Today’s interview is with Dusty Crabtree, a debut YA author who published her first novel, Shadow Eyes, with Musa Publishing.
1. Can you tell us a bit about your book, Shadow Eyes?
In a nutshell, Shadow Eyes is a young adult urban fantasy about a 17-year-old girl who can see shadows and light figures (demons and angels), with lots of mystery, suspense, and intriguing characters to keep the pages turning. For more detail, here’s the back cover blurb:
Iris Kohl lives in a world populated by murky shadows that surround, harass, and entice unsuspecting individuals toward evil. But she is the only one who can see them. She’s had this ability to see the shadows, as well as brilliantly glowing light figures, ever since an obscure, tragic incident on her fourteenth birthday three years earlier.
Although she’s learned to cope, the view of her world begins to shift upon the arrival of three mysterious characters. First, a handsome new teacher whose presence scares away shadows; second, a new friend with an awe-inspiring aura; and third, a mysterious and alluring new student whom Iris has a hard time resisting despite already having a boyfriend.
As the shadows invade and terrorize her own life and family, she must ultimately revisit the most horrific event of her life in order to learn her true identity and become the hero she was meant to be.
2. When did you first know you wanted to pursue writing as more than a hobby?
I actually didn’t write much, even as a hobby, until I my friend encouraged me to write a book similar to the ones we loved so much about angels. I let that seed grow inside me, and once the idea for a plot came to me, I was too excited and passionate about it to ignore it. The moment after I wrote the prologue and re-read what I’d written, I knew I had to pursue this book until it was finished and published.
3. What was the first story you remember writing about?
I was probably about nine or ten and had just read a book about cats who had wings and could fly. I decided to write a similar story about dogs who had wings. However, it was one of those things that I started but never finished, because I only had the concept and not a plot to go on.
4. Where did you find the inspiration for Shadow Eyes?
The inspiration actually came from a screenplay idea I had a few years prior. The movie would have been about a cast of intertwined characters going about their lives and making mistakes with dark, creepy shadows (demons) hovering around them, whispering to them and influencing them to do evil things. Only the audience would see the shadows, though. The audience would be completely oblivious. It would have been like a Christian horror movie, if there ever was such a genre!
5. Do you find it difficult to write from a younger perspective? Do you think working as a high school teacher makes this easier for you?
I didn’t find it too difficult. I’m only 28, so that helped, but the fact that I’m a high school teacher (not to mention youth sponsor at our church) most definitely made things easier. I have examples of teenagers before me every day. The other thing that helped was just having read several young adult books. They gave me a good foundation to go on as well.
6. How much planning did you do before starting Shadow Eyes?
More than I’d care to admit. Haha! I’m a major perfectionist and very detail-oriented. I actually wrote a very detailed outline beforehand, chapter-by-chapter, that way I’d know exactly what I was going to write. It was probably about 20 pages, although it included a few paragraphs here and there of parts that came to me while I was making the outline. The outline was especially helpful because Shadow Eyes has so much mystery in it that I needed to make sure I included enough foreshadowing and carried certain elements or themes throughout the book.
7. What is the hardest part of the writing process for you and how do you make it easier for yourself?
Shadow Eyes was my first novel, so I’m hoping this won’t be as difficult for me this time around, but I’d say writing too much was the hardest part. I was always the one who would write 15 pages for a 13-15 page paper or even seven pages for a three-five page paper. I think I’m just naturally wordy. I had to cut quite a bit form the original manuscript before sending it to publishers.
To help me do this, I had friends read it and help me decide what was essential and non-essential, because an outsider’s view is critical for determining that. As the author who knows everything already, I had no idea what was necessary or what could be left out. I also reread it several times and asked myself over and over, “Is this phrase, sentence, paragraph, or even scene, absolutely essential to keep the plot going?”
8. Why did you choose ebook publishing instead of print publishing?
Honestly, I was sending my manuscript to both print and ebook publishers. I was okay with either because I knew that ebooks were becoming increasingly popular. If anything, I knew I wanted my book to be available as an ebook as well as paperback. Musa Publishing, the company that graciously accepted Shadow Eyes by taking it in and giving it a home, plans to eventually make print copies as well as ebooks, so it’s a win-win!
9. What do you think is the most important piece of advice for aspiring writers to remember?
Find something you are extremely passionate about, formulate a plot for the idea with things you love (whether that be romance, mystery, action, etc.), and start writing. If it’s something you truly love and you have a great ending planned, you won’t want to stop until you reach it.
10. What are you working on right now that readers can look forward to?
I’m actually working on a sequel for Shadow Eyes right now. I don’t have a name for it yet, but I’m only in the second chapter. Of course, I already have a detailed outline done, so, since I know what all will be included and how it’s going to end, I’m pretty excited about it. Sadly, though, I can’t tell you much about it because it would ruin the first book for you!
Bio: Dusty Crabtree has been a high school English teacher since 2006, a challenge she thoroughly enjoys. She is also a youth sponsor at Cherokee Hills Christian Church in Oklahoma City and feels very blessed with the amazing opportunities she has to develop meaningful relationships with teens on a daily basis. She resides with her husband, Clayton, in Yukon, Oklahoma, where they often serve their community as foster parents. Apart from the obvious reading and writing, she also enjoys serving on the praise team and drama team at church and watching movies. Shadow Eyes is Dusty’s first novel, but there will definitely be more to come!
Be sure to “Like” Dusty Crabtree’s author page on Facebook and check out or follow her blog atwww.dustycrabtree.wordpress.com. She would love to hear your thoughts on the book or just talk about life with any of her readers.
You can purchase a copy of Shadow Eyes here.