Author Interview - Ravyn Crescent
Tell me about yourself
I am one of those people who has both too much and too little to say about themselves. I always hated the ‘let’s all go around and introduce ourselves’ situation because it seemed like a pop quiz I hadn’t studied for. What answers do people want? For this, I’ll go with some basics.
I’m addicted to books. The smell of them; new or old. The feeling of holding them brings great comfort. When I have a book, I feel like I can withstand whatever happens. I even use my limited break at work to read. Escapism is the best mental health care I’ve ever found. I’m also fairly addicted to dogs. I own my own company, Crescent Canines, where I sell collars, leashes, head halters, dog shampoo, cat toys, and anything else I happen to create by hand. My day job is working as a pet food guide, using my 68+ hours of pet nutrition study to help individuals select the best food for their pet.
I’m also a student, taking any and every class that catches my fancy in order to learn as much as I can. Like with reading, I am happiest when I am actively learning something. Currently, I am taking criminal justice courses. True crime mysteries and stories are a huge passion of mine! I have skirts, t-shirts, cups, mugs, magazines, posters, even socks dedicated to it. Heck, my ‘library’ wall in my apartment is entirely decked out in a true crime/paranormal theme, with skills resting on top of the book shelf and hanging from the wall next to bats, black cats, and the one dragon. I have the Whitechapel board game, and it is my favorite thing to drag around to parties and events, just in case I can convince a few people to play. I’m subscribed to the Hunt a Killer monthly subscription box, and have enough true crime books that I’ve had to force myself to donate boxes full of them and get the kindle versions instead.
I have a cardiac disorder. I was born with it. Born two months premature and blue, I became the youngest and smallest baby (at the time) to undergo a balloon angioplasty. Special tools had to be built and I ended up as a research experiment for the first few years of my life. It’s led to some health issues and prevents me from doing some things. A few years ago, it sprang up again and got worse, and got me some bad news, but it’s helped me appreciate life more and really focus on what is important.
That’s about all there really is to say. I am the shy girl who talks too loud and too much when given the chance. I’m huge into the paranormal, serial killers, missing person cases, strange events, dogs, big cats, and winning the decoration contests at my apartment complex every time one comes up.
Tell me about your novels
My old novels I don’t remember very well. I know I was first published at eleven. A few small local magazines, one was run by the library, and an international one I cannot even guess the name to. I wrote Predator Turned Prey when I was fourteen; my first full length novel I would show anyone. My friend Allyson Amador and I are doing a manga of it—allowing me to redo a lot of changed the publishers made that I disliked (never sign a contract as a child who has no idea what they’re doing).
I took a long break from writing, and now that I am back, I am shifting my focus a bit. I highly suggest everyone who likes romance and/or erotica to check out the As Cocky as They Come anthology. I am in it with a slew of amazing writers. It was written in response to the word “Cocky” being trademarked by an author, forbidding any other author from having the word Cocky in their title, despite the fact the author was far from being the first to use it. I have a bad habit of joining social justice causes and using them for inspiration.
My story in it, Fog, Fangs, and Cocky Attitudes is the first in a series of paranormal novels I am writing. Focusing on Violet, a young, independent woman who is determined to figure out the strange weather phenomena in her city. Fog was not unheard of, of course. Though it did make the sky darker and the spitting of rain that accompanied it made the walk home from work dreadful. Violet decided to take a shortcut through an alley when she encountered a man and woman seemingly clinging to each other in passion. As she got closer, the wide, terrified eyes of the woman lead Violet to believe this wasn’t a lover’s embrace, but a possible rape. She attacked the man, ordering him to stop. When his blue eyes locked on hers, she realized the mistake she’d made… it’s not wise to assault a vampire while it’s feeding.
That world will be a series, though I’m waiting for ownership to be returned to me from the story in order to really dig into the whole world.
Besides that, I am working on Carver’s Ghosts. A series that focuses on serial killers and true crime facts and drama, with a heavy dash of the paranormal thrown in.
Why do you write?
Many reasons. Like most, I imagine, I write because I have a story in my head and I want to get it out and share it with others who might enjoy it. I write because I can’t always find the story I want to read, so I decide to make my own.
Mostly, I write because it’s how I quiet down the fears inside my head. I am afraid of so many things, and writing has always been my way of taking control of that fear.
