Interview with C.J.

From the Desk of C.J. Gabriel


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

And my guest for the day is...Dawn Chandler!

Hi, Dawn! It’s great that you could be with us today!

So tell us, first of all, the name of your newest novel and what it’s about.

      The name of my newest novel is “The Dark Lady”. It is currently under contract with Black Velvet Seductions Publishing and is in the final stages of editing. I am hoping to have a release date soon.
It is a full length historical romance that is set in the mid 1100’s. Van is stolen away from her father when she was a year old and is forced to pretend to be a boy. She falls in love with the life that boy’s lead and eventually becomes a knight. She is a large statured and frayed tempered woman and she plays the part well. When her mother dies she makes a dying plea that Van leave the life of a knight and become a wife.
Her unsuspecting husband-to-be Peter has been betrayed in his past and has vowed to only marry a docile and controllable woman, but when his father becomes ill Peter reluctantly agrees to marry a woman he has never met. He hopes that she will be quiet and gentle, but is surprised to meet the large woman who steps from the carriage to greet him.
Van must learn to combine the knight she used to be with the woman she is expected to become and Peter must learn that what he thought he wanted may not be exactly what he needs. They must both learn to deal with their difficult pasts if they hope to have any kind of a future.

If you could sum up your writing in one sentence, how would you describe it?

The stories are not mine, they are my characters and I am grateful to have the privilege of being allowed to tell their stories.

Give us a bit of your favorite scene from your novel.

      (There are so many it is hard to choose from. I went through my story thinking it would be an easy decision, but as I looked through it, more and more scenes begged to be added. So I choose one that I really like and believe my readers will enjoy as much as I do. I have the first three chapters posted on my site under free reads…the end of the second chapter describes Peter’s original dreams and chapter one describes the scene that caused the dreams.)

The night slipped by as her tears lulled him to sleep. His head turned in slumber, his ear pressed gently to the door, listening to her sadness even in his dreams.
Dreams that were now changed.
The same lovely face, the same dark black eyes, the dagger cut still fresh, hung over him as it always had. The same sweet haunting voice.
But now the deep black hair hung loose around her beautiful face. It brushed against his bare chest erotically.
The drips that hit his injured shoulder were no longer blood as they had once been, they were now her tears. Tears so hot they seemed to burn him.
He reached to stroke the perfect cheek, as he had almost every night since it had happened, but she now was gone.

Do you have a favorite quote from “The Dark Lady”?

      (This quote is directed at Peter’s mistress who was supposed to be already gone from Peter’s castle when Van arrived but she had refused to leave. When she threw a fit about leaving and complained that she had been there two years and deserved respect this is the response she got from Devon, who had been assigned to remove her from the grounds.)

"Aye, you have been here a long time and though it could cost me my life, if you were the Lady and she the whore, between the two of you, she would still get my loyalty."

When did you decide that you were going to become a writer? Was it a landmark decision, or a more gradual one?

      I fell in love with writing when I was in the 5th grade. It was a landmark decision to write, but a more gradual one to become a published author. I used to hate writing. In school there is a process that must be followed. They wanted an outline, then a summary, then a rough draft. They wanted it all right then in class, so it was difficult for me. I can’t do an outline or a summary because I am not that kind of writer. I am not a plotter. I do not know my story until I write it. I am not privy to the details of my story until that part of it comes along. I don’t always feel I am in control of my stories and they do not always go where I think they will. Sometimes things change partway through without my prior approval. It is truly my characters stories and I just get to be the lucky one to write them down. It is one of my favorite things of writing, getting to experience the story as it happens. So now that I have rambled I will get back to my original point. I hated writing because I could not envision the entire story to make an outline or a summary, but in 5th grade my wonderful teacher Mrs. Smith spoke to me. I told her my issue as I had with the other teachers but they never listened. She did. She told me to do it how I had to do it. Turn in my rough draft first and then I could go back and do the summary and the outline. She understood that everyone writes differently and that inspiration hits the way it will and there is very little to nothing that you can do to change that. I wrote many short stories during the 5th grade. I have about 30 short stories that I wrote from then and am looking through them to decide which are good enough, with some editing, to go into a book of shorts. One of them, called The Dust, Mrs. Smith wanted me to turn it in to get published. At the time I was not interest in becoming published, I was just enjoying writing. Now I wish I had done so. I am in the process of turning The Dust into a full length novel.

