Christa Desir writes contemporary fiction for young adults. Her novels include FAULT LINE and BLEED LIKE ME and the forthcoming OTHER BROKEN THINGS. She lives with her husband, three children, and overly enthusiastic dog outside of Chicago. She has volunteered as a rape victim activist for more than ten years, including providing direct service as an advocate in hospital ERs. She also works as an editor at Samhain Publishing. Visit her at ChristaDesir.com.
For what age audience do you write?
I’m a contemporary YA writer, mostly ages 15 & up.
Tell us about your latest book.
My most recent release is called BLEED LIKE ME and is a Sid & Nancy type of YA about a co-dependent and very destructive relationship between two teens.
What do you hope readers will get from reading that book?
My goal with that book was to take a look at the notion that “love makes everything better” and deconstruct it a little when it comes to personal relationships. I have read many stories in which a broken girl gets together with a broken guy and through their love for each other things get better. That was definitely not my experience as a teenager and I wanted to explore what it’s really like when you lose yourself in someone else.
Henry: Right, it can happen, but it doesn’t happen very often. We must strive to fix ourselves.
What aspect of writing do you find most challenging?
I’ve always struggled with adding setting and physical description of characters. I was a theatre major and so much of my academic life was spent reading plays. So setting and what characters actually look like were not part of my training.
What is a powerful lesson you’ve learned from being a writer?
Probably the most powerful lesson I’ve learned is how deeply flawed I am. I will never be able to write the perfect book. No one will, really. You can revise for years and still the book you end up with will never be as good as the book you have in your mind. I think I’ve learned how to be more okay with my imperfections, more okay with everyone’s imperfections, and I’m constantly reminded that we’re all doing the best we can.
Henry: Ah, no good author interview is complete without a small dose of self-criticism. As if all the external rejection that comes with authoring isn’t enough, right? Accomplishment unlocked.
What has been a memorable experience that you never would have had if you had not been a writer?
I’ve met amazing people as a writer. I got to sit next to Judy Blume for an SCBWI luncheon. I’ve become friends with people whose writing I deeply admire and it’s been such an incredible experience learning from them.
Henry: Coincidentally, Judy Blume mentioned that she was thrilled to sit next to you, so #Winning.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Find really good critique partners. Keep writing, keep revising, read as much as you can. Try to ignore internet drama. Don’t do anything to burn bridges because you never know when you’ll come across those people again. Be forgiving and gracious.
Henry: I completely agree. Good critique partners are vital. They are our eyes for where we are blind (when looking at our own writing).
Do you have any favorite quotes?
This changes all the time for me, but my current favorite quote comes from Sarah McCarry’s ABOUT A GIRL: “It had never occurred to me that trading one life for another might be a passage paid for in loss.”
Do you have any strange rituals that you observe when you write?
I’m an early morning writer so I always have coffee, but the only real ritual I have is that if I’m stuck, I put on my Cassius Clay T-shirt.
Henry: For fighting writer’s block?
If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
I would like to heal people. I have lost too many people in my life and I wish so much I had the power to heal.
Henry: Actually, as a writer, you DO have this superpower. Well played, sir.
If you could have three authors over for dinner, who would it be?
Roxane Gay, Sarah McCarry, and J.K. Rowling. In my deepest heart, I think this threesome could make an excellent effort at solving all the problems in the world.
Henry: We all know of J.K. Rowling; for the others, there’s Google.
“Roxane Gay is the author of the short story collection Ayiti (2011), the novel An Untamed State (2014), the essay collection Bad Feminist (2014), and Hunger (2015). In addition to her regular contributions to Salon, her writing has appeared in Best American Mystery Stories 2014, Best American Short Stories 2012, Best Sex Writing 2012, A Public Space, McSweeney’s, Tin House, Oxford American, American Short Fiction, West Branch, Virginia Quarterly Review, NOON, Bookforum, Time, The Los Angeles Times, The Nation and The New York Times Book Review.”
Sarah McCarry runs the blog, The Rejectionist. She is the author of All Our Pretty Songs, Dirty Wings, and About a Girl. She is the editor and publisher of the chapbook series Guillotine. She writes for Tor.com and Book Riot.
What is your favorite creature that exists only in literature?
I like the Sirens. I’m an extrovert and never want people to leave me. Sirens have a super power I can get behind.
Henry: Nice choice. Kami Garcia has some great sirens in BEAUTIFUL CREATURES.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I love to knit, I do roller derby, I love to read, I love to spend time with friends, I like walking my dog.
Henry: Knit and roller derby!? Two hobbies I would not think to conflate. Can you do them simultaneously? It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye…
What would you like it to say on your tombstone?
“Lived a life of integrity.”
Where can readers find your work?
Easiest place for all the links is my website: http://www.christadesir.com
This interview is also posted on the San Diego Children’s Books Examiner.