My biological father was a true monster. He was the worst kind of human. He abused his wife, abandoned his son, and assaulted his daughter. My mother was an orphan, but she is also so much more. She is Inuit, and ended up alone when her family fell through the ice when they were walking somewhere. She grew up seeing how many loving homes were denied adoption because they weren’t the same race, and how many abusive, but wealthy individuals seemed to get a pass on that rule because they could afford it. She grew up being pulled out of horror after horror, just to be put into another one. But she never grew cruel, or spiteful, or allowed herself to do something terrible. She refused to let evil seep in, no matter the cost. When she finally had a good family to foster her (though they weren’t wealthy enough to adopt an Inuit girl), she flourished. She graduated High School at twelve. College at sixteen, and enlisted in the armed forces as a translator given that she spoke multiple languages fluently. She joined the marines, and then, seeking the opportunity to do more, she joined the Navy. A hurricane changed her plans when it broke her back and they discovered she had Multiple Sclerosis. Still, she did not let it get her down. She became Ms. Wheelchair Iowa. She is now Director of District Four for the Blinded Veterans Association, talking to congress men and women, assisting veterans with benefits, and doing all of this while blind and in a wheel chair. She is a true hero.
But as a child, my father’s manipulative ways controlled me. No matter how wonderful my mother was, my father had me convinced that if I ever told her what he did to me, I’d end up in foster care suffering the abuse my mother had faced. He used her love to keep me in line, because no matter how bad it was with him, I couldn’t risk losing the glorious moments I had with her.
Writing became my escape. He hit me with my own diary, but if I set everything in a fantasy world, or as a poem, I could write out everything in vivid detail that he didn’t care about, but helped me feel like I wasn’t just suffering alone. I created heroes, and ideal outcomes. Sometimes I wrote about outcomes I hated, but seemed the most likely to come true.
When I was nine, my mother started submitting my work to publications. When I was eleven, the rejection letters turned into a few acceptances. She was proud of me, but I considered it to be the same way she was proud of the craft projects we made in class. The same way all mothers, I assumed, faked it.
The stories and poems helped and hurt at the same time. When I wrote, the incidents were usually fresh in my mind. Every time I read about the monster who crept in at night, I was thinking about my pedophile uncle. When I wrote about wearing armor that didn’t always work, my mind saw myself wearing jeans and a belt to bed because it took him longer to get those off of me and it would wake me up. Sometimes begging him to stop would work. I saw it so clearly, I assumed everyone who read them saw the same thing. I had no idea that these adults were assuming that a child did not mean things the way they were interpreting them. To me, they all knew and, collectively, decided to ignore it. After all, I had told neighbors who had seen some of the abuse. I’d begged for help seven times, even detailed events online and asked why, if my father insisted this was normal, did it hurt so bad? I had asked people from church and teachers to help me and no one ever did. I had a science teacher slap me in the face because I was crying that it hurt to sit down, and she wanted to “give me something to cry about.”
My father liked that. He let me write because I shut up. I stopped telling people what he was doing, or allowing to be done. I wrote it down and people paid money for it, and he got to go on with his life doing what he wanted and never having to worry.
When I was thirteen, I broke. I was a D student because, as my principle hiss at me, no one wanted to have to deal with me longer than they had to, so they were going to let me pass. At home, my mother questioned my dark stories, but never forced me to explain. In tears, she later told me that she thought her past abuse was influencing how she saw things. Because from what she had seen, foster kids were abused, but biological children? Never. BioDad was evil to her, but he wouldn’t sink to hurting his own flesh and blood, right?
It was a long, eventful week that ended on a Thursday that changed my life. The long story made short is that my poetry saved my life. Because of a whole pile of situations, I’d actually decided to kill myself when a D.A.R.E. officer at my school stopped me. He read my poems and he asked me one question “are these real?” The look he gave me took away my usual excuses or sarcastic retorts. No, that one mentions dragons. That one, sir, is about a vampire. The protagonist can pull poisons out of plants with his bare hands, but sure, totally legit. No, he stared at me and the only answer I could give was the truth. I told him no, they weren’t real. But the events were.
That man saved my life. Within an hour I had two other police officers standing there. A woman with a tight bun who kept reading the notebook and marching off to speak to the principle, and a younger man who only read a few pages and started pacing by the door, and the window. He’d charge the door anytime someone came in, demanding their ID’s. The D.A.R.E. officer took my bag from me and wouldn’t give it back, but kept getting me cookies from the vending machine which I thought tasted just awful but he just kept giving them to me. My mother was called from school to come get me (I usually walked home). She arrived and they ordered her to take me to the police station.
