I'm hoping that very soon I can put up pictures of sunny days featuring my tulips and roses. That is if April's fool doesn't turn into a month long thing. LOL.
I think you already know I interviewing authors, new, old and in between. So, today it's my pleasure to introduce you to Christy Olesen.
Christy: Hi Dyanne, thanks for hosting me here today.
Dyanne: You're more than welcome and I thank you for being here in my little corner of the world. Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from, what is your background?
Christy: I was born in Los Angeles County several miles east of LAX. My family moved from there when I was fourteen and I spent the next twenty-some years in Orange County about five miles from the beach and ten miles from Disney Land. At that time I worked as a dental laboratory technician. I then changed careers and worked as an inker for an architectural illustration firm.
From there I moved north, following family to Northwest Nevada. I started working for the local newspaper as a graphic artist and have been with them ever since. This part of Nevada felt like home from the start. I love the rural atmosphere and I have set many of my books in this area, which I call the Cottonwood County Chronicles. The first of this series, A DADDY FOR LUKE, will be out this summer.
Dyanne: I've seen some of your work and I'm very impressed. When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer, and what was it that inspired you to start writing?
Christy: I wanted to be a writer when I was about 12 and I wrote a “deserted island” story. It had a hero, a heroine and a sidekick-chaperone-villain. However, my talents were more evident in the visual arts and that is the direction I wanted to go. In high school I wanted to write and illustrate children’s books.
Dyanne: I'm betting you'll get back to illustrating the children's book. Right now the writing muse is calling to you. When did you write your first book?
Christy: Not counting my five-page novel when I was 12? Just before I moved to Nevada I started my first real novel. It is a fantasy set in the Sierra Nevada at the time of WWI. It is a deliberate Cinderella plot with a mean stepmother and two conniving stepsisters. The hero is heir to the largest cattle company in the area and the heroine’s godfather has a little magic up his sleeves. It has a beginning, a middle, a black moment and a HEA. But there are still a lot of holes in it. I hope someday to revisit it. It’s called DUSTY ROSE. Instead of being covered in cinders, she’s covered in sawdust from working in her father’s sawmill.
Dyanne: How many books have you written? Do you have a favorite?
Christy: I have about five novels finished. One published, which was actually my third novel, and the other four ready for edit. I have several more in various stages. There are too many ideas, and not enough time.
It’s hard to choose a favorite. Whichever one I’m currently working on is my favorite. HER SCOTTISH CEO is one of my top favorites because I got to write my own fantasy of becoming a licensed artist, I got to include my own watercolor paintings, and it was fun to revisit my travels in Scotland as I wrote the book. It’s also my first published novel. They’re like children. The firstborn is always special but you don’t love him more than the ones who come after. BTW, I don’t have any children; maybe I should use cats in this analogy!
Dyanne: LOL. When you were younger, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Christy: My mother tells me that one Halloween I told her I wanted to be an “Indian Princess Queen Mother”. She made me a costume. Other than that I went through the usual cycle of wanting to be a teacher, a dancer, and an artist.
Dyanne: I love it. Thanks for the visual. You made a very cute India Princes Queen Mother. So, Christy, how long does it typically take you to write a book?
Christy: Since I write around 60k I can write a first draft in four or five weeks if I turn off my internal editor, which is getting harder to do the more I learn about writing. That sucker keeps bugging me: You gotta do this and you gotta do that.
The real time investment is in revising and editing until it’s the best I can write. Then I send it to my beta reader, who never spares my feelings, and I revise again.
Dyanne: That internal editor can be a mean bugger. But thank God for beta readers who don't spare your feelings. They can be very helpful. And thank God for editors like Sidney Rickman. Can you tell us where the ideas for your books come from?
Christy: I’m not sure where the ideas come from. I think writers just have these characters and scenarios in their heads that are triggered by natural curiosity: But what would happen if...? Some of my ideas are triggered by a story I’m reading or a film I’m watching. There comes a point in the story where the characters make a decision and I think... But what would happen if...?
One story, which I call OUT OF THE ASHES, started as a dream. I wrote the novel, but after revisions and editing there are only a few sentences left of the original scene triggered by the dream: It was a warren of roofless rooms and ruined corridors. Sodden trash and pools of dirty water everywhere. It was dark and deserted.
My first published book, HER SCOTTICH CEO, came about after I spent four weeks traveling and painting in the Highlands of Scotland. I put together A WATERCOLOR JOURNEY, an illustrated journal and had three different publishers in Scotland interested. However, the deals never went through. So, I began to think: But what would happen if... one of those publishers was a hunky Scotsman who wanted my paintings almost as much as he wanted me? Then my characters took it from there.
Dyanne: I love ideas that began as a dream. Where is your favorite place to write, where do you feel most creative?
Christy: I like to write in my home office. Originally it was a gunroom for the man who built the house. The windows were high, frosted and barred. A little jail like. I had one replaced with a large window. Now I have light and a view of cottonwood trees in the summer and snow-capped Sierra peaks in the winter. I’ve added an ergonomic keyboard and a large monitor to my laptop and I’m all set. My cat Cheetah likes to sit on my arms when I write. Sometimes he’s so relaxed he snores. Sometimes I have to ask him to leave, as it’s hard to type with 15 pounds of cat lying on my arms.
Dyanne: You've given me a great idea with the gun room. Oops, sorry but like you said we get idea from everything. Do you have any role models? Have there been any other writers that have inspired you?
Christy: The one writer who has had the most influence on me was Betty Neels, an English romance writer who published her first book when she was 59 and went on to write over 100 novels, the last one when she was 90 a year before she died. I’ve read about 70. She wrote classic, sweet, old-fashioned romances.
Dyanne: I'm going to have to remember Betty Neels' name. I love people who fulfill their dreams regardless of age. Hooray. When you're not writing, what do you like to do for fun?
Christy: This winter I’ve gotten back into knitting. I’ve dabbled at it over the years and I’m still a beginner, but this year I knitted a lot. It was so cold this winter, and fuel oil so expensive, I turned down the thermostat in my office. I knitted two capes to wear while I write. I also knitted a cowl and a scarf.
In the summer time I like to take my vintage trailer out camping. I usually go to rallies with other vintage trailer owners.
I also like to garden, both vegetables and flowers. And, of course, I love to read!
Dyanne: Christy, I can see a ton of success in your future. You're a great author and a very creative author. Do you have anything that you'd like to say to your readers?
Christy: I hope my sweet romances take you for a time to a quieter, saner world. We all need a break from the chaos.
Dyanne: What kind of advice would you give to new writers?
Christy: Keep writing and studying the craft. There’s always room for growth and improvement. Keep reading, other writers are our best teachers, and there are a ton of wonderful stories out there.
Dyanne: Christy, it has been delightful talking to you. I wish you the best of luck with your writing career.