Interview with Ballet Orphans Author Terez Mertes Rose

Terez Mertes Rose is the author of the Ballet Theatre Chronicles and A Dancer’s Guide to Africa. A former Peace Corps volunteer and ballet dancer, her writing has appeared in numerous publications, including the Crab Orchard Review, Women Who Eat (Seal Press), A Woman’s Europe (Travelers’ Tales), Literary Mama and the Philadelphia Inquirer. She reviews dance performances for Bachtrack.com and blogs about ballet and classical music at The Classical Girl. She makes her home in the Santa Cruz Mountains with her husband and son.

 

1. Which books/authors inspired your work?
Long answer: I own a few hundred books adorning multiple bookshelves in my house, some in my possession since my teens, some published in the past month. Each one has informed and enhanced my writing, either the author’s voice or their storytelling skills, or both. It would be really hard to choose which one had the most influence.

Short answer: Adrienne Sharp’s gorgeous ballet fiction. Stephen Manes’ When Snowflakes Dance and Swear. Anything by Curtis Sittenfeld.

2. What’s one thing that you learned while writing your book?
I learned a lot about the early days of Silicon Valley. It’s crazy fascinating.

3. After this book, are you writing anything new? Where are you in the process?
I am working on a Book 4 of the Ballet Theatre Chronicles (Ballet Orphans is a series prequel and Book 3). I’ve gotten the basic story down and have written for months without judgment, so now it’s a big bloated mess with a lot of sloppy writing. This is where the real work begins for me. I couldn’t be happier. I prefer crafting and rewriting over the tricky creation of something out of nothing.

4. Describe your writing routine. Do you outline? Edit as you go?
I get up at 4:30am and start writing as soon as possible. Mornings are my best time. I try not to focus too much on outline in the beginning of the process because that kills the muse. But as soon as things gel, I do develop a chapter-by-chapter outline, just a sentence or two for each chapter. This gives me both structure and freedom. I edit some as I go, but I try not to “put on the editor’s cap” like I do in the final draft. It kills the muse, for me, to get too nitty-gritty editorial too early.

5. What do you do when you’re not writing?
Read, read, read. Attend to my household’s and family’s needs. And I’m an exercise junkie, and I love walking out in nature, so that’s a chunk of my day too. It pairs nicely with the isolationist stress and sedentary nature of writing. It also gives me time to daydream. (A fiction writer’s best friend!)

6. How do you combat/cure writer’s block?
I give myself permission to write really bad stuff. We’re talking really bad. But keeping the fingers moving is crucial to me. Occasionally my writing block (which has a lot to do with my mood, my spirits) is so debilitating, even that feels like a challenge. On those occasional days, maybe once a month, I give myself a break, find a book I love escaping into, and make it a “return to the bed and just read” day. Or I journal. I’m a nonfiction writer and blogger as well as a novelist, so, in general, there are plenty of different directions I can steer myself.

7. What advice would you give an aspiring writer who doesn’t know where to start?
Just write. Stop talking about doing it, and just do it. Journaling. Plucking a subject out of the air and goofing around. Telling a story. A poem. Do it daily. Keep your goals small. Start with 20 minutes a day, every day. Use a timer. The fun thing about becoming a writer is that, provided you write daily, you’re a writer. Every time you write, you’re a writer. If it bores you to write daily, well, reconsider whether you want to be a writer. Writing sounds glamorous from a distance. It’s actually more like shoveling dirt. The pay for your effort, financially, is peanuts. A writer writes because they can’t not write. It’s equal parts a blessing and a curse.

8. What was the most challenging thing about writing your book?
Making it not sound like the other two books in the series, and yet, not too different. They are all three set in the professional ballet world, which is quite specific. It’s hard to come up with new ways of saying much of the same thing.

9. Are you part of any writer’s groups or guilds? Which one(s)?
I’ve kept my presence in groups small after the early learning years, because it can become a convenient distraction, to talk/write about writing instead of going into a cave and doing the work. At this time, I’m part of an online writers’ group called Backspace. A group of us have remained connected, via discussion forums, for something like 20 years. It’s been an invaluable support.

10. Do you have a social media presence? Where can people find you online?
My blog, The Classical Girl (www.theclassicalgirl.com), is my biggest social media contribution, where I’ve written over 230 essays that have garnered over a million page views. I’m as committed to that as I am my fiction. That’s where readers can find me, and find a variety of articles, essays, and dance reviews. They can also reach me via Facebook (as The Classical Girl) and Twitter (@classicalgrrl).

