Author Crush Friday with Chandler Baker
Glitter girls, you have pressing questions for your favorite authors and we have their answers. Welcome to our weekly segment, Author Crush Fridays.
We love asking questions and we love the answers from some of our favorite authors. Today we’re talking to Chandler Baker, the author of the futuristic yet suspenseful YA novel, This is Not the End (August 8, 2017; Disney Hyperion). Thank you for talking to us today, Chandler! We’re honored! And, PS, we love a good twist and this book sure has one!
GLITTER: Tell us five random things about yourself.
- I have a passionate love affair going on with reality television, but not any of the glamorous mainstream stuff like the Kardashians or the women on Bravo. I read daily recaps of my reality TV shows and listen to podcast breakdowns. Honestly, it’s a problem and someone should probably intervene.
- I listen to audiobooks on two times the normal speed, which stresses out everyone I’ve ever met when they happen to overhear. Some of my recent favorites (because I can’t resist) are Shrill by Lindy West, My Sister Rosa by Junstine Larbalestier, and Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake.
- I always try to rap Eminem songs for karaoke and it never turns out well. I will complete a flawless rendition of “Lose Yourself” someday. Mark my words!
- I’m not into emojis. But I’ve been trying not to be such a stick-in-the-mud about them, so one time I tried using several emojis in a text to my friend and she called my husband worried that someone had stolen my phone…or me.
- I took skateboarding lessons starting when I was 25. I learned how to drop into a skate ramp and do ollies and it was really fun, but also scary.
GLITTER: For those not familiar with your writing, how would you describe it?
CHANDLER: The things I love to write about are understandably flawed characters, large bodies of water, impossible choices, life or death consequences and situations that feel unsettling. THIS IS NOT THE END is a bit of a departure for me in that I hear from readers that the book has made them cry! And you know what? I’m totally okay with that. Readers can also expect twists. I love some good twists!
GLITTER: Tell us more about THIS IS NOT THE END. What is it about? What was it like to write a sci-fi?
CHANDLER: THIS IS NOT THE END follows seventeen-year-old Lake Devereaux, the survivor of a car crash that killed her best friend and boyfriend. She now faces an impossible choice. Resurrection technology changed the world, but strict laws allow just one resurrection per citizen, to be used on your 18th birthday, or lost forever. Lake must choose between the two people most important to her while at the same time grappling with a secret–and illegal–vow she made years ago to resurrect someone who’s not even dead yet.
I know it technically *is* sci-fi but I don’t think of it that way. It feels contemporary to me, but with a twist. It’s future that could take place just beyond the horizon. I studied bioethics in college and the subject has become a natural point of storytelling interest to me since it raises these broad, societal questions–how far are we comfortable reaching in terms of medical interventions? where is that line? is there even a line?–but at the same time our health and our bodies are so deeply personal to us that the stories within the larger context still feel very intimate.
GLITTER: If you could resurrect anyone in your own life, who would it be and why?
CHANDLER: Such a tough question. I’m still wrestling with whether I believe resurrection technology would be a positive advancement. However, if it existed and something happened to my husband or daughter I know that I couldn’t resist having them brought back to me. I do have my concerns that resurrection technology would disrupt people’s ability to process grief as well as garner misplaced hope, though. And yet…I’d use it in a heartbeat.
GLITTER: What have been your favorite scene to write?
CHANDLER: There is a scene relatively early in the book that takes place at a Death Party, which are underground parties during which a person agrees to be killed on the eve of another person’s 18th birthday with the promise that the soon-to-be eighteen-year-old will use his or her resurrection choice on the deceased and restore them to life, creating some sort of pseudo-religious experience or heightened bond. It’s so dark and yet, in this world, something I can totally picture a local news channel covering–“Scary things teens are doing that parents should be know about!” The idea of the Death Party opened up a lot of windows for me in terms of thinking about how this technology may affect teens in particular.
GLITTER: Did you always want to be an author? Did you ever feel like giving up? Did you receive rejection letters in the beginning? How did you get over them?
CHANDLER: I always dreamed of becoming an author, but didn’t know until after college that it was a viable option that real people could pursue. Once I figured that part out, I worked very hard to realize the goal of becoming a “Published Author” and racked up a metric ton of rejection letters in the process. It was then that I had to step back and evaluate why I wanted to be an author in the first place. I have a tendency to chase brass rings. To want to add accomplishments to the resume. But writing is a craft and a process. There’s no shortcut to the end. Once I really stepped away and asked myself whether I loved writing or I just wanted to be a Published Author, I learned that, actually, I did love writing and couldn’t imagine my life without it. I attribute that re-jiggering of my perspective to writing something that I was passionate about and to then getting my first “yes”.
GLITTER: Do you have any crazy writing rituals?
CHANDLER: I try not to be too precious about when, where or how I get to write. But! One staple when I sit down to write is that I love to have a fresh mug of hot water on hand to sip while I think. It is possibly the most boring, least rebellious writing vice of all time. I also try to drive in silence at least once a day so that I can think through the day’s scenes or any thorny plot problems that need untangling.
GLITTER: One thing you can’t write without?
CHANDLER: The writing program, Scrivener. It organizes my thoughts and my drafts and while I was so, so slow to convert over to using a writing program, I’m now a devout user and can’t function without it. The other thing I can’t write without isn’t really a thing but a person. My critique partner, Charlotte Huang, and I email in the morning to tell each other our goals for the day and then the evening to check in with how we did. It keeps me accountable.
GLITTER: What are you working on next?
CHANDLER: I have another book coming out in January, the last book in my High School Horror series, but it’s in the final stages of copy edits at this point, which means I have brain space for other things. So now I’m in the getting-to-know-you stage with a new project. And while I can’t say much about it, it’s a story that takes place on a bigger canvas both in terms of space and years and might even have a bit of magic in it. With each book I try to set a new challenge for myself to tackle and with this one I’ve set the biggest challenges yet. So far that means lots and lots of research!
CHANDLER BAKER grew up in Florida, went to college at the University of Pennsylvania, and studied law at the University of Texas. She now lives in Austin with her husband, though her heart remains at the beach. She strongly believes that writing quality improves vastly if done while staring out at a large body of water and daydreaming. Chandler is the author of the young adult thriller Alive, as well as the High School Horror series.