It was my pleasure to be interviewed by fellow author and blogger, Killarney Traynor, this week.
A couple of months ago, on June 29, 2016, I was interviewed by Meryl Stenhouse, here on her blog. She had invited me to talk about my latest release, Rusty Gold, the third book in The Reluctant Detective Series.
Find her,’ Agnes Donald begged. ‘Find my daughter.’
The words of a dying woman force Mirabelle to take on another case for the unofficial Missing Persons Bureau she runs from her Edinburgh flat. Along with her assistant, Kay, she heads for the island of Skye where Esme Donald was last known to be. But is someone else looking for Esme too? And could Mirabelle’s own daughter, Summer, be in danger?
Meryl asked me some very interesting questions, questions that helped me express the origins of this series, letting readers in behind the scenes of my novels. I hope you enjoy the interview. If you want to see it in its original form, do please go to Meryl’s blog. In fact you might enjoy to do that anyway after reading this post. Meryl has written lots to interest you there.
Meryl Stenhouse: Your novel’s heroine Mirabelle is a single mother, which is an unusual but excellent choice. What led you to choose a single mother as your heroine? What challenges and opportunities did this represent in writing the story?
Christine Campbell: I chose to tell Mirabelle’s story as a single mother because there are so many single parent families around these days and I think it must be tremendously difficult to balance all the pressures of work or career and bringing up a child or children.
I got to thinking what if? What if there was a crisis in a single parent family, like a child disappearing from home? Who would the single parent turn to? What impact would it have on his or her work or career? How would it change his/her priorities? What regrets would he/she have? Things like that.
The main challenge it represented was that although I am mum, I have never had to function as a single parent, so I had to try to get inside my character’s head. I had to imagine how it would be different, but also how it would be the same.
For instance, the things that I think would be the same are the panic and pain, the anxiety and strain of such a frightening situation. I did’t find it too hard to imagine how I, as a mum, would react: how I would feel, what I would do.
A huge difference is sharing the anxiety, panic and pain with the other parent. Whenever there is any kind of difficult or worrying situation in our family, my husband and I can talk about it. We can comfort one another, work out together what we need to do.
For a single parent – in my story, a single mum – I would imagine it is very different. Although she may have very supportive family and friends, at the end of the day, she goes to bed on her own and the night must seem to last forever. So I had to work out who Mirabelle’s support team would be, and how and where she would find comfort.
One of the opportunities writing this story gave me was to examine how I would feel if I had to do things on my own. I rely on my husband so much that thinking about being on my own in such a dreadful situation was very upsetting for me. Making myself imagine it, get into Mirabelle’s head and heart, walk a mile in her shoes, so to speak, was a great exercise in empathy for me. It helped me appreciate what a great job so many single parents make of bringing up their children.
MS: You have included the homeless of Edinburgh as characters in the book, a group that is traditionally invisible. What prompted this decision?
CC: In part, it was prompted by the realisation that people can be homeless for a variety of reasons, not all of them their own fault. Even if it is their choice, it is a hard life, but for many it isn’t a choice. The statistics for young people who have left home because of domestic abuse are frightening. For them, even living rough in parks, cemeteries and squats are better than what they had.
One young woman I talked to who left home to live on the streets when she was only fourteen told me that she found the homeless community looked after her better than her parents had. She said, yes, she had to choose carefully who she associated with, learning to avoid the unscrupulous, the malicious and those who were too far gone with drugs, but a great part of the homeless community is made up of decent, honest people who have, for one reason or another, found themselves homeless.
Some of them are somewhat eccentric, some of them are difficult to communicate with, some may even be somewhat dangerous, but they are still people. I wanted to give a small section of them a voice.
MS: Rusty Gold is set on the Isle of Skye. How have you communicated the individuality of that setting to the reader? Have you traveled there yourself? What challenges did this location present to the story?
The first two books in this series, The Reluctant Detective Series, are set mostly in Edinburgh or further north but still in the east of Scotland. My husband and I are originally from the west of Scotland and we have holidayed in Skye several times over the years, plus his paternal family originated there, so, when we were planning to visit Skye again for a couple of weeks and it was time to start plotting Rusty Gold, I decided why not take Mirabelle there with us.
While there, I researched where I wanted certain scenes to take place, going to each one several times, sitting quietly on beaches getting the feel of them as well as studying them visually, travelling the single track roads across moorlands, through glens and beside lochs.
I knew Mirabelle would fall in love with Skye as I had many years ago, so my challenge was to help my readers fall in love with it too. It’s never ideal to have long, descriptive passages in a modern novel, so I tried to give the flavour of the surroundings through the characters’ eyes and actions.
I listened carefully to how natives of Skye spoke: they tend not to abbreviate but speak carefully and correctly, with a delightful lilt in their speech. I tried to portray that in the people Mirabelle meets.
When I travelled about the island, I was often held up waiting for sheep to move aside, or highland cattle to meander along in front of me, so I allowed that to happen to Mirabelle and her friend as they travelled.
From time to time, I felt compelled to stop the car at the side of the road to get out and marvel at some fabulous views, so I had them do that too, in the hopes that my readers would be able to imagine the Island of Skye. It is a truly beautiful setting.
Rusty Gold is available to buy in paperback and on Amazon Kindle.
Christine Campbell is a writer. She has always been a writer. For as long as she can remember, she has scribbled poems and prose, snippets and stories on scraps of paper, in the back of cheque books, napkins, on the back of her hand — anything more durable than her faulty memory.
She loves being a writer, a novelist, in particular, and she write contemporary fiction: strongly character-based, relationship novels — with a smidgen of romance and a generous dusting of mystery and detection.
