My guest today is Christine M. Fairchild. Originally trained as a journalist, she’s worked as a writer/editor ever since. Her varied background from tech to marketing to exec communications to entertainment runs the gamut and has informed her “writing style and tactical editing approach”.
Currently, Christine is focused on writing fiction, though teaching is her other love. She’s published The Editor Devil's Guide to CHARACTERS and The Editor Devil's Guide to DIALOGUE to continue "teaching" while she finishes writing her novels. Her debut novel, An Eye For Danger, is book one in her romantic suspense series and is available on Amazon.
Anne – Welcome, Christine. Before we begin, I have to say how much I love your author pic. What a super way to promote and remind readers you are the Editor Devil! Tell us a something about yourself you’d normally only share with close friends.
Christine - A student recently asked me what made me write suspense stories, which often include violence and themes about overcoming abuse of power. I'm no stranger to abuse. Physical, mental or sexual, most of which occurred during my childhood. So that informs my characters, who are often from broken backgrounds, as well as my stories, which center around justice and the examining right and wrong. I also have a lot of characters who manipulate, which is both an abuse of power and a survival skill, so I play both sides of that coin.
That all being said, I doubt I'm the only author who comes from this background. Storytelling is where we can oft right some of the wrongs in our lives.
Anne – So true. “What doesn’t kill us, makes us writers” explains so much. When did you first realize you were destined to be an author?
Christine - I was in 3rd grade and kept getting "best essay" in class and reading them aloud. So that was confirming. But, honestly, I grew up psychic and was the kid of a psychic. So I knew two things about my own future from a very young age: that I would be a published author and that I would meet the man I was going to marry around 30. Try telling an adult that when you're ten years old! Anyway, those have both come true.
Anne - What one or two lines best sums you up as an author?
Christine - Character driven. I love complicated plots, which further cripples me as a plotter. But I'm fully into strong, rich, multi-dimensional characters, and I work hard to achieve that experience for the reader. I'm crossing my fingers that my romantic suspense achieves this goal, as well as a fun plot rollercoaster!
Anne – Tell us about your most recent release.
Christine - An Eye For Danger was written in four weeks (120k words). I pumped it out before Christmas one year during a time when I was the primary caretaker for my mother-in-law, who has dementia. So the book was my refuge from the daily grind and stress.
Frankly, that was not a great time in our lives, and I started having panic attacks. After I got her into a home, I didn't bounce back and discovered I had PTSD from all the anxiety, verbal and physical attacks. So that went into the novel for my main character, who is a former war photographer with PTSD. I've recovered just fine, and have a new respect for those with uncontrollable panic disorders.
Anyway, the book is about getting your power back on a character level, and about law enforcement corruption on a plot level. Here's the official book blurb:
When former war photographer Jules Larson braves a PTSD attack to jog beyond her five-block safety zone, she runs right into a murder scene, where she’s taken hostage by Sam Fields, an undercover FBI agent desperate to avoid capture by his former mentor, NYPD Detective Stone McCarthy, who might be part of Sam’s two-year investigation of dirty cops.
Anne – What a great premise! Do you belong to writer organizations, critique groups, or depend on beta readers?
Christine - Having a critique group is pivotal to your craft education. And pivotal to learning to see your story from the outside. As authors, we get really caught inside our stories, so we can't see our own blind spots. Good critique partners not only help you see those blind spots, but help you get around them.
Beta readers serve a totally different purpose--they provide your trial readership. The raw reactions of whether the story as a whole works or doesn't. They are gold to the process (where your critique partners were the diamonds that helped you etch out the story).
I'm thankful to have been blessed with knowing extremely smart and talented people in both of these groups!
Anne - How long did your journey from wannabe writer to published author take?
Christine - For me it's been a very long journey, probably 10 years longer than it needed to be. I've been stunted by my own fears and need to take care of others. Hence, I was always frantic to find work to help support my mom and sister, or I took on eldercare for my
MIL. Anyway, I got in my own way a lot. But that allowed me
time to learn my craft to the point that I'm teaching, gain a lot of friends
and contacts in the biz, and write multiple stories that I now can edit into
publication. And because I waited, I'm in a market where I can indie publish
and do great.
So my advice to other authors or young writers is to allow your writing to happen on its own timeline. You'll know when you're ready.
Anne – I can SO relate. Like you I got in my own way, and my journey to publication took a lot longer than need be. Still, I doubt I’d change a thing. Does one character in particular hold a special place in your heart? Why?
Christine - I think Jules in An Eye For Danger hits close to home--she's a reflection of parts of me that needed to overcome. But I really put her through hell the first 2 books in the series. Frankly, I have a huge crush on Sam. He's boyish and funny, as well as self-effacing and human. Sure, he's got the body of a baseball player--but he's rough around the edges in that street fighter way. So he's hot on a primal level.
Angeline, the female protagonist in my WWII novel (not out yet), who is a USO singer turned spy for military intelligence, is probably my ultimate character, which is different from saying she's my favorite. She's manipulative, brash, arrogant, and deeply terrified of the world. After witnessing her Major General daddy shoot himself, she's a bit messed up. She's like a bombshell Eva Gardner with a vendetta. That she ever falls in love with an RAF pilot is a miracle. But her key journey is one of self-sacrifice to help a Nazi Panzer Colonel find absolution, and hence, find her own path to peace. Her story is one that rips my heart out.
Anne - What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned about yourself from your writing?
Christine - Resilience. They say it takes a lot of time, energy, and stamina to be an author. Well, I used to write articles and documentation, so I thought I had the toughness for editing/critiquing and the biz. But that was nothing. It takes years to learn your craft, your genre, your readership and your market. And during that time you keep telling folks you're writing the novel (or in my case, 3 novels), and they keep rolling their eyes. Especially spouses. Though mine has been supportive off and on, even he struggles to have patience with what has proved a multi-year journey.
So resilience, not patience or stamina, is the quality I see as pivotal. I can withstand the naysayers, including
agents/editors who say "you can't do this, can't do
that" and decide for myself what is the right course of action. That
negative energy just fuels me to drive harder. New York
And now that I don't need traditional publishers or agents to achieve my career/art goals, I'm even more free to advance my novels and make a reasonable living. I'm very self-motivated and will work hard to write solid stories as well as drive my own marketing campaigns. But that's mostly "know how" and roll-up-your-sleeves energy. Resilience is what really got me here. I suspect that is partly the survivor side of me--the one who has made it out of hell a few times and thinks she can handle anything.
Anne – Where can readers find you online?
Christine - On Twitter I like to share a lot of industry info and resources. On Facebook I like to share puppy photos of our new chocolate lab, Tucker. And on my blog, I like to give free tips and tricks to help authors and editors succeed in their goals.
Anne – Thanks for dropping by to chat, Christine. I wish you every success with An Eye For Danger.
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