I first heard about Christa when her publisher sent me a copy of this book. I loved the title and premise, so I contacted her for an interview.
Some of the best writing advice I ever received was back in high school when my English teacher told me that the best writers “write what they know.” So I’ve always been a big believer in the connection between authenticity and the writer’s own experiences, traits, etc. And in my novel, Around the World in 80 Dates, Sydney and I share a few common traits. But because it’s fiction and not a memoir, we have our share of differences, too.
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
What can I say? I’m a quirky girl, it may be difficult to narrow it down to just one. But back in my college years, I always thought it was pretty funny to switch everyone’s welcome mats around. The alterna-punk girl on our floor had a mat in front of her door that said “Go Away” on it, so I thought it would be fun to switch hers with another girl’s fluffy pink one with kittens on it. My favorite part was seeing their faces when they’d realized what happened. I’d get to watch their confused looks while they had no idea that I was the one who’d switched everything around. This was also fun to do with Christmas wreaths and decorations, too.
I love quirky. It makes life more interesting. When did you first discover that you were a writer?
As long as I can remember, I’ve always had a vivid imagination. And for some reason, I always liked inventing new stories more than playing with Barbies or jump roping. I was always the kid with the pen and paper. But when I read Judy Blume’s Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, that sealed the deal. I figured if she could make up stories like that for a living, well, that’s what I wanted to do.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I love everything from Hemmingway’s A Moveable Feast to chick lit like Sophie Kinsella’s “Shopaholic” series. Sometimes I’m in the mood for a biography; other times, it’s a book with a pop culture tie-in. Basically, I like just about anything.
What other books have you written, whether published or not?
When I was a kid, I wrote a 15-page book about a turtle going to a birthday party. Surprisingly, it didn’t hit the New York Times bestseller list. Aside from that, I had a devotional book published back in 2003 with Integrity called Hungry: An Ultra-Vertical Devotional Adventure and the sequel to Around the World in 80 Dates titled Blessed Be the Meddlers will hit store shelves in June 2008.
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
It may sound cliché, but I pray a lot! My husband and I start almost every day with a time of prayer, and that provides a lot of peace in our crazy, run-run-run world. I also watch The Food Network when I need a break…it’s my new guilty pleasure.
How do you choose your characters’ names?
What a fun question. I wish there was a method to my madness, but there’s usually not. I just try and pick names I think fit the character. My protagonist’s name, however, was the first and only pen name I’ve ever used: Sydney Alexander. That name just seemed to fit her.
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
Being a girl from a small town in Wisconsin, it still blows my mind that I get to write novels and magazine articles for a living! That’s an accomplishment that continues to make me proud.
As well it should. If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
A penguin because they’re cool.
What is your favorite food?
I could write you an exhaustive list of just desserts alone. But if I had to pick one, I’d say the kung pao shrimp from P.F. Chang’s. Yummy.
What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
When I first moved to Nashville after college to pursue my dream of writing for CCM Magazine, my greatest roadblock was just waiting, waiting and waiting. After working a series of odd jobs and taking free internships to gain writing experience, I finally was hired for my dream job. But it wasn’t always easy being persistent when things were difficult financially, etc.
What advice would you give to an author just starting out?
Write a little bit every day and make sure it’s something you’re passionate about. And if your manuscript is rejected the first time, the third time or for the fortieth and you think it’s a story worth telling, tweak and try, try again.
Very good advice.
Around the World in 80 Dates is one travel writer’s hilarious but very bumpy journey on the road to Mr. Right. I was really intentional about wanting to tell a story that singles, married people, grandmothers, etc. could relate to, while offering a surprise element to prevent it from being the same ol’, predictable chick-lit story.
How can readers find you on the Internet?
They can check out my personal Website (where there is a sample chapter) at www.christabanister.com. I also have a MySpace page at www.myspace.com/christaannbanister. And if you want a recommendation of a good movie to see or the ones to avoid, check out my reviews at www.crosswalk.com/fun/movies.
Christa, thank you for spending this time with us. I'll be reading and reviewing your book soon. And when the new one comes out, we'll want another interview.
Readers, leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Around the World in 80 Dates.
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Jane Kirkpatrick - A Tendering in the Storm
Sharon Hinck - The Restorer's Son
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And a Very Merry Christmas to all my readers!!!!!