Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Charline Ratcliff is a newly published author who contacted me to find out if I would review her debut novel The Curse of Nefertiti. I found the novel's blurb to be fascinating that I sent her an email back asking if she would like to also have an author interview and author guest blog scheduled along with the book review. So today I will be posting the very informative interview between me and Charline that I really had fun writing up the questions and reading her answers. Leave comments or questions to this post because Charline will be stopping by on and off today answering them. Also if you miss today come back on Thursday when Charline will be guest blogging about her debut novel The Curse of Nefertiti further. And keep a look out for my review on her novel as well but for now here is my interview:
* * * * * *
Phoebe Jordan: When did you know that writing romance was going to be the thing that you would do with your life? Which author inspired you to start writing romance? Charline RatcliffCharline Ratcliff: I didn’t realize until I was almost completely finished with The Curse of Nefertiti that I had a calling as an author. I’m not sure that any specific author inspired me to write romance—I think I mainly noticed how a great romance plays a big part in how good a story is. Phoebe: Did you know what type of romance you wanted to write about or did you experiment with different genres before you chose the one that you felt was for you? Charline: I didn’t have a specific type of romance in mind when I started writing this book. In the writing of the book I never really had a set path for it to take—I just wrote and let the story shape the book. Phoebe: What was the first fiction you ever wrote? And do you still have it with you? Charline: According to my father I wrote a short science fiction story when I was nine—however, I don’t have it and I don’t think my parents do anymore either. Phoebe: How much research do you have to do for your novels and does it take you a long time to gather that research? Charline: I do quite a bit of research while I am writing a book. Luckily for me I have always had an innate knowledge about Egypt and that definitely helped with the writing of this book. More often then not when I went to research something I had written I was quite surprised to find it was factual. It can take a lot of time to gather the information. I generally do the research as I am writing because I don’t figure out exactly where the story is going before I write it. I start with the beginning (dreams) and I have an end in mind but other than that I let the story shape itself as I write it. Phoebe: How did you come up with the concept for your debut novel The Curse of Nefertiti? Charline: I had a very vivid dream in November 2006. In fact, the Prologue for The Curse of Nefertiti is the actual dream. Phoebe: How do you come up with each of your characters for your novels? How do you choose their names out of so many names out there? Charline: Hmmm…I don’t remember how I came up with the name Kayla but I wanted a female name that I had never heard used before. Some of the supporting characters had traits which reminded me of people I know in my own life so I would come up with a name starting with the same letter as the name of the person they reminded me of. For the man—I wanted someone foreign, so I chose Italian for the nationality and Paolo. Paolo is actually based off a man I met while out with a friend. Phoebe: Do you have a favorite character that you really enjoyed writing about in your debut novel The Curse of Nefertiti. Did you have a character that you felt you could really relate to in your debut novel The Curse of Nefertiti? Charline: The favorite character I enjoyed writing about most was Nefertiti herself. As far as relating to any of the characters I would have to say I relate quite a lot to Kayla. Phoebe: Do you have a process of how you start to write your novels? Charline: I have five more Prologues for different books written, each of them is from a dream I have had. Phoebe: You’ve written a standalone novel but have you considered writing a series before? How do you think writing each would be different for you? Charline: This is a stand-alone novel however; I did leave the ending open as I am considering writing a sequel to it in the future. Phoebe: What process did you have to go through to get your first book published and did it take you long? Charline: I think I was pretty lucky actually. I was originally going to write the novel completely and then mail it off to publishers. Then I realized I have no experience in marketing myself so I figured maybe I should look into getting agent. Again, I decided to wait until I was finished with the novel because I knew my Prologue was rough and didn’t flow quite as well as the rest of the book. One weekend I’d had a really bad day, my car payment was fifteen days past due and my lender repossessed it. I had NO idea that could happen! Everybody KNOWS you have to be at least thirty days past due before that can happen! *chuckle* I discovered in Arizona if you are even one day late your lender CAN and a lot of times WILL repossess the auto. Anyway, so the next day (Sunday) I had the urge to rewrite the Prologue. Once it was finished I reread it and then even though my manuscript wasn’t complete I felt this sense of urgency to find an agent RIGHT NOW! I did my research a few months before and learned all the things agents and agencies should NOT do! Finally, after more searching I found an agency whose mission statement I liked and I submitted a request to have them look at my manuscript. I won’t bore you with the details of the next three weeks but bottom-line they were interested in taking me on as a client. In August I submitted the first five chapters of my book to a publishing company that my agent referred me to and November 22, 2008 I was informed that the publishing company would like to work with me. It seems fitting that I received this news in November as November was the birth month of the book so to speak. I was very lucky in the fact that the first agency and also the first publisher I ever contacted both wanted to take me on. Phoebe: Do you ever get writers block? What do you do to get rid of it so you can get back to writing your novels? Charline: LOL! Well…I wrote the Prologue as well as the first chapter within a week. Piece of cake! I LOVED writing! I walked around for a whole month telling everyone I was going to be a published author!! The Prologue was easy…that was recounting a dream. The first chapter was easy especially as I brought ancient Egypt into it. Then came chapter two! Dun Dun DUNNNNN!!! Oh Crap! I HATE writing! How do I write about current times versus past times? So there my manuscript sat on the computer…cold and alone until December of 2007 when I had the intense urge to start writing again. I reread what I had initially written and then I started typing and the words just flowed out of my fingers and onto the pages. In fact they flowed so easily that I totally forgot about much needed things like paragraphs and chapters! Life was grand and there was order in the universe! Then in January my dad (who passed away March 28th of this year) asked if he could read it. Ohhhhh CRAP!!! That was when I realized I needed to separate my novel into chapters! And then even