Friday, February 20, 2009

Interview with Charlotte Hughes

I’d like to welcome our guest today, Charlotte Hughes. 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 due in bookstores Feb 24th titled NUTCASE. Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous new book?

Hi, and thank you for inviting me to your website, Much Cheaper Than Therapy! (What a cool name, and it sort of fits with my new book.) I am always thrilled to touch base with readers and authors. Writing is a lonely life!

NUTCASE is the second book of my new CRAZY series, published by Berkley Jove. I should mention that, despite the ongoing characters, the books stand alone.

The first book of the series, WHAT LOOKS LIKE CRAZY, (published March, 2008), introduces my main character, psychologist Kate Holly, and a cast of crazy family, friends, and patients. The funny thing about Kate is that she can be as neurotic as the people she treats. When she is stressed – and believe-you-me she has good reason to be – she becomes a little obsessive-compulsive and counts things. She prefers even numbers. Odd numbers are complicated. Sort of like her life.

Although Kate is still madly in love with her firefighter husband and he with her, they separated shortly before the first book opens because Kate has a real problem with a man who purposefully runs into burning buildings. Kate’s father, also a firefighter, died in the line of duty when she was ten years old. Husband, Jay Rush, wants to work on their marriage as badly as Kate does, but not at the cost of giving up a career he loves. It is up to Kate to learn how to deal with her ongoing fears.

Although each book of the series has a mystery to solve, they are more character-driven, and the characters are hilarious. For example, Kate’s mother and aunt, Dixie and Trixie, are identical twins in their mid-fifties who still dress alike. They’ve been running a junk business for years – they’re known as the Junk Sisters. Kate describes what it’s like being the daughter of a Junk Sister and living in a house that looked like something out of “Sanford & Son.” To this day she claims it’s the reason she couldn’t get a date for the prom.

I had so much fun creating them! I’ve heard writers say one or more of their books wrote themselves, and that has been my experience with both WHAT LOOKS LIKE CRAZY and NUTCASE.

NUTCASE is a very interesting title. How did you arrive at that name?

Since the series is based on the wild and crazy life of a psychologist, I thought it would be fun to have titles that reflect my plots. I am presently working on book #3 of the series, titled HANGING BY A THREAD.

What made you decide to write in this genre?

I’ve probably been in therapy longer than my therapist has been practicing. I am also married to a clinical psychologist. Writers are constantly told “Write what you know,” so that’s exactly what I did this time around.

Are you a plotter or a pantser and how did it affect the writing of this book?

I plot all my books carefully because I need a map to guide me or I’ll just wander all over the place. I don’t always follow my outlines to the letter but not having them to lead me would feel like walking a tightrope without a net.

Did you have to do a lot of research for the book? What are your favorite research books or sites?

Yes, I have a ton of research books, and a number of them are professional manuals, like the “DSM,” the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.” The scary thing for me is that I have a lot of the symptoms listed! My husband also provides professional input.

Where did you get your idea for this particular book?

I suppose the idea was born out of my own experiences in therapy. But to be honest, the characters just popped into my head one day, and they truly took me on a wild carnival ride. The thing is, even therapists and psychiatrist have issues so it was a lot of fun to create a psychologist who was OCD, among other things.

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

Kate was so much fun, but I loved creating her receptionist and side-kick Mona as well. Mona’s late husband was filthy rich. As Kate’s best friend, Mona has appointed herself as Kate’s PR person because she hopes one day that Kate will one day have her own TV show like Dr. Phil. Then there’s Kate’s ex-boyfriend, psychiatrist Thad Glazer, with whom Kate not only consults with but shares several patients. Thad would love to have Kate back in his life, his hot tub, and his bed, and he makes no secret about it. Each time Kate calls for advice, Thad first asks her to describe the panties she’s wearing.

Tell us about how you develop your characters. Do you create character sheets, do interviews, that sort of thing? How does your research affect your character development?

When I first started out I had extensive character sheets, mainly because I think good characterization is the most important element in any book. I knew my characters inside-out, their favorite colors, favorite foods, their fears and dreams, you name it. As time went on, I became better at developing them in my head so I scrapped the sheets.

Do you have any authors that inspired you?

That person would have to be Janet Evanovich. She was the first person to convince me to widen my scope from category romance to single titles. Co-authoring the FULL HOUSE series with her prepared me to go on and write my own series. When I was writing single titles, the most difficult thing was letting go of the characters I’d spent months and months writing about. Like I said, writing can be so isolating, and these characters actually become friends. (Yeah, I know that’s scary!) Sometimes I would get tearful saying goodbye to them.

What do you feel is the most effective promotion you have done for your book?

Online promotion is one of the best ways to connect with readers, but I think book signings are important also. They put you face-to-face with booksellers and readers alike. And it gets me out of the house!

What do we have to look forward next?

As I mentioned, I’m presently working on HANGING BY A THREAD, a continuation of Kate Holly’s wild and wacky life. I hope readers will find the series as fun as it was to write.

Thanks, Charlotte!

And again, thank you for allowing me to share with everyone my latest books. It has been my pleasure!

To celebrate her book release, Charlotte offering a free book of one of backlist to one lucky commenter on today's blog. (the winner will be announced in the comments section on Monday.)She will be around all day today. I'm sure some of you have questions or comments for her, so please ask away...


