1. If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
In my youth I enjoyed mysteries, so Agatha Christie was a favorite of mine and still is. She is very good at creating characters and good dialogue. I think James Michener was someone I was drawn to a bit later because of my love of history. I have published two historical fiction novels (Rosebloom and A Burnished Rose) and what I learned from Michener about historical fiction is that you don’t have to be afraid to give too much back history. I do think Michener goes overboard with this sometimes so I just scaled back with my historic information but still added quite a bit to my books. Agents and big named publishers don’t like it – unless your Michener – but people who like historic fiction do.
2. What was the hardest part of writing your book? Since I self publish my stuff, the hardest part is not the writing or editing, it’s the marketing and making contacts and getting your name out there and… It takes up too much of my writing time and is a constant struggle to manage.
3. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? “The Red Velvet Box” isn’t so much of a message as a story to help people remember those people in their lives that have now grown older and may need some help but are still important and have something to share. (I guess that is a message, isn’t it!)
4. Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life? My characters aren’t based on anyone in particular but I can tell you that I got the idea from a friend who was helping a 90 year old woman by the name of Florice clean out her house. My friend told me that Florice had some interesting old Christmas ornaments that he had found. This got me thinking. Wouldn’t it be interesting to tell a story of a person’s life (or part of their life) through these old ornaments? And who better to share those stories with than a granddaughter. I gave my grandmother character – Blanche – a memory problem to make the story more interesting and more real. I used some of Florice’s own ornaments and some of my mother’s (she’s 82) for the story.
5. Why did you choose this period of time to set your story? Since I have a keen interest in history, it is natural for me to pick a time in the past (in this case early 1950s) to write this story in. I had to do a little research on ornaments, Christmas trees, the clothes of the time and of the Girl Scouts. I love sharing a little history in my fiction stories. I think it’s a great way to learn history and it makes it more real.
6. What sort of Starbuck’s coffee would your characters order? I don’t drink coffee so don’t know Starbucks , but Grandma Blanche would drink tea – black tea with nothing added. She went through the depression. Katherine would drink hot chocolate with marshmallows!
Come back tomorrow to learn about Christine’s favorite parts of her story.