Today we are lucky to have Carlie Cullen here to talk about her recently released book, Heart Search: Lost. I’ve steeped the tea, set out the cookies, and we are set to chat.
TC: Thanks for coming, Carlie. :-)
CC: Hi Teresa! It’s great to be here with you today and thanks for the tea – you need to give my daughter lessons, this is just how I like it! :-)
TC: Thanks! I’d be glad to. It’s all in heating the water to almost boiling. How long did it take you to write Heart Search: Lost?
CC: Altogether it took me nine months to complete the first draft. I was trying to fit it in around work and home life and I had to take a break of close to three months in the middle for moving house. The last couple of weeks I was able to work on it full time as I lost my job.
TC: Wow, a lot of changes going on in the midst of it. I am sorry about your job. Who was your favorite character to write—and why??
CC: That’s a tricky one! I liked writing all the characters for different reasons. The one who was the most fun to write was Dayna, because she was a bitch on wheels and the complete opposite of me. But I think my absolute favourite was probably Remy. She’s a genuinely nice person who cares about other people and feels things very deeply. She has a fierce love, not only for Joshua, but also for her family and best friend, Jakki. I could relate to her in lots of ways.
TC: It’s always interesting to hear about how a writer relates to their characters. So…are you a planner or pantser?
CC: Well, I started off being a planner, but ended up a pantser. I wrote a synopsis and an outline, planned the first twelve chapters and then began writing. By the time I’d got to about chapter five, I found Remy and Joshua had decided to tell their story their way and from then onwards I was most definitely a pantser. My meticulous chapter plan was about as much use as a bucket of sand is to the Arabs.
TC: Planner—it always sounds like such a good idea, so sensible and practical. But, when the muse starts talking, it can be tough to stick to the plan. What has been your greatest writing inspiration?
CC: Although I’ve written most of my life, I would have to say my greatest inspiration has actually been my daughter. I get inspiration from so many places and different mediums so I’ve never had a problem finding something to write about. From her school days through to adulthood she unknowingly fed me with inspiration just by recounting anecdotes from school, university or work, and it was a veritable smorgasbord! When I got the idea for Heart Search, I discussed it with her and she was so full of enthusiasm for the project that she inspired me to actually make a start on it and then pushed me right up until the very end. If it hadn't been for her we probably wouldn’t be having this conversation!
TC: What a beautiful story! When did you begin to write (what age)?
CC: I started when I was about eight or nine. I loved the tales from Hans Christian Andersen and The Brother Grimm and began making up my own fairy tales. At that age they were obviously quite crudely written, but those wonderful stories sparked the imagination of the little girl I was then and I’ve written ever since. This was also what began my love affair with fantasy.
CC: When I’m getting ready to start work, I sit quietly for a few minutes, close my eyes and clear my mind of all the clutter life throws at you. I ask my Muse to guide me and then I begin working. I usually make sure I have a fresh cup of tea by my side too. Occasionally it’s wine and the chocolate is never too far from reach [laughs].
TC: A cup of tea! Chocolate and wine… wonderful choices. Sounds like you have it down to a science. Would you like to give a shout out to fellow writing community members who have gone above and beyond to help you?
CC: Absolutely! In my very early days of writing Heart Search the advice and encouragement from Beth Hautala and Joseph McGee was invaluable. Once Heart Search was finished, Alison DeLuca and Rachel Tsoumbakos beta read it for me, giving me not only good constructive). Nicole Antonia Carson who designed my beautiful cover for free and Connie Johnson-Jasperson who not only made my trailer for free, she has also been guiding me on how to format my book and get it ready for publication. All my fellow authors at Myrddin Publishing Group need a mention for their fantastic support and encouragement. And finally, every member of my Blog Tour cast, without whose help, this launch would have fallen flat on its face. There aren’t enough words to tell you all how grateful I am! Thank you.
TC: You are so welcome, Carlie! I keep writing it and saying it—“writers helping writers—it’s a beautiful thing.” What genres do you most often read?
CC: Fantasy or paranormal are my first choice, including sub-genres of fantasy like urban and Steampunk. In my teenage years I broadened my horizons quite a bit, reading books in completely different genres and a large number of them I enjoyed, but I always come back to fantasy.
TC: What is the best piece of advice you can share with aspiring writers?
CC: Gosh, there’s actually quite a lot, but I’ll try to make it reasonably succinct while you pour me another cup of tea!
First, read as much as you can. Learn how authors put their stories together, how they weave in suspense and twists. Look at their characterization – are their characters believable and relatable and if so why, if not why not? Look at sentence structure. Look at how they describe scenes – can you picture it?
Write as much as you can – practice makes perfect, right? Never be afraid to ask for help and advice or constructive criticism. A good critique is never a personal attack on you as a writer it’s designed to help you improve!
Finally, follow your dreams! If you want to be published then go for it, but keep your expectations realistic.
TC: All sounds like good advice. Thank you. When Hollywood gets hold of Heart Search: Lost, who do you see cast as Remy and Joshua?
CC: As I’m British, I would love to see UK actors in the main parts. For Remy, I think Emma Watson (Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter films) would be great. She has the right look too. For Joshua, I think Bradley James (King Arthur in the BBC series, Merlin) would be really good.
TC: Just for fun—and because we all really want to know…you get to choose one of these to play with for a day. Bulldozer or helicopter? Which, and why?
CC: Ooo decisions, decisions. They both have appeal for different reasons, but I think it would have to be a helicopter. I love flying! I’ve had one helicopter ride when I was on vacation in Grand Canaria and enjoyed it so much, I’d love to spend a whole day in one visiting places I wouldn’t normally get to see.
TC:Good answer. One more just for fun—to relieve the stress of this interview :-) You must perform in a Broadway show—any show of your choosing. Who would you choose to be?
CC: Relieve the stress of this interview? It hasn’t been stressful until now!! J [Chuckles] This is actually the hardest question of all as there are so many great shows to choose from and narrowing it down to just one is like having all your favourite desserts laid out in front of you and being told you can only pick one! Hmmm, after narrowing it down to two and flipping a coin, I would have to say Frances Houseman (Baby) in Dirty Dancing.
TC: A perfect choice for you—the dancer! I want to thank you so much, Carlie, for sharing your insight into publishing—and the backstory of Heart Search: Lost I wish you much luck!
CC: Thank you for having me, Teresa – I’ve really enjoyed our chat! Now where’s that cup of tea??
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