E: Happy New Year, Christine! Hope the holidays were good to you. There’s some leftover turkey if you want it. I think it’s a bit…well, suspect, but Charlie insists it’s perfectly fine.
C: I’m sure Charlie knows his turkey. Thanks..wait, this tastes a little like cat. Where’s Smeagol?
No kittens were harmed in the posting of this interview. Charlie’s lucky.
E: Your debut novel is called The Plague Legacy: Acquisitions. What can you tell us about it?
C: Acquisitions opens in a world devastated by a bio-engineered plague. It’s been about half a century since the plague first hit, and after a second attack, the world is more intent on surviving than recovering. The main character, Cam, is being shipped to a new version of Rome to be sold as a slave. He has lost his family and tries to recreate some of those relationships with the friends that he makes. There’s some humor and some romance, but overall it’s about a kid learning how to grieve and figuring out what his value system is.
E: The title sounds like this will be part of a series. Are there more books coming and what can you tell us about it?
C: The second book of the series, Assets, will be released Fall 2014. The overall series arc involves repeating some of the history from the Roman Empire, the Black Plague, and the Crusades. The second book is set in Salvation, the new civilization set in Italy that is based on the arena, and there is more fighting and survival involved. My main character, Cam, is loyal to a fault, but he sort of loses himself in the adrenaline rush of being a gladiator.
E: The book is a dystopian novel. What is it about dystopia that gets the creative juices flowing?
C: I think that deep down inside, humans are watching themselves destroy our world and we all theorize what it will be like to survive once the world goes down. We’d like to think that we’d be one of those to make it in the end. I think that the fascination with dystopian is related to our fear of the future.
E: What was your publishing journey like? Were there things that surprised you about the process?
C: My publishing journey was long in one respect and short in another. I originally had a life goal to be published by the time I turned 25, but by that age I had two kids and a teaching career and it took me ten years to come back around to writing as my main goal. I started with short fiction pieces because I didn’t have the time to write novels, and I was surprised when I won first place in a short story contest out of over 700 entries with “Standard Issue.” I didn’t even know I had entered a contest when I registered with an author site.
After that, of course, I worked on rearranging my world so that I could write. My husband and I moved, and I instantly made connections with professionals and within months all of the pieces fell into place and I have a book with my name on it. I feel very fortunate to have a relationship with Fox Hollow Publications and expect to be with them for my career.
E: There is conventional wisdom that says a writer should read everything, even if she hates it. What genres of books make you wish you were getting a root canal instead?
C: Anything technical makes me feel like I’m eating cotton balls. I’m so glad I’m done going to college and dealing with textbooks. IKEA instructions fall in to this category.
E: Do you use any writing software, spreadsheet setups, etc. when you write or do you just dive right into Word?
C: So far I’ve gotten way with just working in Word. I do some loose outlining and backstory writing. I am getting to a point with my world building for Assets that software like Scrivener would be helpful, but I think I’ll get by with what I’ve got. I use 3×5 cards to write down quick reference character descriptions and I also draw what I can. I’m working on the House tattoos for the gladiator houses in Salvation with my limited drawing skills.
E: What one piece of advice would you give to a writer that’s just starting out?
C: Practice. It’s all just practice.