Hello and welcome to our latest author interview with children's book author, Hallie Christensen!
Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your writing.
Hi! My name is Hallie Christensen and I am a children's book author. Since I was a child, I wanted to write a book and always had a notebook with me where I would scribble down interesting things that happened in my day that I hoped to use for inspiration for my book. My inhibitions held me back for years. I didn't start to really focus on writing until after I graduated from college. I had a degree in English and had read a lot of literature in those years and was really inspired by the classics - Tolkien, Bronte, Dickens, Behn, etc.
My writing style is very descriptive, which I see a lot in Tolkien's writing. I like for the reader to visually be able to see what world they're reading about. My first published book was a children's picture book about a vegetarian dragon - Daisy the Nice Dragon. I self-published this book a few years back. After getting my feet wet in writing, I decided to try and write a novel. I joined online writing groups that helped me with honing the craft of creating a storyline and a character arc. After writing a few short stories, I entered a novella contest. While I didn't win the contest, my book basically won Miss Congeniality and I realized I might have something here. It was a middle grade fantasy/adventure story and it was a lot of fun! After pitching to agents and publishers for a year, I was picked up by a small press and one year later Enchanted Misadventures with Great-Aunt Poppy was published. It has since won a few writing awards and gained fans.
Since publishing Enchanted Misadventures, I got a literary agent, wrote a paranormal middle grade story that is currently on submissions, and wrote a middle grade fantasy that is in the editing stages. I enjoy writing children's books. There's always excitement and wonder in them and it makes me happy to travel back to that age and experience things all over again.
Who would you say your biggest literary influences are?
I have very fond memories of going to the library in the summer and checking out so many books, I needed a bag to carry them in. I've always loved to read, and I am sure I have been influenced by every book I've picked up.
As a child, I enjoyed series, like Hank the Cowdog, or even the Olsen twins' mystery series. As I grew older, I had a period of time where all I read were historical fiction about the 1800s and early 1900s. I also read any book with a medieval character on the front, especially if it was a princess (Ella Enchanted, The Ordinary Princess). Any classic children's book out there, I've probably read it.
As I got older, I wanted to expand my mind, so I read classics like The Catcher in the Rye, Great Expectations, and The Scarlet Letter. Being a teen, I also enjoyed YA Contemporary and read my fair share of The Princess Diaries, too. I adored The Hobbit and as I've mentioned, Tolkien's visual writing style intrigued me. Needless to say, my reading style was eclectic. But all of it helped to shape and form the way I write.
How has the history of the middle ages impacted/influenced your work?
I LOVE the middle ages. I took English Lit in college and focused on it heavily with my master's. There are a lot of the middle ages that are also connected with the fantasy genre: Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, Ella Enchanted, How to Train Your Dragon, etc. Even Dungeons and Dragons is a fantastical world set during the middle ages. There's a reason why people focus on this time period when it comes to fantasy. There's a magic, mystery, and awe found there that we can't seem to find in our own time. My latest manuscript is a MG Fantasy and it is set during the middle ages.
Do you feel like your writing has been impacted/influenced by Tolkien? If so, in what way(s)?
Definitely. Tolkien created entire worlds of magic and fascination and they were so descriptive and beautiful. I have noticed in my own writing that I like for the reader to know exactly where they are and what everything looks like. I also like for there to be a sense of adventure in all of my stories. Tolkien stories were always filled with adventure, curiosity, and wonder. I hope my books provide the same wonderful escape as Tolkien's did for me. Tolkien also created sympathetic characters. I hope that my characters are the same and that people can connect with them.
What do you think the current innovations in your genre(s) are?
I write MG and honestly, I feel like the genre is growing! MG can be hard to write for. Kids these ages are venturing from picture books and chapter books to full-size novels, so your story needs to keep them hooked. They like to feel emotions! They love adventures, friendships, and characters that they can relate to.
There isn't just one genre that is being fixated on right now in the publishing world. I see tons of new spooky/horror MG books, contemporary, and fantasy!
What is something in your genre(s) you'd like to see more of?
MG is really well represented when it comes to genres, but I do see a need for more contemporary novels dealing with marginalized characters and their lives. Kids like to see themselves represented in stories and see the character's going through the same things they are. So, we definitely need more of that.
What is something in your genre(s) you'd like to see less of?
MG is such a fun genre. There's really nothing I want to see less of, ha.
Is there anything else related I didn't ask a question about that you'd like to add?
Whatever genre you are wanting to write in, read books in that genre. Reading, in general, is important, but especially for MG, there is a certain style and voice that is needed when talking to kids. You will understand the style and voice more when you read in that genre.
Most everywhere, ha. My books are available online wherever books are sold. My website is www.authorhalliechristensen.com, and from there you will see links to all my social media accounts: Tiktok, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.
Hallie, thank you so much for joining us today and sharing your thoughts and experiences on Post-Tolkien and Post-Middle Ages influence!