Friday, March 28, 2008

Interview with Charlotte Chalmers

I’d like to welcome our guest today, Charlotte Chalmers. It’s a pleasure having you come visit us at Much Cheaper Than Therapy, where chocolate is plentiful and advice is free. So grab some chocolate and a lounge chair. Your therapy session has begun.

I understand you have a new release out called The Madness of Celia Summers. Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous new book?

Certainly. It would be a pleasure. My novel, The Madness of Celia Summers, is a romantic comedy revolving around the titular Celia and her job as an art therapist at an old people’s home. The book features a cast of eccentric and colourful characters from the home and explores Celia’s romance with a police constable, the shy and delectable Alex, who is a single father and comes with baggage, in trunks!

Here is the blurb.

Celia Summers, intrepid mother of two, loves her work as an art therapist. She’s proud that she gives her elderly independents something to look forward to each day, even if her partner, Martin, is disparaging of her efforts.

But then Martin has a secret agenda Celia knows nothing about. Meanwhile she defends her geriatric charges, fights to secure gallery space for their artwork, and fights to keep The Harbour, a home the residents can truly call home, from being closed.
She takes on the might of the town council; to the point of leaping from a church steeple to bring attention to the plight of her independents, no matter that she might fall and end up splattered all over the pavement. When she does fall, however, it’s much more painfully.

Police Constable Alex Burrows, the son of long time Harbour resident, Colonel Burrows, whose sense of humour has made her laugh, whose tragic personal circumstances have made her cry, whose smile has stolen her heart; turns out to be just as much a liar as Martin.
Can Celia ever trust again? Can Alex get past her protective cadre of friends, forgotten by most of the people in their own lives, and convince her to trust him, to love him, as he does her?

The Madness of Celia Summers is a very interesting title. How did you arrive at that name?

There is a scene where her partner, Martin, stares goggle-eyed and exclaims, “Good God! I really have no idea why you work here. It looks like a scene from One flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

Celia presumes he’s referring to her elderly independents, suitably clothed for their class: Colonel Burrows sports brand new Reeboks he’s ‘gone over the wall’ into town especially for; Eleanor Simpson is elegantly clad in Capri pants and slippers, May Binton in Adidas shorts, shoeless and couldn’t-care-less; the rest of the group following similar suit.

So, Martin thinks it’s madness to work with these elderly eccentrics, especially when the work is not very remunerative.

Alex, the hunky policeman thinks it madness to be abseiling from a church steeple for the sake of her seniors.

And Celia gets good and angry, her campaign for her elderlies scaling new heights of madness, when she discovers that Martin has sunk to an all time low.

So, The Madness of Celia Summers seemed appropriate somehow.

Did you have to do a lot of research for the book?

I have experience of working with older people. Also, I am fortunate enough to have such a residential home locally, upon which the novel is loosely based.

That said, I did have to do a little research into exactly how people do go about throwing themselves off buildings, and whether local authorities would allow them to. Also, I had to look into local planning authorities and how planning applications work.

The art and craft side of things I didn’t need to do much research on as I do have and art degree.

What character did you like writing about the most, and why?

I can probably best answer that by revealing how the novel came about. I was driving along one sunny Sunday and a sentence came to mind: It was a perfect summer’s day, candyfloss sky, ice cream clouds skittering by… That fast turned into a paragraph: Harbour resident May Binton also skittering by, Colonel Burrows in close pursuit, other ideas regarding exercise on the lawn than group aerobics, judging by the glint in his eye. Thus, my eccentric elderly independents were born, whom I adored writing about. Celia, of course was in charge of the class, and by the very nature of being caring was a little bit vulnerable at first, thus involved with someone who might take advantage of that vulnerability. Well, obviously there had to be a gorgeous, caring hunk who would come along and love her, just as she was, but he had to be flawed. Perfect doesn’t really exist, so Alex, with all his imperfections, came along. And I absolutely loved writing him. But then, who doesn’t love a hunk a uniform? (Yum!) KW

If your book was made into a movie, what actor would you like to fill your hero’s shoes?

My hero… Oooh, George Clooney. Can’t help it. He is adorable. Martin I think would have to be played by Hugh Grant. (Can't argue there) KW

Do you have any authors that inspired you?

