Author Interview – Christie Hansen

More From This Author

Find Christie on Tumblr!

Books & Stories
Coming Soon:
Bleeding Hearts

Story Art Sneak Peek

Amazing Artwork By Daniela Rivera

"Take My Hand"

Anthology: More Than A Monster
Release Date: Sept 8th, 2023
Preorders: Paperback
About the Author: Christie is an emerging author from the Pacific Northwest, with a passion for fantasy stories that challenge embedded tropes and broaden the scope of who belongs in fantasy worlds, centering characters of diverse gender, ethnicity, and sexuality.
Q & A

How does it feel to have this story published for the first time?

I was in a discord call with several of my online gaming friends, winding down from a raid night when I got the confirmation that "Take My Hand" had been accepted to "More Than a Monster."
I think they may have recovered their hearing by now.

"Take My Hand" is my first formally published story, and the validation that brings to all my years of writing and developing my skills is breathtaking.

What inspired the idea for your story?

"Take My Hand" was originally inspired by a tumblr post from user firebirdeternal, postulating that fantasy is more fun when the worldbuilding bothers to give proper motivation and cultural context to conflicts between humans and so-called "monstrous races" like orcs and goblins. By the time the post made it across my dash, several other users had chimed in with their own ideas about how various classic monsters and their evil behaviors might be more benevolently explained, prompting me to offer up my own take on a personal favorite, the regenerating trolls of Dungeons & Dragons.

We know that writing can be a tumultuous journey with a lot of obstacles, what is your kryptonite as a writer?

Procrastination and perfectionism are a deadly combination! It may not shock anyone from GrendelPress' submission review team to know that I started and rewrote the first half of "Take My Hand" half a dozen times over the better part of two months, and then slammed out the back half's first draft over a couple days. I literally finished the damn thing 20 minutes before the submission deadline. NO TIME FOR LINE EDITS, BABYYYYYYYY!!!
Thank goodness for my local writers' group giving me a weekly deadline, or I'd never get anything done.

Clearly, you’ve succeeded at writing a captivating story for GrendelPress, but we all start somewhere. What advice would you give yourself as a young writer?

As if that weren't a question that could take an entire anthology of its own to answer. But a lot of those lessons are things I'll have fully internalized by the time I get to me today, so let's go with a couple I can still struggle with sometimes.
1: When crafting a turning point, do not sacrifice satisfaction for shock. It can be so tempting at a narrative crossroad to pull a surprise twist entirely out of left field, to imagine the look of enthralled surprise on your reader's face, and revel in the feeling of cleverness that brings. But it's not worth it. The bigger a twist, the more setup and foreshadowing it needs in order to land, else you just leave your audience baffled by what's happening, or worse, put off by it. Yes, this will necessarily mean that some sharp readers may guess your turn in advance, but a truly good turn is satisfying to behold even if you saw it coming. It's the difference between telling your passengers you're driving them to the Grand Canyon and actually going there, versus telling them that and then driving to the ditch behind the garbage dump. You can only ever shock the same reader once, but a satisfying turn can keep bringing them back over and over again.

2: Worry less about what you want your story to NOT be, and think more about what you DO. If you're defining your story more by what trends, tropes, and cliches you're not including than thinking about what you actually want it to accomplish, you'll never get around to making anything.

We’d like to argue that every good story makes both the author and the readers feel something. What perspectives or beliefs have you challenged with your story?

Monstrous races in spec fic have a... let's call it "complicated" history with being used as stand-ins for real world ethnicities. Even as we leave the Tolkienian days of Always Chaotic Evil species deliberately modeled on caricatures of an entire continent of people rightfully in the dustbin, non-human peoples in fantasy are still often characterized either lazily with a single hat for the entire race, problematically as a shallow facsimile of some real world (usually non-white) culture, or both.
Like the tumblr post that originally inspired it, I hope "Take My Hand" can get more writers thinking harder about how they can define their own non-human peoples in more creative ways, without the baggage of dressing up real cultures in orcface.

What do you love most about your story’s genre?

Gotta be honest, it's the aesthetics for me. I don't think I'll ever get over the romance of swords, sorcery, and spectacular creatures. Fantasy is a realm in which anything can happen, giving the stories it contains unparalleled latitude to be both escapism from and reflective of our own reality. With one hand fantasy shows us how low we still wallow, and with the other how high we could soar, all while looking glamorous AF.

Tell us about your favorite author. What about their book(s) call to you and how do they inspire your own writing?

I'm sure anyone picking up this book is already fully familiar with the late, great Sir Pterry, but on the off chance anyone's not, Terry Pratchett was a British satirist and fantasy author, most famous for the Discworld series, as well as co-authoring the original "Good Omens" novel with Neil Gaiman. I picked up my first Discworld novel in my sophomore year of high school, and from then on was hooked.
Pterry's literary signature was a one-two punch of deconstruction/reconstruction of classic genre tropes and cliches, exposing everything from the simple absurdity of why a squad of minimum wage-paid guards with functioning self-preservation instincts would charge one-by-one at a bloodcaked barbarian hero, to the inherent injustices of treating entire species as inhuman... all while being dramatically gripping, bitingly hilarious, and humanistically uplifting. Discworld was the series that opened my eyes to the full potential of speculative fiction to tackle modern political issues without sacrificing entertainment.

On the more technical side, Pterry's writing is a masterclass in worldbuilding, teaching me to consider not only what courses of events and twists of nature would have to conspire to make any speculative element I would add to a story make sense, but also to follow the ripples its presence would create out to their logical extremes in how their presence would change the world around them.

It's also comforting to look back and see that even a literary giant as great as Sir Pratchett took a few books to find his voice.

What are some other genres you’d like to break into and why?

Fantasy will always be my home, but I'd love to keep branching it out into more hybrids and cross-media platforms. My dream project is establishing a single world setting large enough to support a broad swathe of works in different subgenres and mediums, from children's books about wizard apprentices in a gnome's lighthouse, to trashy romance novels about swashbuckling bards and half-feral goblins, to adventure games about exploring the ruins of the lost age of the gods, and an entire continent devoted to tabletop gaming modules.

If you had to pick another story of yours to share with your readers, what would it be?

"Take My Hand" is my only published work to date, and has served as a nice break from revising my debut queer YA fantasy-romance novel, "Bleeding Hearts."
Bandit captain Ra Fahda of the Jezerim has her sights set on revenge when an adversarial encounter with Mornika Vokurava of the Urub blood witches lands both girls in the dungeons of Galglen. Stranded together in the heart of a kingdom that views one as a heretic and the other a foreigner, Morn and Fahda must become partners in the crime of existence to survive the machinations of hypocritical witch-hunters and glory-hounding lawmen. Their budding relationship must lean on each others' strength and perspective to navigate the social battleground of the Jezeri castes and unravel the original sin of the Urub witch-queens, lest the traumatic rot beneath Jezerim, Urub, and Galg societies alike consume them all.
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