Dickensen Academy is Christine’s debut YA novel. After graduating from the University of Washington, she earned her MBA at the University at Albany. She honed her technical writing skills in marketing and consulting but attributes the creative part of the process to her passion for reading.
When she isn’t reading or writing, Christine can often be found running, skiing, or hiking. She lives in Newcastle, Washington, with her supportive husband, two avid teen readers, and their energetic wheaten terriers.
Thank you for joining us today, Christine. Can you please start off by telling us a bit about yourself?
My name is Christine Grabowski. I live outside of Seattle with my family which consists of my husband, a teen and tween reader, and two wheaten terrier puppies. When I’m not reading, writing or ubering my kids around, I can often be found in the gym or hiking the trails behind my neighborhood.
When did you first get bit by the writing bug?
Four years ago after finishing a YA book with a very interesting premise, I decided I wanted to attempt my own book. This wasn’t the first time I had been inspired to write after finishing a novel, but I happened to be out of town and had some kid-free time to actually do something about it. And my husband said, “If anyone can write a book, it’s you, you read enough,” which motivated me to continue. When I returned, my library was having an introductory writing class in preparation for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), and I learned a few basics. Once I began to write, I couldn’t stop.
Why did you decide to write stories for the YA market?
Watching my children learn to read inspired me to want to write books that created a love of reading in a child or teen. Young adult books are some of my favorite to read because the characters are made to be relatable to the reader, and their plots are often based on a unique premise.
What is your favorite part of writing for this group? What is the greatest challenge?
I believe a higher percentage of teen readers read with an open mind compared to adult readers and entertainment is often their number one goal. For example, in my experience tween and teen readers are more willing to suspend their disbelief if an author can create a world that comes alive and is of interest to them. Some adults (definitely not all) are always looking for reasons why a plot point can’t happen in real life and fail to just simply enjoy the story.
On the flip side, if a book doesn’t hold a teen’s interest, they will trade it for a video. Therefore, writing needs to be concise and move at a fast pace. In general, it is not the audience who wants an info dump of all your research or a sunset described poetically over the course of three pages.
Can you tell us what your latest book is all about?
Dickensen Academy is a young YA contemporary fantasy that bridges the gap between MG and YA. It is about a fourteen-year-old girl, Autumn, who is invited to a fine arts boarding school in the secluded mountains of the Pacific Northwest. However, she soon realizes the faculty is secretly teaching dream telepathy.
Although the premise is considered a paranormal or a fantasy, the focus of the book is as much about Autumn’s relationships with her friends and family and her struggles in school and for independence—something many teens can relate to.
What inspired you to write it?
While I was brainstorming ideas for a story, I began to go through my dreams each morning hoping I’d dream up a fantastic idea like Stephenie Meyer did with Twilight. Although I never dreamed an amazing dream, I did start to question why I remembered some dreams but forgot others. That idea led me to the premise for Dickensen Academy.
Where can readers purchase a copy?
Currently the book is only available to purchase online. The paperback is listed on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. The eBook is also on iTunes, Google Play, Kobo, and The Wild Rose Press. However, the book is being added to more and more libraries every day.
Barnes & Noble
The Wild Rose Press
What is up next for you?
I set aside a Sleep Beauty fairy tale reimagining to write the sequel for Dickensen Academy. Although I wrote it as a standalone, the reviewers really want to see Autumn’s adventures continue as she moves through high school.
Do you have anything else to add?
I’ve had several parents, teachers, and librarians suggest Dickensen Academy as an ideal book for tweens and young teens because it has the appeal of a YA coming of age story, but it doesn’t have the mature content that is in some YA novels.
Thank you for spending time with us today, Christine. We wish you much success.
Curious to know more, check out this excerpt!
Clues to the secret existed from day one, yet they appeared to belong to separate puzzles. Most students either missed these signs or chose to ignore them. We were busy acclimating—as the faculty called it—to a new environment. Some outsiders might call what they did to us those initial weeks a form of brainwashing or fostering a cult-like mentality.
But not me.
I agreed with Principal Locke. We weren’t ready. We needed time to separate from our families and become a cohesive group. And some of us, myself included, even needed a little nudge to accept the invitation. If someone had told us the truth on Day One why they’d brought us to Dickensen Academy, we would have never believed it. We’d think they were crazy. Or worse, we’d turn around and run back home. But if we left, we would have missed out on something extraordinary. Something worth the wait.
Christine Grabowski will be awarding $25 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.