Thursday, February 21, 2013

Guest Post, Charlotte Stein

The first story I ever got published was Golden Moment, in Kristina Wright's anthology, Steamlust. I wrote the story based on a couple of ideas, one of which made it into the story; the other... did not.

First was the golden hour; my husband used to be an EMT, and he uses that phrase to describe the prime time to fix an injury. If you can get to an accident victim, get them in the ambulance and to the hospital in that golden hour, they will have a much better chance of survival, quick healing, etc. I know this because when my leg was broken in 5 places, we did NOT make my golden hour. In fact, my leg wasn't fixed until more than a day later, when I finally got into surgery because the ER doctor did not adequately convey the severity of the break to the on-call bone specialist. Would my recovery have been easier if I'd gotten surgery that night? There's no way to know, for sure... but my bone specialist was Very Angry when he saw my X-ray and actually waited ON HOLD to schedule my surgery for as soon as possible...  this concept did not quite make it into the story... maybe it'll make it into a later short. The only thing left from this idea is the title, Golden Moment.

The concept that did make it into the story; a friend of mine was telling me about the problems he had with his watch. It wouldn't work under direct sunlight. He wasn't sure what caused that, but if he was out in the sun, the watch would just stop, until it was shaded again and then it would pick up right where it left off. So, he could tell the amount of time he'd been out in the sun by comparing the time on the watch to the time as it actually stood.

But enough about me! Steamlust is where I first encountered Charlotte Stein. Her story, Mr. Hartley's Infernal Device, is my absolute favorite. Reading Charlotte's work is like feeling someone else tap directly into my brain and the random weirdness that happens there. I finished reading it for the first time, and I was absolutely shocked, rocked, and moved. In fact, it's been quite a long time since a piece of writing has directly affected me so much.

We've had a few email conversations since then - I wrote her once when something she said on Twitter made me feel like she needed a hug... anyway, she's a totally brilliant writer, interesting and wonderful, and I'm very happy to have her here today.

What are your greatest challenges in your writing career?

Not letting outside stuff worry me. Comments about my writing style, in particular, occasionally make it tougher for me to write. Bigger life worries sometimes put a dent in me. But as time goes on, I'm getting better at filtering stuff out. Luckily, I have some readers...and basically that's all I ever hoped for. Some readers who like me!

When did you find out that you wanted to be a writer? What inspired you to put pen to paper?

I want to say I was thirteen, but it must have been much younger than that. When I look back, I can recall writing my first "novel" when I'd just started high school. So I think I was around ten or eleven. I was an avid reader, and just wanted to read the kinds of things I tried it myself. I basically rewrote a Ladybird edition of Sleeping Beauty, after painstakingly copying the whole thing out into an exercise book!

Of your published works, do you have a favorite? Why? 

Probably Control. I didn't worry what people would think, I wasn't concerned that the hero was submissive...I just went for it. And to my great joy, people have actually responded to it. It's sold much better than I ever thought it could with such a strange hero, and I'm forever happy and grateful for that. I love Gabriel, and love that other people do too!

Do you ever want to go back and edit an older story? 

LOL dear God YES. Not just edit...change completely. If I knew then what I know now...

How do you decide on character names?

I usually come up with names second. The character and their foibles and what not comes first, then I think of a name that fits. Of course, sometimes they walk into my head fully formed...but not always.

What's the worst thing that ever happened to you that you've incorporated into a story?

I've never incorporated anything that's ever happened to me in my work! There are little pieces of heroines might like something I like, for example. But generally speaking, no real life events. Not even real life conversations.

Is there a character or story that's stuck in your head and won't leave, from either your work or someone else's?

Oh God, too many to mention. I've had characters stuck in my head for the better part of twenty years, from stories that I'd love to write but feel I can't for one reason or another. And then there are movie characters that have stayed with me...Ellen Ripley, Sarah Connor...and more recently Wikus from District 9. These are the kinds of characters I dream about, often.

What writers or novels do you consider “must reads”?

Stephen King, Margaret Atwood, Christopher Pike. Emma Holly, Cara McKenna, Ruthie Knox, Selena Kitt, Justine Elyot. So many fantastic new YA authors now...I've devoured stuff by Susan Beth Pfeffer, Lauren Oliver, Veronica Roth, Carrie Ryan. A must read for me is something that isn't just a trope I fancy. It's always powerful, interesting, weird and wonderful writing that drags me along. I want to be dragged.

Thanks so much for having me, Lynn!

Well, you're welcome! I'm so glad to have you here!

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