Christy J. Breedlove (Chris H. Stevenson), originally born in California, moved to Sylvania, Alabama in 2009. His occupations include newspaper editor/reporter, astronomer, federal police officer, housecleaner, and part-time surfing. He has been writing off and on for 36 years, having officially published books beginning in 1988. Today he writes in his favorite genre, Young Adult, but has published in multiple genres and categories. He was a finalist in the L. Ron. Hubbard Writers of the Future contest, and took the first place grand prize in a YA novel writing contest for The Girl They Sold to the Moon. He also authors the popular blog, Guerrilla Warfare for Writers (special weapons and tactics), hoping to inform and educate writers all over the world about the high points and pitfalls of publishing.
How long have you been writing?
I’m retired, so it’s full time. My early writing accomplishment were multiple hits within a few years — In my first year of writing back in 1987, I wrote three SF short stories that were accepted by major slick magazines which qualified me for the Science Fiction Writers of America, and at the same time achieved a Finalist award in the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest. This recognition garnered me a top gun SF agent at Richard Curtis Associates. My first novel went to John Badham (Director) and the Cohen Brothers (Producers). It was an extreme honor to be considered. The writer who beat me out of contention for a feature movie (as well as the book), was Michael Crichton’s, Jurassic Park. My book was called Dinothon.
A year after that I published two best-selling non-fiction books and landed on radio, TV, in every library in the U.S. and in hundreds of newspapers. This was at a time when small and mid-sized press paid nice advances and had unlimited distribution.
I have been trying to catch that lightning in a bottle ever since. My YA dystopian novel, The Girl They Sold to the Moon won the grand prize in a publisher’s YA novel writing contest, went to a small auction, and got tagged for a film option. My latest release, Screamcatcher: Web World, just currently won Best YA title of 2019. I have 12 titles appearing on Amazon. I guess I should stick to Young Adult, which I do love BTW.
How many books have you written so far?
I’ve written about 26 or so books over a 30-year time span, with a 12-year hiatus. I have 13 published books and six more contracted to be published, which are already polished and repped by my agent.
How have readers responded to your books?
The readers to my book have responded enthusiastically and given me high praise. This applies to the vast majority of them. My romance has gone fairly unnoticed, and I attribute this to the fact that this erotic romance was written by me, a guy, using my real name. I do believe women prefer a female author for anything romance. Other than that, all my genres have done remarkably well and I’m quite flattered.
Why did you choose to use a pseudonym for the Screamcatcher series?
I wanted to use a pseudonym for my young adult books only. I have kind of a soft spot in my heart for writing teen fiction and I knew that with all the genres I have published in the adult category using my real name, it would only confuse my readers if I were to cover two categories with the same name. I really don’t want my young adult readers to find my adult material because a few of those books are rather racy. I need that non de plume to separate my categories and styles.
Authors like J.K. Rowling and E.L. James chose to use male pseudonyms for their books. What made you want a female one?
Oh, boy that’s a loaded question.
I’ve been accused of hiding under a girl’s skirt, identity theft, plagiarizing, and being a transsexual or gay person. My Gawd. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Inherently, women can communicate deeper and more realistic emotions in their characters than men (I believe that), and women are more apt to read young adult and romance books written by women (which makes it a business decision too since women buy and read 65% of all books). I needed women to know that I, as a male author, had a pretty good-to-outstanding feminine side and I could get right inside the head of a female character with the best of them. So if a girl or woman picked up one of my books because it had a female author name, she might just start reading and really enjoy it, and then find out later that the author was male and he really pulled it off.
How did you come up with this idea and do you have a Native American background?
No Native American background at all. It all started with a dream catcher. This iconic item, which is rightfully ingrained in Native American lore, is a dream symbol respected by the culture that created it. It is mystifying, an enigma that that prods the imagination. Legends about the dream catcher are passed down from multiple tribes. There are variations, but the one fact that can be agreed upon is that it is a nightmare entrapment device, designed to sift through evil thoughts and images and only allow pleasant and peaceful dreams to enter into the consciousness of the sleeper.
I wondered what would happen to a very ancient dream catcher that was topped off with dreams and nightmares. What if the nightmares became too sick or deathly? What if the web strings could not hold any more visions? Would the dream catcher melt, burst, vanish, implode? I reasoned that something would have to give if too much evil was allowed to congregate inside of its structure. I found nothing on the Internet that offered a solution to this problem — I might have missed a relevant story, but nothing stood out to me.
Stephen King had a story called Dream Catcher, but I found nothing in it that was similar to what I had in mind. So I took it upon myself to answer such a burning question.
Like too much death on a battlefield could inundate the immediate location with lost and angry spirits, so could a dream catcher hold no more of its fill of sheer terror without morphing into something else, or opening up a lost and forbidden existence. What would it be like to be caught up in another world inside the webs of a dream catcher, and how would you get out? What would this world look like? How could it be navigated? What was the source of the exit, and what was inside of it that threatened your existence?
