Podcast

Back in the summer, I was asked if I would like to be interviewed for a Podcast for Blondie and the Brit. Through Facebook I’d already become friends with ‘Blondie’ aka KJ Waters – you might remember the posts on her book, Stealing Time – and we were working on my book cover together (along with Jody Smyers), so I was looking forward to chatting with her again. Also, I’d done one before so it didn’t faze me. The time was set for the recording and after a couple of minor technical hitches, it went ahead.

'Blondie' aka KJ Waters

‘Blondie’ aka KJ Waters

I have to say I had a brilliant time. It was lovely to get to know Suzanne Kelman, ‘the Brit’, and between the three of us there were plenty of laughs. We obviously did some serious stuff as well though. I can’t believe how many subjects we covered in ninety minutes: editing; jewellery making; book reviews; Of Ice & Air; my publishing group, Myrddin; the writing group I lead, Writebulb; inspiration; and, of course, writing.

'the Brit' aka Suzanne Kelman

‘the Brit’ aka Suzanne Kelman

Anyway, the great thing is that the interview went live yesterday. The timing could not have been more perfect with the launch of my new book today!

Here’s the MP3 link so you can listen to it:  <a href=”http://blondieandbrit.podbean.com/mf/play/8z67fg/Carliecullenfinal1118.mp3“>Download this episode (right click and save)</a>

I hope you enjoy it and if podcasts are your thing, check out Blondie and the Brit. They have some great ones already on their backlist and plenty of talented people still lined up.

Click to go directly there

Click to go directly there

 

Penny Dreadful

I’ve just returned from a family reunion in Belfast and Dublin and everywhere I went there were reminders of how many great authors and poets have come from the green isles. You could be walking down a street and find a quote from work by Yeats or Oscar Wilde, to name but two, and I found it extremely inspirational.

Some of the places I visited gave me loads of ideas for my next series of books and it goes to show that you can get inspiration from almost anywhere, if only you take the time to look.

Dublin Castle was one such place. I didn’t go inside, it was the events unfolding in the courtyard that caught my attention. There were roped-off areas with old fashioned market stalls; some were the type that were on wheeled carts and others were static. As I looked around at the ‘wares’ it felt like I’d stepped back in time and it was a strange sensation. Suddenly I was in Victorian London and all around me were people dressed from that era. As I stared, drinking in the sights, I could picture certain scenes for my Seven Doors series and I couldn’t wait to write it down.

But what was happening there? Was it an exhibition the castle had staged? No. The reason certain areas were roped off was because an episode of the TV series, Penny Dreadful, was being filmed (although I didn’t realise that until I saw actress Billie Piper dressed in Victorian finery and boom mikes and camera equipment being wheeled or carried into the courtyard).

Rehearsal before filming

Rehearsal before filming

Actresses on the Swing Boats

Actresses on the Swing Boats

Billie Piper waiting for rehearsals to start

Billie Piper waiting for rehearsals to start

Part of the market scenery which sparked my imagination

Part of the market scenery which sparked my imagination

One of the cars used to ferry people to the set had this on their dashboard. This might seem like a stupid photo to take but it's all part of the memory.

One of the cars used to ferry people to the set had this on their dashboard.
This might seem like a stupid photo to take but it’s all part of the memory.

I took a few photos (as you do) and on the bus back to the hotel I took out my little pad and scribbled notes about the objects and scenes which had most inspired me. I know at least some of it will appear in one of the books in my upcoming Seven Doors series, but it certainly won’t be in the first one.

It certainly proves the point about inspiration. You never know what’s around to ignite that spark which sends your imagination into overdrive. So open your eyes, take the time to look around you, and make sure you have a pad and pen handy!

Guest Post: Inspirational Characters by K J Waters

Inspiration is something that fascinates me. I love how my mind can imagine different places, characters, and creatures totally unbidden and then give me the words to create stories. I often wonder where other authors get their inspiration from and how they craft their characters.

I asked K J Waters, author of the debut novel, Stealing Time, and who I’ve been featuring on here over the last week, what her inspiration is and whether she’d be interested in writing a post on it for me. I won’t say she ripped my arm off, but she was very excited about it. So without further rambling from me, here’s K J’s post on inspiration:

Inspirational Characters

Thank you so much Carlie for letting me pen a guest post for your blog. Carlie asked me to talk about what inspires me to write and how I develop my characters. It’s funny because when I think of my characters I get all warm and fuzzy. They are part of me of course, but so much more than that, they’ve become my dear friends as well.

Let me start with what inspires me to write. I was born with a very creative brain and have used those skills in various ways to bring me joy. As a kid I’d play for hours with my brother and our stuffed animals. He is my Irish twin, only 11 months older than me (well yes, I was a mistake). In high school and college I set aside my animals to pursue art classes and filled my creative brain with water colors, pen and ink, and acrylics. I didn’t ever consider being an author until I decided to quit my job to stay home with my children well after college.

