Blogs by L.T. Suzuki
Carlie Cullen Interview
8/24/2013 8:39:04 PM
Fantasy/paranormal romance author, Carlie Cullen, discusses her Heart Search series and the writing life!
LTS: There is nothing better when an author you trust introduces you to other great, talented writers. In this case, Connie Jasperson (fantasy author and Best in Fantasy Blogger) is responsible for another wonderful introduction! For today’s author feature, I’d like to introduce you to fantasy/paranormal romance writer, Carlie M.A. Cullen! I’d like to begin by having you share a little information about yourself with our readers, Carlie. What do you enjoy doing when you are not writing?
CC: I’ve been a voracious consumer of the printed word ever since I learned to read, so can often be found with my nose in a good book (no surprise there, I’m sure). I’m very interested in spirituality and am lucky enough to have been blessed with a gift. I sit in a spiritual development circle and am learning to hone my connections to the spirit realm. I read Tarot cards too. I used to be a professional teacher of Ballroom and Latin American dancing, but unfortunately I am no longer able to do this due to a spinal condition.
LTS: I know you’ve been writing stories from a very young age, but when did you decide to realize your dreams of becoming a published author?
CC: I think it was when the idea for Heart Search: Lost popped into my head. I knew, pretty much from the onset, that I would be writing a novel and my dream of being published could actually become a reality. Previously all the stories I’d written were too short. Once I began writing Heart Search: Lost, I realized there was too much of a story for it to be contained in just one book so I made the decision to write it as a trilogy.
LTS: Your debut novel, Heart Search: Lost has been receiving great reviews. What was the inspiration behind this story and can you tell us a little bit about your protagonists, Joshua Grant and his fiancé Remy?
CC: It was strange how the story evolved. The idea I had originally was to base the book just on Remy, to tell her story about the disappearance of her fiancé and her journey to find him. However, once I began writing, my characters took over and demanded I tell both their stories – their way. That’s when I decided to have their journeys shown as parallel threads.
Remy – she’s smart, pretty and tougher than she realizes. After Joshua’s disappearance, and her subsequent meltdown, she takes advice from her twin sister and sets off to find him. For her, it’s a journey of discovery as she finds an inner strength and tenacity she didn’t know she possessed. Even when strange things begin to happen and she doubts her sanity, she single-mindedly focuses on her ultimate goal and keeps going.
She’s very close to her family, especially her twin, and her best friend. Remy is loyal, loving and has a great sense of humour.
Joshua – he’s good-looking, intelligent and loves Remy so much that when he begins to physically hurt her, he makes the decision to leave for her protection (even though he doesn’t know what’s happening to him and why he’s suddenly become violent). When he transforms into a vampire, he feeds on humans without compunction or remorse and becomes quite selfish in a lot of ways. However, he still carries a huge torch for Remy and this, at times, plagues him. Even when he starts a new relationship with another immortal, he feels as if he’s betraying Remy and his inner conflict is interesting.
As he develops some awesome talents, he finds a kind of freedom he didn’t think he’d ever have again.
LTS: Without giving away too much, can you reveal what’s in store for the readers when they crack open Heart Search: Lost?
CC: The story continues from the cliffhanger where book one finishes and jumps straight into the action. A pair of green eyes watches Remy through her window. Another mysterious disappearance leaves her heartbroken once again; this sparks a frightening chain of events as a person in authority goes rogue. Predictions from a Tarot reading become actual events. More strange occurrences plague her life and she doesn’t know where to turn for help.
Joshua becomes further embroiled in coven politics. When an elder’s manipulations spiral out of control, Joshua’s new existence is threatened. In addition, a bigger threat looms which targets his coven as a whole and he’s the only one who can gain the intelligence needed to protect them all. And a new coven member opens a can of worms for Joshua.
There are twists and turns, new voices, faster-paced action and an ending which sets up the final book and leaves the reader wondering.
LTS: The road to publication is difficult at the best of times. What made you decide to become an indie author and go the self-published route?
CC: Originally I wanted an agent and publishing contract. Whilst at the British FantasyCon in 2011, my daughter met an agent and during the course of the conversation she told him about Heart Search: Lost. He gave her his card and said he wanted first refusal on the manuscript. After completing all the edits and making it the best I could, I sent him the first three chapters, a synopsis and covering letter reminding him of his request. I waited and waited, and after twelve weeks sent a polite email reminder. I heard nothing. Sixteen weeks after first submitting and another polite reminder later, I received a rejection. I was pretty miffed to say the least – partly because he’d got my hopes up by asking for first refusal and partly because of the time it took for him to respond – and I realized it could take many more months or even years before I received a positive response. I didn’t want to wait. I’d become friendly with the wonderful Alison DeLuca and she gave me some great advice about self-publishing so I decided that was the route for me. Around the same time, Myrddin Publishing Group was formed by Alison, Connie J. Jasperson and a few other authors and I was invited to join. One of the members, Nicole Antonia Carro, designed the cover and Connie made my book trailer, and the rest – as they say – is history.
