This week’s author feature is an interview with Charlene Mattson. Her book the curious case of Prince Charming is out now and is the first in a series set in a fairy tale world where things are not always as they seem. Get to know a little more about the author and her writing process:
Questions about writing
- When did you start writing?
According to my mom, the first story I wrote was in grade 1 (so I was about 6. I think it was about an owl and I won second place in the class competition.) The first thing I remember writing was in Grade 2 and grade 3. Truly awful rip-offs of the teen horse novels like The Saddle Club and Thoroughbred series that were so popular in the ‘90s. I mean, you have to start somewhere! I think it really took off in Grades 7/8 though. I had a wonderful teacher who loved what I was doing (to the point that he made off with my Egyptian stories) and really pushed me to keep writing.
- What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?
Good characters. I think that if you don’t have characters who draw people in, it’s really much harder to tell a story. I’ve read books with amazing setting descriptions, a wonderful theme, and a good plot, but the characters were garbage and thus the whole story collapsed.
I think the other thing is you have to let your passion for your story shine through. If you don’t care about what you write about, no one else will either.
- Do you write to a schedule or do you just wing it?
I write in the evenings after my toddler is in bed. During the day I’m dealing with kids, my job, my family and so on, so I try to carve out an hour or so every night to write. It doesn’t always work out, but I keep striving.
4. How do you handle writer’s block?
I’ve found that most of my writer’s blocks are caused by a plot hole that I’ve missed which has caused everything to derail in my head and thus I get blocked. So, to handle it, I have to comb back through the manuscript and figure out where the train went off. In the case of my current series, it went off a few books ago because the stuff I want to do in book 5 needs to be hinted at in books 2 and 4! Thank goodness for a republish!
5. What advice would you give a new writer, someone just starting out?
Just start writing. Nothing gets done, fixed, or worked on if you just have a blank page. I love National Novel Writing Month because it really forces you to just go. Words sprints are good for that too.
Questions about your books
- Which of your books was the most enjoyable to write?
Well, The Curious Case of Prince Charming of course has a special place since it was my debut novel. But I quite enjoyed writing some of my unpublished, non-series related books and hope that at least one of them finds a home one day.
- Where did your inspiration come from for ‘The Curious Case of Prince Charming’?
From my son! When he was about three, he was playing with a Bowser and Peach plush toy while I was raking my brain trying to figure out what to do for National Novel Writing Month. My son did not exactly like Mario at the time, so Bowser was constantly ‘winning’. I was watching him and then something just kind of crystallized for me and off I went! (I don’t want to spoiler, haha)
- What do you hope your readers take away from this book?
I just hope they enjoy it, honestly. If readers can be entertained for a couple of hours and want to come back for more, I’m happy.
- Can you tell us about the process for coming up with your books covers.
I work with cover artists because I’m no artist! So, I try to make sure my cover artist has a copy of the book and he (the two I’ve had have been guys so far) will read it (or at least skim it) to get a feel for the kind of thing they want to highlight. In the case of Curious Case, the artist, Robin Warren, really wanted to capture the fairy tale feeling juxtaposed with this rather down to earth detective and that image is what he came out with. I was super happy with it, so it didn’t take much finagling after that! My other two cover arts by a different artist still followed that mood of William Tenys facing something off in the distance with elements from the book put in (like a village or wolves or ravens. Spoilers!)
It has become a running joke that the reader never gets a clear look at William’s face.
- Are you working on anything at the present you would like to share with your readers about? What is the key theme and/or message in the book?
I am working on Book 2 rewrite (The Glass Slipper Conspiracy). The theme of that one is very much ‘Be Careful What You Wish For!’ I’m mulling over a small town/woman’s fic called The Coffee House at Edgewood which I’m going to work on for Camp NaNoWriMo in April and the themes of that one are growing up and striking out juxtaposed with rebuilding the bonds of family. And I’d really like to get back to The Cajal Project which is a near future/sci fi that examines genetic manipulation of fetuses and the consequences of experimenting too freely.
I have my copy of The Curious Case of Prince Charming. It is my current read. I will be posting my review soon, so watch this space.