Please introduce yourself and your books
Hello, I am Charlotte Milne and I’m a Brit. Actually, I’m Scottish and proud of it, but that doesn’t mean I’m not British. In the same way, I voted to leave the European Union for many complex reasons, but that doesn’t mean I’m not European or that I don’t love Europe. I live in the south of England, not too far from our two children and seven grandchildren, but far enough. You can assume from that statement that I am not a spring chicken and my husband is a tough old bird.
What are the stories behind your books?
My one and only published book is a romance novel called Dolphin Days which I started writing about 25 years ago when we built a holiday home on a Greek island. I love antique artefacts so this story starts with a stolen manuscript. I went on writing, and the story went on growing, and the characters developed, and the sub-plots expanded, and the locations widened. Eventually, at 190,000 words, I thought I’d better call a halt, and do something with it. It was published in 2017 and was reduced to 120,000 words. Sob, sob. All those lovely sub-plots lost to my editor’s red pen. I’m not saying whether the guy got the gal in the end.
In the UK. http://amzn.eu/0OjJiy8
In the US. http://a.co/75x1G3J
The next book is called Come In From The Cold and is still at the structural editing stage. We have a cottage on the west coast of Scotland, near Loch Ewe. This was the deep water anchorage that the convoys to Russia departed from in World War 2, and many British, American and Canadian mariners lost their lives on those terrible journeys. I found their stories http://www.suzanneadair.net/2019/03/26/game-of-allies-wwii-arctic-convoys-to-russia/ emotionally and historically fascinating and wanted to flesh out some of the experiences. The timeline runs from 1945 through to the present day and of course, because I love romance, there are love stories in each of the three generations. I hope to get it (self) published this summer (2019)
How do you deal with creative block?
I have no idea as I have never experienced it. I seem to haemorrhage dotty story ideas and need to find the cork.
What inspires/inspired your creativity?
Reading books, locations, overheard conversations, what people wear, why they have two left feet. I daydream about being somebody else.
Do you have tips on choosing titles and covers?
I read all the advice on choosing titles but the experts differ. If it’s catchy or memorable to me, hopefully it will be to readers as well. For my second book I used a professional cover designer who saved me several headaches.
What are the biggest mistakes you can make in a book?
- To lose your own ‘voice’ by being persuaded to write like someone else, and
- to ignore your editor’s advice, so long as it doesn’t conflict with a)
How do bad reviews and negative feedback affect you and how do you deal with them?
You can’t please everybody, but if you enjoy what you’ve written, then others will enjoy it too. You must learn from honest criticism (especially as a new author), but nasty, unhelpful, negative stuff just reflects on the person dishing it out and you have to feel sorry for them and move on.
How has your creation process improved over time?
Reading books on writing and editing. Reading writing blogs and discovering which are helpful and ditching the others. Getting honest critiques from my writing and book groups. Analysing why I like certain books, and dislike others.
What were the best, worst and most surprising things you encountered during the entire process of completing your book(s)?
How wonderful and encouraging my editors are. That was also the most surprising because I thought they’d drop me in the waste bin. I was amazed that I managed, at my age and without much technical knowledge, to get the book published on Create Space, all by myself. The worst thing was, and is, marketing.
Do you tend towards personal satisfaction or aim to serve your readers? Do you balance the two and how?
For me, I think it’s mainly personal satisfaction. I love writing, and getting a book published was an amazing boost. But it’s not a money-making business for me, as it has to be for so many others, courtesy of the aforementioned tough old bird. I want my work to be the very best I can produce and I’m extremely picky about detail—grammar, punctuation, dialogue, etc. which is why they take so long to produce. Of course, I want to write what others will enjoy reading, but I have to enjoy reading it too!
What are your plans for future books?
My third novel is hand scribbled in a notebook and I am champing at the bit to get it onto the computer. It’s called Colour Blind and the protagonist is a feisty girl with Retinal Dystrophy (she’s going blind) and a condition called Associative Synesthesia (she smells in colour). The two together make for a juicy, and hopefully hilarious, story of betrayal and revenge. I don’t know whether I’ll actually write more books after that—the rest of the family get short shrift during the process and I feel guilty about that. On the other hand, it is my guilty pleasure!
Tell us some quirky facts about yourself
I was expelled from school, and it took me till I was about 60 to be brave enough to have a brace to straighten a crooked tooth. Otherwise I’m not quirky at all.