Christie: Hi Hallie! “Enchanted Misadventures with Great-Aunt Poppy: Magic, Mayhem, and Monsters” comes out in October. Can you give us a brief synopsis of it, please?
Hi! Of course 🙂
When three siblings discover that they must spend the holiday with their Great-Aunt Poppy, they prepare themselves for the worst week of their lives. Poppy, or Groppy, is a witch, though, for some reason, only the children can see that. While surviving the creepy house and Groppy’s thousands of cats, the siblings stumble upon a spell room with a magic potion that grants wishes. But wishes go awry, and while their aunt can save them from her own magic, the children must help her capture something frightening in the woods that even a witch’s magic can’t stop. To survive the holiday, it will take all the bravery and wit the kids can muster. But who knows? Things aren’t always what they seem! The best holiday surprise might be hiding in the most unlikely place imagined!
Christie: Can you tell us the idea that inspired the book?
Well, one of the best ways to perfect your writing skills is to write! Funny how that works. So, I was on a writing website and they had a short story contest and I decided to join. One of the prompts was, and I’m paraphrasing, “Three siblings have to spend a holiday with a relative and they are not looking forward to it.” I thought, “I like that!” and I sat down and it just immediately came to me. I have never found something so easy to write and may never again, lol. I loved the story so much that I showed it to one of my critique partners and she was like, “Hallie, this is awesome. You’ve got to try and publish it!” So, I made the novella into a novel, and the rest is history, as they say.
Christie: Did you have a character that you most enjoyed writing?
Oh gosh, lol. I love all of the characters. But Nolan’s quick wit and dry humor – he gets me every time. All of my characters are an inspiration from my childhood experiences, friends, and family, and they all hold a close place to my heart. And don’t think I didn’t hear Merlin (the cat) scoff when I picked Nolan, ha. I love you too, Merlin! Silly cat. They’re all my favorite, really :).
Christie: What was one of your biggest challenges writing this story?
Figuring out how they were going to survive the “scary thing” in the woods (I’m trying not to give too much away). I knew what they needed to do, I knew how the story would end, but I didn’t know how it was going to be done. I just kept working up to that point in the book and thinking “It will come to me eventually.” Luckily when I got to the major scene, it did! (With a lot of prior research…) But it was tricky and took quite a few rewrites. I made sure to have a few beta readers to double check everything. Beta readers are the best!
Christie: What do you think is important for young readers to know about this story?
Each of the three siblings, Ava, Nolan, and Charlotte, experience their own personal growth throughout the story. Each has something they want to work on, work through, or overcome. Be looking for those scenes! They break through those struggles and really take charge! I’m so proud of them! 🙂
Also, I have to mention Great-Aunt Poppy, or Groppy, as the kids call her. She is amazing! I love how she doesn’t change, just the children’s perspective of her. I don’t want to give anything away, but there’s a great message in Groppy’s character.
Christie: What has your debut publishing journey been like?
Very interesting, lol. This is my first traditionally published novel and it has been a whirlwind! There is so much to work on! There were edits and rewrites, and then I helped with the cover appearance, everything that goes on it and choosing the artist’s style for the cover, which I love BTW. Also I’ve been chatting up my book on social media and spreading the news with the community and beyond. I mean, you get out of it what you put into it. There’s always work to be done.
Christie: Is there something unique about you or your story that you’d like to share with our readers?
I know how to juggle, lol. I love cats and that is one of the main reasons why there is a cat in this story. I think I may always put a cat in my stories, though, they may not always be able to talk, ha.
I am a band nerd. I marched in a band all throughout school and college. And if you’re wondering, I play the saxophone and flute and know a few major chords on the guitar.
As for what is unique in my story, I find Groppy to be very unique, and I think that’s what makes her so special and an amazing person.
Christie: What’s one thing that I haven’t asked you about your book or your writing process that you could share with us?
I am a planster! Meaning that I both plan out my story and also write by the seat of my pants. A combination of planner and pantser, lol. I did not coin the phrase, but I fully embrace it.
You never know when writing inspiration will strike, so you write it down when it does. Sometimes you plan a story out only to realize halfway through that something needs to change. There’s nothing wrong with that. I like the quote by Terry Pratchett, “The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.”
Christie: Where can we go to find out more about you and your writing?
I have a website: http://www.authorhalliechristensen.com/
You can also follow me on social media:
If you have a question or would like to chat about book stuff or anything really, please reach out! 🙂
Hallie Christensen grew up in a small town in Alabama surrounded by professional storytellers – her family. She received her BA in English with a minor in Italian while attending The University of Alabama and her MA in Teaching English from Faulkner University. Her life’s background helped to influence her writing and creativity. While growing up she attended Young Authors conferences, played in a marching band, tried her luck as a magician, became a Junior Ranger for quite a few National Parks, and for a brief moment was a disc jockey with an eclectic taste of music spanning from The Monkees to N’SYNC. When she isn’t writing, editing, teaching English courses, or marking-up essays, she enjoys hiking, rappelling, attending rock concerts from musicians her parents’ age, staying at B&B’s, playing in a family band, and of course, reading with preferences in fantasy, contemporary, and the classics. Hallie currently resides in northern Alabama with her husband and a couple of cats.