The author hot seat specials are designed to help readers get to know both popular, and up and coming authors, a little better. The questions are broken into sections - About your writing, about you, fun stuff and finally. Some of the questions are easy, other may need a little more thought and some may cause our author friends to hesitate before answering—still, they all answer.
Today we welcome Charlotte Howard to the hot seat, her new book The Black Door is out and Charlotte is hitting the blog tour highway in order to get the word out. I'm so happy to have her here today.
Tell us about your latest book. What was your inspiration for writing it, is it part of an ongoing series, the characters, the genre etc?
The Black Door is a contemporary romance / light erotic romance novel (it lies somewhere in between!). It revolves around the life of Imogen Pearce, a recently divorced mum of four who is fast approaching 40. She starts working for Ryedale Incorporated, and finds herself having to compete against the younger generation for clients. She’s offered the account for Sean and Cherry Rubin’s adult shop, Wicked Ways. It’s not long before she realises that the shop is a front for a private club called The Black Door, and that she actually knows a few of the members.
It’s a book about discovery – Imogen sees people she knows in a new light and secrets are revealed, but more than that, it’s about her discovering herself.
I was inspired to write it after a reader of my previous books made a comment about heroines always being young, beautiful and rich. They wanted a heroine who was older, and struggling. So I created Imogen.
Cal Ryedale, the owner of Ryedale Incorporated and sort-of hero, isn’t perfect either. Imogen doesn’t even find him attractive to begin with. He’s married, and uses cheesy lines (“my wife doesn’t understand me”), but as with Imogen, his character develops over the story and we see a kinder side to him.
About your writing:
How many books have you written during your career so far and which is your favorite?
I like to say three. My first two, Seven Dirty Words and Four Letter Words are part of a duet, with the first being published in 2013. But I did write a novella back in 2010 and self-publish it. I don’t like that one though – I did it all for the wrong reasons, and it wasn’t all that good.
I don’t have a favourite. That would be like asking me to choose between my children! (I think most writer’s say that.)
Have any of your books received negative reviews and how did you handle the situation?
Seven Dirty Words received a 2-star review on Goodreads, but it was from a man saying he didn’t enjoy it. That doesn’t bother me though because I wasn’t aiming for a male audience when I wrote it!
I think the worst review I’ve had was for my self-published novella – it got a 1-star review on Amazon. Negative reviews don’t tend to bother me because everyone is entitled to their opinion, and you’re never going to please everyone. But, this one did bother me because it was written out of spite. It was from someone I used to work for, who created the review after I quit the team and we fell out. I think that’s very childish. I’ve always said as long as the review is honest I’m happy, even if you do rate it at 1-star, I appreciate that. But if you’re going to slate someone’s work just because you fell out and wanted to upset them, then that’s not fair. However, it was on the SP novella which I took out of print!!
Do you believe in writer’s block and if so, how do you overcome it?
Yes. Yes I do. Every now and then I get completely stumped and don’t know what to do. As a writer, whose career sort of depends on being able to write, I find it quite upsetting when I sit and stare at a blank screen, unable to think of anything.
Sometimes taking the dog for a walk and simply getting some fresh air can help, but there have been times when I’ve committed the ultimate sin and hit delete on the entire manuscript.
When that happens I switch the laptop off and take a break for at least a week. Even if I find myself wanting to write after a couple of days, I refuse to and have a whole seven days off. By the end of it, I’ve got a whole new idea in my head.
What is the one genre you would never write and why?
I never say never. However, I have tried writing children’s stories and can’t do it. I have a lot of respect for anyone who can write for kids! Horror would be difficult for me as well – Stephen King terrifies me (well, his stories do), so writing something along those lines would give me nightmares!
Have you ever written a book that you’ve regretted publishing and why?
Yeah – the self-published attempt. I wrote it when I was pregnant with my daughter, thought it was perfect and refused to edit. I spent nearly 3 years sending it out to agents and publishers (unsurprisingly it got rejected) then decided that KDP made it easy to self-publish and would do that instead. Big mistake.
I was arrogant and naïve to think that it was even remotely ready to be seen in print. Back then, all I wanted was to see my name on the spine of a book.
If a reader said they wanted to write a book, what advice would you give them?
Do it! But before you consider attempting to get it published, or self-publishing it, join your local writer’s group and ask them to critique it. Constructive criticism is your friend – as long as it is constructive and not just “yeah that’s crap”. Ask how to improve it, take part in writing exercises, and NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK!
I love my fortnightly meet-up with Yeovil Creative Writers. It’s 2 hours where I can talk to like-minded people, read 1200 words out and get some tips on how to improve it. My writing has improved drastically since joining, and I’ve made some life-long friends as well.
Tell us what a typical day in your life is like?
There’s no such thing as typical in this house! I’m always on the go, and if I’m not running around after the children, walking the dog, or volunteering and doing charity work, I’m glued to my laptop and writing.
My 5 year old son thinks he’s a werewolf, who climbs EVERYTHING. My daughter is a girly-girl and loves to dance and sing. I also volunteer at our local primary school and for the Girl Guiding Association, so every day brings something different.