11. Talk about your main character. What are they like and what inspired their personality?
April is a great character; I like her a lot. She’s got a good head on her shoulders and isn’t as flamboyant as some of my other narrators. She actually showed up in the first two books of the series, years back, so I couldn’t make up something out-of-character when it came her turn to narrate. She loses both parents by the time she turns 26, and left home at age 15 to train for a dance career, so she keenly feels the loss of family, which, in turn, makes her reflective, compassionate, in search of personal closeness. And a damned good dancer.

12. How does your main character change throughout the story?
She becomes less self-centered about her determination to make it to the top as a ballet professional. Still grieving the death of her parents and feeling alone in the world, she opens herself to new possibilities, new friendships, which play an enormous part in how she changes through the story. She grows wiser, tougher in some ways, and softer in others.

13. If you weren’t an author, where do you think you’d be? What would you be doing?
I am so enamored with the ballet world, through my writing, and it’s a love that hasn’t died. So, if I were much younger, I’d go nose around and see if I could involve myself in dance administration, or it’s equivalent in the world of classical music. I love being in those worlds, in any capacity. Then again, I was a Peace Corps Volunteer back in the late 1980s and the need to serve in a socially relevant fashion is still there, too. My career could have gone the way of the social services. The nice thing about being a writer is that pondering the path not taken is great fodder for writing fiction.

14. What is the most satisfying thing about being an author?
I love that I can believe wholeheartedly in the product I’m creating. I like working alone, and I like working on deep, involved projects. When I’m in the middle of creating a novel, I’m so content, and the rest of the world just falls away. I’ve never felt that kind of contentment in any other job. At the same time, it challenges me, a lot, in ways I’ve never found in other jobs.

15. How do you think your book can help people? What do you hope people will take away/learn from your book?

They get to learn about the “behind the curtains” world of ballet. It eternally fascinates me, and I’m always on the lookout for books that do this. There are so few. Readers frequently comment how much they enjoyed this glimpse of something they knew nothing about. The novel I wrote prior, A Dancer’s Guide to Africa, is one I wish everyone would read. It’s set in provincial Africa, the “real” Africa and not the one in the movies, loosely mirroring my two-year experiences as a teacher there, and it educates readers, in a fun, engrossing way, on what it’s like to live in a dramatically different culture.

16. What made you choose the time/place in which your book was set?
I knew which year it had to be—1989 and 1990—because the chronology of the series was already set, from the other books. Likewise, the story is set in San Francisco, the same as the others, out of necessity.

17. What are reviewers/family/friends/other authors saying about your book?
I was happy that Kirkus Reviews called Ballet Orphans, “A stimulating and entertaining tale in which passion and art intermingle.” And I liked the endorsement from author Kelly Mustian (The Girls in the Stilt House), who said that I usher readers “behind the scenes of the gritty and glamorous world of ballet and captivates us with a story that is ultimately about universal themes of loss, hope, belonging, and what makes a family.” While I’m grateful that friends and family love the book and the series, it’s endorsements from ballet professionals and administrators that mean the world to me, like Lauren Jonas, artistic director of Diablo Ballet, who said, “I could identify with [April’s] struggles and achievements and I rooted for her along the way. A recommended read for all, dancer and non-dancer alike.”

18. What type of person do you think would most enjoy your book?
I’d say females, age 18-60, but I’ve been surprised to find plenty of male readers engaging in the series. Then again, plenty of males are interested in the dance world. So, I’d say, any reader who is curious about the performing arts world and what really goes on behind the scenes. Readers who love ballet will love this book. Book club readers who want a smart, fun, intelligent, warmly romantic read without the cutesy nature of chick lit. Romance readers. Women’s fiction readers.

19. How do you organize your book collection, if at all?
I don’t. The books on my various bookshelves tend to be a disorganized mess. I don’t care. They are all lovely books. I try to limit their presence to bookshelves, but they start to stack up and spill out into their own piles, and to make space on the bookshelf once again, I have to weed out the ones I won’t read again. I hate doing that. It’s like trying to weed out old friends. You’ll miss them if you let them go.

