The New Year brought us a new author with her first book release from Rocking Horse Publishing. Yesterday, I spent an hour or so chatting with Charlotte Howard about her steamy novel, Seven Dirty Words. We had hoped to get together on Skype for this interview, but that didn’t quite work out. Read on…
»Q Let’s begin with a little about you. You’re living in Martock, England, correct?
Yes, down in Somerset.
»Q Does that make you a city girl? Country? Pretend I’m clueless, which I am!
Country through and through, although I have moved around a fair bit.
»Q But always in England?
No, I was born in Oman, moved to England in 1989, lived in Scotland from 1990 – 1993 ish, then back to England. I grew up on the Nottingham / Lincoln border, moved to Lincoln city in 2001, and moved to Somerset in 2003. Then we moved to Jersey in the Channel Islands in 2006 before moving to Martock in 2008.
»Q Wow, fantastic, I’m glad I asked!
I like to travel. (big smile)
»Q I can only imagine your lovely accent. We were going to do a recorded interview. Tell me what happened to your laptop?
(laughing) I turned my back for five minutes on my four-year old son and eighteen-month old puppy. I still don’t know what happened, but my poor laptop ended up on the floor with a smashed screen. Thank God for home insurance.
»Q I hope you didn’t lose anything valuable — your next novel, for instance?
No, thankfully that’s on a pen drive!
»Q Whew! We should talk about your current release, Seven Dirty Words — is this your first novel?
It’s my first traditional print novel, but I have self-published a little murder mystery, and I do have an unpublished novel sitting on my PC.
»Q I’ll certainly have to pick up your mystery — I love those! Now, I’m a regular guy, football and NASCAR. Will SDW still appeal to me? Who do you see as your typical or ideal reader?
Hmm… It’s more aimed at women who enjoy raunchy romances. Although I do know a couple of men who have read it and enjoyed it.
»Q Yes! That’s exactly what I wondered. Any comparisons being made to the infamous 50 Shades?
Oh yes. It’s the same genre, so I’ve had lots of people comparing it to 50 Shades. It’s not the same though – no BDSM in this book.
»Q Can you point to any one inspiration for this book? Was it already written before “50” was released?
Credit where credit is due – I read 50 Shades and thought I’d try my hand at romance. SDW wasn’t the book I wrote though. I wrote one called April’s Baby. While I was waiting for agents to get back to me, I wrote SDW.
»Q Thanks, inspiration comes when it does, doesn’t it? Will you also release April’s Baby, then?
It needs serious editing, but hopefully one day. I’m trying to write SDW‘s sequel, Four Letter Words, at the moment though.
»Q Well, great! You signed with Robin Tidwell at Rocking Horse Publishing, a small press. I know you had at least one other offer. So, why RHP? And, are you encouraged by early sales figures?
Business is business, and Robin offered me the best deal. Yes, sales seem to be going quite well at the moment, although I haven’t seen the actual figures yet.
Don’t worry, we’re almost to the sexy part…
»Q Fair enough. Let’s talk about your cover. The girl looks damaged. What can you tell me about that? What sort of story is this?
Paige Holmes is overcoming a traumatic experience and the story is about her finding her strength again. She hides herself in a masculine world, playing rugby, living with her brother and working for a mechanic. I guess you could say she is damaged – physically and emotionally.
»Q What is the best emotion you might hope for in your readers, when they reach the final page? Relief? Excitement? Sadness? (No need to spoil the ending, of course!)
Ooh I don’t know! The end of the book is conflicted. She’s made her decision, but there’s still a long way to go.
»Q So that leads us to the sequel, then. Do you believe you’ve created a good Series character, or will two books tell the story?
The story ends in the second book.
“SDW is full of bad language and sex”
»Q Do you think readers will be happy with Paige’s choices? Is she lovable?
I’ve been told she’s stubborn. But once you find out her story, you realize why. I hope my readers are able to sympathize with her. Her choices aren’t the best, but they make sense.
»Q That sounds intriguing! Back to YOU for a bit. Is there one author whose style you love, who strongly influences your writing and your stories?
Not really. I have a varied bookcase! With crime and murder mysteries I read a lot of Tami Hoag, Tess Gerritssen and Harlan Coben.
»Q OK, then, is there one — when his or her new novel comes out — you just have to have it, right away? (Lee Child for me, for instance)
Tami Hoag. I have almost all of hers.
»Q Are you a full-time writer?
In a sense. I write for a content website, doing a lot of editing and fact checking. But that’s been pushed to one side while I finished SDW. I also have two young children.
»Q Do you write with the kids nearby, or do you have to find private time?
I used to, then my daughter learnt to read. SDW is full of bad language and sex, so I’ve had to write it while they’re at school or asleep.
»Q (laughing) Understood! Is there someone else in your family with whom you’ve been able to share your work-in-progress? Or a close friend? Someone whose feedback you value and trust?
Poor suffering husband gets snippets, but I usually send chapters to my two best-friends for feedback. They’re brutally honest. I also read chapters at my local creative writers group. I trust them to tell me where I need to edit. Although I joined after SDW was written.
»Q Sounds about perfect, Charlotte. It’s good to have TWO friends, so you can check their opinions with each other. Is this the genre where you hope to find a home? After the sequel, will you continue in the same vein?
I don’t know. My heart lies with crime and murder mysteries, and I’d like to revisit that at some point. But I do have other contemporary romance ideas.
»Q Do you expect to release a crime/murder mystery at some point in the near future? Is that what’s lying in wait on your hard drive?
I think I have a couple more romances in me yet. Perhaps within the next five years.
»Q So, how old will your daughter be before she will be allowed to read SDW? How sternly would you word the content Warning?
My husband would say 30. Legally I have to say 18 I think. But the truth is I was reading books by Jilly Cooper and Jackie Collins at 15.
»Q (laughing) It was Harold Robbins for me at 14 yrs old!
(laughing) All I can say is the sex is graphic and so is the language, but I hope it’s not vulgar.
»Q I’d imagine that “vulgar” varies from reader to reader. What would you say to convince a potential reader that SDW is something they might love? Give us the blurb?
It’s a story about making the decision between safe and dangerous. She wants to be strong and independent, and only one will let her be those things. We’ve all been attracted to someone our friends and family disapprove of!
It’s like choosing between sexy stilettos and comfy slippers.
»Q Great answer, Charlotte! Thanks so much for taking the time to talk with me about Seven Dirty Words.
You’re welcome, Jim. And thank you, too. I also want to thank Robin for taking a chance on me!
»Robin replies: “We’re absolutely thrilled to have Charlotte as our first author, and very excited about the potential for her book.”
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How does Charlotte’s novel sound to you? Ladies, are you okay with “raunchy”? Guys, are you willing to give Seven Dirty Words a look?