Please tell us a little about yourself. Well, hmmmm...... I write! Yes, I do. I write Historical Fiction set in the late Victorian era, now and then the Steampunk short or neo-Victorian paranormal novella. I love old houses, Victorians of course, and am completely mesmerised by Art Nouveau anything, but particularly wallpaper. I’ve done a few restorations on Colonial Revivals, but I’m currently shopping for a Victorian house in my new home town in the foot hills of the Appalachian mountains.
For exercise I bike. For entertainment I read, read, read. And I like music, particularly the Killers and Panic! At the Disco and 80’s New Wave. I love food. All kinds, really. I like to travel, England mostly and Continental Europe. I sew. I have seven cats. I studied Interior Design in college. And I’m a bit quirky and a little off beat. (In a few years people will call that eccentric, though I think they probably do now.)
Classics mainly. Dickens. I love, love, love George Meredith. I like Thomas Hardy, George Eliot, Wilkie Collins. Of course I love Jane Austen, who doesn’t? I do read modern Historical Fiction, but I have a hard time finding authors who I feel really evoke a sense of the period. Though, granted, that’s highly interpretive. So I suppose I should say I have a hard time finding authors whose interpretation of the period meshes with mine and allows me to feel like I’m there. Which is why I mainly stick with the classics.
How or why did you start writing?
It was a combination of things, really. From the time I started college to the time my third child was born, I was devouring literature. I had reread David Copperfield and had a sort of idea about how to do the same sort of semi-autobiographical thing. It would be about how I had grown up in this depressed town, and also, how, forty years earlier, my grandparents had lived there, full of hopes and dreams, until the depression came. I started it, but never finished it.
And then I had read a very popular Historical Fiction novel, I won’t tell which one, and I thought...I could totally do this.
And then, not long after, I had this dream. Have you ever had one of those dreams that’s so good you don’t want to wake up? Well, I had this dream, of a young woman at a coming out ball, but a woman who was not really born to that sphere and rather than feeling admired (though men look admiring upon her) or accepted, or a part of this great crowd, she feels out of place and alone. At the time I was dealing with insomnia, so not only did I want to have this dream again, I wanted to SLEEP! So, at night, I’d just recount the dream and add to it. And within a month or so, I had this pretty detailed outline. I typed it out on the computer, and then I thought...I wonder if I could write this? I bet I could write this! So I did. That book inspired another, (Moths) and I just kept going and have never looked back.
Who inspires you?
All kinds of things inspire me. Of Moths & Butterflies, was partially inspired by a Royksopp song called 49%. I’m very often inspired by historical figures, artists, authors, etc., whose own personal tales are the stuff of novels. I read for inspiration, certainly. Moths was also partly inspired by the injustices I read about in Tess of the D’Urbervilles. I sort of felt a need to tell Tess’s story with a happier ending.
Of course I’m sometimes inspired by events in my own life as well. If I were to actually answer the question WHO inspires me, then I would have to say those authors of the Victorian era who sought to better their world by writing about its injustices. Besides Tess, I found Daniel Deronda hugely inspiring. I like stories about people who go against the grain, who defy convention for the better good. That’s real courage to me.
Would you please tell us about your latest work?
Moths, as I said, was published in October. It’s the story of a woman with a dark history she would very much like to forget. When her uncle and guardian dies, she’s sort of hoping for a second chance, an opportunity to start over, but when he leaves her with his fortune and estate, she realises that’s not going to be possible. In the meantime, her aunts, who had expected to inherit in her stead, would do anything to get at the money. When they realise she’s not going to give it up, or can’t, and that she’s not going to cooperate with their scheming, they decide to marry her off to someone who is desperate for the money, someone who would be willing to repay them for making the connection. And so her marriage is arranged. The real question of the story is, if a woman has only known the darker side of man, can she learn to trust any man, particularly one she is forced to marry? It’s a question about happiness really, and the choices we make to attain it. Trusting others is sometimes no more than a choice. Loving others is a choice. Loving ourselves when we have been taught to believe the worst in us...? It may be difficult, but ultimately, that too is a choice.
What are you currently working on?
At the moment my time is pretty much consumed with promoting Of Moths & Butterflies. I really don’t like marketing and self-promotion, so I’m really looking forward to getting back to work on Cry of the Peacock. But I can never NOT write, so while I’ve been marketing, etc, I’ve been working on some short stories. One sort of turned into a novella (length is a constant battle for me, as I like big books with complex plots) which I recently published in the form of Blind. It’s an odd sort of paranormal love story with a moralistic twist. I’m also getting ready to have a short Steampunk story called The Steam Powered Pocket Watch published in an anthology which is being put together by Literary Underground. Time will be the title of that and I believe it will be out some time this summer.
When will your next work be released?
Cry of the Peacock, which is the first book I wrote, the one inspired by the dream, is scheduled to be published in October 2012, provided I can get the last of the revisions wrapped up in the next few months.
What kind of advice would you give new writers?
Learn how to write. And then forget everything you learned. I’m a firm believer in knowing the rules of writing, if only so you know how and when to break them. Read everything you can get your hands on. And I mean novels, poetry, everything. Good writers are good readers. You can’t do it alone. Even in self-publishing, there is no such thing as self-publishing. You will need help and a LOT of it, from beta readers, to editors, to artists and marketing savvy friends. You need them all. Don’t be afraid to write everything that’s in your heart. Don’t be afraid to then cut 95% out again. Don’t edit while you write. Just write. Then edit. Writing is an additive activity (addictive, too, yes), whereas editing is a subtractive activity. You can’t do both at the same time. Edit, edit, edit until it is PERFECT. Then do whatever it takes to get it out there and never apologise for it. Writing groups are good, so long as they’re not just back patting sessions and there are actual writers in there who know what they are doing.
Oh. And remember, success happens in groups. There is no competition unless you want to go it alone. And what did I say about that? You CAN’T do it alone!
Thank you Ms. Christensen for visiting with us today and feel free to come back anytime you wish.
To learn more about this author or her works, please visit her website.