IndieView with Chanda Stafford, author of First



As someone who loves reading all different types of literature, I suppose my target reader is a person like me. First has romance, a young adult main character, suspense, cool futuristic technology, and a moralistic dilemma: does anyone have the right to take another person’s life?

Chanda Stafford – 16 May 2013

The Back Flap

Seventeen-year-old Mira works on a farm in the ruins of Texas, along with all of the other descendants of the defeated rebels. Though she’s given her heart to Tanner, their lives are not their own.

When Socrates, a powerful First, chooses Mira as his Second, she is thrust into the bewildering world of the rich and influential. Will, a servant assigned to assist her, whispers of rebellion, love, and of a darker fate than she’s ever imagined.

With time running out, Mira must decide whether to run to the boy she left behind, to the boy who wants her to live, or to the man who wants her dead.

About the book

When did you start writing the book?

I actually started writing this book about three years ago, in the fall of 2010. I am a huge proponent of NaNoWriMo and it was my project for that year.

How long did it take you to write it?

The first mistake-ridden draft was finished in nine days, but it took a heck of a lot longer to edit.

Where did you get the idea from?

I totally blame it on The Secret. I was at a friend’s house and we were watching that movie when the idea struck me. The movie wasn’t the most appealing to me, so I zoned out and started day dreaming. As my mind wandered, I thought about the likelihood of transferring one’s mind to another person’s body.  The characters organically sprung from that, as if they were just waiting for the idea to hit me before coming to life.

Were there any parts of the book where you struggled?

The editing, definitely. I think I gave my editors at Red Adept Publishing a run for their money, that’s for sure! It was a great deal of hard work, but the book would never have worked as perfectly any other way. Even though it’s difficult, I’ve learned there is something satisfying in editing and in watching the novel all come together like some ornate tapestry, where once I started with a mere handful of threads.

What came easily?

The first draft came pretty easily for me. With NaNoWriMo breathing down my neck, and the grand idea to write two novels in a month, I wanted to just get it all out at once. It worked! The second book, luckily, will never see the light of day.

Are your characters entirely fictitious or have you borrowed from real world people you know?

Entirely fictitious, except for one character’s name. Mira’s name came from my experiences teaching in Arizona when my students would say, “Mira,” to get me to look at something or pay attention. I’ve always loved that word so thus, when it came time to name my character, Mira was the obvious choice. It really fits in with how I hope readers see her and come to understand her journey.

We all know how important it is for writers to read. Are there any particular authors that have influenced how you write and, if so, how have they influenced you?

I read so many books and encounter so many different authors, it’s hard to keep track of them all! However, all of them have helped me as a writer. From my favorite young adult authors, I’ve learned how to create drama and set a quick pace. I’ve also learned to create more depth in my stories, because many young adult readers love a complex, multi-faceted story. I also enjoy some humorous authors, especially those who can make me stop reading just to laugh out loud. The strange looks I get are totally worth it!

Do you have a target reader?

As someone who loves reading all different types of literature, I suppose my target reader is a person like me. First has romance, a young adult main character, suspense, cool futuristic technology, and a moralistic dilemma: does anyone have the right to take another person’s life?

About Writing

Do you have a writing process? If so can you please describe it?

For first drafts, I like to get them written in a short period of time. Then I go through the manuscript and make an outline of what I’ve written. After that’s finished, I rearrange the outline as I see fit until everything goes together the way it should. Once that’s done, it’s on to revising the manuscript.

Do you outline? If so, do you do so extensively or just chapter headings and a couple of sentences?

Usually, I outline after I write. It’s kind of backwards from most writers, but I always have a general idea of how the story goes together. I love being a discovery writer, because it’s very exciting to me, and it’s like if I’m learning about the story myself as I’m writing it.

Do you edit as you go or wait until you’ve finished?

I wait until I’m finished with the first rough draft, although I probably should start earlier. I put my editor through so much, I really should buy her chocolate, wine, or maybe a gift certificate for therapy after everything I put her through.

Do you listen to music while you write? If yes, what gets the fingers tapping?

It really depends on what’s going on in the story. Often, I’ll listen to movie soundtracks or I’ll make a specific playlist for the work in progress. For this book, I listened to a lot of Mumford and Sons and The Fray for the more emotional parts.

About Publishing

Did you submit your work to Agents?

No, I chose to submit it directly to a publisher.

What made you decide to go Indie, whether self-publishing or with an indie publisher? Was it a particular event or a gradual process?

It was actually an interview Lynn, the owner of Red Adept Publishing did on the Dead Robot’s Society Podcast. She really impressed me with her knowledge and expertise, so I submitted my novel to be professionally edited by her. When it came time for my book to be edited, she offered me a contract, instead.

Did you get your book cover professionally done or did it you do it yourself?

My amazing book cover was done by Streetlight Graphics. It fits in with the book perfectly and I love it.

Do you have a marketing plan for the book or are you just winging it?

Right now, we’ve got a blog tour, and we’re also using local, indie booksellers, as well as various social media avenues to help promote and sell the book.

Any advice that you would like to give to other newbies considering becoming Indie authors?

  1. Learn from (and listen to) your editors—they’ll thank you for it later. You learn something new every step of the way.
  2.  Don’t be afraid to just go for it. What’s the worst that can happen?

About You

Where did you grow up?

I grew up between the pages of a book. What else is a kid supposed to do during the nine months of a northern Michigan winter?

Where do you live now?

I traveled for a bit, but now I’m back in Michigan. However, my husband and I are planning on migrating south this summer and finding a state where a snow blower isn’t considered as essential as a fridge.

What would you like readers to know about you?

That I love to hear from you!

What are you working on now?

Right now, I’m splitting my time between another young adult novel, this one more of a current, but darker novel with lions and tigers in it, and an urban fantasy where mythological creatures have come to life. There’s even a Bigfoot named Earl. What’s not to love about that?

End of Interview:

You can find out more about Chanda on her blog.

Get your copy of First from Amazon US (paper or ebook), Amazon UK (paper or ebook), or Barnes & Noble.

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2 responses to “IndieView with Chanda Stafford, author of First

  1. Thanks for interviewing me and helping me share my book!