Writeup: "How Novel! Straddling the Worlds of Technical & Creative Writing"

This week an article about me appeared in the employee newsletter. I thought it was really nice of them.  Patricia actually wrote the article back in August or September (as you can tell by the leaves on the photograph), but the magazine is quarterly.

I've included the actual text below the image for readability. The company name is redacted for privacy reasons.


Khristina Chess lives something of a double life.

During the work day, she's a technical director at (company), busily rushing from meeting to meeting, managing the complexities of user experience, documentation and development services.

But in the wee hours of the morning, long before the sun even contemplates rising, she's seated at the corner desk in her den, with a Diet Mountain Dew in hand and her cat Minnie sitting nearby, plotting the painful effects of suicide, academic pressure, unwanted pregnancies, eating disorders and alcohol abuse on young adults.

"It's a passion and an obsession," says this author of several coming-of-age novels. "Sometimes I feel like it's the one thing I do for me. I'm a manager, so I'm always helping other people. But for that hour and a half or two hours, when it's dark and quiet, it's my time. It's just me.

"And I'm telling stories. It's a beautiful thing."

Chess successfully straddles the worlds of technical writing and creative writing, and she does both very well. She celebrated her 20th anniversary at (company) this year, and she's earned recognition for her fiction writing. Drive to June recently won first place in the Young Adult (YA) Category in the Reader Views Reviewer's Choice Awards. Last year, her novel Hollow Beauty was named a finalist in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards.

She's a sunny, upbeat person who is always smiling as she rapidly walks through (company) headquarters in Huntsville, AL. The heavy topics about which she writes don't seem to be part of her realm.

"I work really hard on plotting," says Chess, who holds degrees from Carnegie Mellon University in creative and technical writing. "I try to write really good plot-driven novels to make them have a fast pace and great character arc. I don't want to have a soap box or be polarizing."

Chess wrote for her middle school paper and was in the high school writing club. She began writing novels in her 20s, though she came to the YA genre just a couple of years ago.

"It's a good fit for me," she says. "I had written a lot of different books before I settled on YA. I'd written literary novels and I'd written a memoir. But in some of my critique groups, people told me that this (book) would really work better as a YA novel than the approach I had taken.

At the time, I wasn't even reading YA. I had a misconception about that genre. I picked up The Hunger Games, and I read Twilight, both of which had already created in popularity. I thought, 'Wow, this is a really popular genre,' and I understood how I could fit into that genre. I haven't looked back."

Her other YA novels are Straight A's and The Future Unborn, and the book she's currently writing is about a teen runaway who meets an unsavory character online. To learn more about Chess and her world of fiction, visit khristinachess.com.

Patricia McCarter is Senior Content Marketing Manager with (company)