You can buy Ballet Orphans from Amazon here – https://amzn.to/2RknEMd

Karen Wasylowski Questions for SB Hilarion I AM Manifesto

1. Which books/authors inspired your work?

  • I’m a big fan of 13th century poet and mystic Rumi, and I’m constantly blown away by his quotes and how much they ring true to our lives.

2. What’s one (3, 5) thing(s) that you learned while writing your book?

  • The beauty and power of words and how much of an impact internalizing certain words and their meanings can have on one’s view of life and circumstances, and actions. I’m not making a profound statement but I was really pulled in by certain words during the journey, and I actually discovered certain things about myself as well.

3. After this book, are you writing anything new? Where are you in the process?

  • I’m writing now my third book, Hao and Sabine Buy the World’s Currencies. I’m more than half-way through writing it, and I hope to release it later in 2020.

4. Describe your writing routine. Do you outline? Edit as you go?

  • During the weekday, I research and write at night. I spend time with my kids, then go down for a nap between 7:30 and 8pm. I wake up between 9:30 and 10 pm and then I proceed to work until about 1:30 am. On the weekend, I would work until 3 / 4 am.
  • I outline, yes, and for my works with illustrations, I initially sketch in black pen before I draw with ebony graphite lead pencil. I edit as I go along, usually midway each chapter.

5. What do you do when you’re not writing?

  • I read a lot of articles on science especially on space, the environment, world cultures, and for fun a lot of Nordic noir books. For vacations, my family and I enjoy traveling to countries, visiting as much archeological cultural sites and museums as we can, and eating only local cuisine to complete the experience.

6. How do you combat/cure writer’s block?

  • I first take it as a sign from my body that it needs a mental and physical break. After a few days of not writing, I then start either researching and illustrating something related to my book as both bring out my creativity.

7. What advice would you give an aspiring writer who doesn’t know where to start?

  • Meditate (which I’m not good at), and listen to chakra / mantra music.

8. What was the most challenging thing about writing your book?

  • Trying to find as many inspirational words that were in A all the way to Z, then trying not to duplicate (too many) words with similar meanings in the same month.

9. Are you part of any writer’s groups or guilds? Which one(s)?

  • Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators

10. Do you have a social media presence? Where can people find you online?

  • I have a website: www.sbhilarion.com; and I’m on Facebook @sbhilarion, but unfortunately I’m not a big social media user.

11. Talk about your main character. What are they like and what inspired their personality?

  • Brother-sister young siblings Hao Finley Lee and Sabine Yi Lee. They are avid knowledge seekers with a keen interest in math, science, languages and food. They’re multi-racial characters. My two children are the inspirations.

12. How does your main character change throughout the story?

  • My books are narrative nonfiction. Therefore, it’s not so much that my main characters change, but that as they learn new things, you see how such impact them (or not).

13. If you weren’t an author, where do you think you’d be? What would you be doing?

  • I actually am an attorney (day, night and weekend—sad face).

14. What is the most satisfying thing about being an author?

  • Honestly, all the knowledge that I’m learning and I am trying to share with children globally.

15. How do you think your book (F)/story (NF) can help people? What do you hope people will take away/learn from your book?

  • To encourage kids to believe in themselves, to trust their instincts, to be empathetic, not to be entitled or to place high value on narcissistic qualities.

16. What made you choose the time/place in which your book was set?

  • I AM Manifesto actually is the second book that I wrote. However, it’s the first that I published in 2018 solely because that was the year of the ten-year anniversary of the passing of my first son.

17. What is/are reviewers/family/friends/other authors saying about your book?

  • I AM Manifesto has received great editorial reviews, ranging from 4 – 5 stars. Two in particular that I really liked were from the Seattle Book Review and Readers’ Favorite, respectively: “I enjoyed this book, and it is one that I believe will help parents build connections with their kids and encourage positive thinking alike.” & “Let me begin by being very frank: I AM Manifesto by SB Hilarion is the most unusual and unique book for children that I have ever reviewed…. I AM Manifesto is a means of getting into the practice of giving yourself encouragement and positive reinforcement daily…a worthwhile habit not just for children but for adults as well.”

18. What type of person do you think would most enjoy your book?

  • In no particular order:
    • Parents who want to instill certain values in their children;
    • Parents who just want their kids to know SAT-type vocabulary words (LOL!);
    • Kids and adults who are bullied, physically and emotionally abused, or have low self-esteem; and
    • Kids who are philomaths – love learning and are seeking knowledge.