Though I enjoy a good tearjerker as much as the next person (and why not? It’s therapeutic!), I always feel I need to bring humour to my writing, so obviously I enjoy reading romantic comedy. I’m born and bred in the UK, so I’m not sure whether everyone will have heard of these talented authors but I particularly like Marian Keyes, whose first novel Watermelon made me hoot, despite the diabolical predicament the heroine found herself in, as have her subsequent masterpieces. Cathy Kelly (an Irish Author, as is Keyes. I think I’m attracted to their warm, quirky sense of humour) is a firm favourite. Her books are absorbing and her characters, quite simply, flesh and blood. Catherine Alliott is witty and hilarious, as is Kathy Lette, whose Mad Cows and Foetal Attraction are responsible for getting me hooked on humour. Her work is described on her website as ‘read at your own risqué,’ which I think sums it up admirably. She’s brilliant!

What do we have to look forward next?

My new novel, recently contracted by The Wild Rose Press is called Naked Fully Clothed and is also a Romantic Comedy. I am very excited about this, because it is one close to my heart. Here is the blurb, as yet unedited (and, yes, I do have a penchant for policemen!).

Single mother, Leanne Curtis, has reached crisis point. Then she gets arrested—for soliciting, which does even less for her self-esteem than finding naked footprints on the windscreen of her boyfriend’s car. On the inside.

Lee vows never to fall in love again, ever, particularly with her good-looking arresting officer, PC Paul Davis, in his bite-the-buttons-off blue uniform. Her offering him lodgings is strictly a business arrangement. She has better things to do with her life than fall in love. Attend to the all-important task of blackmailing her ex-boyfriend into repaying monies he owes her, for a start. With a little help from her friends: Jade, who has absolutely no time for love, which only exists in Mills & Boon books anyway, which is shame because there is someone who’s very much in love with her—and willing to woo Mills & Boon style, if only she’d stop pushing him away. And Nicky, who’s exhausted with two truculent teenagers and a toddler to care for, and who is pushing her husband away to be there for Lee. She’ll make it up to him, she decides. Wear something racy and lacy and…draw pupils on her eyelids, which is the only she’ll be wearing come-to-bed eyes.

Thanks, Charlotte!

To celebrate her book release, Charlotte is offering a free ebook of The Madness of Celia Summers to one lucky commenter on today's blog. She will be around all day today. I'm sure some of you have questions or comments for her, so please ask away...

I’m a working mum and writer! I work in financial services, my dream to pursue a career in the arts having been put on hold by early marriage (which came with a mortgage as well as a man attached!), until I found an outlet in writing.

I’ve now been writing for a rather long time (ahem) and I live in the small town of Droitwich in the UK, where I strive to stop my witty son typing – THE END – halfway through my manuscripts and to keep up with the demands of my three rescue dogs, one of which only has three legs, which is quite sad…for me that is. The dog can’t count!


Anonymous said...

Hi Charlotte,

Your book sounds great. I love to read romantic comedies. I work in home health, not as nurse. I'm surrounded by paperwork! LOL So, I can identify with elderly people who sometimes don't even know who they are much less how to dress. Some of them are so lonely and alone, too. Family members have left them to their own devices.

Anyway, good luck with your new book! Yay!

L M Gonzalez
Fellow Rose

Anonymous said...

Hi Charlotte, this story sounds wonderful. I absolutely love how you came up with one sentence and turned it into a book. I write the same way. Sometimes all it takes is a phrase! ANyway, good luck with your sales, I think this book will do very well for you. Another fellow Rose, Carrie Destler

Sheryl said...

Thank you both! I hope it will do well! :) My aim was to include people often excluded by society, but in an upbeat way, hopefully!
Sheryl w/a Charlotte Chalmers

Celia Yeary said...

Celia, here, commenting on my friend Sheryl's THE MADNESS OF CELIA SUMMERS. I can't write romantic comedy--although I do know enough funny people to write about here in Texas. Congratulations! (And who better to be interviewed by than CHEAPER THAN THERAPY--one of my favorite sites to pull up. Celia Yeary

Sheryl said...

Thank, Celia. Maybe I should get you all to email me your eccentrics and I'll put them all in a plot-pot, give it a stir, and see what comes up!

Sheryl w/a Charlotte Chalmers

Anonymous said...

Way to go, Charlotte! Happy print release day!

Liana Laverentz
Thin Ice (NJRW Golden Leaf and EPPIE Award Winner)
Jake's Return
Available in e-book, print, and on Kindle
Ashton's Secret (coming in 2008)

Sheryl said...

Thanks, Liana! :)

Sheryl w/a Charlotte Chalmers