Tell us some quirky facts about yourself:
Most authors are quirky, and I’m no different; I can imitate Elmo and I do impressions with my cat. My mind tends to work in a quirky way, too, like a squirrel’s- something catches my attention, and then suddenly, I’m going off in another direction. Although I (almost) always finish a manuscript once I’ve started, I jump around between projects. My favorite novels are my chapter book series, Evolution Revolution (bk 1 Simple Machines, bk 2 Simple Plans, and bk 3 Simple Lessons). This trilogy revolves around a squirrel named Jack who is taught by a boy to use the wheel and axle, the inclined plane, and other simple machines which are introduced in most third grade science curriculums. What makes this my favorite work is that it’s told from the squirrel’s point of view. They are highly intelligent- they work on solving any obstacle until they can steal all the seed. I tried to stay as close to reality as possible, so the animals don’t wear clothes or drink tea, they are the kind you’d see in your backyard.
What inspires/inspired your creativity?
With all my books, it’s the research that helps spur a basic idea. With Blonde OPS, I learned how to pick a digital lock (don’t try this, it’s illegal) and what type of guns the Secret Service carries when protecting the First Family. With the Sirenz series, I discovered a lot of obscure, fun facts about the Greek gods (like sirens aren’t like mermaids, they are half woman-half bird). With online access to any information, sometimes it’s hard to stop researching and write the story!
What are your plans for future books?
I’ve been revising and polishing other novels for my agent: a horror/sci fi, a space sci fi, a time travel, a faerie fantasy, and an anti-vampire story. It seems no matter what I write though, science creeps in. Maybe because my dad worked in the Apollo space program (he worked on the lunar modules, the vehicles that landed on the moon). I’ll admit that higher science is beyond me, as much as I love it, but basic science and tidbits of newly discovered facts always seem to find a place in my stories, even my WWI historical fiction. The only thing I don’t write about is angst. Nothing bores me more than kids/teens whining and moaning over the date they can’t get/lost, or how they didn’t get picked for the soccer team. I’m a practical dreamer, and if something goes wrong, I’m moving on. I’ve been in those angsty situations (everyone has if they went to middle grade and high school), so I don’t dwell on misery.
What are the biggest mistakes you can make in a book?
I recently read a book that had basic grammar and English mistakes on EVERY PAGE. This carelessness and laziness gives authors, and especially Indie authors, a bad rap. Are traditional publishers perfect? No- I read a book that violated basic science- you can’t drop a large emerald on a hard floor and not have it shatter into a billion pieces- the author and the copyeditors didn’t check this out. (I know this because I love emeralds.) The only reason I read to the end of such books is to pick apart the entire book. Mean, yes, but it also helps me when revising to keep in mind: I don’t want to be that lazy, careless, don’t care enough writer. REVISE. Do it again. Get others to be as critical as possible. And really, don’t ignore basic Spellcheck.
How has your creation process improved over time?
When I first started writing, I was a ‘panster,’ a person who sat down and just wrote whatever came to mind. I liked the free association, no restrictions, let the character dictate the story. And came to realize that characters don’t always tell the best stories, and with no restrictions, a lot of junk ended up in the story. Plus, I’d have to stop and research a problem. It interrupted my mojo. When I started doing NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month- 30 days in November to write an entire novel), the constant stopping and starting hurt my creativity. So I’ve evolved my writing style to doing a basic outline first; a few sentences about each chapter so I always know the direction I’m going. And since it’s an outline only, it’s flexible enough to change, depending on research, if I suddenly hate a character (it happens), and revelations that come to me. Now I’m a plotter. All the major plot points are listed. Not only has this helped me write faster, and more coherently, but it’s helped eliminate writer’s block because I can look at the overall arc of the story and see what I can add to move past the block; a new problem for my character, a sudden danger, a mysterious background character, etc. I highly recommend some form of plotting, especially for new writers. I resisted at first, but ‘resistance is futile’ if you want to write faster and better.
Want to chat more about books and writing? Say hello on Twitter: charbennardo, Facebook: AuthorCharlotteBennardo, Instagram: CharlotteBennardo, my blog: charlotteebennardo.com