worse…OMG my dad is going to read the “sex stuff!” Anyway, I digress…I never had writer’s block once I got through my initial one year, one month, a week and a few days bout with it…but I also learned to go back a few chapters and reread what I had written whenever I picked up the figurative pen to start writing. Just to get myself back into the story. Phoebe: What is your biggest reader pet peeve, if you have any? (stock characters, unresolved endings, predictability, everything wrapped up hurriedly in the end, etc.) Charline: Well…I guess my only pet peeve is books where everything happens the same way. Change the names, change the location and change the time period and all of a sudden you have the same book the author wrote five books previously. I guess that’s why I am trying very hard to make sure that while my novels will deal with history, both factual and non-factual, I want to always have a completely different concept than any of my previous books unless of course it’s a sequel. Phoebe: Which aspects of writing do you enjoy the most and why? And what is your biggest writing pet peeve? (overuse of exclamation points, adverbs, bad guys named Wayne, etc.), if you have any? The Curse of NefertitiCharline: Hmmm…I think what I enjoy most is just the writing. The peace and quiet and at the end of the day reading back over what I have created and hopefully feeling good about it! I’m not super judgmental of authors. I read everything except horror and I understand that every author has his or her own unique writing style. I also understand books are based upon the writing style of the year they are written and even the area they are written in has an effect on their style and so for the most part I tend to overlook things such as overly long sentences, clipped sentences, over punctuated, under punctuation, etc. (If I didn’t overlook some things then I would have to re-write my last sentence just to shorten it!!) Incorrect spelling bugs me since it looks wrong and jumps off the page at me consequently breaking my train of concentration on the story but other than that I’m not really bothered or else I just haven’t read any books where the grammar or story line was so bad that I just closed the book and said “Oh my gosh what was the publisher thinking!!!” Phoebe: What is the one writing tool can you not live without? Charline: MY COMPUTER!!!! Oh my gosh!! Could you imagine what it was like to write before the computers and before typewriters?? Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE to write…by hand…with pen and stationary!! It took me three years after that whole free bill pay thing came out before I finally stopped writing checks! What author doesn’t love the smell of ink or fresh stationary? Ok…I’m weird I know!! I travel to other countries and I bring home pens and stationary in lieu of souvenirs!! I saw my dream pen and it was $5000.00…lol! Phoebe: How do you handle your writing schedule and your personal life without going insane? Charline: I have no writing schedule exactly. For me, when it is time to write then it is time to write! From mid December 2007 to mid May 2008 I barely left my house. One of my friends would come over every couple weeks to check on me and drop me off some food because she knew I was living on coffee and sugar. A couple times she actually forced me to leave the house because I hadn’t in two or three weeks. My daily schedule consisted of waking up around ten a.m. and writing non-stop until I passed out from sheer exhaustion anytime after four a.m. My dad and I had an agreement that Tuesday night I would call him and we would talk for a few hours and then he wouldn’t disturb me for the rest of the week. I never went insane, I just couldn’t think about anything else with the story floating around non-stop in my head. Phoebe: What do you do to relax after having spent a long while writing? Do you have any hobbies? Charline: I’m not sure about the relaxing after writing part. I will let you know! ;) I got done writing and then I had no idea what to do with myself to keep busy…so I started work on my next novel!! I love to travel first and foremost. I love history and I love to experience other cultures. I love to read, watch movies, visit museums. I’m a photographer and I love pretty much every outdoor activity as long as it involves warm weather! I love to try and live life to the fullest. Phoebe: Is there any advice that you would give to an aspiring romance writer that you wish someone had given you? Charline: I’m not sure how to best answer this question. I had never contemplated writing before I actually did it so I never did any research on what I should or shouldn’t do as a writer. I read blogs and such after I got done writing the book, when it was with my agent and THAT was when I started to get depressed. My advice to any author, aspiring or otherwise, would just be to take the limitations and the structure out of the equation. Why do you have to have an outline? Why do you have to decide what will happen in every chapter? I had a beginning and I had an end in my head. Everything that happened in between just happened as I wrote it. The comment I get from every single person who has read my book is that they LOVE how it is tied together so well. You don’t need the outline to have it tied together so well, in my opinion you need to have the freedom to let the story be what it will be. When you read The Curse of Nefertiti you may see and feel the same thing too. Give your creativity the freedom it needs and don’t try to put constraints on it. Creativity comes when it will. I have learned how to tap into mine whenever I need it but until a writer gets to that point they need to write when they feel they can write. Don’t put yourself on a writing schedule…and then berate yourself if you are unable to think of anything to put onto paper. I hope that makes sense. Phoebe: Is there any writing tips, research tips, promotion and marketing tips that you would give to an aspiring romance writer that you wish someone had given you? Charline: Honestly, I can’t think of anything other than what I wrote to address the previous question. Phoebe: Do you have a favorite genre you like to read? Who is your favorite author(s)? Charline: No to the favorite genre. I read everything, fiction, non fiction, biographies, et cetera. I have a lot of Anne Rice novels hanging around! There are too many great authors to list and my library is overflowing with books!! Phoebe: What are you reading now? And what do you plan to read after that? Charline: I’m currently reading Bloody Mary, The Remarkable Life of Mary Tudor by Carolly Erickson. It’s an older book and I picked it up at an independent bookstore when I was visiting with my parents in February. Prior to that I read the entire Twilight series in a week—I had heard so much about them I figured it was probably time for me to read them. As for what I will read after this book; I am unsure. I can’t read books while I am writing…I have my book floating around in my head twenty four hours a day trying to get out and there’s no room for any other books during that time. I’m once again getting the sense of urgency that I need to get back to work on the current novel I’m writing and the longer I ignore it the more insistent it becomes so I doubt I have much time left before I go hole up somewhere quiet for a few weeks to get the majority of it written.


