Friday, November 4, 2011

Author Interview with Charmaine Pauls

Today we meet another South African writer.  Yay!

Charmaine lives in Chile at the moment but her heart belongs to South Africa. 
You guys know how much I love beautiful covers and just look at this on e . . . wow!  Amazing . . . can you feel the romance just jumping off the page?

Goodreads blurb:In a sunny seventeenth-century chateau in the South of France, the elegant rooms conceal a host of secrets. When Marlien Marais comes to the picturesque village of Castries to claim her family estate, she slowly uncovers a web of deception that lifts the veil on her past and changes her future forever. Shimmering with romance, intrigue, and the elegance that only the French can fashion, Charmaine Pauls’ dazzling Between Yesterday and Tomorrow creates a tale of resplendent love—with a thoroughly French twist. A graphic designer who was raised by her father on a farm in South Africa, Marlien leaves home to survey her inheritance, the sumptuous estate that was luxuriously appointed by her English grandmother, May de la Croix, who had married her French grandfather. Prompted by word of May’s passing and a will bequeathing her the chateau, she soon finds herself enmeshed in a community whose deep-seeded connections hark back to days well before her birth. Moreover, Marlien arrives in search of understanding of her long absent mother and estranged maternal family, who vanished from her life in a veil of mystery. From the moment she arrives at the lavish Le Bon Soleil, Marlien meets a cast of characters who alternately confound, cajole, and coax her into a new French life. Yves, her grandmother’s second husband, strives to buy her part of the property, and see her out of town. Jean-Christophe Fontaine, an alluring young veterinarian, is intent on capturing her heart, which is grieving from the mysterious loss of her fiancé, Paul van Wyk. At the chateau, the manager Vincent Leclerc and his son David, who possesses supernatural gifts, extend a familial embrace. Marie-Hélène, the taciturn family caretaker, dangles innuendo on the family past, but leaves Marlien hopelessly in the dark. Soon, curious events compel Marlien to come to terms with the guilt and longing that she has so deeply buried eight years earlier after the tragic disappearance of Paul. Her awakening feelings for Jean-Christophe Fontaine conflicts with the loyalty that she had sworn to the only man she thought she could ever love. Amidst it all, the annual summer festival in Arles places her in the midst of the bull run, to be miraculously saved from the crushing hooves by a French gypsy musician, Laurent Regard. Marlien is not faced with choosing between two men, she is faced with choosing between the man in her present and the man of her past. In her epic journey of self-discovery, Marlien must face the past, in order to make way for the future. Worldly, sophisticated, and deep in mystery, Between Yesterday and Tomorrow weaves an elegant, old-world tapestry that is rich in metaphor and emotional power. It’s certain to satisfy anyone seeking a transporting story of beauty and heart.

And here is a little bit about Charmaine:

South African born Charmaine Pauls followed a career in all the facets of her communications degree, including public relations, journalism, advertising and brand marketing. She currently resides in Chile with her husband and two children.
Having worn many different hats in the professional world, including public relations for the National Association for the Deaf and the previous Orange Free State State Theatre, advertising manager for an international vegetable seed company, photographer, graphic design artist, communication manager and finally brand manager for an international pet food manufacturing company, Charmaine is currently focusing on her professional writing career.
A lot of Charmaine's inspiration comes from her travels. Passionate about exploring the world, she has travelled to most countries in Europe, in South America, as well as to a selected few in Africa and Asia. The author previously lived in Montpellier, France, hence the inspiration for the setting of Between Yesterday and Tomorrow.

I have a few questions for Charmaine – let’s hear what she says.

When did you start writing, Charmaine? I have always loved writing. It started in primary school when I wrote some award winning essays and poems. My first prize ever was R3.00 for a silly little story writing competition, but it meant the world to me. In high school my teachers had some of my critical evaluations of prescribed literature published in teachers’ guides. After finishing my studies (a 4-year degree in Communications at the University of Potchefstroom), I have always been writing in the capacity of my profession. My creative writing took second place for fifteen years, while I built my career in the business world. When I married my (French) husband and we moved to France, I started thinking about writing a novel seriously. I had some ideas mauling around in my head for more than two years, and only when we moved to Santiago, Chile, and our two toddlers were old enough to attend school in the mornings, did I finally sit down and typed it all up.

