As I promised a while back, today Carlie M A Cullen, author of The Heart Search trilogy, has consented to answer a few questions for us. She is a lovely, talented woman who has been one of my editors for several years now!
CC: Hi Connie! It’s lovely to be here. Thank you for the tea.
CJJ: Hello, and you’re welcome! Tell us a little of early life and how you began writing:
CC: I grew up as an only child. My parents worked full time and both had second jobs. As a result I was left to create my own entertainment. I loved the tales of Hans Christian Andersen and started to write my own fairy tales. I found myself disappearing into the stories I created and it made me feel less lonely. From there, I progresses to writing longer short stories and poems. It’s something I’ve continued to do into adulthood.
CJJ: As you know, I love this series. Tell us about your most recent book.
CC: I hope you’re not after any spoilers, Connie! [laughs] Heart Search: Betrayal is the final book in the trilogy and takes Remy and Joshua’s story to its natural conclusion. However, it’s not all hearts and flowers – far from it. There is a traitor who is passing copious amounts of information to someone who has a massive grudge against the coven, and who they are in league with. But there are four possible suspects. Which one is it and can the coven discover their identity before it’s too late? There are many twists and turns along the way, some good and some terrible. Certain characters really shine and there’s the discovery of new talents along the way. Unfortunately there are casualties, some of which may shock my readers.
CJJ: The story line in Betrayal is quite divergent from the previous two books. How did you come to write this novel?
CC: When I reached the halfway point in the first book, Heart Search: Lost, I knew there was too much of a story for just one. It was at that point I realized Heart Search would turn into a trilogy. I couldn’t leave the world I’d created and made the decision to complete the trilogy before moving onto other stories I had in my head.
CJJ: I always have that problem too. I think some stories are just larger than we originally thought. So, do you have a specific ‘Creative Process’ that you follow, such as outlining or do you ‘wing it’?
CC: It depends on what I’m writing really. With Heart Search, I had the first twelve chapters meticulously outlined, but around chapter five my characters decided they were going to take over and make me tell their story their way. I threw away the outline and have ‘winged it’ ever since. As I wrote this based on current day, it was easy to do.
With my next book, I’ve had to do some extensive world building and creating magic systems and the like before I began writing. However, as far as the story goes, again I’m winging it and seeing where my muse and characters takes me.
CJJ: Well your muse is taking you to some wonderful places! In your opinion, how does your work differ from others of its genre?
CC: I can only really talk about the Heart Search trilogy here. In the first book you have two POV’s: Remy in first person and Joshua in third person. Their stories run parallel to each other and every now and then they softly bump before going off again. I believe this is what makes it unique. In book two, I brought in extra character voices and gave them their own POV’s in third person. The final book takes even more POV’s into the mix, always in third person, whereas Remy has maintained a first person POV throughout. I also believe (going by the reviews I’ve read) the storyline itself is completely different to what others have read before. Put all this together and that’s what I think makes my work so different from others in its genre.
CJJ: So now we get down to the question that I always wonder: Why do you write what you do?
CC: As I said earlier in the interview, I loved the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tales and that was a huge influence in my writing. Growing up I tried reading different genres, but I always came back to fantasy. There’s something so intriguing about the characters you can create, the worlds you can build, and adding to that those mystical creatures we all know so well: fairies, goblins, dragons, vampires, et al. It seemed only natural for me to write in this genre. It’s where I’m in my comfort zone.
CJJ: I know why I chose the indie route for my work, but I’m curious as to why you’ve chosen this path.
CC: Originally, I wanted the dream of getting an agent and a decent publishing deal, but I was new to the industry and quite naïve. After a few rejections, I decided that after all my hard work on the book it would be nice to give people a chance to read it. In addition, I had people I knew asking me for it. It was about that time I joined Myrddin Publishing. Everyone was so supportive from day one so I published it through them and haven’t looked back since.
Now I know more about the industry, I’m really glad I’ve taken this path. I have so much more control over where my books are sold, what sort of cover I want, what price to charge, and how much I want in royalties that I think I’d now be too stifled by a major publisher.
CJJ: I agree! Being a part of the Myrddin Group has been a blessing to me too, considering the assistance we give each other in every aspect of bringing a book to market. And the fact that you really are in control of your own work and profits makes this an adventure! So what advice would you offer an author trying to decide whether to go indie or take the traditional path?
CC: This is a tricky one to answer because what’s right for one person isn’t necessarily right for another. I think the best thing they could do is talk to other authors, some who are indie and some who have gone the traditional route. Ask them about the pros and cons of both and then they can make an informed decision that’s best for them.
I wish I’d done that in the beginning as I was so green it was ridiculous, but I was one of the lucky ones who met some wonderful indie authors who helped me along the way.
But going back to the question, do your homework and don’t make any snap decisions or judgments that you may later regret.
CJJ: Very good advice! Thank you for taking the time from your busy schedule to visit with me, and for sharing your wisdom!
CC: Thanks so much for inviting me, Connie. I’ve really enjoyed chatting with you. Now, is there any more tea brewing?
CJJ: Yes, actually. This is a lovely citrus Lady Grey, I hope you like it! This tea set is my Alice in Wonderland set, which my children gave me last year!
Carlie M A Cullen was born in London. She grew up in Hertfordshire where she first discovered her love of books and writing.
She has always written in some form or another, but started to write novels in 2011. Her first book was published by Myrddin Publishing in 2012. She writes in the Fantasy/Paranormal Romance genres for New Adult and Adult.
Carlie is also a principal editor for Eagle Eye Editors.
Carlie also holds the reins of a writing group called Writebulb. They have published four anthologies so far, two for adults and two for children, all of which raise money for a local hospice.
Carlie currently lives in Essex, UK with her daughter.
Links for Carlie M A Cullen
Heart Search, book one: Lost: http://smarturl.it/HeartSearch-Lost
Heart Search, book two: Found: http://smarturl.it/HeartSearch-Found