Without the constant demands of my job, I had time to be very creative with the kids, with constant art projects, day trips to fun museums and loads of imaginary play. But at a certain point, my mind started craving more creativity, more of a challenge than finger paints and zoos. The idea for a novel began brewing after the hurricanes hit Florida in August of 2004 and the following summer we were on a road trip driving up the coast from Florida to Maine.

The idea sparked a wild adventure that has come to fruition with my first novel, just released this past December, called Stealing Time. I’m so thrilled to be back writing again after the months of editing and promoting, and I’m working on book two in the Stealing Time trilogy. My inspiration now comes from wanting to spend time with my beloved characters. I’m falling in love with Mike Walsh, and can’t wait to get back to some of the interesting characters that are in this second book. The time travel elements are so much fun to explore and I’ve delved into it a lot more than I had time for in the first book.

Characters

Carlie asked me how I develop my characters. Ronnie is the main character in Stealing Time and I’d have to say she is about 80% me, with a dash of … hmmmm, not really sure, but there has to be someone else in there. It was easy to make her love the water, because it is something I’m passionate about, and I can say she reacts the way I would in many of her situations, at least as far as I can imagine being back in time and in trouble.

Steph, the second main character in my trilogy, is another story. She is based on one of my best friends who moved away from me years ago. It is my way of spending time with her now that she is gone. I don’t think she is exactly like my friend, because we’ve grown apart somewhat, but it is how I think of her and how she would act in similar situations.

When I developed Jeffrey, Ronnie’s boyfriend, I had to go with what I knew about men. He is a mixture of the good and bad of a few people in my life. It really surprised me that I would enjoy writing from the male perspective so much. Some of my best friends are men, and I love seeing the world through their eyes. Writing from Jeffrey’s perspective has given me a new window into their minds, and from what male readers have told me they really identify with how I’ve written them. Which is a huge relief!

In book two I began writing Mike Walsh, Ronnie’s boss, as the good parts of the same person that Jeffrey is based on but had to diverge enough to make the two characters very different. They have completely different motivations and views in their roles in my book. The other way are very different is that Jeffrey pretty much listens to me and does as he’s told. Mike has his own ideas. He’s hijacked my story on numerous occasions and it has shocked me as some of the twists and turns that have spiced up the story. I gotta say, he’s really grown on me and if I could make him into a real person my husband would be in big trouble. I guess that’s a writer for you, always making up stuff and often glad it’s not real.

As for Mathias in the first book, an Austrian man from the 18 century, I pretty much had to go on a big fat guess on how he would act. You don’t really run into many men from that time period these days. I have a friend who read the book and reported, much to my surprise, that he had a really good friend from Germany who was so much like Mathias in how he acted and thought. Maybe, just maybe, I tapped into some special time travel skill to mind meld with these characters in a different realm. Hey, I’m a writer I can think outside of the box on anything if I want.

The side characters are a mish mash of people I run into in my real life – a waitress, a PTA mom, an old boss. On several occasions I’ve created a character not really knowing him well, but as he develops into a full blown personality I meet someone who is ridiculously like that person I crafted. It has definitely freaked me out. This happened with Nick in the first book.  

I’m really curious to learn how other authors create their characters and see if my approach is standard operating procedure, or if, as I often do, I’ve created something completely different.

Thank you again Carlie for allowing me to spew on and on about my inspirations and character development. I’d love to talk to you about how you created your well-loved characters in the Heart Search series.

I’d be only too happy to talk about my characters with you, K J!.

It was a real pleasure for me to feature K J on my blog during this last week and I hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as I have. Don’t forget, if you’d like a copy of Stealing Time, click here for all the buy links from the Book Launch post!

KJWaters-Front Cover for blogkj pic

Harry Potter: Up Close and Personal

Last weekend, my daughter and I drove to Leavesden, near Watford, to the Warner Brothers Studio for the Harry Potter Studio Tour. My daughter grew up with Harry, Hermione, Ron and Dumbledore and has always been a big fan. She raved about the books so much I ended up having to read them to see what all the fuss was about. Yeah, you’ve guessed it – I got hooked too! So it was with great excitement we set off on Sunday morning for the seventy-five minute drive.

Thanks to Sally SatNav (GPS to my friends across the pond), we found the place quite easily and once parked, took a few photos and collected our tickets before entering the enormous building.

