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Sunday, October 21, 2012

Interview with author; Carlie Cullen

By J.R. Wagner

With Carlie M A Cullen

Carlie Cullen

Okay folks, today, as part of Carlie's blog tour in celebration of her new book Heart Search (not to mention the fact that I find her a very interesting person) I have asked her a few questions.  Enjoy! 

Description of Heart Search shamelessly stolen from Amazon:

One bite starts it all . . .

When Joshua Grant vanishes days before his wedding his fiancée Remy is left with only bruises, scratch marks and a hastily written note. Heartbroken, she sets off alone to find him and begins a long journey where strange things begin to happen.

As Joshua descends into his new immortal life he indulges his thirst for blood and explores his superhuman strength and amazing new talents while becoming embroiled in coven politics which threaten to destroy him. But Remy discovers a strength of her own on her quest to bring Joshua home.

Fate toys with mortals and immortals alike, as two hearts torn apart by darkness face ordeals which test them to their limits.

CMAC: Hi Josh. Thanks for inviting me here today.

JRW: When did you first start writing?

CMAC: I started writing when I was around 8 or 9. Both my parents worked full-time and I grew up as an only child. There were times I had to make my own entertainment and although I was an avid reader even then, I just got the urge to write my own fairy tales one day and I haven’t really stopped since.

JRW:  Do you recall your first writing project?

CMAC: Actually I do, but only because I was asked that very question recently and had to dig through all the detritus in my mind to find it and dust off the cobwebs! It was a fairy tale. A princess had unknowingly upset a wicked witch who started putting evil spells on people in the castle. The princess managed to escape and sought the help of a good fairy. She offered her life in return for the fairy reversing the spells and stopping the wicked witch. The fairy agreed, reversed the spells and imprisoned the witch where she could do no more damage. But she didn’t take the life of the princess on the basis that as she was willing to sacrifice herself for other people, she deserved to live.

 JRW: When did you finish your first book?

CMAC: I finished the first draft in the wee small hours of 26th October 2011. It was an incredible feeling and all I wanted to do was whoop with joy, but as my daughter was asleep I had to button my lip. Boy was that hard! Since then it’s been through various stages of editing, one alpha-reader and two beta-readers.

JRW: Do you ever experience writer’s block?

CMAC: Very rarely, actually. Sometimes I struggle to find the actual words I want yet know what I want to say, if that makes any sense. When that happens I go and make myself a cuppa, ask my Muse for help, come back to it and the words flow as if by magic.

JRW: Do you work with an outline, or just write?

CMAC: When I first started writing Heart Search: Lost, I had an outline, chapter plan for the first 12 chapters and synopsis. By the time I got to chapter 5, the plan was as much use as a chocolate teapot – the story had taken on a life of its’ own. Now I have a rough idea in my mind where it’s heading, but my Muse and characters take over and tell the story their way.

JRW: Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
 CMAC: I think I’ve learned a little something from every book I’ve ever read. Whether that’s influenced my writing is hard to say. I guess in some ways they all have, but if I had to pick just one, I would have to say the tales by Hans Christian Andersen.

JRW: Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?

CMAC: I believe I drew from past experiences in some of the emotional scenes as I wanted to make them as realistic as possible and like the majority of women on the planet, I’ve suffered heartbreak in the past. Other than that, it was all from my imagination.

JRW: What was your favorite chapter to write in Heart Search?

CMAC: OMG! That is such a difficult question to answer, Josh.  To be honest I haven’t got a favourite – I enjoyed writing them all for different reasons.

JRW: Are there certain characters you would like to go back to, or is there a theme or idea you’d love to work with?

CMAC: Well I don’t want to give too much away here with regards to book two or three, but there’s a couple of characters in book one who will play much bigger parts going forward.
When I’ve finished writing the Heart Search series, I do have my next book in the planning stage and it centers around the lovely lady I use as my avatar. This book is going to be much more fantasy-oriented. I’m not sure yet whether it will be just one book or more – depends on what the lady herself has in mind for me. [Chuckles]

JRW: Tell me about your writing environment. Do you use a pen and paper, laptop? Quiet room, music or what? Dog at your feet? Cat on the desk?

