Q & A with Crystal
Where do you get ideas for your books?
I’m a character-driven novelist. I imagine a character with a few good and bad qualities and then I brainstorm how those qualities could cause the character to struggle. From there, I create a general plot outline.
Since I start writing with my characters in mind, I usually change the plot multiple times. It takes time to get to know the characters, and when I do, I realize they would make different choices, which affects the entire plot. Revising is a grueling process, but it’s fun brainstorming new ideas, especially when I brainstorm with one of my critique partners. We usually come up with a list of really bad ideas until we come up with one we like.
Maybe one day I’ll be better at initial plotting, but in the meantime, I’m enjoying the unknown plot twists that arise from my tainted characters.
If you were on a deserted island, what three items would you bring with you?
I would bring a fire starter, toothbrush, and socks. A fire starter is the most practical item for survival, but I also hate being cold. Hopefully, I’d be able to catch animals to cook over the fire as well. As for the toothbrush—when I was a kid, I had a lot of cavities, so now I’m very diligent about cleaning my teeth. And socks? Well, I have a sock fetish. I can’t fall asleep unless I have socks on my feet. In the wilderness, I’d need to get some shut-eye to catch all those wild animals for dinner.
Did you always know you wanted to be an author?
Yes. I’ve always loved reading and writing. When I was a little girl, my mom used to take my brother and me to the library for readings. I looked forward to hearing my favorite stories come to life. It was then that I became enraptured by the mystical, magical world of words. Everything else around me would disappear, and I’d be transported to different people’s minds —I’d see what they see, feel what they feel—just by reading! Who needs airplanes when you have a book?
I started writing short stories when I was in fifth grade, and I haven’t stopped since. I love being able to do exactly what my favorite authors do—plopping readers into new places and giving them different lenses to experience relatable problems.
If you could be any animal, what would you be?
A wolf. Wolves are beautiful creatures. I like that they travel in packs and must work together. I can only imagine how difficult it would be to have a good relationship with others in such a small, hierarchical group. But maybe it seems difficult because I’m human and we often leave relationships when they get tough. If only humans could learn from wolf packs, the world would be a better place. Yes, I know that’s corny, but what can I say? I’m a romance novelist!
What was your favorite book growing up?
My favorite book was The Great Gatsby. I’m a huge geek when it comes to literature, so I loved interpreting the symbolism and finding the deeper themes embedded in the book. I can still feel the eyes of Doctor T.J. Eckleburg staring down from the billboard, brooding at Americans who have abandoned their moral values.
Why did you choose romance?
One of my favorite Bible verses is 1 Corinthians 13:13: “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
I completely agree. Love is wonderful, and without love, we are nothing. Life would be meaningless, not to mention lonely.
We must love one another. And not just the people who are easy to love, but the ones who have broken our hearts and caused us pain.
Society often judges people and deems them as unacceptable, instead of loving them. The characters in my books portray both kinds of people—the ones who can’t forgive and the ones who need to be forgiven. Sometimes, they just need to forgive themselves in order to move on, and to remember: “the greatest of these is love.”
How does your faith play a part in writing contemporary romance for a mainstream audience?
I write clean romances. No steamy, intimate details. In my opinion, it’s much more fun to write about flirty conversations, somersaulting stomachs, tingling skin, tender looks, followed by a sweet first kiss.