Today, meet Cristin Terrill, debut author of ALL OUR YESTERDAYS - the book we'll be giving away at the end of this month(!!!). She has a masters in Shakespeare Studies and once lived in Stratford-on-Avon, and now lives in the D.C area where she leads creative writing workshops. She's also the person who introduced me to pajama jeans (life changing) and I know from experience that she can bake a mean mini-cupcake.
First, a little about her book, ALL OUR YESTERDAYS:
Imprisoned in the heart of a secret military base, Em has nothing except the voice of the boy in the cell next door and the list of instructions she finds taped inside the drain.
Only Em can complete the final instruction. She’s tried everything to prevent the creation of a time machine that will tear the world apart. She holds the proof: a list she has never seen before, written in her own hand. Each failed attempt in the past has led her to the same terrible present—imprisoned and tortured by a sadistic man called the doctor while war rages outside.
And I'm going to stop there - this is one book where the less you know about it, the better! Cristin answered a few important questions about things like baked goods, NaNoWriMo, and the true tale of how she magically landed her agent. Read on to learn more about Cristin!
To me, your agent story is the writer equivalent of finding out Santa Claus is real. Would you mind sharing the story of how you met (and landed) your agent?
Haha, my agent story is a little magical! Most people get their agents through old-fashioned querying, but my path was a little different. I used to have a LiveJournal back in the day, where I just talked about my life, TV, politics whatever. Sometimes I posted short stories there. When I started writing a novel, one of the people who occasionally commented on my LJ emailed me to say she was secretly literary agent Diana Fox and would be interested in seeing the novel when it was done. I promptly freaked out. When the novel was finished, I sent it to her, and then abut a month later, when I realized the novel was terrible, I emailed her again and asked her to stop reading it. She very kindly told me that, yes, it was terrible, but she’d still like to see whatever I wrote next. With that second novel, which was significantly less terrible than the first, I queried Diana and several other agents, and in the end I chose to go with Diana!
From what I understand, you worked with Diana to edit ALL OUR YESTERDAYS before submitting it to publishers ... Which makes me wonder: What was it like working with your agent on the edits?
Diana is a very editorial agent, which is one of the reasons I wanted to work with her. It took me about six months to write and edit the draft myself, but then I spent about three more months working on it with Diana before we submitted it. She works with me on everything from big picture plot and character arcs to the tiniest word choices, so it’s really like having a second editor.
After you finish the sequel to ALL OUR YESTERDAYS, what's next? Do you think you'll stick with writing Sci-fi/Fantasy, or will you switch back to writing Contemporary YA?
No idea! I’m never sure what kind of idea is going to strike me, except that I generally tend to gravitate towards teens in extreme circumstances. Even my contemporary novel was about a girl who lived on deeply repressive religious compound, so you probably won’t ever see a book about high school from me!
How has the process of writing the sequel to ALL OUR YESTERDAYS compared to writing the first book?
Honestly, it’s been night and day. The idea for ALL OUR YESTERDAYS rolled around in my head, working itself out, for a couple of years before I started writing it, so it was basically a process of downloading it from my brain to my computer. Although it’s a very complex story, the writing went very smoothly, and I wrote it faster than I’d ever written anything before. The sequel is a whoooole other beast. I can’t really get into specifics now, but it’s been a challenge to say the least, and someday I’ll tell you the whole story!
The ALL OUR YESTERDAYS: PAST IS PROLOGUE prequel webisodes look really fun (although I'll admit that I'm waiting to watch them in full until I finish your book!). What role did you play in creating them?
The prequels started out as a much smaller idea that originally came from Diana. She thought it would be cool to hire a local actress to do a couple of video diaries as my main character Em. But then, by chance, I met Jenna St. John, who is a screenwriter and producer of several YouTube series here in DC.
Once Jenna and I teamed up, it became a much bigger undertaking since she had the know-how and resources to do things on a much bigger scale. We first filmed a little demo staring members of the production team (Jenna played Em, the director played the interrogator, and the sound guy played Finn) to prove the concept, and then Jenna and I collaborated to write four full episodes that tell a story which leads up to the first pages of the book and held a casting to find professional actors to play the parts. We then spent an incredibly fun day shooting the episodes in a house in Columbia Heights and several weeks editing them together. It became something so much bigger than I could have imagined, and I’m so happy with how they turned out.
That is so cool! Sounds like a fun experience, too.
With all the interviews, appearances, and more you've done for your book release, what has been the highlight of the experience for you? How about the most challenging part?
It’s hard to pick one highlight! I did an author weekend at Anderson’s Bookshop in Naperville, IL a couple of weeks ago that was amazing. We spent the first day with educators and the second day with super-fans, which was the best of both worlds, and the other authors there were such a great, welcoming, inspiring group. I also did a fantastic workshop with a creative writing class at a local high school that was a ton of fun, because the students were all really passionate and talented.
The hardest part is that I’m very much an introvert, so being social and “on” takes a lot out of me. I had so much fun at Anderson’s, but I spent about two days sleeping after I got home. And being a homebody who’s essentially been on tour for weeks is tough! I miss my cats.
(And now I wish I asked for pictures of your cats! Sigh. ) :)
If you could give an aspiring author one piece of advice, what would it be?
Write a little bit each day, even when you don’t feel inspired, even when you think what you’re working on is the worst thing ever committed to paper. Have a daily goal, even if it’s a very modest one, and hit it as often as you can.
Any advice for NaNoWriMo participants?
Mini outlines! This won’t work for you if you’re a die-hard pantser, but when I want to write as many good words as quickly as I can, I spend the first five or ten minutes of my writing session doing a micro-outline of the scene(s) I plan to write that day. It includes everything: the action, the emotions, even little pieces of dialogue and blocking. I find that the part of my brain that generates ideas is really different from the part that generates prose, and separating the two into different steps makes me work much faster and more efficiently.
If you're still baking (if you have time!), would you be up for sharing a favorite recipe?
Sure! Most of the things I bake are pretty complicated, but here’s a simple recipe for crepes with Nutella, which I throw together quite a bit. I warn you, though: this is dangerous knowledge. Once you know how fast and easy it is to make these delicious things, it becomes very hard not to do it, like, constantly.
Cristin Terril's Dangerously Delicious Nuttella Crêpes
Makes about three medium-sized crêpes:
- Put a pan on low-medium heat.
- Melt about 1/2 tablespoon of butter.
- Add one egg, 1/4 cup of flour, and 1/3 cup of milk and mix.
- Pour one third of mixture into pan and swirl it around to create a thin, circular crêpe.
- Cook for a minute or two on each side. Repeat until batter is gone.
I like to put Nutella, whipped cream and walnuts into mine. If I have any berries in the house, I’ll use those too. Add the ingredients, wrap it up like a burrito, and love slash hate this delicious and dangerous new knowledge you possess.
Thank you so much, Cristin - both for the awesome interview and for the recipe. :) Best of luck with your book tour and future writing endeavors!
We'll be giving away a hardcover copy of ALL OUR YESTERDAYS with a bookplate signed by Cristin to our November Giveaway winner! Participate throughout the month to earn extra giveaway entries, or simply leave a comment on this post with an answer to the following question:
If you could go back in time, what would you change (or do), and why?