What sort of things put you in a bad mood?
My husband will tell you that’s not difficult to do. Lack of sleep is probably the worst thing. I need a minimum of 8 hours or I am the worst person to live with. That or interrupt me when I’m mid-write. If I’m in the flow of writing a scene and suddenly the phone rings, or the dog barks, or anything, and I get irritated!
Do you have a bucket list and what’s one thing you still want to do that you haven’t done?
Oh yes. I add to it quite a lot. I’d love to play a villain in a film – like an evil witch or similar. I have a great evil witch laugh according to my kids.
What makes you laugh?
My kids. They come out with some cracking lines. Out of the mouth of babes and all that. The other day we were shopping, and a young girl walked past wearing a pair of extremely short hot pants. My son piped up with “Mummy, that girl forgot to put her trousers on. I can see her bum.” I shouldn’t have laughed, but I did.
What is the most embarrassing thing you’ve ever done?
Too many to list, and tequila has usually been involved.
Do you like to read and what are you reading at the moment?
I usually have three or four books on the go at any given time. At the moment I’m reading Deja Dead by Kathy Reichs and Not Juliet by Ella Medler.
If you couldn’t write anymore, what would you do instead?
A few years ago I would have said working as a vet nurse, since that’s what I did before kids. But since volunteering at the school I’ve realized how much I love working with children. It’s very rewarding, so I’d probably say working as a teaching assistant.
If you could go out with one famous person who would it be and why?
Will Smith. No contest. I’ve been a huge fan since the late 80s / early 90s and his Fresh Prince days.
Do you have a habit that drives your partner/friends/family nuts and what is it?
Talking. I could win medals for talking. I never shut up.
In your opinion, what makes a person attractive?
The ability to put up with me.
What is the strangest food you’ve ever eaten?
Oh wow. I like to try new foods, and if I’m in a different country I will eat whatever is their traditional dish, so I’ve eaten horse, baby octopus, shark, snails, frog’s legs and stuff that I don’t know what it was!
Would you rather have a classic 1969 convertible Mustang or have the use of a beach side condo any time you want?
Beach-side condo. We’ve been through the “nice car stage” (MR2 – two of, RX8, Rover 220 GSi Turbo, Lexus iS200…) and now have a busy family life, so being able to relax on the beach whenever we wanted would be a welcome change.
Would you rather survive an apocalyptic event (yes, even a zombie apocalypse) or die instantly without knowing what happened to your family and friends?
I’d probably die – I’m rubbish at surviving. Even in my dreams when I’m being chased, I’ll hide in a cupboard and then come out just as the baddie is going past! I’d like to survive though.
We went through a “prepping” phase at one point. We’d been watching DoomsDay Preppers, and decided it would be cool to own our own bunker. We didn’t get that far, but I do have a cupboard full of tins of hotdogs and bags of flour.
Imogen Pearce is a single mum of four children and fast approaching 40, she works at Ryedale Incorporated where she has to battle a younger and smarter generation to get to where she wants to go. If that means taking on the account of Cherry and Sean Rubin’s adult shop, then she will. But what happens when Imogen discovers the private club that they run at the back? And what happens when she realizes she knows quite a few members?
My mind traced back to the day I had given up on one-sided monogamous relationships.
The children were at school or work, and the sun was beating down. It was a glorious day, and I had decided to go home for lunch, rather than spend it in a stuffy office.
I pulled up outside the house and a fleeting thought passed through my mind when I saw Connor’s car sitting in the driveway. My husband of eighteen years had had the same idea.
I crept into the house, hoping to surprise him. But, it turned out that his idea had involved a slutty bottle-blonde.
I wanted to blame the events that followed on a red mist descending over me. The truth is that in the time it took for my mind to register that some tart was riding my husband in what I later found out was known as reverse cowgirl, my mind had calculated the necessary response.
The skank lost a good handful of bleached hair, roots and all. I allowed her to gather her clothes and watched as she tugged her pants on whilst running out of the house. If nothing else, the neighbours got a good show.
Connor yelled at me. But his words were drowned out by the blood pumping in my ears. I marched back up the stairs and into his little study. Opening the window, I saw Miss Slut stood in the middle of the road, screeching obscenities at me. I looked at the Ferrari in our driveway and smiled.
I think his Xbox enjoyed its first and final flying lesson as it sailed out of the window. The fact that it landed in the bonnet of his prized mid-life crisis proved that Karma does exist.
I made a mental note of the two names at the top of my imaginary hit list.
I blinked and I was back in the boardroom.
About the Author and where to find her online
British author Charlotte Howard, was born in Oman and spent much of the first part of her life flitting between Oman, Scotland, and England. Now settled in Somerset, Charlotte lives with her husband, two children, and growing menagerie of pets.
Her career as a writer began at an early age, with a poem being featured in an anthology for the East Midlands. Since then Charlotte has written many short stories and poems, and finally wrote her first full-length piece of fiction in 2010.
During what little spare time she has, Charlotte enjoys reading and writing (of course), spending time with her family, and watching action movies whilst eating curry and drinking tea.
Charlotte is an active member of Yeovil Creative Writers.