Guys and gals hang onto your hats, because McSwain & Beck have a special treat for you!!
As part of her exciting blog tour, the lovely and talented, Carlie M.A. Cullen, Author of the novel ‘Heart Search – Book One: Lost’, sat down recently for some Q and A’s with CR HIATT, creator of McSwain & Beck. Let’s just hope there are no injuries. I hear the characters have a thirst for blood…
Hi Carlie – Thank you for joining me today, and allowing me to be a part of your exciting blog tour. I hope you are having an amazing time.
Hi CR! Thanks so much for inviting me here today. Rumour has it you’d like to ask me a question or several . . .
1. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Well I’m as crazy as a box of frogs and I’ve got a wacky sense of humour! How’s that for starters? [Laughs] I know that’s a bit frivolous, but it’s the real me! Now for the more serious stuff. I was born in the East End of London and am a true cockney; I was born at 7am to the sound of Bow Bells and that is what defines a ‘true’ cockney. I moved to the county of Hertfordshire when I was about sixteen months old and that’s where I grew up. I now live in a small town in Essex. I have a daughter, who is the light of my life and am almost single.
I run a writing group called Writebulb and we meet in the next town to where I live. They are a great bunch of people and we support and encourage each other. The group has published an Anthology based on our county called, The Other Way Is Essex, with all proceeds going to our local hospice. As I lost both my parents to cancer, I know first-hand the wonderful work these places do and the fantastic support they give to patients and their families.
I’ve been a dancer since I was five years old and turned professional nearly fifteen years ago, teaching both adults and children.
I’m a professional editor as well as a writer.
2. What do you do when you are not writing?
It’s very rare for me not to be writing or editing, especially these days. On the rare occasions I do stop, I enjoy entertaining my friends or going to see them, watching DVD’s or one of the few TV series I’m hooked on. I used to enjoy teaching dance, but had to give it up earlier this year when I became disabled with spinal problems. I’m now very limited with what I can do and where I can go. I used to enjoy going to the movies and restaurants, but regrettably I can’t do that at the moment. There is a silver lining to my cloud – I have more time to write now!
3. How do you deal with writer’s block?
It depends on whether it happens when I’m just about to start writing or part way through.
If it’s when I’m just about to start writing, I usually do a free-writing exercise for about ten minutes. Using pen and paper, I pick a word at random and write whatever comes into my head connected to the word. I don’t worry about punctuation, grammar or sentence structure I just keep writing. By the time the ten minutes are up, I find concentrating on that one word has focused my mind and the creative juices begin to flow. I can then go back to my work and begin where I left off. Sometimes the first couple of sentences are a bit weird, but by then I’m back in the flow and don’t worry about it – they can be sorted during the editing process.
If I get writer’s block part way through, I’ll find something else to do for about half an hour, like watching TV, relaxing and listening to music, or something around the house like making a pot of tea and maybe a snack (depending on the time of day). Then I’ll go back to it about half an hour or an hour later and usually can get straight back into it again.
4. Do you work with an outline or just write on the fly?
When I first began Heart Search, I had a synopsis, outline and planned the first twelve chapters, but after about four or five chapters in, the story began to take on a life of its own and all my careful planning was about as much use as a bag of ice is to Eskimos. The rest of the book was written completely on the fly.
5. I find it interesting to know what environment people write in. Do you use a pen and paper, laptop? Quiet room, music or what? Are there visitors such as dogs, cats, or children?
I always use a laptop to write. Most of the time I prefer quiet, but every now and then I find music helps to inspire me. I have certain CD’s I listen to depending on what sort of scene I’m writing at the time: for action scenes or the ‘third voice’ chapters I listen to Muse; for emotional scenes it’s usually Sarah McLaughlin; and for just inspiration I put on soft instrumental relaxing/mood music.
I don’t have any pets; I live in rented accommodation and pets aren’t allowed. And as far as children are concerned, yes I have a daughter, but she’s in her twenties so she’s not exactly a distraction.