19. How do you organize your book collection, if at all?

  • I don’t actually.

20. If you could invite your favorite fictional hero/heroine over to your house for dinner, who would it be and what would you talk about?

  • Hermione from Harry Potter: everything about the wizard world!
  • Together, Jo Nesbo’s Harry Hole and Stieg Larsson’s Lisbeth Salander: everything going on in today’s world and our individual purpose and journey!

21. What’s the best book, other than yours, that no one has ever heard of?

  • I honestly don’t know which to choose.

22. What’s a book you own that people would be most surprised to see on your shelf?

  • I’m an open book. My book collection reflects my personal beliefs and interests, which those who know me would already know.

23. Which author, living or dead, would you most like to meet? What would you hope to learn from them?

  • JK Rowling, William Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Jo Nesbø; 18th and 19th century mystical writers, and of course Rumi.
  • How to write nonfiction in an engaging and page-turning manner that it reads like a novel.

Karen Wasylowski Questions for Cordelia Lee

1. Which books/authors inspired your work?

Over the years since I was a teenager, I have been reading real life people’s stories, whether in books or Readers’ Digest. It was with a motivation to inspire myself, and motivate me to overcome my challenges. Off-hand, I could not remember their titles. However, I always remember their impact on me until today – to be resilient, to be patient, to believe all will eventually end up well despite the many obstacles of life. I am grateful for these human stories who shaped me to be who I am today.

2. What’s one (3, 5) thing(s) that you learned while writing your book?

Rewriting, rewriting and rewriting! No matter how many drafts I have written, I will find there are always ways to improvement after constant rewriting. Especially to be patient in reflecting what I am trying to say in my writing to others. We cannot be writing for ourselves. The book is meant for readers, which I realize not all may be agreeable to the style. To be accepting of criticism with the aim of self-improvement.

3. After this book, are you writing anything new? Where are you in the process?

I am preoccupied taking care of my young toddler son. When I have free time, I am involved in activities that brings comfort, love and companionship. I am not writing any book now. It is more of song lyrics, blogging and poetry.

4. Describe your writing routine. Do you outline? Edit as you go?

Write as I go. Feel as I go. Edit as I go.

5. What do you do when you’re not writing?

Take of my young toddler son. I write poetry, I sing, I make dolls for others (for sickly children in the hospital, fundraising events and more), I meditate, I practice Qigong. I pray. Spend quality time with my family.

6. How do you combat/cure writer’s block?

Take a step back, do other activities. Before I know it, I am more relaxed enough to return to writing once more. Meditation is a good way to get myself unstuck. In fact, it has liberated my creativity to greater bounds and leaps. I have become more creative in different styles of writing and expression.

7. What advice would you give an aspiring writer who doesn’t know where to start?

Join writing workshops. Meet other writing peers. Join writing support group.

8. What was the most challenging thing about writing your book?

Myself. When I have self doubts in my writing. When I fear judgment from others based upon my life experiences. Eventually I come to an acceptance that not everyone would like my expression. Not everyone would accept my life experiences. Not everyone would like me. That freed me to write further.

9. Are you part of any writer’s groups or guilds? Which one(s)?

Yes, I am a part of a few writers’ groups. They are Malaysian Writers Society, Writers helping writers and Memoir writing group. These are in Facebook.

10. Do you have a social media presence? Where can people find you online?

a) Facebook under Cordelia Lee.
b) Instagram under cordy.lee
c) A blog attached to homemaker.net ( a platform for women empowerment)

UNEXPECTED LIVING


d) Youtube channel by Cordelia & Ket (cordyket)

11. Talk about your main character. What are they like and what inspired their personality?

My book is a memoir. I am the protagonist.

12. How does your main character change throughout the story?

It is an awakening of self throughout the journey of exploration in mind, heart, body, spirit and soul.

13. If you weren’t an author, where do you think you’d be? What would you be doing?

To be an author is a childhood dream of mine. It will happen eventually. I did not expect my first book would be a memoir.

If events did not happen as they did, which I revealed in the book, I’d probably be a writer of a different genre. Perhaps in the movie industry and still very much into poetry. As it is, I’m a meditation teacher and energy healer, who managed to take time out to author my memoir.