Who influences you the most in your writing?

      Stephen King influenced my desire to write. I grew up reading him and he is still my favorite author. I am a Dark Tower Junkie and I have almost every book he has written. My love of research and history influenced my desire to write about the past. Catherine Coulter, Kat Martin, Connie Mason, Jean Auel, Stephanie Laurens, and many others have influenced my love of historical romance. The content of my stories is influenced solely by the voices in my head (who I must obey) and my style was greatly influenced by my editor Laurie. I took her workshops on writing and Deep Point of View and have enjoyed watching my stories turn into works of art that I have been told (much to my ecstatic surprise) brought tears to the eyes. My family influences me every day with their loving support and understanding patience as I get absorbed with my work. My husband influenced my desire to get published as he pushed me to turn my work into a publisher and to follow my dreams.

In the course of researching for your writing, have you come across any fun or interesting facts that you’d like to share with us today?

(I absolutely love doing research. I believe it is what draws me to do historical romances. I have always enjoyed research and have always been interested in the past. There are many things that I have learned that I would love to share, but I will narrow it down to two.)
The beginning to Valentine's Day is a mystery, but the most popular story that seems to date back the farthest is that it honors a Saint Valentine who was a roman priest. He was martyred by Emperor Claudius II during the third century in Rome. Claudius decided that single men without wives and families made the best soldiers. He outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine saw the injustice in this and continued to marry young lovers in secret. When Claudius II found this out he had Valentine put to death. During Valentine’s imprisonment while he was awaiting his execution he was said to have healed several people with the powers given to him by the gods. He was put to death on February 14th.
The origin of Halloween is much different than a lot of people believe. The majority of the people that I hear talk about it thinks that it is a devil’s holiday which is not true. The most believed story though historians is that Halloween started as the Celtic Holiday of Samhain. It was a harvest festival in which they could celebrate with their loved ones who had passed away. Harvest was over and the end of October signaled the beginning of the dark time of the year when the days were shorter. During this transition from the light half of the year (summer and spring) to the dark half of the year (fall and winter) they believed that the barrier between the world of the living and the world of the dead was thin and that the spirits of the dead could pass back and forth. A feast was made to celebrate the harvest and plates were left out on the doorsteps for the loved ones who had moved on. The spirits could then go the house of their loved ones and celebrate the harvest. So now instead of a feast of food we have a feast of candy but the little spirits still come door to door to help celebrate.

Have you ever had writer’s block? How did you cope?

      I get writer’s block to a small degree from time to time. I have 50 books in the computer that are in varies stages of completion. Generally when I have a stumbling block in my way on one book I will work on another for a short time and then go back to the original. I feel very fortunate that I have never had a severe case of writer’s block. No the voice in my head are constantly rumbling along and I believe the times that the current story is not coming along smoothly is not exactly writer’s block. It is the other characters from other books getting loud and needing attention.

What’s your favorite thing to do when not writing?

When I am not writing, or researching, I spend time with my family and make up for all the time I spend in front of the computer. We like to camp, swim, go four wheeling, go for walks or to the park, I spend time with my daughter at the mall (cause she likes it), picnic and go to the river.

Name something that you’d do alone but never in front of other people?

      Ah, that is not a fair question. I thought this would be an easy question but everything I thought of I thought no, I do, do that in front of people. Things like singing and dancing, which I thought I didn’t do in public but then I thought about it. I sing in front of family when I am sober and when I am drunk, (which hardly ever happens anymore) I sing in front of anybody and everybody. I thought about dancing, but I do dance when I do happen to go to the bar with my friends and I did line dance with several of my friends in front of Wal*Mart while we were on our lunch (ok we danced several times throughout a lot of the summer) when I was still working there. There were several things that had to be removed from the list because I either do it in front of family and loved ones or I do it when I happen to drink. My husband suggested cussing, which I do not ever do in public but I do not ever do it when I am alone either, so that was out. So that left me with two things, but those are two things I am going to have to, unfortunately, keep to myself. They are not things I would like to mention in a public venue, but I will let your reader use their imagination as to what they might be.

If you could be a movie star for one day, who would you be?

