After spellbinding the readers by his fabulous imagination in Screamcatcher: Web World, Chris Stevenson, who writes this series by a pen name (Christy J. Breedlove), released the second book of the Scremcatcher series, Screamcatcher – Dream Chasers. Both the books of the Screamcatcher series have created an alternate world that leaves the characters and the readers gasping for air. So, when I got a chance to pick the brains of the very talented Chris Stevenson, I knew it was an opportunity of a lifetime. Join the conversation and get ready to be amazed.
- Screamcatcher is one of my favorite series. Nobody could have ever imagined using an innocent-looking dream-catcher as a source of unleashing havoc. How did you come up with this idea? Any interesting story behind the making of this mind-blowing series.
It all started with a dream catcher. This iconic item, which is rightfully ingrained in Indian lore, is a dream symbol respected by the culture that created it. It is mystifying, an enigma that that prods the imagination. Legends about the dream catcher are passed down from multiple tribes. There are variations, but the one fact that can be agreed upon is that it is a nightmare entrapment device, designed to sift through evil thoughts and images and only allow pleasant and peaceful dreams to enter into the consciousness of the sleeper.
I wondered what would happen to a very ancient dream catcher that was topped off with dreams and nightmares. What if the nightmares became too sick or deathly? What if the web strings could not hold any more visions? Would the dream catcher melt, burst, vanish, implode? I reasoned that something would have to give if too much evil was allowed to congregate inside of its structure. I found nothing on the Internet that offered a solution to this problem—I might have missed a relevant story, but nothing stood out to me. Stephen King had a story called Dream Catcher, but I found nothing in it that was similar to what I had in mind. So I took it upon myself to answer such a burning question.
Like too much death on a battlefield could inundate the immediate location with lost and angry spirits, so could a dream catcher hold no more of its fill of sheer terror without morphing into something else, or opening up a lost and forbidden existence. What would it be like to be caught up in another world inside the webs of a dream catcher, and how would you get out? What would this world look like? How could it be navigated? What was the source of the exit, and what was inside of it that threatened your existence? Screamcatcher: Web World, the first in the series, was my answer. I can only hope that I have done it justice.
- Your knowledge of Native American Indian culture is evident in many instances. I am sure the readers would love to know more about the subject. How do you know so much about the culture? Is it personal experience or an inclination toward the culture?
It’s primarily researched, and not very much. I’ve always known about the emotional feelings that the First Nations Tribes has/had about their plight and contact with the white man. I knew about their reverent association with nature and the environment. I owe a lot of it to memories from the Boy Scouts of America–about signs, riddles, plants, hunting, and the environment. I’m Scotch/Irish and I’ve never had any tribal friends.
I DID research the construction of the Dream Catcher and what it was made out of. I winged the rest of it, hoping that I was at least on target with what I had to say about them. The Albert White Feather Pike speech at the beginning of the book (about the sad state of the world) were my words straight from my heart. Nothing was quoted. I did not want to ram Indian lore, heritage, and legend down the throat of the reader. There’s just enough to make it sympathetic and interesting.
- While we are talking about Native American culture, do you have a favorite legend from any of their mythologies?
Obviously, the Dream Catcher Legend. It was just fascinating to me, filled with whimsy and magic. And the hand-crafted charms are so varied from one type to another; they are just gorgeous works of art, and I mean that by saying the originals that were crafted in the very beginning with gems, beads, and real Eagle feathers. And I’ll be honest, I have NO idea how far the Dream Catcher legend goes back in time. I’m also intrigued by the sweat lodge, and how it is supposed to purify the soul. The legend of the Skinwalker scares me, and I touch upon that just a tiny bit in the last book, Screamcatcher: The Shimmering Eye.
- You can remove this question if you do not wish to discuss your pen name This one is for budding authors. Many of the first time authors struggle with the idea of using a pen name. While a majority considers using one only if they are writing a memoir and do not wish to be identified, a few others wish to use one to avoid prejudices based on gender or nationality. Regardless of their reasons, what is your opinion on using a pen name? Is there a formal procedure involved in registering a pen name against your legal name?
