Christopher Pike Presents: Q & A Session

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Hi, this Christopher Pike, the author of a ton of YA novels. Wattpad had invited to me to share a few of my writing experiences for their Block Party Winter Event. I should say at the start I'm honored to be invited to the party. I thought most of my fans had forgotten about me. Along with R.L. Stine, I was a big shot in the eighties and nineties but fame is a funny thing. It can disappear overnight. But lately I've been churning out more books and my latest one is Strange Girl, which I'll come back to in a moment.

Since joining Wattpad a few months ago, I've been asked a handful of questions over and over again. I'll try to answer a few here. I doubt the first question will surprise anyone. It's...

1. How do I publish a book?

When I get asked this question I assume people want to know how I originally got published. Nowadays, of course, publishing has changed dramatically with eBooks and Print On Demand books. Like with the music business, it's now possible to get your work read by a large number of people without one of the big publishing houses in New York City buying your book. But when I stared as a writer there wasn't an Internet so I'll tell you quickly what it was like for me.

When I started writing, in 1977, I didn't have a college degree, and there weren't any writer's programs that I knew about. I was an ordinary guy who read tons of books and dreamed of maybe one day selling a story I'd come up with. Because I had to work fulltime, I usually wrote at night, pounding out novel after novel, collecting stacks of rejection slips.

But in 1984 I heard from my agent, Ashley Grayson, that a publishing house was looking for "Scary Teenage Stories." They were supposed to be for a series of some kind. I can't remember the name of the house and it doesn't matter anyway because they didn't buy my book proposal, which was called Slumber Party. At that time I'd only written a first chapter and an outline.

But Ashley liked the story and sent it to Jean Fiewell at Scholastic. Jean was the first editor to show an interest in my work. She wrote back and asked if I could send her the whole book. I said, sure, and quickly sat down and knocked it out in like a month. I mean, I was so excited, I had a real live editor who was asking to read my book. Even though I wrote it fast, I worked on it carefully, putting in over three hundred hours.

Then I sent it off and prayed. And Jean bought it! It was the most exciting day of my life. It's funny looking back on that time. I was given a five thousand dollar advance and a royalty that I can't recall. It was either six or eight percent. The numbers didn't matter, though. What was important was that the book was going to be printed and appear in stores and Jean wanted me to write a second book, which became Weekend.

It took about six months for Slumber Party to come out and when it did, it sold well, although it was far from a bestseller. Weekend also sold well. Then I wrote a third YA novel called Chain Letter, which Avon bought and that book sold like crazy, over a million copies shortly after it came out. It was Chain Letter that made me a well known YA novelist.

That's how I got started.

2. How do I write a book?

The only way to learn to write is to keep writing. As I mentioned above, I wrote for seven years before I got published. During that time I wrote every night, and I mean EVERY night. I studied books I loved. I studied different styles. How authors would create character. How they would end chapters with a hook so that I would keep reading. I didn't have a teacher. I actually wonder if writing can be taught. I'm not sure. I only know what worked for me. I had stories in my head that I was in love with and I felt compelled to put them down on paper. I definitely did not write to get rich and famous. But I did write because I wanted to try to make a living at writing. Wanting to escape from my nine to five job was a huge motivation.

3. What is my new novel, Strange Girl, about?

Strange Girl was inspired by my girlfriend, Abir. She told me to write a book about a high school senior who meets a girl who's just moved to town from the jungles of Brazil. Of course, given the title I started with, I knew the girl had to be unusual. But I didn't know anything else about her. Only her name, Aja; and the boy's name, Fred.

You see, all my writing life I had carefully outlined my novels before I wrote them. Of course, often the story would change in direction in places but I usually had an idea where I was headed with my books. With Strange Girl I took a different approach. I didn't want to know where the story was going. I just wanted to spend time with Fred and Aja each day and write down what came to me. In a way, writing Strange Girl was an experiment in how much faith I had in my subconscious, or in my muse if you like.

In the end the book turned out amazing -- in my humble opinion. The story has a ton more heart than most of my novels. I think in Aja I've come up with a character that has a life of her own. Honestly, I feel like Aja came to me and I just wrote her story down. For me, writing Strange Girl reminded me of the time I wrote Remember Me and The Last Vampire (Thirst) -- two of my most famous books.

4. What advice would I give to beginning writers?

Write a little every day. Even if you can only write for twenty minutes, do it. It's important to stay connected to your novel. Also, finish your book. I meet so many writers who start so many books but never finish a single novel. It's important to get to the end of your book. Only then can you truly move on to another book. It's important to work hard. Writing is hard work. Don't even begin to write if you think it's going to be an easy way to make money. You should become a writer because you love stories. Because you love telling stories. And because you hate having a boss and having to get up early and go into work every day. All of the above are excellent reasons to become a writer.

Thank your or your time. You can read more about my books on my Facebook site. Good luck to every beginning writer out there. Work hard enough one day the luck will come.

Yours, Christopher Pike



From the moment Fred meets Aja, he knows she's different. She's pretty, soft-spoken, shy—yet she seems to radiate an unusual peace. Fred quickly finds himself falling in love with her. Then strange things begin to happen around Aja. A riot breaks out that Aja is able to stop by merely speaking a few words. A friend of Fred's suffers a serious head injury and has a miraculous recovery.Yet Aja swears she has done nothing. Unfortunately, Fred is not the only one who notices Aja's unique gifts. As more and more people begin to question who Aja is and what she can do, she's soon in grave danger. Because none of them truly understands the source of Aja's precious abilities—or their devastating cost. Love Aja or hate her—you will never forget her.STRANGE GIRL is available now wherever books are sold.

STRANGE GIRL is available now wherever books are sold

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