Paranormal Legacy, by Caitlin Hensley, is one of those books, which, when I began reading it, I didn’t quite know what to expect. I had seen Caitlin’s posts in one of the online National Novel Writing Month forums and had picked it up just to see what it was like.
I am not usually a fan of the Young Adult genre, but I found myself drawn into the story in spite of myself. Paranormal Legacy is about a young girl, Haily Long, who begins to discover secrets about herself and her life. As the book progresses, she realizes that everything she thought she knew about herself and her life is not at all what it seems.
The premise was interesting, and the book began with a high level of action that remained sustained throughout the novel. Haily was very realistically drawn. I never felt that she was too perfect, or too annoying. I have to add, from reading many books with teenage female protagonists, this in itself is a feat.
But the highest point of this book, for me, was the fact that it was so darn funny. I found myself laughing out loud in public places. I can appreciate a good book that has an expert mix of action, intrigue, danger, and laughs, and Paranormal Legacy has the perfect mix.
After reading Paranormal Legacy, and Caitlin’s short piece Together Alone, I had to invite her to a Conversation. I asked her a few questions about her writing, her books, and what’s next on the horizon.
In addition, Caitlin has generously offered an autographed copy of Paranormal Legacy to one lucky commenter. I’ll be accepting comments for the next two weeks, and then on June 15 will randomly choose from among the replies. Enjoy!
IS (Infamous Scribbler): I was impressed at how polished your work is, both “Together Alone” and “Paranormal Legacy.” What is your process for editing/prepping for publication?
A (Caitlin Hensley): Whenever I decide to publish a project, I edit it once on my own, send it to a beta reader, edit it again, send it to two more beta readers, and then edit the book three more times—a normal read-through, a careful study of each and every word to check for any errors that may have slipped through, and then a final read-through. Man, it makes me tired just thinking about it.
IS: In Together Alone, the relationship between the two brothers is very realistic. The older brother is trying to be protective and do the right thing, and the younger brother has a hard time seeing that. Is this based on a personal sibling relationship? Which of the two characters do you identify with most, and why?
A: I didn’t deliberately model their relationship on the one between me and my sister, but maybe some elements of real life managed to slip in. Nick is my favorite of the two brothers, because in fiction I always like the characters with a touch of darkness to them. But I can definitely identify with Craig, and the way he tried so hard to protect his younger brother.
IS: I noticed both pieces were written in present tense. Can you talk a little about your decision to set the pieces in this tense? Was it a conscious decision? What about it works for you?
A: I used to write only in past tense, but after reading The Hunger Games, something about present tense just clicked with me. I decided to see what Paranormal Legacy would read like in present tense, and carefully switched out the two tenses. I decided that I liked the way the words sounded in that tense, and left it that way. And I’ve been writing in present tense ever since. Something about it really works for me.
IS: In Together Alone, the two protagonists are teenage boys. In Paranormal Legacy, you switch to a teenage girl, living with her mother. Did you consciously decide on the genders of the main characters? Or did the characters come to you with their genders already chosen? What was that like?
A: To be honest, I don’t remember how I decided about Haily. I wrote the first draft of Paranormal Legacy when I was about fourteen, which was quite a few years ago. As for Together Alone, the idea just popped into my head one day, characters and all.
IS: In Paranormal Legacy, the wise-cracking of the main character caused me to laugh out loud several times while I was reading. Can you talk a little bit about your philosophy toward incorporating humor into your writing, and how that works for you?
A: I’m glad you enjoyed Haily’s wise-cracking! In the first draft of Paranormal Legacy, there was absolutely no humor, and I’d never tried writing it before. But during revisions, I read a part where Nathan told Haily where they were, and she said, “Is that supposed to mean something to me?” Out of nowhere, I thought, I could make Haily funny. On the next round of revisions, I completely rewrote the whole book, and Haily’s wise-cracking ways were born.
IS: I bought both books on Kindle, but I know that you recently ordered a print run of Paranormal Legacy. Will it be coming to bookstores soon? What is your plan?
A: Right now I’m working on two local book signings, and getting Paranormal Legacy into an Oklahoma library system. After that, I’d love to attend some of the events for indie authors that take place in various states around the country.
IS: Who are some of the authors you read on a regular basis? Who are some authors you consider your biggest influences?
A: Some of my favorite authors include Holly Black, Susan Kaye Quinn, Suzanne Collins, Richelle Mead, and Meg Cabot. Suzanne Collins has influenced me some, since The Hunger Games convinced me to change my writing to present tense, and Cassandra Clare’s writing has pushed me to add more details into my books.
IS: What’s up next? And, where can people go to learn a little bit more about you and your books?
A: The next book I plan to publish is Untold Promise, the sequel to Paranormal Legacy. It’ll be out in July. Anyone who’s curious about me and the status of any of my projects can visit me on Facebook, Amazon, Goodreads, or my blog, Pen Over Sword.
IS: Anything to add?
A: Just that I hope everyone who reads my books has fun and enjoys the characters. And thanks for hosting me, Rachel!
Thanks for stopping by!