1. What inspired you to write your stories for the STORM anthology?
Sadly I don’t have an interesting inspiration story to tell this time! The first three sentences literally popped up in my mind one evening (it might have been while I was brushing my teeth – something about that specific action regularly triggers thoughts/reminders/ideas). I went to one of my favourite coffee shops the next day and by the end of the afternoon had completed about a third of the story.
2. Tell us what your stories are all about.
“Once upon a storm” is a story in a story. The setting is an orphanage where one of the older girls read a bedtime story – about a little storm – to four younger children. As the bedtime story unfolds, we learn more about each of the children: Twinnie who pines for his lost half, the 20 cheetahs in Vince’s garden, Maggie’s wish for a picnic in a park, the mystery of the new girl and, of course, Lauren’s encounter with the woman who wears wings.
3. What excited you about taking part in the STORM anthology?
It was my first foray into short story-writing, and also my first writing project as part of a group.
4. What is your next project about and when can we expect it to be published?
My next novel is in Afrikaans and deals with three generations of the same family. When grandmother Stella dies, her sons and grandchildren discover a secret she’s been keeping from them for more than 30 years. This changes their perception of who she was and all she stood for, and forces them to examine all the other truths on which they had built their lives. My aim is to enter the manuscript into a local competition that closes on1 September 2014.
I’m also busy with a non-fiction book that tells the story of how a small Irish community succeeded in saving their local wetland (bog) from being mined for peat. We are planning to publish the book by the end of this year.
5. What is your biggest challenge in writing?
The time I spend I front of my laptop. I earn my living as a freelance corporate journalist/business writer, hence I pound away at my keyboard for most of the day. Sometimes I literally run out of words, and other times I can’t bear to be in front of the screen once my workday is over. Having said that, corporate writing has taught me incredibly useful lessons that I apply to my fiction writing.
6. How do you deal with this challenge?
By doing my fiction writing before my workday starts. Early in the morning, when it’s quiet and my mind is fresh, I can easily knock off a thousand words in an hour.
7. What advice would you offer to other authors having to deal with this same challenge?
Find the creative writing time that works for you and guard it jealously.
8. Please explain to my readers your writing process and how you manage your life to accommodate your writing.
I try to write between 05:30 and 06:30 every weekday morning. The routine helps me and by writing every day, my head stays with my story. Writing with other people has helped me a great deal in the past, ie, getting together for a few hours to write. When I can, I like to write in a coffee shop – the activity around me becomes white noise and the fact that someone else brings the refreshments to me keeps me pinned to my chair! I also find that sharing some of my writing with people whose opinions I trust can be a great motivator when I run out of steam. Constructive feedback at the right time is an energy boost for me.
You can find all Charmain's books on Smashwords