OK, for the first four questions!
KellyRose M. asks: As an aspiring author who has given this A LOT of thought, how did you choose your pen name? And why did you choose to use a pen name? Did you make lists of possible first and surnames, look at name meanings, choose something symbolic? How did you know when you had “the one?!”
First: Don’t give this a lot of thought yet. This is the kind of thing you should worry about only after you’ve got a publishing contract in hand, not only because, before that, it’s kind of a case of cart-before-the-horse, but also because you might want input from your agent and publisher.
For me, I chose to use a pen name for one reason alone: I thought it would be fun. It’s turned out to be a good move for other reasons, too, though — it lets me keep my private life and writing life separate on Facebook, etc. I didn’t go through any big lists or anything, but I knew that I needed to hew to the basic pseudonym rules. These rules are: (1) Make it something people can spell, because you want them to be able to find you online. (2) It should be unusual enough to be memorable and distinctive, but no more unusual than that. (3) Make it something you like and feel some emotional connection to.
In my case, I picked Claudia because my all-time favorite miniseries, “I, Claudius,” was in my DVD player at the time. Originally the last name was going to be Lake, as in Veronica Lake, for old-movie glamour. But it turned out that “Claudia Lake” was the name of the Vampire Lestat fan club. (ALWAYS Google your chosen pseudonym early on!) And, well, Gray is a similar length and sound to Lake. There you have it.
Amy M. asks: Before you even started the EVERNIGHT series, when you were in high school, did you expect you’d be where you are today?
Although I always dreamed of being a full-time novelist, I have to say I never, ever expected it — not in high school and really not even until a couple of years after I’d sold the EVERNIGHT series. This has been the most unexpected and wonderful surprise.
Marnee K. asks: With everything you have experienced as being an author, what has been the most challenging, and the most thrilling, and why?
What’s most challenging is balancing my desire and need to reach out to readers with the need to keep writing and leading a normal life. It’s tough to know when you’re not putting yourself out there enough, or when you’re overdoing it and the writing is suffering, and sometimes it feels like you’re somehow managing to do both at once, even though that should be impossible.
The most thrilling thing was finding the first fanvids and fanfiction for the EVERNIGHT series. That’s when I knew that the books weren’t just being read; they were being enjoyed.
Terrii-Lee F. asks: What type of writing do you specifically look for? Is vampires the only type you you really enjoy writing about?
As a reader, I’ll try nearly any kind of book. I went on a book-buying binge today and bought YA lit (paranormal and realistic), historical fiction for both WWI and the Roman Empire, nonfiction books about science and criminology, plus a romance novel. It’s fun to check out as many kinds of books as possible!
As a writer, I love writing about vampires, but they’re not the only supernatural creatures I enjoy: I’m writing my werewolf novel now (FATEFUL), and I have a witchcraft trilogy coming soon. And I keep a little list of realistic fiction ideas — you never know.
Want to get your question answered? Send me an email at evernightclaudia at gmail dot com, with the subject line “July Q&A session.” And be careful — a couple people asked really good questions, but I couldn’t answer because they were too spoilery for HOURGLASS. Try again, maybe?