Interview with C. J. Chase

» Posted on Aug 11, 2011 in Blog | 9 comments

Cynthia ChaseThis week I’m hosting Lacy Williams with Marrying Miss Marshal, Veronica Heley with Murder My Neighbour, C. J. Chase with Redeeming the Rogue, and Cara Lynn James with Love by the Book (will have a drawing if 10 people enter). If you want to enter the drawings, please leave a comment on one of the post during the week with your email address. I will not enter you without an email address (my way to contact you if you win). If you don’t want to leave an email address, another way you can enter is to email me at margaretdaley@gmail.com. The drawings end Sunday (August 14th) evening.

Interview with C. J. Chase:

1.  What made you start writing?

Insanity.

Seriously, my ninth grade English teacher convinced me I had a little talent for putting words together when I was in high school. I took a detour—degree in statics, career in computers, husband and kids. And then one day after I’d left the corporate world to stay home with my oldest (then a toddler), I decided I wanted to do something that allowed me to sit with my feet propped up and think in complete sentences. Nap time became my time to relax and escape into a fictional world.

Oh, and I sent that English teacher a signed copy of my first book and got a wonderful letter back from her.

2.  How long have you been writing? When did you sell your first book?

That toddler is now 16, taller than his mother, and driving. I wrote six complete manuscripts before I took some time off when we moved from Northern Virginia (Washington, DC, area) to Southeastern Virginia. I had to get our house ready for the market, but I found once I’d stopped writing, it was easy to put off writing for another day. And another. And another. Finally in 2007, I decided I was going to complete another manuscript, no excuses. I (finally!) got my first sale in October, 2010. 

3.  How do you handle rejections?

Chocolate and tears, in no particular order. And I usually convince my husband that it’s in his best interest to take me out to dinner because I’m too distraught to cook. Hey, rejections have to be good for something.

4.  Why do you write?

Let’s see. Considering the number of years I wrote before selling, I figure my writing income thus far must work out to about 4¢ per hour. Obviously, it isn’t for the money.

I’d have to say I write because I have stories to tell. I enjoy the challenge of creating a puzzling mystery, manipulating language so that a person I’ve never met knows exactly what I mean, and offering a reader another perspective on life.

5.  What would you be doing with your free time if you weren’t writing?

I was going to say gardening–but it’s already 95 degrees today and it’s only noon. (And being that I live in the swamp, that’s a very humid 95.)

At one time, I wanted to get an advanced degree in history. I think I’d have become a historian of some sort.

6.  What are you working on right now?

A romantic suspense set in 1869 Pennsylvania. 

7.  Do you put yourself into your books/characters?

I think it’s hard not to have a little of me in my characters. My main characters share my worldview, at least by the end of the book.

Now my current release has a little more of me on the cover than I anticipated. The art department made the heroine’s hair lighter than I envisioned it, and numerous people have said the picture looks like me. Or at least, the me of twenty years ago.

8.  Tell us about the book you have out right now.

Redeeming the Rogue is a Love Inspired Historical set at the end of the Napoleonic Wars. Mattie Fraser has traveled to London to learn the fate of her brother, an American sailor impressed into the British Navy. But her questions lead to threats, danger, and murder. Can she trust Kit DeChambelle, the one man who has offered to help, or is he working for her enemies?

This is my debut novel. The book won the Romance Writers of America’s 2010 Golden Heart award for Best Inspirational Manuscript. It’s a little grittier than many of the books in the Love Inspired Historical line—as readers can probably tell right from the first scene. And as you may have guessed from that little description, I like a strong suspense element in my romance.

9.  Do you have any advice for other writers?

Well, it seems rather presumptions for a debut author to offer anyone advice. For those who haven’t published, I will say that if God has called you to do write stories, publication will happen in His time. And remember that God uses our writing to change US first, before our words go out into the world. Even if a book is never published, the author should have grown through the course of writing it.

Oh, and one more piece of advice: a novel set in 1610 Virginia is a “hard sell.” And don’t ask me how I know that.

10. How important is faith in your books?

Funny thing about that. I tried for a number of years to break into the general/secular market. And then my best friend finally sat me down (figuratively) and said, “Think!” She pointed out that my last couple of books had faith elements. One even had a minister’s daughter as the main character. About the same time, I’d come to the realization that the topics I tended to explore really needed a faith element to make the characters’ transformations believable. 

Because I’m drawn to exploring some of the grittier aspects of life, faith becomes a very important part of my characters’ journeys.

11. What themes do you like to write about?

I usually start with a plot. Then I create characters for the plot. The theme develops once I have the characters. But I find my themes tend to involve questions I hear “modern” people asking about faith: Why does a supposedly loving God allow bad things to happen? Isn’t religion just superstition? The questions aren’t modern at all—people have been wrestling with these issues for thousands of years. Just read the Book of Job.

12. What is your favorite book you’ve written and why?

Well, I know mothers aren’t supposed to have favorites, but if I had to choose, I’d say it’s one that hasn’t been published. It’s set in 1610 Virginia—which I now know isn’t a particularly recommended setting. Maybe someday… I enjoyed the characters and I loved using a real event from 400 years ago to let my characters wrestle with the same questions we do today. And it doesn’t hurt that the setting is practically in my backyard.

13. What is your writing schedule like?

Chaotic. I write whenever I can slip a few minutes or hours around the rest of my schedule, which means you might find me writing at 2 a.m., during a violin class, in a doctor’s office waiting room, or in bed when I first wake up. I even scribble ideas and phrases while stopped at traffic lights or waiting in grocery store checkout lines. As you may have guessed, I do most of my writing on a laptop so my work goes with me—wherever that may be. My laptop travels so much, it practically needs its own passport.


9 Comments

  1. CJ, I bet your teacher jumped up and down and squealed when she received your book! That was so sweet of you to send her one!

  2. Thank you so much for the interview! We are featuring C.J. this week on the blog I contribute to, so I can’t enter that giveaway! lol

  3. What an awesome journey to publication! Can’t wait to read your book 🙂

  4. Would love to win this one, thank you for the chance. Juanita W
    whisper97304@yahoo.com

  5. But I do want to win it here…lol. Thanks!

  6. What a great interview and another book that I would love to read.

  7. I loved your comment that insanity made you start writing. I can relate, and I wonder if most writers are a bit nuts.

  8. Great interview – love the going out to dinner over rejections idea – filing that away for future reference. Thanks for entering me in the drawing.

  9. After reading this interview it makes me want to read the book even more!

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