CMAC: I always use a laptop to actually write, but if I’m away from it and get an idea, I write it on my notepad which rarely leaves my side. It depends what sort of scene I’m writing as to whether I have music on and also what mood I’m in; sometimes I just prefer the silence. I’m not allowed pets where I live so don’t have any. I prefer to write lounging on the sofa with my feet up but I can’t do that at the moment due to recent surgery on my spine. So for the short time I’m allowed to sit at the moment, I’m consigned to the dining room table and straight-backed hard chair.

JRW: Star Wars or Star Trek?

CMAC: Oh, definitely Star Wars. I did like the new Star Trek film with Chris Pine playing a young James T Kirk, but there’s just something about Star Wars which grabs me more. Maybe it was the cuddly Ewoks! [Laughs]

JRW: Are you working on any other creative projects at the moment?

CMAC: Apart from the guest posts for the Blog Tour, I’ve started writing book two of the Heart Search series (although it’s on the back-burner at the moment because of the launch of book one and the tour). I’m not the sort of writer who can have loads of stories on the go at once – I prefer to concentrate on one at a time and give it my full attention.

JRW: What do you think of what's happening with the publishing industry right now?  Any speculation as to where it is heading?

CMAC: I think the advent of digital books has made it much easier for authors to get their work out to readers, which I don’t see as a bad thing. There are a lot of really talented writers whose work would not otherwise be seen. I don’t see printed books going away for quite a while though. Because the digital revolution in publishing is still in its relative infancy, and there are generations of people who are more used to having a book they can touch and flick through pages, there will still be a demand for them. Personally, I much prefer to read from a paperback or hardback, but can also see the attraction of having the portability of an e-reader, especially when travelling.
I think eventually digital books will replace paper ones, but I don’t see it happening in my lifetime or that of my daughter’s. While there is still a demand for them, publishers will have to continue to make them available.

JRW: Do you have any funny stories involving a creative project you've worked on?

CMAC: I wouldn’t call if funny, exactly, more a sense of déjà vu I guess. When I was a kid, my parents nicknamed me Eagle Eyes because I was always able to find things they’d dropped or lost, even after they’d spent ages looking for them. Even something tiny lost in the fibres of the carpet couldn’t escape my beady eyes. I lost my parents some years ago now and had forgotten all about it, until recently. My ‘new’ nickname in my publishing group is Eagle Eye, as I can spot typos everyone else has missed!

JRW: Hmm, I may have use for your editorial talents in the near future, Eagle Eye.

JRW: Best show on TV?

CMAC: True Blood – no hesitation. My daughter and I are both completely hooked on it! My only gripe is that you guys on the other side of the pond get to see the whole series before it even arrives over here – not fair!!

JRW: If you could have dinner with one person dead or alive, who would it be?

CMAC: There are a few people who I’d like to have dinner with, but I think it would have to be my paternal grandfather. He died before my dad was ten-months old so obviously I never knew him, but my half-sister has been tracing our family tree and it turns out he was my family’s version of King Henry VIII. My grandfather had six wives – the only difference was he didn’t have any of them beheaded, he just upped and left them and moved onto the next one. He left wives and children in Ireland, America, Canada and England. It sounds like he led quite a colourful life and I’d love the opportunity to ask him about it.

JRW:Wow -he sounds like a very intriguing man. Does this mean we could be related?

JRW: What makes you laugh?

CMAC: All sorts of things. I’ve got quite a wacky sense of humour and my friends think I’m nuts! I love the humour of Robin Williams, English comedians Jasper Carrott and Freddie Starr have me in stitches. I love hearing amusing anecdotes, witty comebacks and classic one-liners. My closest friend, Jakki, cracks me up and when we get together, it’s non-stop banter and laughs all the way.

JRW: Have you ever cast a spell, drank blood or ate raw meat due to a subconscious predatory urge you weren't aware of? (or maybe you were)

CMAC: Yes, I cast a spell once, or I should say I tried to. It didn’t work – the toad remained a toad and didn’t turn into the handsome prince! [Chuckles]

JRW: Who's the best character on The Walking Dead?

CMAC: To be honest, I’ve never watched it so can’t answer that one. We do have it in the UK, but I’ve never got around to watching it. Sorry.

