Krystal Wade's CHARMING released on Oct. 6, and if you haven't read it, well... you should. Because it's good. The CINDERELLA meets SAW mash-up is a dark, thrilling YA novel with plenty of creepy twists and turns.
Wade was also brave enough to endure my own brand of Author Q&A. See, I don't like to ask the typical questions. Having been on the other side of these interviews, I know it can get tiring answering variations of the same question a million times. So, without further adieu... WE BEGIN.
On the surface, a novel titled CHARMING seems sweet and gooey, but then one look at the cover for your CHARMING and it looks like a bloody mess. Why the juxtaposition? Do you enjoy toying with people?
Umm. Do you know me? I mean, like, really KNOW me? Of COURSE I love toying with people. Don’t you? That’s part of what makes being an author so amazing, so powerful, being able to guide people’s emotions just so you can whip out a plot twist and make them cry. Or something. Am I right? :-)
How do you go about trying to scare readers? Are there any tricks you employ, or do you just put a picture of a gross monster face in your book?
Well, there’s throwing the occasional monster in your face, but that doesn’t really happen in this book. Check out WILDE'S FIRE if you like monsters. Plenty of them in that whole series. I especially like the Crossing Caves scene in book three. But, with Charming, I can’t say that I intentionally tried to scare people, except with the occasional chopped off appendage. That was fun, not for the poor sap who’s now missing an appendage, but you get my drift! Oh, and I scare people with emotions, real, horrifying emotions!
Did you study any books or movies to help with setting the tone in CHARMING, or to help bolster the frights? I know, personally, one viewing of GLEE will scare the heck out of me.
GLEE scares you? I thought GLEE would actually make you WANT to kill someone, though, to be honest, I really, really enjoyed the first couple seasons of that show. The cheerleading coach was my favorite. But, no, I didn’t have to watch any frightening things on the tube because I’ve had enough frightening things happen in my life to help me there.
You wrote CHARMING for one of your daughters, correct? You have two other children. Do you know what kind of books you'll write for them? Are you worried your teenaged son will be grossed out by the fact that his mom is writing about him?
No! Are you nuts? I wrote SHATTERED SECRETS for one of my daughters. No way would I put one of my namesakes through what Haley has to deal with in CHARMING. But I am writing a book for each kid. Abby has SHATTERED SECRETS, Clarissa will have a sci-fi (working title LOST), and Ethan will have to wait until he’s not so much of an a**hole for me to write a book about him. I doubt he’d appreciate anything I have to say about his gross, stinky, 14-year-old self.
When writing a scary scene, do you have to fight off the urge to cackle out loud, like you're some kind of demented trickster, setting a trap for your unwitting readers?
Why, yes, yes I do. But then I usually fail and end up cackling anyway. I really, really enjoy the demented scenes that involve serial killer stuff. The other, closer to home scenes, where Haley is dealing with abuse at home? I don’t enjoy writing those so much because they are triggers for pain I’ve encountered in life. But they are real and essential to this story. And while I’m being serious for a moment, if you or someone you know is dealing with abuse at home, please reach out to this anonymous hotline: https://www.childwelfare.gov/responding/how.cfm (Ed. note: Seriousness like this is RARELY tolerated in a Q&A, but Krystal's right on this one)
Your previous works have been in the fantasy/urban fantasy genre. CHARMING is a mash-up between a fairy tale and SAW. Can you explain what the transition from one genre to another was like, or can CHARMING still sort of fall into your other books' category, since it's kind of based on a fairy tale and all? This is just more trickery on your part, isn't it Wade? ISN'T IT??
Slow down, Ryan. I’m positive you’re way overthinking this genre/category/branding of mine here. I write ALL THE CREEPY things. I made up my own demons in the DARKNESS FALLS trilogy. I made up murderous spirits who kidnap young girls in SHATTERED SECRETS, and CHARMING deals with a serial killer who likes to teach people a lesson through horrible means. So, um, I’m still writing scary. The only difference was working within the laws of our own world. And that actually made my job a lot easier, if I do say so myself. Which I do. I’ve always wondered why people say that.
Pop quiz. You find out a serial killer is after you, your friends, and your family, a la CHARMING. What do you do? Go to the hardware store and buy a nail gun? High tail it out of town? Hire a MMA fighter to protect you?
I would cower in a corner and cry and cry and cry. But my characters? They’re a bit tougher than I am. They would prefer to seek out clues to help save everyone. So… they’d probably buy nail guns, pocket knives, and whatever else MacGyver kept handy to help himself out of any and every situation.
Okay. Time for a somewhat serious question. (Ed. note: The previous sentence makes my last note look hypocritical. I'm okay with this) The YA market really seems to be shifting away from fantasy and toward contemporary stories. Why do you think that is? Saying because CHARMING is a contemporary story, so naturally everyone would follow your lead is NOT an acceptable answer.
You just forbade me from answering your question.
Okay, fine, I just think that so many authors write in the paranormal/fantasy genre that it’s flooded, and readers are tired of reading the same stories over and over. So they reach out for contemporary. Eventually they’ll tire of this as well. But don’t get me wrong. People are still reading paranormal/fantasy in droves. They’re still loving it too, but it’s going to be much more difficult to make a name for yourself in that genre when 1 million other authors are doing the same.
The main character in CHARMING literally goes through hell in the story. As a writer, how did you deal with that? Did it drive you to drink every night, feeling sorry for what you were doing to this character? Or, are you just a cold, heartless woman who takes a sick amount of glee in torturing people that aren't real and only exist in their mind?
You just used literally wrong, which means I cannot and will not answer your question until you rephrase this. So, you’ll never know whether it took alcohol to write this, or whether I’m just sick and twisted. Sorry!
In haiku format, please explain why readers should rush out and purchase CHARMING.
*looks up haiku format because she can’t remember back to grade school*
Amidst fall leaves
a finger shows up
Yeah, I’m not sure how my teacher would grade me for that, but it was worth a shot. Like to see you come up with something better in less than five minutes, Ryan! (Ed note No. 3: Nobody gave you a time limit, Wade. You did that to yourself)