Today we sit down with author C.M. Blackwood to hear a big about her writing process, her inspiration and her advice.
Please enjoy this edition of 20 Questions:
Q1) When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I think I began to realize it back in middle school. That’s when I started writing poetry, which I dabbled with through high school (mostly “emo” stuff).
Q2) How long does it typically take you to write a book?
That really depends. I’ve been known to finish a book in a month – but my latest release, which was completely new territory for me, took me over six months.
Q3) What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
One word: INSANE. I try to keep up with the social media when I’m writing, but then it ends up on the back burner, and eventually falls completely off the stove. I’m a terrible multi-tasker – especially when I’m editing.
Q4) What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Hmmm. I have a bad habit of biting my nails while I’m reading over what I’ve written, but I’ve really been trying to knock that off. (Every time I look down at my hands, though, I’ve still got no fingernails.)
Q5) How are your books published?
Strictly indie. I tried for years to go the main route, and though I haven’t entirely given up hope, I’ve embraced the “free spirit” path for now. At least it allows me to get my work in the hands of readers.
Q6) Where do you get your ideas for your books?
Sometimes they’re inspired by other stories. One time, I got the idea in a dream. (I know – cheesy, right?) But it’s funny, because the scene that played out in my dream didn’t even make it into the book.
Q7) If you don’t mind sharing, when did you write your first book and how old were?
I finished my first novel (a very untidy masterpiece) when I was 19. I only say “masterpiece,” because I published it for a short while on Kindle, and received a review calling it an “undiscovered masterpiece.” The review also pointed to the obvious flaws in the book, though, mainly the “fuzzy history.” That was a completely fair accusation to make, and I’ve since unpublished the book. Someday, I hope to make it into something better.
Q8) What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Believe it or not, I actually read far less than I should, and I’ve been trying to remedy that. I don’t watch a ton of television, but I do like a good movie now and then, which actually helps a lot in connecting my writing to human emotion and popular culture.
Q9) What is your favorite book?
Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens. Some people call Dickens a “goody two-shoes” on account of his obviously pious good guys and obviously evil bad guys, as well as because of his “sugary” endings. But there ain’t nothin’ like a sugary ending, in my opinion.
Q10) What do your family and friends think of your writing?
To be honest, not a lot of the people I know have even read my writing. I publish under a pen name, and it’s kind of like a “secret identity.” My mom’s my biggest fan, though. (Go, Ma!)
Q11) What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
Maybe not the most surprising thing, but the most memorable thing I’ve learned lately, is that English cricket player Wally Hammond scored 336 runs in 1933 in a test match against New Zealand. For some reason, I don’t think I’ll ever forget that. And I don’t even know anything about cricket.
Q12) What do you hate most about the writing process?
Definitely editing. I really don’t like proof reading. I also hate it when I’m reading through the first draft, and one of those dreaded PLOT HOLES creeps up on me. Even by the time I get to the final draft, I’m always afraid I’ve missed one.
Q13) How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
I’ve written about a dozen books, but honestly, not many of them are worthy of publishing. That’s not to say they have no value at all, but they’re not really “top-notch” novel form. I’ve dabbled in everything. My favorite project is called Anna von Wessen, a new take on vampires and werewolves that will someday be re-released as Anna Berlin. It’s extremely close to my heart.
Q14) Do you have any suggestions to help us become better writers? If so, what are they?
That’s a tough one, seeing as I’m far from having learned the “whole game” myself. But my most important piece of advice, I think, is NEVER GIVE UP. If I had given up the first time I was let down or rejected (heck, even the first HUNDRED times), I would have never published my latest book. Also – never be afraid to let what you learn take your writing to new places. It’s not supposed to stay the same forever. It’s supposed to grow and change, just like you.
Q15) Do you get feedback from your readers much? How and what kinds of things do they say?
To be honest, I’ve never been very good at garnering reviews. Mainly because I’ve never been very good at marketing. I’m trying to change that, though. In the past, reviews were a once-every-few-months sort of thing, and they were hit and miss. Some people loved what they read. Some people didn’t. I think that’s because my writing has always been very diverse. But again, I’ve been working really hard to streamline it, and I’m proud of everything I’ve learned by the age of 27.
Q16) What is your preferred reading audience?
Hmmm. They say that you’re supposed to have this question down to a science, but I’m afraid I haven’t managed it yet. I suppose my readers would mostly be women, age 20-35 or so. For my new book, they’d be seeking mystery or suspense with romance mixed in.
Q17) What do you think makes a good story?
I think the best stories are the ones that sort of tell themselves as they go. You can try to work out the plot all you want – but if you’ve got a living story, sometimes it’s going to make moves on its own. Flow with them, but keep control of the overall narrative and tone.
Q18) As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
You know, I was never one of those kids who ran around saying, “I want to be a doctor,” or “I want to be a pilot.” I never played hospital or police station in the backyard. Even by the time I got to college, I had no idea what I wanted to major in. I just knew I liked books.
Q19) Where can we find your books?
My books are available on Amazon in Kindle format. But soon I’ll have new material coming to Smashwords and other indie platforms.
Q20) Will you give us an excerpt from one of your favorite works?
From Oliver Twist:
“It was before this building that the worthy couple paused, as the first peal of distant thunder reverberated in the air, and the rain commenced pouring violently down.
‘The place should be somewhere here,’ said Bumble, consulting a scrap of paper he held in his hand.
‘Halloa there!’ cried a voice from above . . .
‘Stand still, a minute,’ cried the voice; ‘I’ll be with you directly.’
Mr. Bumble, who had eyed the building with very rueful looks, was apparently about to express some doubts relative to the advisability of proceeding any further with the enterprise just then, when he was prevented by the appearance of Monks . . .
‘Come in!’ he cried impatiently, stamping his foot upon the ground. ‘Don’t keep me here!’ . . .
‘What the devil made you stand lingering there, in the wet?’ said Monks, turning round, and addressing Bumble, after he had bolted the door behind them.
‘We – we were only cooling ourselves,’ stammered Bumble, looking apprehensively about him.
‘Cooling yourselves!’ retorted Monks. ‘Not all the rain that ever fell, or ever will fall, will put as much of hell’s fire out, as a man can carry about with him. You won’t cool yourselves so easily; don’t think it!’
With this agreeable speech, Monks turned short upon the matron, and bent his gaze upon her, till even she, who was not easily cowed, was fain to withdraw her eyes, and turn them towards the ground.”
About C.M. Blackwood:
I’m a lesbian romance author who’s been writing for almost a decade now. My latest release is called Who Killed Edie Montgomery? (The Mystery of the Haunted Manor). It’s my first mystery, but there are more to come. Find more info on my blog, Blackwood’s Magazine, or follow me on Twitter and Facebook.
Connect with C.M. Blackwood:
Facebook: Click here
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Blog: Click here
Find C.M. Blackwood’s books:
Who Killed Edie Montgomery? (The Mystery of the Haunted Manor)
My White Dahlia: A Novel of 1950 London