14. What is the most satisfying thing about being an author?

When I receive feedback that it changed their lives for the better. Inspired them to do more with their lives.

15. How do you think your book (F)/story (NF) can help people? What do you hope people will take away/learn from your book?

I hope by my book people shall know there will always be second chances in life especially so long they do not quit on themselves.

16. What made you choose the time/place in which your book was set?

I base upon my life events and moments which I wish to capture in my book.

17. What is/are reviewers/family/friends/other authors saying about your book?

Most of them like my book. There are those who told me they find my book inspiring and motivational. Some told me they could relate with my life experiences. Some felt I have given them hope, faith and more. There are a few who expressed dislike to my writing style. There are those who find my story too incredible to believe yet they try to be open-minded with my book.

18. What type of person do you think would most enjoy your book?

A reader into supernatural, onto a spiritual journey, who seeks inspiration and motivation to change their lives. A person who is seeking for hope in their lives.

19. How do you organize your book collection, if at all?

Organise by theme and topic.

20. If you could invite your favorite fictional hero/heroine over to your house for dinner, who would it be and what would you talk about?

It would be Indiana Jones. I would ask about his next archaeological adventure and whether I can one day join him.

21. What’s the best book, other than yours, that no one has ever heard of?

I remember there was a book titled Honey. I could not remember the author’s name. It is about a teenage girl named Honey. She had an alcoholic mother and her dad left the family when Honey was a young child. As a result, she had to take care of her mother who is stuck in her own past and unhappiness. Honey made friends who gave her the love which she could not get from her family. She was seeking love from various sources. However, Honey always have this guilt of wanting to stay away from her mother and seek motherly love elsewhere. Eventually a university student who worked as a maid with a wealthy family made Honey feel less guilty in seeking other love besides from her own mother. That the accumulated love and care she received from each individual including from the maid made up one good pie of Love.

22. What’s a book you own that people would be most surprised to see on your shelf?

My first books by Enid Blyton. The enchanted forest. The wishing chair. They are over 30 years old. These are the books which inspired me to be an author.

23. Which author, living or dead, would you most like to meet? What would you hope to learn from them?

Enid Blyton would be one author I would like to meet. To find out how she gets his inspiration and ideas of her stories.

