Urban fantasy authors Christina Henry and Chloe Neill will run the Hot Chocolate 5K in Chicago, on November 4, 2012, to benefit the Ronald McDonald House charity. Chloe and Christina will run for both a good cause — and for chocolate, as the post-race party features tons of goodies sponsored by Ghirardelli. Today the authors share their stories behind what motivated them to run — and what running has to do with how they write their novels.
I want to make something clear. I like to eat. I like to eat a lot. I’m Italian, and we take eating very seriously. Chicago is not a grid of streets in my mind. It is a collection of places where I like to eat. Ann Sather cinnamon rolls, Mystic Celt fried pickles, Pizano’s gnocchi and pesto, Sensational Bites carrot cake, Garrett’s Chicago mix popcorn, Costello’s sandwiches of any variety — I love it all, and have eaten all of this and more with a shocking voracity. The all-you-can-eat buffets around here lock their doors when they see me coming.
I also like to run. I like to run for long distances, the longer the better. I’ve run thirteen half-marathons and three marathons, along with a variety of shorter distances. Running is more than just exercise, although its benefit in preventing all those cinnamon rolls from turning into a muffin top is not lost on me. The more I run, the more I can eat — and as I’ve said, I do like to eat.
Running long has a lot in common with novel writing. When you start a book, you don’t think, “Wow, I’ve written five pages and I have 345 to go.” If you think that way then the book will weigh you down. You concentrate on the next moment, the next scene. Eventually you string all of those moments and those scenes into a (hopefully) cohesive and enjoyable novel.
It’s the same when I run a marathon. I never think, “One mile down, 25 to go.” I just concentrate on the mile in front of me — just like I concentrate on the page in front of me when I’m writing. The energy that goes into a marathon is a lot like writing a book — except without the sweat and the blisters.
The Hot Chocolate 5K is pretty much the perfect synergy of things that I like — running and eating. As a devoted disciple of both, I’m always looking for new converts to bring into the fold. So when Chloe Neill offhandedly mentioned in my presence that she was wanted to run I immediately began plotting to bring her to Chicago to run with me. My plan: to lure her with a race so fun and so rewarding that she’ll come back next year to run the 15K with me. I think I can do it. She’s already got the heart of a runner, after all — she’s a writer.
And the chocolate fondue at the end of the race is really, really good.
- Christina Henry
Writing can be a very solitary venture. Writers think, brainstorm, analyze, research, and type, and most of that is done alone. Except for calls and emails with editors and agents, the occasional conference or booksigning, or a trip to Starbucks, writing is a relationship between the author, her characters, and her computer. Giving sufficient “quality time” to that relationship can be an isolating experience.
Writing can also be a very sedentary venture. The first rule of writing, as the saying goes, is to get the butt in the seat. When you have a 100,000 word novel to finish — or, in my case, ten novels my Chicagoland Vampires and Dark Elite series in four years, the butt stays in the seat a lot.
I’ve logged hundreds of hours writing about Merit and Lily, reading books on vampires and magic, and scanning Chicago maps for new and interesting locations. At least twice a year, I try to get to Chicago and actually scout locations in person. I walk around, making notes and taking pictures of buildings and parks, and generally getting a good bit of exercise. Unfortunately, those trips have to be squeezed into my writing (and dayjob) schedule, so they don’t happen as often as I like, and “butt in seat” tends to be the general rule.
Obviously, moving around is a good idea for a lot of reasons, including fitness, health and, for me, better sleep quality and better-fitting clothes. I exercise. A little. I mean, opening and closing my laptop is a kind of exercise, right?
I've usually picked walking as my form of exercise. I love to walk; taking a stroll through a neighborhood makes me feel like a Jane Austen character. It’s squeezing it into my two-jobs-a-day schedule that’s proven difficult. Fortunately, I can funnel some of my energy into writing about Merit, the heroine of the Chicagoland Vampires series, who loves a good run — especially if it’s followed by a solid dose of chocolate.
Friend and fellow author of Chicago urban fantasy, Christina Henry, is a runner. And I’m not talking a casual jogger. She runs — distances longer than the gap between the car and the door at Starbucks.
She knows that I love Chicago visits, and that I’d like to take up running. One afternoon on Twitter, she told me about the November 5, 2012 Chicago Hot Chocolate 5K. If I participated, she agreed to run slowly enough to stay with me through the race. A thoughtful offer if ever I’ve heard one, but still not enough incentive for a girl who loves the idea of running, but hasn’t exactly put a lot of time into doing it. And then she told my why it was named the “Hot Chocolate” 5K. At the end of the race, they give you hot chocolate — a tub of fondue and the goodies to dip.
Yes, training for the race is going to be a great challenge, and probably a pretty good benefit to my health. And Christina’s awesome, and spending time with her will be a blast.
But I’m not going to lie; she sold me with chocolate.
- Chloe Neill
You can pick up Christina Henry's latest release, Black Howl, and Chloe Neill's new book, Biting Cold, available in stores now! For more from your favorite paranormal and urban fantasy authors, visit our Everything Paranormal & Urban Fantasy Page!