Christine Grabowski talks about unusual dreams and school secrets in her new YA novel

Welcome, Christine Grabowski to Visiting Authors today!

Let’s kick this post off with a trailer for your debut release, shall we?

Ohh you have me intrigued!

What do you write, Christine?

I write young adult fiction. Dickensen Academy is my debut novel and it just released a few days ago, on Sept. 12th.

Congratulations! First releases are a fabulous experience!

When did your writing journey begin?

I’m a reader first and would sometimes finish a book thinking, I could do that if only I had a unique idea and the time. Four years ago, watching my daughter write for fun, I realized I simply needed to make the time…so I did.

What was your inspiration for Dickensen Academy?   

The premise for Dickensen Academy came to me as I tried to recall my dreams each morning, hoping I’d be one of those lucky writers who dreamed up a great idea. Soon I began to wonder why I remembered some dreams so clearly but forget others the moment I woke. That thought led me to this book.

Do you find inspiration in your own life for your writing?

Absolutely. They say, “write what you know” and many of the characters, activities, and settings in Dickensen Academy are based on my real life. However, in my work in progress, I’m finding I am stretching a bit more and therefore needing to do more research on settings and characters. 

Tell us about Dickensen Academy.

Dickensen Academy isn’t a typical boarding school. The faculty is hiding an unbelievable secret within their fine arts program. When Autumn Mattison receives an invitation to attend the high school, she yearns to escape her overbearing father yet remains reluctant to leave her mother and brother. Her doubts fade away when a vivid dream convinces her she belongs there.

Away from home, Autumn discovers a unique school environment that awakens her creative potential, and her new friends become like a second family. However, as she uncovers more about the dark side of the school and struggles with its curriculum, she questions whether Dickensen Academy is truly where she belongs.

Although Dickensen Academy is labeled as a fantasy or a paranormal, at its heart it is a coming of age story set in a unique environment. Autumn must separate from her father’s controlling influence, learn to believe in her abilities, and begin to stand up for herself.

Dickensen Academy Book Cover.jpg

Caught between secrets and dreams, can Autumn find her true self?

Dickenson Academy is available as e-book and paperback:

Amazon, The Wild Rose Press, Barnes & Noble, Apple, Goodreads, and Bookbub

Tell us about your experience with the publishing process.

I originally had all the fantasies of many aspiring authors: an agent, a big publisher, books at Costco, etc. but once I dove into the query process, I realized that isn’t reality. As luck would have it the stars aligned when my writing had improved to the point that my story was publishable and I met a representative of The Wild Rose Press at a local conference. She had me send it on to their fantasy department. There, an editor fell in love with my vision of the story. One of the many benefits of working with a small press is the process moves fast. Once my contract was signed, I had limited time to devote to my other writing since there was rarely more than a few days between editing rounds or each step of production.

Any new projects on the horizon?

I’m currently in the editing phase of another young adult novel. It is a contemporary suspense fairy tale reimagining, loosely based on Sleeping Beauty.

For those struggling, on their third manuscript, or in the query trenches, do you have any advice?

Hang in there and don’t compare yourself to others. Publishing is a tough business and everyone has a different journey. A phrase that often inspired me was: the difference between a published writer and an unpublished writer is one gave up.

What was the hardest part of the story to write/research?

The first immersive dream. It required a lot of environmental research. However, over time, most of it got edited out as I realized that only about 5% of my facts were needed to tell the story. My daughter put it best. “I want reading to be fun. I don’t want to learn.” (I’m not even going to tell you about the dream sequence that this one replaced.)

I love that your daughter gave you feedback. Talk about using your target audience!

Now for an excerpt…

Christing Grabowski and Max 1.2.jpg

Where can you find out more about Christine and her work?







Oxford comma, yes or no? Yes (but it’s a new habit of the past 3 years)

Ice cream: Chocolate, preferably with a gooey mix-in

Coffee or tea or wine? Coffee 

What does your desk look like? A mess of semi-organized piles and a charging place for my computer. When I write, I grab what I need and work elsewhere.

What is your writing vice or must-have? Again that would be coffee.

Describe a perfect writing day. A day of uninterrupted time: Get kids off to school, write for a couple of hours, work out at the gym, write at Starbucks for a few hours, hike with the dogs, then write until dinner.

In an alternate reality, what would be your dream job (besides author)? What? I’m still getting over the shock that I am now officially an author. I only wish the pay was higher so I could take my writing elsewhere, think Parisian cafes.

What's your favorite place you've visited? Maui

You have a time travel machine. When and where? I’d go back to the 80s to raise my kids with limited. technology and then come back to today. I honestly love all my gadgets. But if I went any farther into the future, I might not be able to operate them. (I already struggle with the TV remote.)

What do you like to do when not writing? Run, hike with the dogs, attend my kids’ sporting events, watch movies, and read

Beach, lake, or mountains? mountains

If you could meet one famous person, who would it be? Laura Ingalls

Dickenson Academy is available as ebook and paperback:

Amazon, The Wild Rose Press, Barnes & Noble, Apple, Goodreads, and Bookbub

Thanks for joining us today! Good luck on your debut novel!