The large reception area’s walls displayed huge photos of the key characters; my one disappointment of the day was the lack of a picture of the original Albus Dumbledore, Richard Harris. Hanging from wires hooked into the ceiling we found the ‘flying car’ from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets as well as the trolley loaded with Harry’s trunk and Hedwig’s cage which was used at Kings Cross Station to get Harry onto Platform 9 3/4. As we passed the barrier to enter the tour, we saw the staircase from 4 Privet Drive as well as Harry’s bed in the cupboard beneath. I also noticed the following inspirational quote from J. K. Rowling:

“No story lives unless someone wants to listen”

Once through the doors, and after a short cinematic presentation, we wandered through the hallowed doors into the Great Hall. WOW! It’s very large and, apart from the CGI ‘enchanted ceiling’, it was exactly as you see it on the films.

From there, we walked into one of the sound stages. In here were the sets for the Gryffindor Common Room, Harry’s dormitory, the Potions Classroom, Dumbledore’s office, Hagrid’s hut, Umbridge’s pink office, The Burrow (complete with working props like the self-washing frying pan) and the fireplaces from the Ministry of Magic. It was amazing! I was imagining them in the films my daughter and I have watched (and enjoyed) over and over.

Potions Classroom

Potions Classroom

These sets were interspersed with some of the most memorable props from the films: the ice palace from the Yule ball; the door to the Chamber of Secrets; various costumes; the door to vault 713 in Gringotts; the massive pendulum, the Griffin which guarded the stairway to Dumbledore’s office; Hagrid’s motorbike and sidecar; and, of course, the Nimbus 2000 and Firebolt. There were also the two massive statues from the Ministry of Magic.

In between all these (and much more I haven’t mentioned), were information cards displaying interesting details about certain aspects of the films.

It must have taken us more than two hours to work our way round this first area and I’m not convinced we saw absolutely everything!

From there the tour led us onto the ‘Backlot’ where we found the Knight Bus, the Potter’s Cottage from Godrics Hollow, 4 Privet Drive (these last two were almost full size properties build on the Lot – unbelievable), Hogwarts Bridge, the Riddle family gravestone (you might remember it from the Goblet of Fire), but best of all – BUTTERBEER. OMG! If you have a bit of a sweet tooth like I have (and we both blame my father for that particular trait, lol), Butterbeer is a non-alcoholic nectar from the Gods. Both my daughter and I loved it so much, we went back for second helpings!    DE-LI-CIOUS!

The Potter's Cottage in Godrics Hollow

The Potter’s Cottage in Godrics Hollow

After enjoying the fresh air for a while (and more photo opportunities), we proceeded to the second sound stage. The first part of this was all to do with the creatures, how they were made and the animatronics used – very interesting. As I predicted, my daughter’s complexion paled a little when she saw Aragog (she is a chronic arachnophobe), and being the wicked mum I am, I just had to take a photo of it for her. *sniggers*

Who's scared of giant spiders? My daughter!!

Who’s scared of giant spiders? My daughter!!

Suddenly, we were in Diagon Alley. Another ‘WOW’ moment. All the shops and Gringotts bank are real buildings. You can actually look through the windows and see the shop’s wares laid out as they are in the films. The only exception was the animals were stuffed.

Diagon Alley

Diagon Alley

The penultimate section was the work that went into building the sets, from concept drawings and ‘artists’ impressions’ paintings to detailed plans which most architects would be proud to display, and miniature models made from white card of the most widely recognised buildings from the films.

Then . . . the pièce de résistance . . . we round a corner and there it was – a huge model of Hogwarts. It was the wow-est WOW moment of the entire tour. The way it was lit and the sheer magnitude were breathtaking. You could actually walk around the whole model and see it from different levels. I have to say, it was a fitting end to the tour and putting this magnificent structure anywhere else would not have done it justice.

Do I really need to caption this??

Do I really need to caption this??

On our way out to the gift shop, we suddenly found ourselves in Ollivanders, where there were literally thousands of wand boxes – each one was labelled with a cast or crew member who had been involved in any one of the eight films. I thought that was a lovely touch. My daughter was overjoyed to see the name of her nephew, who was an Assistant Director on the last two films, on one of the wand boxes and insisted on taking a photograph (even though it was about four foot above her head) and instead of stepping back, she decided to crane her neck and then wondered why it was aching a bit.

On a TV-type screen was the following quote, again from J. K. Rowling:

“The stories we love best do live in us forever, so whether you come back by page or by the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home”

We spent over six hours there altogether and the time just flew by – we were totally mesmerised by everything we saw.

So, was it worth the money and would I go back again? Too right! The gift shop wares were rather over-priced, but apart from that I couldn’t fault it.

Now I’m home, I’m filled with even more inspiration than usual and am pouring it all into the final revisions of my second book, Heart Search: Found. With a bit of luck, it’ll be ready by the end of the month. J. K. Rowling may write for a younger audience than me, but she’s no less of an inspiration!