That’s how I never had to see my father’s house ever again. That’s a terribly long story, as the drama from it lasted years. Lots of court battles, accusations, and I lost contact with everyone on his side of the family… battle lines were drawn and as sad as it was, my cousins were too young to know better and my father, a diagnosed sociopath (who was alter diagnosed as a psychopath, though both terms are kind of defunct now) was an expert at making people see what he wanted.
Now, when something scares me, I write about it. I used to be terrified of monsters, and now I adore paranormal fiction. I used to fear being helpless, so I adore stories about characters who found ways to rise above.
Serial killers. They used to terrify me so badly that, as my poor husband can attest to, I would sob at night because there was a chance one of them would choose one of us as a target. I would watch Youtube videos all about amazing facts and cry because how could the host be happy? The odds are he’d be killed. If I even passed by a newspaper mentioning the BTK killer I went into panic mode and spent the next few days hiding. My husband adored true crime and mystery shows, and I adored horror, but serial killers were the one thing that stopped me in my tracks.
And I hated it.
I hated that I was so afraid, so I decided to hell with fear. Another mention of the BTK killer popped up while we were browsing Youtube, and my husband frantically tried to move past it when I said I was done with being afraid all the time. Having a fear is fine. Having anxiety is fine, it’s a medical condition. The problem comes about when you do nothing about it. Being afraid to leave your home, to open a door or a window, this is not acceptable. Calling out of work because something might happen if you go in… was ruining my life. Instead, I was going to write about them!
Now it’s my life. My friends send me serial killer magazines that I pour over until I have every word memorized and then mount them to my wall like hunting trophies. I listen to true crime podcasts and am saving up to attend crimecon. I am actually mentioned as a Patreon supporter in a Last Podcast on the Left episode about Aileen Wuornos. They call me Ravyn Croissant, but they do correct that, haha!
I watch serial killer documentaries, and have serial killer playing cards to help me memorize facts. I comb through books written by the experts in the field of criminal psychology and got giddy happy when I saw Mindhunter on Netflix, because I owned and read that book.
I write to be powerful. Even if it never gets me ‘far’ as a career, it’s given me my life back.
What challenges do you face when writing and how do you overcome them?
Most of my challenges are health related. My cardiac disorder gives me anxiety any time my heart speeds up. This means if things are going well and I am really happy about it, I suddenly feel like I am dying or the world is ending. Sometimes both! This usually happens when I switch to new topics, because I specifically choose what I am afraid of in order to make myself overcome these fears through my writing. Occasionally, I don’t overcome it but I learn to embrace it.
I’d say my biggest hindrance is just anxiety. Will anyone like this story? What if I publish it and then realize I left a plot hole? What if I spend $1k getting a cover, editing, formatting, etc. done and don’t make $50? It’s a gamble. For a while, I looked up trends and followed all the great advice about what sells, but I often found I didn’t enjoy writing those stories. For me personally, I just sort of decided that this may not be a career, but it is a passion and so I’m just going to tell myself it’s an expensive hobby. It tricks my brain sometimes into allowing it.
What is the most memorable piece of advice you got about writing?
I have to think about this. There is a lot of advice I got about technique, style, what to exclude and how to improve, but I think the most memorable piece was about getting over imposter syndrome. It’s simple, consider that even some of the best sellers will have fangirl/fanboyed at another author. That statistics show the vast majority look at their work and aren’t always sure why they, themselves, have so many fans. Once you realize this, you realize we are all imposters. It’s a giant scam. Don’t you deserve to be in on it?
Why did you decide to do editing?
I have a bad habit of editing while reading stories. I love the way different punctuation can change how a sentence reads. I just love how changing a word here or there, removing a sentence, rewording a paragraph; all of it can turn letters on a page into a gripping, dynamic experience.
I love how you can get a handful of writers and give them the same basic page and if allowed to edit and alter it, you can get stories that aren’t anything alike.
She looked at him as if for the first time.
She gazed into his eyes. The courage within them overwhelmed her. He gave an excited grin as he turned away, facing down the demon lurching toward them. This was the same boy who had taken three weeks just to ask her to prom?
