebook @christybreedlovewrites and Twitter @christybwrites.