You seriously need to watch this show!  Shelf that True Blood nonsense for a while and get on board! In fact, if you take me up on my offer, I'll send you season one on DVD (or Blu-Ray) just so I can hook another person.

JRW: If you could have one preternatural power, what would it be?

CMAC: Hmmm, now there’s a veritable smorgasbord to pick from. I already have one, but if I had to pick another one I think I would choose telepathy. Now you’re intrigued, aren’t you?!

JRW: Yes! I need to hear more about this! If we ever meet should I wear lead underwear so you can't use your X-Ray vision on me?

JRW: Have you ever been paintballing?

CMAC: Nearly. I was supposed to go, but my car broke down on the way and I never made it in time. I never got another opportunity to go.

JRW: You're in a desert walking along in the sand when all of the sudden you look down and see a tortoise. You reach down, you flip the tortoise over on its back. The tortoise lays on its back, its belly baking in the hot sun beating its legs trying to turn itself over but it can't, not without your help, but you're not helping.
Help me!

A. Why is that?

CMAC: I wouldn’t do anything that nasty to a tortoise in the first place so moot question! But if you want me to play along and assuming I’m not a nice, kind-hearted animal lover, I would say that the tortoise was mutated by pollution in the ocean and it had turned into a predator; one scratch or bite would be fatal.

 B. What movie was that question from?

CMAC: Ooo, now you’ve got me. It’s familiar, but I just can’t put my finger on it and I don’t want to cheat and look it up. You’re going to have to put me out of my misery, Josh. Which film was it then?

Yes, Blade Runner!

JRW: And finally, the question that all author interviews end with... What are your thoughts on the  2011 Nobel prize winner's findings on dark energy? Just kidding! (unless you'd like to answer that)

CMAC: I don’t usually back away from a challenge (even if you were kidding – I’m calling your bluff)! In all honesty, it wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest to find out proof of dark energy or dark matter existed. You ask any reputable clairvoyant about dark energy and they can give you plenty of fodder to chew over. Besides that, everything has to have an opposite so anything light must have a dark equivalent.

JRW: Reputable clairvoyant. Isn't that an oxymoron? Kidding! 

JRW: Okay last question... really: Have you managed to make peace with all the social media marketing required to get your name out there as an author or do you feel overwhelmed by it? How do you find a balance between 'working' that market and being creative (writing). I find it easy to get sucked into everything and completely distracted from writing.  How do you cope?

CMAC: Hey buster – you can’t count. That’s two questions there! [Laughs]

JRW: I don't think I've ever been called buster before [chortling -what? I just like that word!] 

CMAC: The first question is a bit hard to answer at the moment. I’m so wrapped up in the Blog Tour that I’ve put my next book on the back-burner. I’m obviously publicizing all the posts which are appearing plus the giveaway, but I’m not finding it overwhelming at the moment. I’m using a system to programme in social media announcements and once completed, I can go off and do other things. This is very convenient for me, especially at the moment, because of my aforementioned surgery. It does mean I struggle to keep tabs on posts in Twitter, but I have a fabulous group of people around me who know my situation and are doing their best to keep the momentum going.
It’s very easy to get sucked in to social media platforms – you’re dead right on that score. I’m a big exponent of ‘authors helping authors’ and do try to help others as I go along. I think the important thing for me is not to over-reach, to concentrate on two platforms rather than try to spread myself too thin. I devised a ‘marketing plan’ for the lead up and launch of Heart Search: Lost and am pleased with the way it’s panning out so far. Once the blog tour is over at the end of the month and I begin writing again, I intend to try and limit myself to certain times of the day for marketing and social media so that I have time to keep the writing going. We’ll just have to wait and see how strict I can be with myself! [Laughs]

CMAC: Thanks so much for having me here today, Josh. It’s been great fun chatting to you and I hope your followers feel they’ve got to know me a little better.

JRW: Thank you, Carlie! Hopefully my readers won't turn you off simply because you don't watch The Walking Dead (kidding!) -my offer remains on the table, by the way.

Check out Carlie M A Cullen's website HERE, where you can learn more about her book, her blog tour and her love of True Blood.

Purchase a copy of Heart Search right HERE

Read it!

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