She stared at him. Hair a mess, eyes ablaze, mouth twisted into a snarl as he slammed the door. Something dark sprouted within him; she’d never seen it before but now there was no denying it.
Lastly, I decided to edit because I got very ill. We believe I caught a virus, but no doctor has been fully sure. All they know is my cardiac disorder got very bad, I’d had a fever for too long, and my memory was obliterated for a long while. Learning to edit was my way of getting back into writing. I had to find something to focus on, and I could the little punctuation marks were the easiest way. When I got ill, and my memory failed me, it took me over a year to remember stories, characters, plot lines. Anything I didn’t have notes on was lost, and I ended up feeling very alone. All these people and characters that I’d always felt and heard around me were suddenly gone, or strangers I didn’t know.
What have you found to be challenging in editing people’s work?
Worrying I am not good enough is always a huge challenge. I had a client who was writing a story that was written as a journal, and then a blog. I won’t give many more specifics, but the whole thing was fascinating. The hardest part came about when I realized we had very different ideas for how the story could progress. I felt the ending came too soon, where as my client said he wanted to tie it up before he became disinterested. To me, the ending was abrupt, sudden, jarring, and made me want to shout. A character I barely was getting to know was suddenly put into a very risky situation and was seemingly fine with it. He discovered the protagonists huge secret and was taking over the blog for him. It felt so out of the blue. But I had to understand that was their intention. That tends to be a struggle. Realizing that a client may have different expectations. I have even had clients hire me, and pay me, but refuse to take any of the advice given. On the other end of the spectrum, I had a few clients hand me their novella and tell me to just go ahead and make the changes rather than marking them.
But I am a firm believer in hiring an editor. Even as an editor, I will hire an editor for my own work. When we do things ourselves, I notice most people miss things. We’re too close to it. The issue comes about when someone believes they are flawless in their craft. No one truly is.
What type of books do you specialize in? Do you find some genre harder to edit than others?
I primarily love to edit paranormal and true crime fiction. However, genre doesn’t always matter to me. Primarily, I want to be engaged and enjoy the subject matter and story. If someone comes and tells me they are writing a story about a den of thieves that get a job to rescue a magician from their world’s most secure prison, I am all for it. If someone says they are writing a blog on pet nutrition and need me to edit it, I am ecstatic. It mostly changes if I have no interest in the subject matter.
What do you charge for your services and how long does it take for you to edit?
What I charge, currently, depends on what the individual needs, and how much editing it has already had. A word count helps me with an estimate on price/time, but until I see at least a first chapter I’m never fully sure. I like to do first chapter edits and let the author decide if they like my style. This also allows me to see what might be involved in the rest of the story, and price based on that.
What is one thing that a writer does that really drives you insane as an editor?
Mostly when they ignore the advice of their editor. I fully understand that there are stylistic differences, and as an editor we can only make suggestions. It is fully up to the author to accept or deny. My prime example is actually done by a writer/editor friend of mine. Someone I had been saving up to hire. They were hired to be a ghostwriter/editor for a story. When it went for sale, I purchased a copy. There were typos and errors in every chapter. In same parts, every page. Not basic things like a missing comma, or an over use of punctuation. When sent a private message about the errors, the only response is that everything was intentional and I should mind my own business. She was an editor, she knew what she was doing. As an editor myself, I have seen far too many examples of why an unbiased eye can be valuable.
What advice can you give writers who are ready to find an editor?
I’d suggest asking for a sample edit. You need to make sure you hire an editor who knows and enjoys your genre, as well, and who will be dedicated to the story. They may not love it as much as you do but that is fine. You want an unbiased eye. You want someone who wants to make your story as amazing as it can be! One of my developmental editors, Kimberly Gordon, took a hurried, rushed, rough draft done in a genre I’d never written in before (romance) and turned it into a better story than I’d imagined it could be. She knew romance, she was passionate about the story being good, and she was well aware of current trends.
Where can we find out more about hiring you?
Right now, I am not taking new clients unless I know them personally while I am in school, working, and running my pet products business.
Where can we find out more about your own writing? Is there something new we can expect?
Oh yes! My Facebook page. I also will soon be in the As Wicked as They Come anthology, which is a horror anthology with, hopefully, two stories.
One is about a great fear of mine: a stranger knocking on my door when I’m not expecting anyone.
The other is a horror/comedy that is written as I imagine demon hunting would be like if it were an actual career. Specifically one that is retail based.