Does your family support you in your writing?
My mother has always supported me in my daydreaming and my imaginary characters. She even set a place for my favourite character at the dinner table. I am lucky that my father has always believed in me, and urged me to follow my true dream, regardless of the consequences. And my husband has given me the best gift of all: the gift of time to realize my dream.

How long does it usually take you to write a book?
It took me a year to write the first one, and another six months for all the editing. The second one took less than a year, but I am yet to start the reworking. I have only finished the rough, creative stage. So I think a good average will be one year per book.

What/Who would be able to distract you from your goal?
My close family. They remain the most important in my life.

What inspired you to write this book?
The amazingly old, romantic, culture rich south of France. I was inspired by the wild, white Camargue horses, the gypsy musicians, the fairy tale castles, the ancient cobble stone roads, the bull runs, the festivals, centuries of mystery and history, and the sexiest accent in all of the world. It was the perfect setting for a love story. And of course, the story had to make a turn in South Africa.

What kind of research did you have to do?
It is an epic love story of a woman’s struggle to let go of her past in order to embrace her future. I could draw on my personal experience of the French way of life to place the heroine in picturesque Castries, near Montpellier. I didn’t have to do much research on the French hero, a veterinarian with a pet food manufacturing plant, because I worked for years as a brand manager for such a French company.

I adore the cover – it is beautiful.  Who designed the it?
The graphic design team of my publisher, Create Space Amazon.

What is your next project?
My genre is definitely romance. I’m currently working on a romance that plays off between the Atacama dessert and the Patagonian glaciers in Chile.

A typical day in your life would be?
I am typically always battling to find enough time for everything. I try to do at least two hours of writing in the morning, and spend one hour doing marketing and publicity, and attending to all my communications. I am lucky if a get a good four hour uninterrupted stretch, before I have to cook lunch, rush to two different schools to pick up my toddlers, and in the afternoon I am dedicated to my children and their activities. I spend another two hours writing in the evening, mostly when the kids are in bed and the house is once more quiet, and only a precious hour reading. When everyone else is lying on the beach for the summer holiday, or skiing down the slopes of the Andes in winter, I’m typing away at my keyboard to make up for lost time. Weekends are my special reading time, when the children let me!

What is the hardest thing about being an author?
I have heard some authors say that it is the loneliest job in the world. That is exactly what I love about it. I like to work on my own, and to have long stretches of quiet time. I need a lot of space to feel calm, and a lot of alone time to function properly. The hardest thing for me is the never-ending interruptions. Just when I am on a creative high, the doorbell rings. Since I work from home, few people respect my morning working hours. I always have someone dropping in; the postman ringing my bell; the neighbour who comes to complain about the dog next door; the list is never ending. Most people don’t take your job seriously when you say that you are working from home, writing.

Do you hear from your readers much? What do they say?
I mostly find that if you are open to answering queries and to connecting with readers, they are very keen on giving you their comments. I have had feedback from some readers. One woman said that she cried a lot toward the end of the book, and another said that she got into the story straight away. This is the kind of feedback that I appreciate, because at least I know that my story is evoking some kind of emotion.

Who are some of the authors that inspire you?Some of my favourite authors include Robert Goolrick (A Reliable Wife), PG du Plessis (Fees van die Ongenooides), Abraham Verghese (Cutting for Stone), and Lora Leigh (romance).

What is in your TBR pile?
I have always enjoyed great classics like Dracula and Frankenstein, but have never really given modern fantasy a go. I bought all the books in the George RR Martin series, A Song of Ice and Fire, as well as A Dance with Dragons. And the new author of the month that I’m supporting is Bill Loehfelm with his latest release, The Devil She Knows.


Thank you so much for joining us today, Charmaine.  We wish you much success with Between Yesterday and Tomorrow.

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