Karen Wasylowski – Journey to Healing Interview Questions

  1. Which inspired you to write this book?
    After spending the past 30 years treating patients and teaching doctors Applied Kinesiology I realized that it was time for the general public to know that there was a healing specialty that might be the answer to their health problems. Additionally, I became increasing frustrated that people did not a) know that there was an alternative therapy to drugs and surgery and b) to clear up misconceptions about Applied Kinesiology (AK)—mostly from Wikipedia who refused to listen to me when I told them that the person who wrote about AK was biased against it and had no right to be considered an authority. So, I decided it was time to write a book to educate people so they can decide for themselves if the muscle testing and natural therapies used in AK could help them in their personal, “Journey To Healing.”
  2. What’s one (3, 5) thing(s) that you learned while writing your book?
    I learned that writing and doctoring are two different skill. It took me longer to effectively write about the treatment than to perform them on the patient. I worked with a content editor for 4 years and feel like I have earned a college degree in writing.
  3. After this book, are you writing anything new?
    Yes. Journey To Healing is about opening your eyes to a form of healing that is available, makes total sense and gives you hope. I will be working on The Power To Heal which gives you things that you can do.Where are you in the process? Just beginning to create the big bang out of chaos. It is probably another 4 years from completion. In the meantime, it is imperative that you work with a healthcare practitioner first—as pointed out in JTH—before you start “playing doctor” yourself.
  4. Describe your writing routine.
    Get up in the morning, go outside and take a few moments to collect my thoughts. Then I get to work before my wife wakes up.
  5. Do you outline?
    Yes. I like to draw the lines and then color them in later Edit as you go? No. It slows the creative process for me.
  6. What do you do when you’re not writing?
    I am still teaching Applied Kinesiology. I have online and DVD courses for anyone who wants to learn. I recently started a consultation service for doctors who can email me questions.
  7. How do you combat/cure writer’s block?
    I write in short intense bursts. I work better in consistent sprints than a long drawn out marathon. I find playing uplifting music like classical music especially Mozart, Wagner and Verdi; as well as the Beatles and Jimmy Durante songs help clear the cobwebs from my head.
  8. What advice would you give an aspiring writer who doesn’t know where to start?
    Start! Don’t wait. It’s like an exercise program. There is NEVER a perfect time. So, make this the perfect time and do a little and do it consistently.
  9. What was the most challenging thing about writing your book?
    Trying to take a topic—Applied Kinesiology and muscle testing—that most doctors do not understand, and make it an entertaining and educational journey for the general public. I see why it has never been done before.
  10. Are you part of any writer’s groups or guilds? Which one(s)?
    NO
  11. Do you have a social media presence?
    Yes, but not much. I am a relatively quiet person, even with social media. I like to communicate by putting my heart into a well constructed book, which I hope comes through when you read Journey To Healing. Where can people find you online? The best way would be to go to charlesseminars.com and sign up for the newsletter, blog and You tube videos. If someone mentions your blog and shows a receipt that they purchased a copy of Journey To Healing they will get a FREE copy of a very helpful book I wrote— Antidotes For Indiscretions emailed to them in PDF.
  12. How has writing this book affected your career?
    I have basically retired from seeing new patients and have gotten into the world of a writer—like I am doing here with you Karen right now. I talk more about writing than treating and after 35 years I find it incredibly exciting and refreshing.
  13. What is the most satisfying thing about being an author?
    Developing a book, a chapter, a paragraph and a sentence to where you look at it and breathe a sigh of satisfaction that you gave life to something that you hope will benefit someone. It feels very satisfying that you pulled something deeply personal out from inside of you and are now sharing it with the world. It is satisfying and scary.
  14. How do you think your book can help people?
    I believe people will learn about their bodies, their physiology and become empowered to ask questions and take control of their health. What do you hope people will take away/learn from your book? That ignorance is not bliss; ignorance can hurt you a whole lot—take the current opioid epidemic, for example. You must be in the driver’s seat regarding your health otherwise, you can be taken for a ride. You will take away how amazing your body truly is; how it wants to be healthy and when you work with a doctor trained in AK you will be amazed how good and strong you feel!
  15. If your audience more aimed at professionals or the layperson?
    Layperson. However, there is enough research in the back and explanation within the text that a professional can read this and say, “Wow, this makes sense. I have to learn this for my patients.”
  16. Have you been getting good reviews?Yes. Reviewers have really grasped the essence of the book. As one said, “Now that I know about it, I would personally be happy to see an AK practitioner in the future if I have any serious conditions.”
  17. What places have you used to promote your book?
    Right now predominately through the Applied Kinesiologists and their patients throughout the world. Over the past 30 years that I have been treating patients and teaching AK, doctors (including myself) wished that there was a book that explained what we do so that people could get excited about understanding their muscles and bodies better. I am pleased that now there is!

Thank you Karen. I appreciate you having me here.

Karen Wasylowski Questions

Which books/authors inspired your work?
The books in the Vale Investigation series draw a lot from various mythologies. Hostile Takeover features monsters from the Old Norse and Ancient Egypt. Book two draws from the Old Arabian Mythology, while book three features creatures from the Japanese lore.

So I had to get books on each mythology beforehand. It felt like going back to school and having homework to do. But it was a lot of fun too; I love learning about new cultures.

What’s one thing that you learned while writing your book?
One of the first big surprises was discovering just how many different mythologies there are. We’ve all heard about Greek or Egyptian, but there are hundreds of them… and they all have a plethora of monsters and creatures to draw inspiration from. Africa alone has several dozens.

To help spread that knowledge, I decided to try and focus on a new mythology for each book.

After this book, are you writing anything new? Where are you in the process?
Hostile Takeover is the first book in the Vale Investigation series. The second book Evil Embers was published earlier this year. I’m currently editing the third and working on the outline of the fourth.

Describe your writing routine. Do you outline? Edit as you go?
I outline everything ahead in details; it’s an important part of my writing process. For me, it simplifies the writing process. I start editing after the first draft is complete.

What do you do when you’re not writing?
I have a day job that keeps me busy a lot. In my spare time, I enjoy watching TV or listening to music while going on a walk.

How do you combat/cure writer’s block?
Outlining really helps fight that. If you carefully plan out your novel before you start writing, then you don’t really get stuck anymore.

