Sunday, October 31, 2010
Author Interview and Giveaway: Charlie Courtland
Last week, we met Charlie from The Bitsy Bling Book Review but as you learned from the interview, Charlie is also an author. So lets ask her a few more questions.
Charlie, please tell us a little about yourself, when you started writing and how you got to this point in your writing career. What was some of the big milestones?
I entered the University of Washington as a psychology major and found myself enrolled in several English literature and history classes. From there, I ventured into the creative writing department and never left. I love the academic world of creative writing and miss the workshop atmosphere. I remain a lifetime student and continue researching and reading. I began seriously writing while in college. Believe it or not, I was not a child who ever read books. Admittedly, I read one book before I graduated from high school, Island of the Blue Dolphins. My parents never encouraged or gave me books. When I got to college, I became a sponge. An entire world exploded and I couldn’t get enough of books. I had a lot of catching up to do and I listened to every little detail and advice professors handed out. I began with the beginning writing courses coupled with literature classes and worked my way up over the years. I worked very hard at both studying classic styles from different cultures and eras, while also finding my own voice.
What was your inspiration for your latest book? How did it all start? Please tell us a little about it.
My favorite genre to read is historical fiction. I’m interested in history and always browse that section when visiting bookstores. I came across a book about the most evil women in history. I was intrigued and bought the book. I was drawn to Elizabeth Bathory (Hungarian countess) from that moment and started doing research. Surprisingly, there wasn’t much written about her, which prompted my idea. I began a timeline of events and connected the dots.
Are your characters based on people you know?
I’m actually very conscious about not basing my characters on any actual people or family members. However, I do pluck, pillage and steal certain traits, habits and characteristics. Mostly, I take one habit or quirk and inject it or mingle to create a unique character. So, there are bits and pieces of everyone and everything I observe in my real life strung through my characters and story, but nothing wholly definable. If I did that, I would find myself utterly alone in the world because I’d likely offend everyone I know!
Are you working on a new book? Can you give us a little taste of what's to come?
My latest project is called ‘The Secret of A Spicy Jalapeno.’ It’s about a small town in the Pacific Northwest that is experiencing a crime spree and overcrowding of the local jail. A farmer, a sheriff and a drug dealer’s girlfriend discover a way to solve the problem, organically. It’s a contemporary horror story that is evolving into a series. This is near completion. I’ve also recently begun work on a new historical fiction novel but it is still in the infancy stage of research.
What is your favorite part about being a published author?
Holding the finished print copy in my hands. Selling books is great because I want others to read my work, but honestly, just knowing I finished what I set out to do is incredibly rewarding.
Is writing your full time career? I always find it interesting how writers work writing time into their schedules - please share a typical workday with us.
Writing is my full time career. I take it extremely seriously and have a very structured routine. I am a bit eccentric and reclusive, but I love what I do. However, I also do book reviews – so, I also spend time reading and reviewing other writer’s work. I honestly work seven days a week and put in long, sometimes insane hours. This is my typical day: I get up when my eyes open. I refuse to use any kind of alarm, so this time does vary. I pick up my Mac, which is always next to my bed, my Kindle and any book/research I am reading and head downstairs with my dogs in tow. I let them out, make my coffee and park myself either in my office, in the living room or in the summer, on my patio. I read, make notes, highlight information, print important tidbits and research. I file, sticky note, make time lines ect. Depending on what I need, I order books or head out to libraries for further info. Once this is complied, sorted and organized, I get another coffee, let the dogs out again and throw in a load of laundry or dishes. I sometimes make dinner. When I’m writing, I work for hours, undisturbed. This means, no phone, no noise and no interruptions. I live in the country, so I can be a bit of a recluse. It is normal for me to live on pita chips and hummus for days while I am typing away. The only break I take is at 2:30 when I pick my daughter up from the bus stop. Then it is back to work until roughly 7:30. I take another break to visit with the family and try to return to the land of the living, briefly. I resume work after my husband falls asleep around 10 pm and work/read typically to about 2 am. The Mac goes on the floor by the bed and I get some sleep, repeat. Sometimes I work more or less depending on the progress of the project and household chores (I do clean:)). When I get writer’s block I go for walks with my dogs or play catch with them on my 10 acres of wooded property.
What advice can you give other aspiring authors out there?
First, study and understand what make other authors classic. Truly recognizing the reasons will enrich your own writing quality. Also, be conscious of what you are doing with plot, characters, and symbolism and setting ect. Secondly, I have a successful friend in the music business that told me the first question he always asks new artists is, “Do you want to be a musician or a rock star? Because, they are two totally different things.” I think an inspiring writer needs to ask a similar question.
Thank you for letting us into your world for a little while, Charlie. Here is where you can find Charlie online:
Charlie is the author of two books:
Dandelions In The Garden
A historical fiction novel about one of the most infamous female mass murderers in history, the 16th century Hungarian countess, Elizabeth Bathory.
Amara Borbala is certain she is the only living person in the sane world with intimate knowledge concerning the life and exploits of the Countess Elizabeth Bathory. After all, she was Elizabeth’s companion and confidant since her eleventh year. In 1573, after the death of her mother, Amara is sent by her cousin to serve as a lady-in-waiting at the castles of Sarvar, Varanno, and Cachtice.
Now it is years later, 1628, and Amara is aging, alone, and reduced to eavesdropping at her favorite café around the corner from her townhouse in Vienna. Befuddled by gossiping ladies, Amara determines perhaps it is time to finally put a stop to the rumors and once and for all, answer the question, ‘Is it true?’ Did Elizabeth Bathory, a descendant of Vlad Tepes really commit the horrible acts of torture, bathe in the blood of slaughtered virgins, and dabble in the dark magic that she was accused of during her trial?
One thing is certain, Amara knows the truth, but will it be enough to explain the habits of her friend?
Dandelions In The Garden is book one in a two-part series that begins with the journey of Amara, an impressionable girl who follows the Blood Countess through all the horrid events, which lead to her rise and secure her place in history.
The second book is The Hidden Will of the Dragon
The year is 1628, Vienna, and the aging Lady Amara Borbala has collapsed before fulfilling her promise to Count Drugeth to record the historical truth about the infamous Blood Countess, Elizabeth Bathory. In her last entry, Amara writes, "It'd been nearly 130 years since Vlad Tepes, known as the Dragon, arranged the secret agreement." Was it truly possible that the kin of his ancient advisor would honor the contract? And if so, how would it change history?
In the sequel to "Dandelions in the Garden," the journey of history's most intriguing noble female murderer continues. Come following Elizabeth and Amara through the canals of Venice and high into the Carpathian Mountains to discover the inevitable. How the story of the Blood Countess really ends!
This giveaway is now closed.
Charlie will be sending one lucky winner both of her books. I am so jealous! :)
If you live in the US or Canada, you will receive the paperback copies with some swag (or if you prefer you can request the eBook versions) and if you live anywhere else, she will be giving the eBooks to you.
All you have to do to be entered, is to follow both Charlie and myself on our blogs and on twitter (if your are a twitterer :)). Then come back and leave a comment (with your twitter details) below. Don’t forget to also leave your email address, so that we can contact you if you win.
Good luck everyone – this giveaway ends 12 November 2010.