Meet Our Freshman: An Interview with Chandler Baker

Freshman Fifteen author Lee Kelly sat down with fellow Freshman Chandler Baker to find out more about her forthcoming debut, ALIVE (Disney*Hyperion, Summer 2015).

Chandler Baker_biopicALIVE, pitched as in the vein of Gayle Foreman and Lauren Oliver, is about a girl recovering from a heart transplant, whose recovery introduces disturbing side effects and hallucinations that haunt her every day, as she soon discovers the line between life and death is more fragile than even a girl with a replacement heart could imagine.

“I was fifteen when my heart betrayed me. Like
with all truly masterful betrayals, I didn’t see it coming.”

ALIVE has a creepy, spine-tingling premise – and I know you’ve got other contemporary horror books in your hopper!  What drew you to writing scary stories?  What about the genre do you love, and what do you find most challenging?

I have a love/hate relationship with the horror genre and with being scared in general. (True story: in my house, we have a rule that my horror-aficionado husband is only allowed to scare me once a year and it’s during the month of October.)  I’m terrified of scary movies and yet…I always have to know what happens. I’m known for reading the Wikipedia synopsis of any horror movie I can get my hands on and I’m a huge fan of sites like CrimeLibrary.com, which have helped me become a bit of a serial killer connoisseur (if I do say so myself). Last year, I finally embraced the fact that the frightening, gruesome bits are what draw me, so at long last, I decided to write them myself.

The most challenging part for me is creating the atmosphere in which a reader can actually be scared. Authors don’t have the benefit of suspenseful music or a wide angle lens. We have to do all that heavy lifting with words.

Do you eventually plan on delving into other genres with subsequent projects?  What’s on your writing wish list?

Yes! I do hope to branch out in the future. I used to ghostwrite for a middle grade series, so I’d love to return to something a bit younger and lighter. For YA, I’d like to try my hand at historical fantasy or a big family drama. For now though, I’m content to have my plate full with a number of projects that all have at least an element of creepiness.

How do you balance your writing life and your busy day (and sometimes night) job as a lawyer?  Are you a morning or night writer?  Fast or slow drafter?  Total cave-dweller when you draft, or can you write with the TV going / husband talking / dog barking? And how do you get it all done?!

The way I write keeps changing. Right now, I’m a whenever-I-can-writer. I rely heavily on focused 15-minute intervals. When drafting, my vow is to never get frustrated with myself so long as I write at least 500 words a day. You’d be amazed at how much writing you can get done when you consistently chip away and I find that being too hard on myself about how much I did or didn’t get done is counterproductive to my process. I usually stay late at the office if I haven’t gotten my 500 done early that morning or at lunch.  On weekends, I wake up before my husband and make myself focus until he gets up and we often spend Saturday nights at coffee shops. I can totally write with the TV going, dog barking, circus performers juggling, you name it. Doesn’t bother me.

As a world-class multitasker, what would be your one piece of advice for other writers out there with writing hopes but little time?

Practicing small, focused segments of time can create a routine in a schedule where there really is no routine. That and don’t be too hard on yourself!

What are three books you’ve read (recently or as a kid) that you wish you wrote, and why?

ENDER’S GAME by Orson Scott Card because it has a fantastic opening chapter. WILL GRAYSON, WILL GRAYSON because of the obscurity of ideas (like Schrodinger’s cat) that somehow work beautifully as theme.  A WRINKLE IN TIME by Madeleine L’Engle because it made me a reader.

Chandler BW

Chandler Baker is a twenty-something lawyer, author of young adult and middle grade fiction, and dedicated nerdfighter.  She graduated law school from the University of Texas in Austin and undergraduate from the University of Pennsylvania.

Chandler likes morbid facts, watching scary movies through her fingers, Thai food, Eminem, and very high heels. Fun fact: Chandler graduated early so she could take time off and try her hand at this whole writing thing. So far, so good.

You can find Chandler online: Website | Twitter | Goodreads

 

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