Sunday, November 28, 2010

Author Interview - Christine Schulze

Good afternoon my dear readers!

Today I'm quite happy to give my blog over to the lovely, and very talented, Christine Schulze! 

She is the author of numerous books and novellas, including Bloodmaiden which I posted a review of yesterday. Later today I will also be sharing my review of one of her upcoming books, Tears of a Vampire Prince.

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1) I always like to start my interviews with a challenge! If you had to describe yourself in a tweet, only 140 characters, what would you say?

C. E. Schulze is a master of creating unique worlds, deep, quirky characters, and intricate plots, likened to C.S. Lewis and Diana W. Jones.

(That WAS a challenge, but fun! ^_^)

2) From reading your bio I noticed that you are quite the busy writer! How many books have you written so far?

Well, I have been writing since I was four; however, as for the collection of books I’ve published and plan to, I’ve been writing those starting at around twelve. So, hopefully it’s not quite as big a shock to say I have written over thirty books to date (I did have an exact number but have since lost count).

I started out with an intention to have twenty-seven in my vast collection called The Amielian Legacy, which is comprised of series and stand-alone books, all of which can be read as individual works, yet all connect in some way or other (I truly love the challenge of finding a way to connect two works which seem to have nothing to do with one another!).

While some of the books are fantasy, some are Christian fantasy, and many contain Christian symbolism, most of them subtle and not preachy (which is what I aim for and which a couple of my reviewers have said, that I integrate the symbolism well without coming off preachy), though a one of my books, The Pirates of Meleeon, does directly address Christian topics. The number “twenty-seven” tied into that Christian symbolism, because twenty-seven is divisible only by itself, one, nine, and three. Nine can be divided into further “threes”, and three, or course, represents the Trinity.

Needless to say, God keeps inspiring me, and I just keep on writing! The Amielian Legacy is now to have thirty-three books, representing the years Christ lived on Earth. However, I may yet be able to reach forty, often considered a number of challenge in the Bible—which would certainly seem appropriate!

3) Out of those, do you happen to have a favorite?

That is indeed an awful question, a larger challenge than the first, I think!

I suppose I do have some favorites though, although I never write anything I’m not really into, so I am pleased with all my books.

Bloodmaiden, my first publication with Old Line Publishing, is definitely a favorite. Besides a unique plot combining magic and music, it was also the first time I really used dragons and also contains a lot of rich imagery and metaphor which could make for a great cinematic experience someday! Actually, while a lot of writers I know have trouble translating what they see on their heads to the page, this is something I’ve always been very gifted in. I see every scene and feel every emotion as though watching a movie in my head; the effect must work, because even those who don’t like Bloodmaiden as well as others agree the language and imagery is rich and beautiful and really puts them in the moment.

The Gailean Quartet is probably my favorite series, if I had to pick one. It also combines music and magic to create a unique lore. The series is named after the character of Gail, inspired by my choir teacher at Southwestern Illinois College. Attending her classes really brightened my day and kept me going when I was going through some hard times. They say, as a teacher, that you often touch lives without meaning to. This was true of Mrs. Fleming, a wise, loving woman with many wise things to touch the heart:

“You all have a gift. It’s free. It’s the gift of song.”

Ah, choir...

She retires next semester, but I shall be singing in her choir one, last time! Look for videos of the choir on Youtube; my username is LittleMissFlem, and I have loads!

Another series I would definitely recommend is The Hero Chronicles. This really turned out to be a very intricate series full of twists, turns, and emotional roller-coasters, not just because of plot depth, but even more so because of the depth of the characters and everything going on with them. As Eden, a girl on Goodreads who just reviewed the series, says, this is a series which really does get better with each book.

The first book is more light-hearted; you get to know the characters and world for about the first half, before the plot begins to come into play. By book two though, you’re already delving into a deep back-story of one of the characters, making everything so much more complex. There’s also a side-romance happening throughout between the mysterious Tiffany and Dristann. By book four, the characters are definitely well-known enough by the reader to just jump right into what turns out to be a crazy story; so much happens to the characters, leaving readers on edge through book four and five.

To sum it up in Eden’s words:

“This book, like the last, had a lot of emotion and I think one of the best words to explain it is intense. It was just intense, reading each page and finding out what happened next. I just kept reading until I finished because I couldn't wait to find out what happened next. I think the ending was wonderful and I was very happy with it.” Overall, The Hero Chronicles series was wonderful, each book seemed to get better and better and the characters were just great. I'm so happy to have read these books and these will be books I recommend to people.”

As each book is short, only about a hundred pages, I definitely recommend it to readers just looking for a great story to try me out for the first time.

4) If you could meet one author, living or dead, who would you choose?

Hmm...toughie. I think I would go with Diana Wynne Jones, as her worlds, plots, and characters are just so fresh, quirky, fanciful, and lovable; you never know what’s coming next and are so intrigued when whatever it is finally comes!

If it’s not too clich√©, I would also wager on meeting J.K. Rowling, if possible. I truly do believe she did a great job creating her world; she seems to know it so intimately, considering how many details really comprise everything that happens. We could only ever guess what else happened inside her head that she never shared...

Also, if I may add, I’d like to meet Shigeru Miyamoto, who is not an author but rather the creator of great video games like The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, which has inspired far too many books and ideas in books for me to remember the number off the top of my head!

5) What would you say is your main source of inspiration for your writing?

I can be inspired by pretty much anything—other books, artwork, anime, video games, ideas others give me, you name it. As a Christian, I believe my inspirations come from God, and one of the best inspirers He has given me is people.