What advice would you give an aspiring writer who doesn’t know where to start?
Step one is defining your characters. Figure out who they are, and where you want to take them. For me, a story is a character’s emotional journey. If your character is identical on page 1 and on page 300 than you’ve failed somewhere. Once you have your characters figures out, you can start plotting. Create a detailed outline (which includes the ending) so you know where you’re going and you can start to check the consistency of pacing and look for plot-holes. And then you can start writing.

Do you have a social media presence? Where can people find you online?
There’s the official website: www.cristelle-comby.com and I’m also on Twitter (@Cristelle). All of my books are available on Amazon; additional reviews can be found on Goodreads.

Talk about your main character. What are they like and what inspired their personality?
The hero of the story is PI Bellamy Vale. He struck a bargain with Death herself a few years ago and agreed to become her envoy on Earth in exchange of a favor. He’s a tortured man, seeking redemption for past mistakes. He tries to do the right thing and help people, but Death doesn’t really have the same moral values.

How does your main character change throughout the story?
Being Lady McDeath’s foot soldier does have its perks: near immortality and a few boons which Vale has to learn how to use. At the start of the story, he doesn’t know yet what he’s capable of. He’s also making friends and allies along the way.

What made you choose the time/place in which your book was set?
It’s set in the present times, but in a fictitious American town. The first series of books I worked on, The Neve & Egan Cases, was set in London and I spend an incredible amount of times looking up street names and Underground stations, to make sure that I was accurate. So I decided to make things easier on myself this time… everything’s made up.

What type of person do you think would most enjoy your book?
Well these novels are a good mesh of classic detective noir and urban fantasy. So any fans of Jim Butcher, for example should enjoy the hell out of it.

How do you organize your book collection, if at all?
It’s not organized at all. I have a small shelf and a lot of books, so trying to make everything fit is a bit like a game of Tetris.

If you could invite your favorite fictional hero/heroine over to your house for dinner, who would it be and what would you talk about?
I’d like to invite Dr Who… so long as we can squeeze in a few trips between the main course and the dessert.

What’s the best book, other than yours, that no one has ever heard of?
Something under the radar… hum, I guess one would be Einstein’s Dreams by Alan Lightman. It’s a short novel that is partly a biography of Einstein’s life and partly a poetic study of the structure of time—I really love it. Another one would be The Portrait by Iain Pears—a 200+ pages monologue. From a writer’s point-of-view, what he did is quite the tour-de-force. For casual readers, it may be a little hard to get into it, but once you’ve adjusted to the unusual style you’ll find a really gripping story (try the audiobook, if it’s too hard to get into it).

Interview with Rebecca Rosenberg, Author of The Secret Life of Mrs. London

Rebecca Rosenberg is the author of The Secret Life of Mrs. London: A Novel by Rebecca Rosenberg

San Francisco, 1915. As America teeters on the brink of world war, Charmian and her husband, famed novelist Jack London, wrestle with genius and desire, politics and marital competitiveness. Charmian longs to be viewed as an equal partner who put her own career on hold to support her husband, but Jack doesn’t see it that way…until Charmian is pulled from the audience during a magic show by escape artist Harry Houdini, a man enmeshed in his own complicated marriage. Suddenly, charmed by the attention Houdini pays her and entranced by his sexual magnetism, Charmian’s eyes open to a world of possibilities that could be her escape.

As Charmian grapples with her urge to explore the forbidden, Jack’s increasingly reckless behavior threatens her dedication. Now torn between two of history’s most mysterious and charismatic figures, she must find the courage to forge her own path, even as she fears the loss of everything she holds dear.

The Secret Life of Mrs London looked like a fabulous book and a person that I don’t think anyone has written about before. And I’m a big fan of historical books, so seemed like a great opportunity to ask Rebecca some questions about her book and her writing styles.

  1. Have you ever gotten “reader’s block” and how did you get through that?

    If I do not know what comes next in a story, I take an hour to free write from the protagonist’s point of view, to get things flowing. I reread the last scene and think about the goal of the character. What does she want next? Then I think of the best or most unusual way she can get it, to make it interesting to write and read!

  1. How did you balance writing your story your way and giving readers what they want?

    Interesting question. I think they are one in the same! I write novels about real women who lived fascinating lives. Telling their stories well should result in a great read, if I have selected the right women to write about and give it all I’ve got! For example, Charmian London was Jack London’s wife, a, spirited, intellectual, fee-loving, adventurous woman that helped Jack London write his 50 books in 15 years. And Bess Houdini, a tiny showgirl, under 5 feet, but a giant spirit that kept Houdini safe from his own death-defying urges. Compelling women equal compelling stories, I think.