  1. This definitely looks like a book I need to pick up! I love the fact that you took a dream that you had to create a story.

    Farrah from The Book Faery Reviews

  2. Hi Farrah,

    Thanks for posting your comment! If you are on facebook I have a book group there which is open to the public - the Prologue (which is the dream) is posted in it. I would love to hear your feedback after you have read both the Prologue and the book. :)

  3. Hi Farrah,

    Thanks for your comment! If you have an account on facebook then please check out my book group there which is open to the public. Just do a search on the title and you will find it. You can also send me a friend request and then I can invite you to it. I have the Prologue (which is the dream) posted in the discussion forum of the group. I would love to hear your feedback after you read both the Prologue and the book. :)

    Have a great day!


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Phoebe Jordan
I'm a part-time aspiring romance novelist, book reviewer and blogger. I've always wanted to travel the world and learn everything I can about other countries. Learning the Italian language is one way of trying to make that dream come true. Traveling will help me with my writing because I'll be learning about the history of the U.S., Latin America, England, Italy, and Ireland, the countries I find so fascinating while reading the romance genre.
I read and review romance novels of almost every subgenre along with erotic romance, mystery, sci-fi/fantasy and young adult novels. You can find the reviews at my blogs, Talk About My Favorite Authors and Phoebe Jordan's Reviews. I’ve also started a live podcast show called TAMFA | Phoebe Jordan hosted on Blog Talk Radio. This show is dedicated to everything I love about romance and young adult novels. I love having romance and young adult authors live on my show to be interviewed and showcase their books.

I plan to write contemporary romance, romantic suspense, erotic romance, paranormal romance and young adult when I get my writing career started with help from Keta. I'm not sure what genre I'll write to begin with since I love to read so many different romance genres.
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