LTS: What is the best and worst part of being an indie author? Would you recommend this mode of publication to others?
CC: The best part is having total control over your own work and not having to split royalties with agents and publishers. I can place my ebooks on whatever sites I choose, I have the freedom of negotiating my own deals with independent book stores and I can use my creativity and personality to connect with people in my own way. I’ve also found the writing community to be so encouraging and helpful and I’ve made some wonderful friends who have been very generous with advice.
The worst part is trying to keep up with all the marketing, social media sites, getting your name and that of your books out to the public in a way that they will respond to, and generally having to find everything out the hard way. There’s no one to hold your hand or do any of the leg work for you.
Actually, despite the downsides of being self-published, I would recommend this mode of publication – as long as you’re not afraid to work hard.
LTS: What is the most important lesson you’ve learned on the road to publication?
CC: Without doubt, having a great editor and skilled beta-readers. I’m very lucky to have the wonderful Maria V A Johnson as my editor. Her insight on my novels is outstanding – she is a joy to work with. Being self-published means having to work extra hard to make our novels the very best they can be, and even though I’m an editor myself, I know I’m too close to my own work to be as objective as I would need to be. I’ve had the misfortune of reading too many books by self-published authors which haven’t been properly edited and, unfortunately, those authors are the ones who give the wrong impression about the quality of self-published works as a whole.
LTS: On the subject of writing styles, are you a plotter or pantser?
CC: I started off as a plotter. When I began writing Heart Search: Lost, I meticulously planned the first half of the book, but by the time I reached chapter 5, my characters had taken over and my outline was totally useless. So now I’m a pantser!
LTS: Some authors meditate, others need to fuel up on coffee or listen to music. Do you have any rituals, ones that can be shared with the readers, that you must do before you hunker down for a writing session?
CC: I only have two rituals really. First, I put a drink beside me before I start; in the winter it’s usually a cup of tea, in the summer a tall glass of cranberry juice. Next I sit in front of my laptop, close my eyes, and ask my Muse for her help and guidance. After a few minutes, I open my eyes and begin.
LTS: At one time or another, most writers hit the wall and their work stalls because of the dreaded writer’s block. What do you do to get around or over this mental wall to resume writing?
CC: I have three main techniques I use: one is listening to music, really focusing on the way the notes rise and fall, the harmonies and the lyrics, and I try to imagine the emotions the songwriter/singer feel. Another one is walking away and doing something completely different; housework, shopping, something of that ilk. Lastly, I find relaxation exercises help – as I work on relaxing each part of my body, I imagine the tension leaving as a puff of smoke or grey cloud which morphs into different shapes, allowing my imagination to run riot.
LTS: Who is your favourite author and how has he/she inspired you to write or influenced your writing style or choice of genre?
CC: There are so many authors I love and who have stimulated me, but if I had to pick just one, it would have to be Hans Christian Andersen. It was reading his fairy tales when I was a child that inspired me to write and influenced my choice of genre. I don’t feel my writing style compares to his though.
LTS: What do you foresee in your future over the next five years and do you hope to branch out from paranormal romance into other genres? I know the sequel, Heart Search: Found is available now, but can your fans expect the third novel to complete this trilogy in the near future?
CC: I’m going to answer this in reverse order. The third and final novel in the Heart Search trilogy, Betrayal has just been started and I plan to have the first draft completed by the end of this year. Over the next five years there are going to be a number of novels and some of these will be fantasy. I have plans for a single book, inspired by the lovely lady in the avatar I use on Twitter and Facebook, a seven book series (all eight of these will be in the fantasy genre), and I’ve got some ideas for another paranormal romance series, but I have no idea at present how many of these there will be yet.
LTS: Thank you so much for sharing in your novels and your writing experience, Carlie! Good luck with all this writing and I’ll catch you on Twitter!
Thank you for inviting me, Lorna.
For more information about Carlie and her novels, check out:
Follow Carlie on Twitter: .carlie2011c
Where to buy the book:
Heart Search: Lost – Amazon US http://amzn.to/OLwU59
Amazon UK http://amzn.to/PhC0Gu
Heart Search: Found – Amazon US http://amzn.to/11mZvnq
Amazon UK http://amzn.to/15XSYf2
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