Ah, readers. I recently got offered a review copy of Run to You by the lovely, the one and only Charlotte Stein. Charlotte's books are always a rollercoaster of humour, intensity and incredibly entertaining angst. I love her sex scenes enormously and their super charged dynamic usually pervades her books. Run to You is no exception. The first chapter introduces a classic Stein heroine, and then sets her off on an unexpected and gripping journey that I couldn't stop reading. Chapter 1 ends in a cliffhanger that kept me reading til I'd finished the whole thing, in the wee hours. I heartedly recommend you go find it and read it, now, once you've read this entertaining Q&A, Qed by me and Aed by Charlotte.
I am honoured to have her here!
1. Ok, first, Run To You. Does this book have a message you'd like to talk about? What do you hope people will take from it?
I think the message is just to never give up hoping. That a life lived without dreams isn't a life at all, even if the destruction of those dreams happens. And if people take anything away from it, I would hope it was that.
2. Your books have a huge intensity that can sweep the reader along in a wave, I find. Your twitter feed suggests that writing them can take a lot out of you, and be a tough process. What do you find difficult to manage, is it the rawness, or more the frustration of when you feel the writing is refusing to flow for you?
The biggest problem I've had to face in terms of my writing is expectations. When you start out, it's easy. Your work could be anything and everything, because no one has responded to it in any way. But once you're published, suddenly you have reader reactions and reviews and editors and agents and the market itself to contend with. And while all of those things are wonderful and I'm so grateful to have any kind of readership at all, the thought of those things often paralyses me. It's just a reality of the business. I worry the most that I am somehow not writing "correctly". That my style is too weird. And this is the thing that often causes me to tear my hair out when trying to write a scene.
I realise it's silly, though. It's just also sometimes unavoidable.
3. What significant things do you remember from childhood - I'm not digging for traumas, but more the things that gave you a sense of self, a sense of how you saw the world, if you know what I mean. For example, I know reading gave me a huge appreciate for fantasy and the magic to be found in the world - I think I have my father to thank for that too. What was formative for you?
This is going to sound so rubbish, but I think it was watching the movie Return To Oz. That was the first moment when I realised a) the power of film and b) that it was okay to be dissatisfied with the way the world is. That it's okay to want more, to long for something fantastical, to dream of another life.
This is a great answer!
4. Might you write a man POV book? Your heroines have a lot in common, I find, and they are often trying to work the hero out a lot - have you any urge to write a manbook? :) I know you were worried female POV wasn't enough the other day, but I would expect the Romance readership to be happy with it. Is there a male Romance readership to entice? Hmm, is this question too long?
I think it's possible I will, one day. Certain stories I have in mind require a male POV just to make the story work. But that idea - of working out the hero from a female perspective - is what really drives me. The desire to tell a woman's story is more important to me. And if there is a male romance readership, I would hope that they would come into the genre wanting to hear women's stories, not demanding that we tell theirs.
5. You mentioned wanting to write sci-fi the other day, as your first love. Can you manage both? What are the risks involved in genre surfing?
I think I've already kind of managed both! I've written two erotic romance sci-fi novellas, and have always had the urge to write more. But if you're talking genre surfing as in writing just straightforward science fiction with no romantic element...yeah I think there definite risks in attempting that. If I have another pen name, I have to build a readership all over again. And if I don't - or if I have one but share openly that I am that person - there's a risk my readers will be turned off.
But everything in this game is risky. Sometimes you've just got to go for it!
I hope you go for it. I'd cross genres in a flash to read your sci fi, but then, I am not perhaps, a typical Romance reader, I guess.
6. So - again, Twitter posts suggest your not quite living the dream, yet - publishing, audience, financial frustration vs the joy of getting to write for a living. What do you see in your ideal future? What will make the Charlotte of 15 years hence happy and satisfied?
I don't think any writer gets to the point where they think yeah, now I'm living the dream! But it would be nice if in fifteen years I'm still doing this, and still making some kind of living. The most worrying thing about writing for me is not that I will never be a millionaire. It's that everything I've so precariously built up will suddenly crumble.
*I apologise deeply, that was a very serious point, but I have to do this:
I do hope this is the only kind of crumble you encounter.
And finally -
7. If you had your minion army, would there be girl minions as well as boy minions?
If I had a minion army I wouldn't care. I'd be too busy wriggling happily amongst them!
Thanks for having me, darling!