10 questions with Christina Cole
Thank you for letting me bug you, and for answering with such interesting details, dear Christina!
I grew up in a home where reading was not merely encouraged, but celebrated. I lived with my grandfather, an incredible man who had little formal education, yet who understood the adage that “Knowledge is power.” He lived this philosophy in his life and taught me its value as well. He’d read the entire set of the original “Book of Knowledge” and could converse on any topic. It was my grandfather who taught me to read. Holding me on his lap, he would read to me from volumes of the “Book of Knowledge” encyclopedias—mostly poetry, at times articles about space, transportation, or stories from classic literature—or from “Little Golden Books” for children, or from the daily newspapers. I quickly fell in love with words and soon began telling—and writing—tales of my own.
Who or what has been your biggest influence as a writer?
Again, my grandfather. In addition to giving me the world through the gift of reading, he showed me that the world was a marvelous place filled with fascinating people and interesting places. He told stories of his own war-time experiences, stories of his childhood on the Kansas prairies, and he shared his dreams with me. He opened my eyes to wondrous possibilities. That's what I hope to share with others through the stories I now tell.
What do you consider to be the key elements of a great story?
For me, it's always about the characters. Drama is only meaningful as it affects people. A good story delves into the characters' emotions, reveals their weaknesses as well as their strengths, and allows a reader to relate to the events in a personal way.
Could you tell us a little about how you develop your characters? Who has been your favorite character to write? The most challenging?
I love developing characters. To me, the characters who appear in my stories are as real as anyone I've ever met. They have their own stories to tell, and mostly, I listen. I'm especially curious about their past experiences because I know the past shapes the present. My characters are who they are because of what's gone before in their lives. It's important for me to step back in time with them, dredge up their back stories, and uncover all the emotions attached. That's what characters are really about for me -- emotion. When we understand their emotional needs, their goals are clear, and their actions become credible.
My favorite character to date has been Katherine Phillips, known by her friends as “Kat”. She’s young, she’s innocent, and she’s quite a “tomboy”. Those qualities combined to make her a fun character to write.
The most challenging character was Linn Sparks from Summertime. She was difficult to write because she was a “difficult” person, a woman whose desperate need for affection and attention had made her into a self-centered, demanding woman who looked down on others. I had to show Linn as she was, yet give readers a chance to see the “real” character inside -- not Linn Sparks, star of the stage, but Linnie Mae, the girl from rural America.
Please tell us about the projects you are currently working on; what can readers expect to see in the coming months?
I'm excited about my recent release, Not the Marrying Kind. It's western historical romance, Colorado Territory, 1872, and it’s the first in a series of stories set in the little fictional town of Sunset. I've recently signed a contract with Secret Cravings Publishing for the four-book series. I have more stories in my head, and "The Sunset Series" could continue to grow. Each story is a stand-alone. No unfinished endings... no leaving readers hanging at the last page. What ties the stories together is the town of Sunset. It's a growing town, with changes happening. Among those changes, of course, are new romances. Characters readers have come to know as friends from early books will return to share their love stories in later books. I truly enjoyed writing Not the Marrying Kind, and I’m delighted that I’m able to share the town of Sunset—and its quirky residents—with my readers.
I’m currently working on the second book of the series, Keeping Faith. I don’t want to reveal too much about the story yet, but it involves two people brought together by love yet torn apart by anger, fear, and hatred. Between them is a precious little girl whose future they hold in their hands. Will she be enough to keep them together?
Where can readers find out what's new and how can they contact you?
The world of romance-writing is a busy place, and there’s always a lot going on. I publish a short newsletter, Keep Up With Christina, which helps me connect with readers at a personal level. Each issue provides a little inspiration for meeting life’s challenges, a bit of information readers might find useful, and special opportunities available for subscribers only. The newsletter is scheduled to go out twice a month, but it’s sometimes a bit late if there are a lot of other demands on my time with book deadlines, edits, or other obligations. Readers can subscribe by visiting my website.
I always love to hear from readers! My email is CCole@christinacoleromance.com. I also have an author page on Facebook, "Christina Cole's Love Notes." Readers can visit my blog at Christina Cole Romance (christinacoleromance.com) or check me out at Goodreads. Please follow me on Twitter, too, @KCChristinacole
Do you have a strict writing schedule? How do you balance your personal and writing time?
I don't work with a strict schedule. I write because I love doing it, so I spend most of my time at my computer, either writing, blogging, or networking with other authors. How do I balance my personal time and my writing time? I don't. I'm fortunate to have a loving, understanding husband who knows how much I enjoy writing. He encourages me and doesn't get upset or feel neglected when I spend time in my little writing room.
If you could throw a party with any five people (living or dead) who would you pick and why?
George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, Daniel Sickles, and Thomas P. "Boston" Corbett. I'm sure most readers will quickly recognize Washington, Jefferson, and Hamilton who each played an important role in the founding of our nation. The last two—Sickles and Corbett—were from the Civil War era. Trying to explain my reasons for choosing these men would be difficult and would probably only be of interest to other history fanatics. If anyone really wants to know...email me. Let's talk history!
When you're not writing, what do you like to do to just kick back and have fun?
When I'm not writing...well, when I'm not writing professionally, I'm usually writing purely for the fun of it. Nonsense things. Silly poems. Impromptu scenes. Writing is what I love to do, so that's how I kick back and have fun. Other than that, my only "fun" activities are watching an occasional football game, cooking, and pursuing my interests in history through "war-gaming".
If there were a soundtrack to your latest novel, what genre/songs would be included?
I listen to classical, so it would something similar to Aaron Copland's "Rodeo"—very American with a slightly western flavor.