I don’t think I would like to be a movie star even for one day. There are several great ones that I like, though I do not watch many movies and hardly ever turn the T.V. on. Being a movie star, I think has too many draw backs. They have no privacy and everything they do is judged and reported on. Being a writer is so much better. While being a famous writer still has its share of fanatic fans and you are in the public eye it does not hold the same connotations that being a movie star does. If I have some cellulite on the back of my thighs (if…hahahaha, I wish it were an if) I am not likely to see my backside on the front page of the enquirer or the star or whatever those magazines are called. My status is not dependant on what I look like or how skinny I am, and I know that not all actors are based on that but that is how the magazines portray them. Some of my favorite actors are not real skinny. No, being a movie star does not appeal to me. I used to be in drama, but my part was as set and costume designer. I helped the actors with their lines and I did memorize all the lines of the plays as an understudy but always prayed that everyone showed up. I was lucky and never had to get on stage.

Finally, finish this sentence. People would be surprised to know that…

      …that I am shy. I talk to people on line, and you may have noticed, that I have a tendency to run away at the fingertips and have a propensity to rambling on. I talk a lot when there are keys caressing my fingers and I tend to go on and on. When people actually meet me they are always surprised to know that I do not talk. I speak when spoken to for the most part and my answers, when I can get away with it, are one word answers, and occasionally grunts. They all ask me if I am upset, but no. I am not upset I am just shy when it comes to face to face meetings. It took me several years of working at Wal*Mart before I started talking to the girls and actually became friends with them. Some of them thought I was snobby (I think that is the word they used) until they got to know me. I hardly talk until I get comfortable with people and then I open up, but that takes a long time usually. After that I sometimes get loud and obnoxious and I laugh a lot.

CJ: I want to thank you again, for coming out to be on the blog today. Before you go, please be sure to give us a taste of your novel, and a link or two so we can all go buy it!

      Thank you, for letting me stop by and visit. I will keep you all posted as to the progress of my book and hope I can stop back by after I get a release date. I appreciate all the support I have gotten and all the encouraging words. I will leave you with an excerpt from The Dark Lady and links to my site where you can read the first three chapters.

Excerpt from chapter one of The Dark Lady by Dawn Chandler

He opened his eyes to the young boy’s blurry face. The light from the fire pierced into him cutting through him like a dagger. He shut his eyes again with a moan.
“Come on. Focus, you are going to be alright.” There was fear in that soft voice that told him he was cared for. That he was needed. “Look me in the eye.” The worry that he heard enveloped him in warmth in a way that no fire ever could. He could almost picture the mother of those children who would hold him at night when he was cold, as he was now. She would be dark, beautiful and exotic.”
When he opened his eyes once again the boy was gone and in his place was the beautiful yet blurry face of a girl. “Are you alright?” she asked sweetly as she leaned close to him.
“I am here with you.” Concern filled him as he spotted the large gash on her check, oddly in the same spot as the lad’s injury. He shook his head to clear it. Confusion swirled through his weary mind. Peter lifted his hand and ran his fingers along the uninjured cheekbone as blood dripped onto his injured shoulder. “Your face. You are hurt. You must have it looked at.”
The face swirled in and out of focus and the boy was there once again. Peter closed his eyes tightly and shook his head. “I will. You first, I can wait.” The soft voice told him. When he opened his eyes once again she was smiling down at him. Her face was still slightly blurred but he knew it was her from her melodious voice.
“You have such dark eyes, almost black. One could get lost in them.” Peter continued to stroke the smooth cheek above him, sliding trembling fingers down the warm and inviting skin gently cupping the soft and shapely chin before starting again. Peter squinted his eyes in an effort to keep the world focused as he looked deeply into those black eyes and thought of his future. “You are so beautiful.”
Full lips parted in a sweet tinkling laugh, like water over stones. “I will forgive you that since you have lost so much blood, your thoughts must be scrambled and your vision faulty.” A wide beautiful smile took the sting from the words.
A deep trembling breath caused the world to shimmer before him and the image of the boy was once again before him. Peter pulled his hand away in confusion as he looked at the boy. “Quite. I have lost a great amount.” His arm dropped as darkness swallowed him.
Read the First three Chapters
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 Please stop by to read all the wonderful comments that were posted.

I want to thank C.J. again for having me. I really enjoyed the interview. I also want to thank all the wonderful people who came to see me and spend some time with me.
I was nervous and everyone made me feel very comfortable and welcome. I had a great time.  

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