I usually write in the lounge as it’s the most comfortable place for me.
6. Is there anyone, or anything in particular that inspired you to become an author?
I’ve written for my own enjoyment since I was a child and this continued into adulthood. When I got the idea for writing Heart Search, it was the first time I felt I actually had a novel in me. After I started it and was a few chapters in, I found my daughter reading it and she was hooked. She kept pushing me, asking where the next bit was and it got to the stage where every time I walked away from my laptop, even if only for a couple of minutes, she would grab it and read what I’d just written and this continued right up until I finished it.
I’d wanted to be an author for some time, but didn’t think I would ever stand a chance of becoming published. It was my daughter’s enthusiasm and love for the story which gave me the confidence to believe I actually had some writing talent and she kept telling me to publish it. So I decided to engage an editor to see if they thought it was any good. I found a great editor who helped me whip my book into shape and she loved it too. After sending it to a beta reader who was a senior editor at a publishing company and getting great feedback from her, I then felt I had a chance to achieve my dream.
If it hadn’t been for my daughter’s encouragement, Heart Search may not have been published.
7. Who is your favorite author, and why?
I can’t actually say I have just one favourite author, There are many authors whose work I love, but can’t narrow it down to just one. But among my favourites are J K Rowling, Alison DeLuca, Stephenie Meyer, James Clemens, Connie J Jasperson, MG Wells and Charlaine Harris.
8. Why did you choose the specific genre of your first book, and why?
I’ve loved fantasy from childhood. It began with me reading Hans Christian Anderson and the tales from The Brothers Grimm and my love of the genre stayed with me. As I grew up, I became increasingly fascinated by fantasy creatures like vampires and also witchcraft. Almost everything I wrote had an element of fantasy in it somewhere. When the idea for Heart Search popped into my head, it included vampires so really my choice of genre was made for me.
9. What was your greatest obstacle when writing your debut novel, Heart Search: Lost?
As the story developed, I knew before I was a quarter of the way through it, there was going to be too much for one single book. Remy and Joshua’s journeys were too long, their individual tales too intricate so my greatest obstacle was actually deciding where to end the book.
10. What’s next for Carlie M.A. Cullen?
What’s next is Book Two – Found followed by Book Three – Coven. After I finish the Heart Search trilogy, my next project is a book about the lovely woman I use as my avatar. She gives me a great deal of inspiration and I think she deserves a book all of her very own. I do have some other story ideas written down and at the moment I haven’t decided which of those I’ll look at next, but I think I’ve got enough to keep me going for at least the next year, don’t you?
On a rainy night when all you can do is cuddle up on the sofa to watch a movie, what’s your favorite genre to watch?
Hmmm, actually that would depend on my mood at the time. Obviously I love anything with fantasy in it, but I also enjoy thrillers, some action movies, films with the supernatural or paranormal in, the occasional horror (not the slasher kind, like Saw) and the odd rom-com. Nine times out of ten I would pick a fantasy one though.
Thanks so much for having me here today, CR – I’m now parched, any chance of a cuppa? 🙂
Whew!!! I got through that interview, and I think my blood is still untouched. I don’t see any teeth marks. Do you?
Thank you so much, Carlie! It was great to learn a little more about you through this little Q and A.
You can check out Carlie’s book on Amazon.com:
First, check out what people are saying, and it was only recently published:
~~”Exhilarating paranormal romance…”
~~“The story was good, the characters engaging, and the plot was full of twists and turns that kept me turning the pages.”
~~”Heart Search: Lost is a great debut for a series and leaves you with a smorgasboard of teasers and plot threads for the next book. I was left pondering which ones are going to play a big part in book two, and which ones will mull like a good wine until book three.”
For more info on Carlie M.A. Cullen, check her out on Twitter @carlie2011c, or her website: http://carliemacullen.com/