I’m a guy and I used a female pen name for my young adult books. I know, pretty strange. Why? Women, I believe, are more prone to writing about true emotions, with truth and accuracy, than men. Especially in romance and young adult, where sometimes a softer touch is needed. Women comprise 65% of all book purchases and they are also the majority of readers. Truly, women are more apt to buy a romance or young adult novel from a woman, in my experience. So I thought that if the “general reading public” saw a female pen name, they might make a spontaneous buy and trust the material. But I always admitted everywhere that the two authors were one and the same–Me. My fans, friends, and readership knew that.
The problem with adopting a pen name is that you have a brand new author out there making a debut, so it is hugely difficult to build a readership in that pen name. No legal problems, not even in contracts. But I must say that two author names have to be merged into one in places like Amazon, GoodReads, and other sites–it gets really tangled and confusing. For budding writers? If you are publishing 10 or more books per year and one genre is romance and the other is science fiction, then two authors just might work. It also depends on how many genres you write in and how many books you have out there. My advice is to go with one name–keep it simple just starting out.
- Did you always want to be an author? How did you get into it?
I actually started late, reading, and writing when I was 26 years old. My early writing accomplishment were multiple hits within a few years: In my first year of writing back in 1987, I wrote three SF short stories that were accepted by major slick magazines which qualified me for the Science Fiction Writers of America, and at the same time achieved a Finalist award in the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest. This recognition garnered me a top gun SF agent at the time, Richard Curtis Associates. My first novel went to John Badham (Director) and the Producers, the Cohen Brothers. It was an extreme honor to be considered. The writer who beat me out of contention for a feature movie (as well as the book), was Michael Crichton’snJurassic Park. My book was called Dinothon.
A year after that I published two best-selling non-fiction books and landed on radio, TV, in every library in the U.S., and hundreds of newspapers. This was at a time when small and mid-sized press paid nice advances and had unlimited distribution.
I have been trying to catch that lightning in a bottle ever since. My YA dystopian novel, The Girl They Sold to the Moon won the grand prize in a publisher’s YA novel writing contest, went to a small auction, and got tagged for a film option. My latest release, Screamcatcher: Web World, just currently won Best YA title of 2019 in the N.N. Light Book Awards contest. I have 13 titles appearing on Amazon, with three more slated for publication. I guess I should stick to Young Adult, which I do love BTW
- I have picked out your next book Earth Angel, and I am pretty excited about reading it. Would you like to share anything about the book: plot, character, inspiration?
Not much to tell really, and it’s not terribly original, but I’m guessing at that. I just wondered what would happen if a person had an eye transplant, and that eye came from a gifted medium who really saw a fourth dimension or alternate world through her vision? If that transplanted eye allowed you to see a different world, what in the heck could you possibly see and how would it affect you emotionally? You would either have a superpower, or you would end up going insane. How could a power like that possibly help you in catching a serial killer? Those were the questions I asked. Hey, glad you are looking forward to it!
- Who is your favorite character in Screamcatcher series? Did any real-life person inspire this particular character?
My favorite character, modeled in name and personality after my sister, Jory Post, is Jory Pike. Jory Pike’s physical attributes are modeled after my last girlfriend in Las Vegas. I had many reviewers and some beta readers tell me, “Hey! You have Katniss here, in The Hunger Games!” I did not know who they were talking about until I just recently read the THG series. Then I thought, OMG! My girl is Katness!
And to top it off, I wrote my book before The Hunger Games came out, but mine was not published before hers. My gal IS native American, though. And I’m proud that the female side of me came out with an Indian teenage girl who takes the lead in a portal fantasy thriller. Rarely, if ever, do you see teenage, female North American Indians in a book, especially in the lead role. Talk about POC (people of color), well, I thought I’d give it to them in spades.
- May we get a sneak peek into your next WIP?
The third and last book in the Screamcatcher series (The Shimmering Eye) is modeled after the true story of the most haunted property in the United States–Skinwalker Ranch. I devised my own version of the paranormal activity out there, and even contacted George Knapp, an investigative reporter out of Las Vegas, and host of Coast to Coast radio. I asked his permission to write my own fictional account of such a place, without busting his copyright or anything else. He is the documentary narrator and book author of The Hunt for the Skinwalker. George gave me the thumbs up and wished me well. So I tossed my teenage Badlands Paranormal Society into the ranch and brought hell and damnation down on them. The third book in the Screamcatcher series will be out sometime this summer.
Thank you so much for answering the questions. Can’t wait to see more of your work soon!
More places where you can find Chris Stevenson:
Christy’s Website: https://christysyoungadultfabuliers.com/