Screamcatcher: Web World, the first in the series, was my answer. I can only hope that I have done it justice.
What is the background of the dreamcatcher in Native American culture?
I’ll let a part of the book explain that:
It is said that Iktomi, the great trickster and searcher of wisdom, appeared to an old spiritual leader in the form of a spider. Iktomi, the spider, picked up the elder’s willow hoop, which had feathers, horsehair and beads on it and began to spin a web. He spoke to the elder about the cycles of life and the many forces — some good and some bad — and how it was important to listen to the clean, good forces and to avoid the darker ones that could hurt and lead you astray.
When Iktomi finished the web, he returned it to the elder and said ‘The web is a perfect circle with a hole in the middle. All of the bad forces, visions and dreams enter onto the web where they are trapped and held. All of the good forces find their way into the center and slip through, to travel down the feather and bead path, arriving upon the sleeper. If you believe in the Great Spirit, the web will filter your visions and give you pleasant dreams. The bad ones will never pass. And when the sun rose the next morning it would wash all of the bad spirits from the catcher, cleansing it for another sleep cycle. It was always made to fall apart and wither after years of use so that it would never be filled up with the dark things.
The hoop is made from the twigs of the red willow, formed and dried. It is woven with the thread from the stalk of the stinging nettle. The very old ones have sinew for web. The beads are a decoration, and only one gemstone is used to show that there is only one creator in the web of life. Long ago, the government of this country outlawed the use of real eagle feathers, so most are made from feathers of other birds.Screamcatcher: Web World
The web world included a mix of different worlds. I imagine that would’ve taken a lot of time. How long did you take to write the book?
It was a very quick three months. I felt like I was on fire and my fingers blurred over the keys. I wanted it done before some other writer got the idea. It was the premise that really set me on fire. I knew about most major portal fantasies, including even the lesser ones like Tron and Jumanji. But I knew I really had something new here. Via my research, no one had ever created a Web World.
Are any of the characters based on people in your life?
I only used my sister’s first name Jorlene Patria, or Jory. No of these characters are based on anyone I personally know. Lander is just a typical mechanic, Choice is a non-alpha male who gets the girl in the end, cause yeah, nice guys don’t finish last. Darcy is a little brainy gal. Jory is exotic looking and quite powerful in the leadership department. BTW, all my character’s names come from my family members and relatives. It’s kind of a special treat for them.
You have done a great job with this book. Could you give us a teaser to the next one in the series?
(Book 2: Dream Chasers)
Seventeen-year-old Jory Pike knows a thing or two about Indian lore from her half-blood Chippewa ancestry. She can trap, hunt, and fish with the best of them. She has a team of three other teen friends called The Badlands Paranormal Society. Instead of bagging groceries or playing on I-pods, they think they can excel at banishing evil spirits. They hope to cleanse houses and earn fat paychecks for their services.
Dream catchers aren’t just the chic hoops tourists buy at novelty shops — they work. And sometimes they clog up with nightmares until they collapse under their own evil weight, imploding and sending the dreamer into an alternate world. Jory uses her worst nightmare to enter the dream catcher world. She’s pulled her teammates in deliberately. Everything goes right on schedule but they’ve bitten off more than they can chew. Now Jory and her friends are there, trapped between the people who have confessed their sins to the Great Spirit and are seeking a way out, and the monsters and evil spirits which are happy to keep them trapped in the web world forever.
They were once considered Seekers in the dream world. Now they’ve become vigilantes and call themselves Pathfinders. Is it spiritual enlightenment they’re after? Or have they now become fatally reckless?
As I read the book myself, it seemed concluded. I didn’t think there would be more books to come. How many books can your fans expect in the series?
It is actually a trilogy — Screamcatcher: Web World, Screamcatcher: Dream Chasers and Screamcatcher: The Shimmering Eye. The Shimmering Eye is going through final edits right now. Books 1 and 2 are out there. They were designed to be stand-alone in case only one of the books was picked up. But I have to say, this has a series appeal because the kids turn into paranormal investigators. I might write more if the fans want it and start buying up and reading the first three. The readers will make the decision for more. Not me, in this case.
Anything you would like to say to your readers who are reading this interview?
I’m a die-hard frantic creator of Young Adult fiction, whether it’s paranormal, science fiction, suspense, or fantasy. I believe in pure escapism with unceasing action-adventure and discovery. If you want a moral message or cultural statement, you’re apt to get a small one. But let me tell you something, reader, I want to make you laugh until you gag, cry until you’re dry and tear out tufts of your hair. Today, young adult literature needs some support and renewed interest… How soon we’ve forgotten about Harry Potter, Hunger Games, Divergent and Twilight. Oh, the mania! Where has it gone? Are we losing our young readers? We need something really fresh and new. I and several writers are going to pour everything we have into that end. You are the kindly judge — help us get there and we will deliver!