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Interview with Christine Rose, Author of Rowan of the Wood

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Christine Rose is an author, artist, and filmmaker. She has produced two documentary films and has credits on IMDB.com. The first film enjoyed a theatrical premiere in Paris and a considerable amount of international press. In addition, she has had articles appear in several magazines, including MovieMaker Magazine and IndieSlate Magazine discussing her career as an independent filmmaker. She's the author of the middle grade novel, Rowan of the Wood, a Finalist for the 2008 National Best Books Award in the Young Adult Fiction category.

Thanks for this interview, Christine. Who is your target audience?

When asked that question at events, my husband quips, "9-99"! We have a 12-year-old protagonist who's possessed by a 1400 year old wizard (aged about 40), so it's truly a crossover book. The content is appropriate for all ages, and the reading level starts around nine years old. That said, we've had someone as young as 4 read it! That's one advanced reader! At the same time, many, many adults have enjoyed Rowan of the Wood as well! There is a wonderful tragic love story mixed with ancient Celtic lore all woven into a modern-day, magical adventure tale.

What type of writer are you — the one who experiences before writing, like Hemingway, or the one who mostly daydreams and fantasizes?

A little of both. I definitely write from actual experiences, especially feelings. It's how I work through some emotional things, especially hard things like betrayal and feelings of worthlessness, or existential thought. If I'm hurting or stressed, I find it helpful to work through it by giving it to my characters. It makes their experiences very real.

Agatha Christie got her best ideas while eating green apples in the bathtub. Steven Spielberg says he gets his best ideas while driving on the highway. When do you get your best ideas and why do you think this is?

Some of my best ideas come to me just as I'm about to fall asleep, which can be rather annoying! I then have to get up and write them down. I can't just keep a notebook by the bed because I would forget to look at it the next day. The notes have to be by the computer, because that's where I live most of the time. I think I get these ideas just as I'm about to fall asleep because I'm the most relaxed then. I often kid my husband that I don't know how to relax, which isn't far from the truth. I'm rather a workaholic, and I think it's learned behavior from being self-employed for so long. There are so many different hats you have to wear on any given day. Author is just one of them.

From the moment you conceived the idea for the story, to the published book, how long did it take?

From concept to publication was three years. And it's going to be nearly as long for the sequel! But the writing part is taking much longer for the sequel, Witch on the Water, whereas the publishing part (finding a publisher, revising, etc) was longer for Rowan of the Wood. We've been working on the sequel already for 1.5 years. It should be published later this year, though. Hopefully we'll cut off another year in the process for the third book!

Do you write non-stop until you have a first draft, or do you edit as you move along?

I certainly write the first draft before doing any editing. The story flow moves better that way for us. After I complete the first draft, I hand it over to my husband/co-author who takes it, alters it, and introduces sub-plots for the second draft. I take it back over for the third, and so on. After the fourth or fifth draft, we sit down and read it cover to cover together, looking for continuity problems, etc. Then the fine editing begins! It's a long process to say the least.

They say authors have immensely fragile egos… How would you handle negative criticism or a negative review?

Although I'm very sensitive as a person, I have an uncharacteristic thicker skin for as a professional. Sure, a negative review might sting a bit, but it passes quickly. So for for Rowan of the Wood, the positive reviews far outweigh the negative ones, so I keep that in mind. During the revision process, however, is where I see the biggest difference. I can take pretty rough criticism and suggestions before the book is published (or query letter is sent), because it's still a learning process. Every new critique is a new opportunity to learn and grow and improve my craft. Even negative reviews. I welcome any and all feedback, especially if it's constructive.

Have you ever suffered from writer’s block? What seems to work for unleashing your creativity?

Believe it or not. Writing. My degrees are in English Literature (BA/MA), so I've written and read a lot. But I never truly got it until I wrote this novel. I used to sit in front of a blank screen, trying to figure out a way to begin my novel (or screenplay or short story), but I finally got it. You don't have to write the beginning first. You can write the beginning last! That's the beauty of the revision process! So when I don't know what to write… I just start writing anyway because it can always be revised later. The most important thing is to keep writing.

What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received?

My big writing moment of clarity came when I read Stephen King's On Writing. In this book, he describes a writing technique that I had not tried, and it worked well for me. He instructed to fully develop your characters first. Create them. Who they are. What they say. What they wear. What the like/dislike, etc. Create them into people first, and then put them in a situation. Your characters will take you through because you know them. You know how they will respond in that situation. That's the technique i use now, and it worked well for me. It took me from being a writer to being a published author.

Do you have a website/blog where readers may learn more about you and your work?

Oh. You shouldn't have asked that! I'm ALL OVER the web!

My website – from Apr 6-17, we're running a contest to win $100 B&N gift card and more great prizes. Visit our blog for more information

Rowan of the Wood – New secret message every Wed. Download the decoder card here, watch videos, and more information about the book!

Twitter. I'm a Twitterholic! This Friday (4/10), I'm running at #tweet4loan marathon on Twitter. Our banker said she'd give us a loan for our summer Geekalicious Grand Book Tour if we could sell 300 books in a day. Please stop by and help us reach our goal!

You Tube – Two new videos every week from the tour

BlogTV – Live every Monday at 1pm CST and from book signings!

BlogTalkRadio – Every Wed. at 5pm CST

GoodReads – We currently have a Q&A discussion group going on Goodreads! Join us!

There's more, but I'll stop there for now.

Do you have another book on the works? Would you like to tell readers about your current or future projects?

Rowan of the Wood
is the first book in a series of five. The sequel Witch on the Water is due out later this year. The third, late 2010, and the next two in 2011 and 2012.

As an author, what is your greatest reward?

Having a reader tell me how much they loved my book, especially the ones who tell me they were up until 4am finishing it because they couldn't put it down. 😀

Thanks, Christine, and good luck with your book!

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About Mayra Calvani

Mayra Calvani writes fiction and nonfiction for children and adults and has authored over a dozen books, some of which have won awards. Her stories, reviews, interviews and articles have appeared on numerous publications such as The Writer, Writer’s Journal, Multicultural Review, and Bloomsbury Review, among many others. Represented by Serendipity Literary.
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