Bio. Award winning author Charlotte Hughes began her writing career publishing newspaper and magazine articles before becoming a New York Times best selling author. Charlotte makes her home in Beaufort, S. C. and has written over 40 books. This is her first series since co-authoring the FULL series with friend Janet Evanovich. Readers are invited to visit Charlotte online at, where she also blogs regularly. As part of the introduction of her newest work, NUTCASE Charlotte is doing her first virtual blog tour VIRTUALLY NUTS in February and March.

Check out author’s website at Again, NUTCASE will be available in bookstores Feb. 24th. You can also order it on Charlotte’s Website and at


Suzi Frankel said...

Cool, I cant wait to buy the book. I Loved Hot Shot and the series you wrote with Janet Evanovich!! You two give me more laughs than all the other writers combined, you should go on the Daily Show!

Sonja Foust said...

Came by way of GoodReads. Great interview! Sounds like a really fun series.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to thank everyone at Much Cheaper Than Therapy for interviewing me. I love the look of the site since I am a huge coffee drinker -- Starbucks French Roast. You can buy it cheaper at Walmart, but it's one thing I splurg on. I figure since I don't have to buy pantyhose I can afford it.

Brenda said...

Great interview, and sounds like a really enjoyable book. The way you describe your characters makes them feel so REAL. Thanks, Charlotte, for making yourself available. I always find it much more enjoyable to read a book when I know something about the author and their process. Looking forward to reading!

Carol Webb said...

Your book sounds hilarious! I'm always looking for a good laugh. Having two middle aged twins dressing alike--just thinking of it makes me smile.

I think its great that your character is obsessive compulsive. We're seeing more of that in the movies, so its nice to get a glimpse in books.

Your series is definitely on my to be read list!

shea said...

I look forward reading. Sounds like a real interesting series@

cindy said...

I am so excited about Nutcase! I have been waiting for it since I finished the pages of your last book, What Looks Like Crazy! I was just checking out your website today to see how many days left until I could get my next "fix" when I saw the opportunity to read your interview at this site! How cool is this? I am definately not tech savy, so forgive me. I did not even know this type of "online interview" existed.
Anyway, thanks to you Charlotte, for keeping me entertained. Also, thanks to your interviewer for giving the fans an insight to your creative wit!

dogmom2six said...

It sounds like a great read! And the interview was excellent.


Charlotte Hughes said...

Gosh, I hope I can send this without screwing up like last time and blogging as Anonymous, but I'm not very good at this. I really appreciate the kind words from all of you. NUTCASE has been received so well -- huge sigh of relief -- and I finished the third book of the series, HANGING BY A THREAD, yesterday. Well, the actual book is written, but I have to do a couple of sets of rewrites before I e-mail it to my editor. I'm also getting ready to go on book tour --I leave next Monday -- so, rush, rush, rush. I have to do the BIG DREAD and find out if I have anything in my closet that will fit after sitting on my butt for months. Plus, I have to wear pantyhose, which is a real drag, not to mention low heels, which will kill my feet because I wear socks all day. They go better with my pajamas than anything else, you know? So, again, thanks for all the super nice comments. Charlotte :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Charlotte,
Ugh, I know all about stuff not fitting. And pant hose? Haven't worn them in years, unless you count a sock puppet to entertain the kids when they were younger. Thanks again for blogging with us and good luck on your tour:)

Charlotte Hughes said...

Cindy, I'm so glad you're looking forward to NUTCASE! Please let me know if you like it.

Kim, try pulling on CONTROL TOP pantyhose while wearing fake nails. Once, at a writers conference, a nail popped off and landed in the toilet -- I was running late, meeting my editor for dinner -- and I had to fish the darn thing out of the toilet and reapply it! Is that disgusting or what!!!

I am really excited. I NEVER get out of the house, but I'm going to dinner and then to the movie to see SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE. I'll let you guys know if it's good.


Charlotte Hughes said...

Okay, I'm back home, and I promised to let you guys know what I thought of Slumdog Millionaire. It's a tough movie to watch at times, but it is awesome. You'll adore the main character, Jamal.
Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Lara Lee said...

What Looks Like Crazy and Nutcase both look like excellent reads and a lot of fun! I like that the characters are odd and quirky - don't you think people are much more interesting that way?

Good luck with your new release. I'll be looking out for your books. Great interview!

Charlotte Hughes said...

Yes, Lara Lee, I enjoy writing about characters who have "issues" because everybody has something weird about them. I am the Queen of Weird! When I was writing category romances for Loveswept, our heroines had to be almost perfect. I don't know any perfect people, do you? So I love the fact that my main character in the CRAZY series is a little neurotic. It certainly makes her more fun to write about! Thanks for your support. Charlotte

robynl said...

I would love to read the Crazy series; sounds like it is good for a few laughs as some others have said.
Thanks for being here and having the contest.

LuAnn said...

I know a woman who is a psychologist and she's definitely a Nutcase!

Sharon said...

I loved the first book in the series What Looks Like Crazy. I can't wait to read this one.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations dogmom2six. You're the winner of Charlotte's book. Please contact Kim at kwatters21 (at) Thanks.

Charlotte: glad you enjoyed Slumdog Millionaire. Looks like the Academy agreed with your thougths last night. I'll wait til it comes out on rental to watch it. Thanks again for blogging with us.