So many of my books are created because of a friend or someone who has made some influence on me or perhaps just has a cool name. Sarah, a best friend of mine, has appeared in many of my books as multiple characters; she is, however, still a bit bitter at my having made her neither evil nor get killed in any books to date. The Gailean Quartet is a series combining music and magic and was spawned from the love of my choir teacher, Mrs. Gail Fleming, at Southwestern Illinois College. And of course, it would be unfair not to mention my boyfriend who “saves” me as Crispin in Elantra: Song of Tears, Lady of the Dawn (he does die a tragic death, but that’s fairly common for people I really like).

6) From your list of current works, it seems you dabble in different genres. Do you have one that you prefer over the others?

I saw this question and I told my boyfriend, “I’ve been called a dabbler.” Dabbler is now my new favorite word. ^_^

(Sorry, that’s my quirky side coming through).

In all honesty though, I have almost always written fantasy and Christian fantasy, both of which I love and will always write. I’ve tried realistic fiction, and while I can punch out a few short stories, they are not great, and a novel isn’t on the way anytime soon. I just feel so stifled, unable to craft my own world; historical fiction is certainly out of the question.

Lately though, I’ve been trying to add some more literary techniques to some of my books; Bloodmaiden, for example, is definitely a fantasy read with subtle Christian symbolism. However, beyond focusing just on a good story and characters, I also really chose to focus on the language of the book, creating loads of rich imagery, symbolism, and metaphor. It’s one thing readers love about the book, even those few who didn’t favor the book in other areas.

Also, I’ve taken up becoming a horror dabbler lately. Nothing too serious, just a short story here and there. It’s quite fun though, even if my horror stories tend to turn out more tragic than gruesome. Still, it’s a different challenge for me, and it’s always good to refresh the mind with something new.

In addition, I just wrote my first fan novel, Silent Hero, based on Nintendo’s Legend of Zelda series, available as an ebook download—for free, of course, lest the beloved Miyamoto mentioned above send an army of Chu-chus after me...

Finally, I am co-authoring a different sort of book with a friend of mine, known as Salvain Cullen amongst the internet realm. It’s called You, Fairie, I and is definitely fantasy; however, it will contain multiple threads in which the choices readers make will lead to very different conclusions. Sort of like the old Dungeons and Dragons which-way books, only far deeper. It will read like a first person novel, but the reader will embody the main character and help her choose, which will not likely be simple...

So, to make what should have been a short answer actually short, yes, I have become a dabbler, as of late. However, even the subgenres I’ve been dabbling in often contain some form of fantasy or other, and fantasy—especially Christian fantasy—shall ever remain my genre of choice.

7) What advice would you give to those aspiring writers out there?

In the words of Mrs. Fleming:

“Concentrate: it’s a visual!” and “Keep focused!”

In short, be persistent and patient; do not give up! Also, always be learning about your craft; I find that just by writing, I improve with each new book, so practice truly does make perfect! Once you feel you have a really strong work, one of your best yet if not the best, then focus on trying to seriously publish. I know some look down on self-publishing and small press publishing, but it really gave me the chance to work with editors, polish those works, and be prepared to tackle searching for an agent with a lot more confidence now.

Also, ask friends to help you, whether by reading your manuscript, query letter, whatever, or just by offering any good advice they can. My boyfriend helped edit a query of mine so that it now looks phenomenal! I feel, again, much more confident for when I’m ready to send it out.

Patience is also key. I’ve found that, in the publishing realm, you do a lot of waiting. I can pump out a good story in nothing flat if inspired; the rest of my time is spent waiting on editors and such, so start a new project in the meanwhile and keep busy!

Finally, in the words of the Happy Mask Man from Majora’s Mask (by now I hope I’m not the only Zelda freak who will see this):

“Believe in your strengths...believe...”

8) What are you working on now?

Well, I suppose I already gave that away on question six; that’s what I get for not reading ahead.

Besides You, Fairie, I though, I have just finished re-editing The Last Star, a middle grade fantasy/adventure novel which I have chosen as “the book” to start submitting to agents, which I plan to do in a short while. Though I’ve loved self-publishing and working with smaller presses, it’s time to take the loads I’ve learned and bump things up a notch. Here’s a blurb of The Last Star, for all interested:

There were no Stars in Novalight that fateful night; they had all been extinguished save for one: and if Olette, The Last Star, were to lose her Starfire too, then all the land would be consumed by Shadow—and the very world would come to an uncertain end.

Thankfully, the work of the Shadows goes yet unfinished. Hope remains solely in Olette, the tiny winged fox who flies into ten-year-old Christya’s bedroom that dark night. As a Backwards Star, Olette’s life source—her Starfire—cannot easily be snuffed out like all the others in Novalight. Being the smallest and youngest of the Stars, can Olette take up the position of Blue Star and unravel the mysteries of Star Appointment? Can she help Christya and her other new friends discover the truth behind their parents’ disappearances? Together, can they overcome the Shadows with their newfound powers before every last Star vanishes from the sky? Combining the magnificence of the heavens with the allure of magic to create a charming adventure, The Last Star is more than an enchanting tale of light against darkness: it is a story of friendship and forgiveness, one that shows how even the smallest person can become a light of hope after all the others have gone out.

Well, that about wraps things up then. Thanks to Jessica so much for having me. It’s been a pleasure and great fun. I hope all you get the chance to experience the magic and adventure of my books someday, and thanks for reading.

God bless, happy reading, and have a great Christmas and New Year’s!

~Christine E. Schulze

P.S. You can find me, my books, reviews, and future give-aways at:

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Thank you so much Christine for stopping by! I look forward to reading more of your fantastic work!


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