Friday, August 3, 2012
Blog Tour: Interview with C.J. Valles, author of For Ever
Welcome to the blog C.J. Valles! C.J. is the debut author of For Ever, the first book in her Ever series. Read all about C.J. in the interview below.
I’m a newbie author. Before writing my first book—the one I didn't publish (LOL)—I worked as a medical editor, newsroom peon (clerk), reporter, then PR writer (which I still do as a freelancer). I started For Ever after submitting my first book (Alessa’s Dream) to agents and hearing a lot of crickets chirping. At first, For Ever, originally titled Wren, was a character study of my MC Wren Sullivan when she moves to Portland, Oregon with her mom. Wren can reads minds, and finds her life going off the rails when she meets a fellow student at her new school—Ever Casey—whose mind she can't read. The story started out with a couple of pages and kind of spun out of control from there. ... Then, voila! I published it on Amazon, and it's been a wild ride since then, so thanks for having me on the blog, Erika!
How do you choose the names for your characters?
This is kind of funny, because for the two main characters, it was a really random selection. For Wren (my MC), I had already written several pages, and I needed a name for her, so I went to one of those baby names Web sites. The name of the day happened to be “Wren,” which means “small bird.” It seemed to fit, so I ran with it. When it came to Ever, I had a definite purpose: I wanted his name to reflect infinity and darkness. I looked for traditional first names that meant something like “always,” “infinite,” etc. I couldn't find any. Then I thought “Ever. Hmm, I like that.” The last name Casey, according to some sources means “black” or “dark.” I also found a site that attributed the name to “vigilant in war,” which also becomes very relevant. For most of the other characters' names, I looked on the U.S. Social Security Administration Web site for names that were popular around the time the characters would have been born.
How much control did you have over the cover design of your book? Do you like it? If you didn't design it yourself, how do you think it would have turned out if you did?
It's not very fancy, but I love my cover, maybe because I had complete control over it. It was the result of my husband jumping out of the car on a drive from our house to downtown Portland and taking a photo—on my iPhone—of a tree in the fog. Then I went through the fonts on my computer and chose the one that seemed to reflect the feel of my book. Also, I think evergreens are very symbolic and provide a running theme throughout the book.
Do you outline your stories before you begin writing? How do you determine where to start?
Absolutely not! Doing outlines makes me physically sick. Seriously, my stomach is in knots just thinking about it! A lot of people consider outlining a must, but I prefer the chaos method, which is: I start with a basic idea or premise, and then go from there. I don't think this is how most writers operate, but I want to be surprised by where my characters go, what they say and do, and even how the book will end. It usually entails copious re-writing, but I think it's more fun.
Is there a dedication at the beginning of your book? Who did you dedicate it to and why?
I dedicated the book to the one person who read it prior to publishing, my husband. This was kind of a secret project of mine, and the fact that my husband encouraged me to follow through with it—and has put up with a lot of tears and frustration since—well, that makes him the best husband ever.
What will your next book be about?
The book I’m working on finishing up right now is For Ever’s sequel, Never. I’m having such a good time with it that I kind of don’t want it to end. I have another series I started while I was still writing The Ever Series that is a different take on ghosts, which I might take up again after I finish this series. We’ll see!
Do you have pets? Can you tell us a little about them?
Since I work and write from home, I think I spend more time with my pets than I do anyone else, including my husband! My cat is black and orange, asthmatic, and refuses to eat from anywhere but her cat perch at the window. She can tell when I'm writing—because that's when the iTunes goes on—and that's when she likes to harass me. My dog, also black and orange (and white) is 14-years-old, manic from the steroids he gets for Addison's disease, and generally not right in the head. I estimate that I would get four more hours of writing done per day if I locked both of them out of my office!
What is the first line of the first book in your bookcase?
It's hard being left behind.
What was the last thing you ate? Did you enjoy it?
LOL! A giant chicken burrito and quesadilla from my favourite taqueria down the street. Best salsa ever! My husband was out of town, so I had their food three nights in a row—and I enjoyed it all three times!
You are the king/queen of your own country. What is the name of your country?
Ha! This is a fun question, and I'm going to answer without thinking too much. I say Halcyon. Listen to the song of the same name by Orbital. It's kind of magical.
What advice would you give your teen readers about life?
Do what you love. Really. Yes, people can criticize it—whether it's math theorems, poetry, painting, or music—but if you don't, you'll regret it. I spent a lot of time not writing, and it took me a very long time to start and finish my first book. Now that I look back, I'm wondering what took me so long to take the leap and focus on something I really enjoy doing. Time goes by fast, so it's important to take a chance and invest in something important to you.
Thank you for sharing with us today, C.J.! You can find more about C.J. Valles and the book For Ever below:
Sixteen-year-old Wren Sullivan doesn’t want to know what other people are thinking about her—because most of the time it sucks. Too bad since that’s what happens every time she looks into someone’s eyes.
When she moves to Portland, Oregon, after her parents’ divorce, Wren’s just hoping to get through the rest of her junior year unscathed. Instead, before the end of her second day in school, she wakes up in the hospital after her very own freaky demonic-possession incident. Wren can’t remember much. But soon she finds out that her “episode” happened right after she locked eyes with the one classmate who happens to have gone missing.
Wren starts digging through people’s heads for the truth about him, and finds … nothing. Godlike hotness? Yep. But nobody knows who Ever Casey really is. And they don’t seem to care that he just disappeared. So, when he randomly shows up again in her first period class, Wren is determined to get some answers. Her classmate may be perfect on the outside, but with one look into his eyes, Wren discovers his mind is also perfect—perfectly empty.
Or is there something he doesn’t want her to see there that will put her and anyone near her in danger?
Find it on Goodreads and Amazon
C. J. Valles grew up in Southern California before moving to Northern California for college, a climate change forever scored into her memory. She currently lives in Portland, Ore., where she is working on finishing The Ever Series.
You can find her on
Want to follow along with the tour? You can find the tour schedule here.