We had the good fortune of connecting with Chris Negron and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Chris, have you ever found yourself in a spot where you had to decide whether to give up or keep going? How did you make the choice?
This is a really interesting thought process writers in particular go through. Each of us has a ton of story ideas popping off in our brains all the time. Hardly a day goes by when I don’t think of anther one! Sometimes when a new idea first jumps into my head, it seems certain I’ll be able to make a book out of it. Of course THIS idea is so good, so important, it MUST be written. But often you have to get past that initial thrill of a new idea and run it through its paces to be absolutely certain it’s a book before committing to spending months or years trying to turn it into one.

Is this idea story shaped? Is there enough there beyond the initial high concept to make a full and complete story that will engage readers from start to finish?

It’s unfortunately often the case that a story does not pass all the necessary tests. Sometimes it means we have to give up on it and move on to the next idea. This is an important skill a writer needs to develop – the ability to let things go if they aren’t working. This could be an entire book, maybe even one you’ve written thousands of words for, or it could be, within a certain story, a “darling” – some scene or witty line or even sometimes a whole character – that just isn’t working and has to be cut.

The ability to recognize these moments combined with the willingness to make the necessary cuts when they come up is surprisingly important to creating complete, well-rounded stories. The best way to hone this skill is to always be learning about stories, understanding how they’re shaped and why certain ones work while others may not be as successful. This means reading. And reading and reading and reading. The knowledge garnered through examining work outside your own can help you to craft a checklist of sorts to make sure any idea you have ticks all the boxes for a successful story.

At the end of the day, it’s one of those abilities that probably comes with experience more than anything. Experience and constant examination. If you’re always writing and reading about how stories work and why they’re successful, you’ll eventually develop a natural feel for when something isn’t working. It can be easy to see in the work of others, sometimes harder in your own. That’s when hopefully you have a great critique partner or editor that sees it more clearly than you do!

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I write middle grade novels that are published by HarperCollins. My first one, DAN UNMASKED was published in July, 2020 (the paperback edition releases June 8, 2021!) and the second, THE LAST SUPER CHEF, releases July 6, 2021.

Writing middle grade means creating stories that will appeal to, challenge, thrill, and engage 8 – 12 year old kids. You try that! Seriously, I’m most proud when I hear from readers in that age group who have any of these experiences with my stories. My books have been called heartfelt and heartwarming, thrilling and action-packed, accessible and inspiring. I love all those descriptions.

I started out writing in other genres, but eventually discovered my natural writing style and voice was a best fit for the middle grade genre. It hasn’t been an easy journey here at all. Anybody who’s tackled any sort of writing endeavor knows it only leads down a path littered with rejection. Every time you think you’re past rejection in one form, it strikes at you in another way. I’m certainly no exception.

The biggest lessons I’ve learned are to roll with the punches and to not be afraid to follow the road even when it twists and turns. You have to somehow learn not to be too stubborn while being the most stubborn you’ve ever been. If that makes any sense to you at all, you’re probably already on your way!

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I live at the foot of the North Georgia mountains, and I guess the first direction we’d head is north. I love whiling away the hours in quiet little mountain towns like Ellijay and Blue Ridge. I also help out sometimes with the Dahlonega Literary Festival and Dahlonega is another favorite North Georgia destination.

After that, I guess we’d head toward Atlanta. Breakfast is at Dutch Monkey Doughnuts not far from my house and on the way to the highway, which we’d take toward Decatur. Let’s grab drinks and lunch at Leon’s Full Service, then a pizza for dinner at Sapori di Napoli, shopping in between at Little Shop of Stories. On the way back home, we shouldn’t forget to stop at Book Nook and Oxford Comics.

On our third and final day, we’d head in another direction, bouncing through Roswell, East Cobb and Woodstock. Let’s grab a sushi lunch at Tanaka Japanse restaurant in Roswell first, then stop at Dr. No’s Comics in Marietta and Foxtale Book Shoppe (where my upcoming book launch will be held) in Woodstock. With an armful of new purchases, the only thing left to do would be to finish up with margaritas at Pure Taqueria on the rooftop in Woodstock. Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My wife, Mary, is an also an artist. She’s an oil painter, and I’m so appreciative of her following the same artistic struggle and path that I’ve been walking. It means she understands how difficult it is to create work that interests people and draws their attention. It means that we can talk about art and be on the same wavelength. It means she “gets it” when it comes to supporting moments when you can get the inevitable strings of good news AND bad news that essentially define the roller coaster that is the artistic journey.

I also have a a great list of awesome critique partners, a wonderful agent in Alyssa Jennette at Stonesong, and an incredible editor at HarperCollins, Elizabeth Lynch.

Website: https://chrisnegron.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/negron.ca/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CNegronWrite

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