Today's interview is with C.M. Keller, author of Screwing Up Time. Published in July of 2011, Screwing Up Time is a fantasy adventure for young-adults and currently holds a 5 out of 5 star review average at Amazon.com. I sat down with C.M. Keller to discuss the tale recently, and here's what she had to say.
Q: Tell us a bit about yourself.
A: My husband and I have four kids, and we live in a 1940s bungalow with a bird, a hamster, and a black Lab named Jezebel. Several years ago, I won the Tassy Walden, New Voices in Children’s Literature, Honorable Mention Award for young adult fiction. And I just found out that Screwing Up Time just made it to the quarterfinal round of Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Award contest.
Q: How long have you been writing?
A: I’ve been writing since I was twelve years old when I dragged a typewriter into the attic. I fell in love with seeing my words on the page. Of course, the bolt of lightning that stuck next to the attic window while I was writing could have been part of the rush.
Q: What is Screwing Up Time about?
A: Screwing Up Time is about a 17 year old guy named Mark. He’s a slacker content with his life. After all, if he stays out of trouble, he’ll get a car when he graduates. Then, she comes into his life—Miranda with her I-escaped-from-a-Renaissance-Fair clothing. Only, she hasn’t. She has come from the Middle Ages and demands a book of recipes for traveling through the colors of time. If Mark doesn’t find it, she’ll die. To save her, Mark must break into a psych hospital to visit his grandfather who tried to kill him, cross the colors of time, defeat an alchemist, prevent Miranda’s marriage, and keep it hidden from his parents. The sports car is in trouble.
Q: How did you come up with the plot?
A: When Miranda (the time traveler) walked into my mind, I thought she was a ghost. But then, she started telling me her story and I knew I had to write it down.
Q: Tell us about Mark Montgomery.
A: Mark’s not too different from any teenage guy—he doesn’t have any special abilities or talents. And he’s okay with that. His goal is to get through his senior year without too much effort. But once he hears Miranda’s problems, he has to decide whether to pretend she doesn’t exist or risk his life to do what’s right.
Q: What do you feel sets your book apart from others of the same genre?
A: Unlike a lot of YA books, Screwing Up Time is written entirely from a guy’s perspective. So many readers have said how refreshing it is to read a novel written in the first person from a male point of view. Guys like seeing their way of looking at the world in the book. And girls love figuring out how guys really see things.
Q: Did you have any specific goals when writing Screwing Up Time? Any themes or ideas or concepts that you wanted to get across to the audience?
A: Mostly I just wanted to tell an action-packed story. But I wanted to be fair to teenagers. I think they get a lot of bad press. My kids and their friends aren’t the drug-addled, bullies you see in the news. They’re people I like to hang out with, people who make me laugh and have hope for the future. I wanted my characters to be just like them.
Q: How long did it take you to write Screwing Up Time? Did you hire any outside help such as a cover artist or editor?
A: It took a year to write the first draft of Screwing Up Time. In terms of editing, I’d done freelance editing before, so I figured that with the help of some amazing writing friends and literary agents, I’d be able to edit without hiring an editor.
I did have a cover artist. Tara Rimondi is a professional graphic artist (and good friend). She read the book’s blurb, and an hour later she came up with the perfect cover. How can someone do that?!
Q: Who has been your biggest supporter in your writing aspirations? How do they support you?
A: My family. It was my daughter who pushed me to self-publish—she even gave me a deadline.
Q: As I'm sure you know, many readers like to find their favorite authors on social networking websites like facebook and twitter. Do you have any social network links you'd like to share?
A: I have a book blog: http://screwinguptime.blogspot.com/
My GoodReads author page is: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5041462.C_M_Keller
My Facebook author page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/C-M-Keller/145636898869893
And I tweet @CMKellerWrites
Q: Have you ever sat down to write a scene only to have the story take you in a completely different direction than you had planned?
A: Absolutely! Once the characters come alive, they tell their own stories. I just write them down.
Q: And just for fun, favorite movie or television series?
A: I love movies. This is something that Mark and I have in common. If he and I were going to watch a movie together, it would be Sahara.
Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me. You're welcome back anytime!