  1. What was an experience you had when you discovered the power of words/language?

    I love how you can change the meaning of a sentence with a word. For example: She walked across the room. She skipped across the room. She strutted across the room. She dragged across the room. She swayed across the room. The right word paints a powerful picture.

  2.  What’s your favorite under the radar novel?

    I love The Underground River by Martha Conway. It is an intriguing story of freeing slaves on the riverboats in the Midwest, only this particular boat is a showboat which adds to the fun and intrigue.

  3. How much did real world people influence your characters and do you feel a debt to them?

    Since I write about real women, I definitely feel a responsibility to tell their story truthfully, but also, with as much enthusiasm and insight as I can infuse into their story.

  4. How many unpublished or unfinished books do you have? After successfully finishing this book, do you feel any of those could be revisited?

    I am currently working on GOLD DIGGER, the story of Baby Doe Tabor, a 20 year old girl who goes west with her husband for a gold mine, becomes pregnant and abandoned, yet becomes the richest, most famous, most scandalized woman in America. True story! Hopefully it’s the last rewrite before it goes to my agent and publisher! GOLD DIGGER was the first novel I wrote ten years ago, and I never felt it was finished. Whereas, THE SECRET LIFE OF MRS. LONDON was finished in two years.

    I already have a first draft and outlines of my upcoming series, CHAMPAGNE WIDOWS, about the 5 widows between 1800 and 1973 that made champagne a world-wide phenomenon. It takes a lot of discipline to finish the book, before moving on to the next!

  5. What did you edit out of this book?

    The scenes that get cut are scenes that may be fascinating, but do not move the story forward. When I write the first draft, I don’t know which scenes those are. It becomes apparent in later drafts.

  6. Do you read, or plan on reading, reviews of this book? If so, how do you deal with the good and the bad ones? THE SECRET LIFE OF MRS. LONDON has 4 ½ stars on Amazon and Goodreads, and yes, I’ve read them all! Here is an example of a one star review:
    “Liked everything but the last two books were horrible. ”
    Does that make sense to anyone? Obviously a one star reviewer did not like the book, but many are mean spirited, and I wonder why they bothered to leave them. Of course, I love reading the 3-5 star reviews, because they enjoyed what I was giving them, and I love learning what they liked and didn’t.

  7. 10. Do you like audiobooks, e-books, or physical books better? Why?

    I do love physical books, such a pleasure to read words on paper. But, I admit I have 200-300 books on my kindle, and I love that rich feeling of books waiting for me to read!

  8. What is the most unusual or surprising element of your writing routine?

    I start writing at 4am, with a candle lit and coffee. It is quiet, and my characters can find themselves.

  9. Do you share books before they’re done or wait until you have a completed draft?

    I meet via ZOOM with my writing group of Stanford novel writing grads who live all over the world. We share scenes for critique. Other than that, I wait until the novel is complete before sharing. If any of you would like to be part of REBECCA’S REVIEW CREW, please email me at [email protected], and you can review the ARC (advanced reader copy) of GOLD DIGGER!

  10. Do you start out with a concrete plot or let an idea or ideas lead you?

    I believe in story structure, which allows you to develop a rough outline and does not stifle creativity.

  11. Do you read any of your own work after publication?

    No, too busy reading other author’s books, which feed your vocabulary and tool chest of characters, scenes, plot and theme.

  12. Do you have a day job other than writing?

    I am a lavender farmer in Sonoma Valley, across from Jack London’s Beauty Ranch, which is what inspired me to write a book about Jack and Charmian London, and their fascinating relationship with the Houdinis!

  13. How important is privacy to you as an author? Do you mind fans or plan on adopting a pseudonym?

    I invite direct contact with readers! I hope you will follow my facebook groups and check out my website, and most of all, join REBECCA’S REVIEW CREW, [email protected]

FOLLOW: https://www.facebook.com/rebeccarosenbergnovels/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/AmericanHistoricalFictionBookClub/

WEBSITE: http://www.rebecca-rosenberg.com

Email: [email protected]

 

Buy the Book – Amazon Link – https://amzn.to/2QkMRAi