She has learned a lot about her craft since that wonderful night when she held her first completed, printed manuscript novel in her arms. Her first book-baby.
Christine has now completed and published seven novels, the seventh newly ready to leave home and see the big wide world and, even more importantly, to be seen by it. It’s so exciting when your book-babies grow up and leave home. As mother of five grown-up, married children and ten grandchildren, Christine knows a lot about babies growing up and leaving home!
I hope you enjoyed Meryl’s interview. Didn’t she ask some great questions? It’s quite an art form in itself, interviewing, and I think Meryl has mastered it. Thank you, Meryl.
What do you think? Are there interviews you’ve read that really help you get to know your favourite author better? Or some that made your toes curl?
Do share your stories in the comments. I love hearing from you.
I thought I’d share this author spotlight on Dave Mayall’s blog with you today. In the spotlight is Patty Wiseman, a delightful lady and author, and her series set in 1920s Detroit.
This series looks good and is on my To-Be-Read list. According to the great reviews it’s been getting, I’ll need to set aside a bit of time because it sounds like I’ll not want to put these books down once I start them.
An Unlikely Arrangement by Patty Wiseman.
Young and rebellious, Ruth Squire defied her parents to live the high life of young people in 1929 Detroit. Handsome and responsible, Peter Kirby worked diligently to make his family’s life easier. Rich and powerful, Eric Horton held the fates of many families in his hands.
These three lives intertwine through the differing worlds of high society, middle-class life, and organized crime, culminating in an engagement, a kidnapping, a misunderstanding …
… and a murder.
Top Customer Reviews
By Amazon Customer on December 9, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
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It is my pleasure to reblog Sally Cronin’s Summer Reading post. The book featured today is ideal Summer Reading, perfect for lying back with on the beach or in the garden. Six short stories with a subtle link. I can heartily recommend this book by novelist Wendy Janes, having read it and thoroughly enjoyed it already.
The lovely Sally Cronin has featured my books on her blog under ‘Summer Reading’.
It was such a pleasure to be interviewed by Elizabeth Hein for her blog. She asked some interesting questions about my writing process and the theme that runs through all my novels.
It’s my pleasure to welcome Christine Campbell to the Storage Room today. Rusty Gold, the third book in her Reluctant Detective Series, was released yesterday so it’s a real treat to talk with her today. Christine and I write in the same genre and tend to address many of the same issues, but in very different ways. I love how that happens. Anyway, here’s Christine –
What genre books do you write?
Contemporary Women’s Fiction, though some of them almost fall into the cosy mystery/cosy crime sort of area.
What types of books do you typically read?
Contemporary Women’s Fiction, Cosy Crime, Mystery, Legal/courtroom novels, Relationship novels (not really romance)
Whatever I read, I like it to be a ‘clean’ read, as in no swearing, sex or violence. I’m also not into fantasy or science fiction – and especially not paranormal or supernatural.
So I suppose I have a…
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Lovely to have a post about Rosie Amber. I love her blog with its book review team and all the rest. She is such a busy, encouraging lady, truly one of the #inspiringwomen in blog land.
Thank you Vikki Patis for this delightful peek into how Rosie works.
Welcome to The Bandwagon’s new feature for 2016 – #InspiringWomen. These posts aim to not only celebrate successful women, but also to encourage others to follow their dreams. Meet June’s lady, Rosie Amber.
Self-described as a book reviewer, avid reader and bookworm, Rosie Amber is campaigning to link more readers to writers.
What made you want to join your industry?
A few years ago I was inspired to teach myself about social media and not grow old and stagnant. I’ve always loved reading, so what better way to celebrate this than to start a book blog and reach out virtually.
What challenges have you had to overcome in order to get where you are today?
I began at the ground and worked up, first I didn’t know what blogging platform to use, I began with Tumbler, but found the audience wrong for me, so next I tried WordPress, it works…
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Calling all readers!
There’s a new site coming in July that will help you find your next great indie read, and it isn’t going to cost you anything. Just your browsing time. Sounds good to me!
Do you love books? If not, why are you here? The Bandwagon is a book-loving blog, full of bookish goodness, and I’m excited to tell you about a brand new site that’s going to help you find your next great read.
Book-Swag.com is a free weekly email that helps you find the best ebooks from established, new and indie authors. We search the internet and trawl through amazon reviews each week to find you must-read books at great prices. The authors featured on Book Swag haven’t paid to be here. Their books are chosen for one reason – they’re exciting books that you’ll want to read.
We make finding the best eBooks easier. Book Swag was created for people who love to read, by people who love to read.
Find your next great read with Book Swag.
Scott Mullins, writer and part of the Book Swag team, chats to me about this…
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Once again, I have a guest to introduce to you, and I’m certain you are going to enjoy meeting her. I met Andrea Pflaumer online when I booked in to watch her seminar, Vital, Vivacious, and Visible after 50. I enjoyed the seminar very much and felt drawn to Andrea’s gentle yet authoritative personality as well as to the guests she interviewed.
As an author, I often write about ordinary women who find their strengths and become more courageous as they age, so the title of the program intrigued me, and I wondered if could I use this information to help keep my characters authentic.
In the event, not only did I find it helpful on that level, but I also found it encouraging and reinforcing on a personal level.
So, without further ado, I shall let Andrea tell you about herself and what she does.
Sixteen years ago, at the age of 52, I started a new career as a journalist, writing shopping and human interest articles for local and national magazines and newspapers. Because fashion and style had been long-time passions of mine I began writing a non-fiction book based on principles of individual coloring and personal style typing. On the face of it, wearing the most flattering clothing always seemed like such a superficial thing, but the deeper I went into studying the background material for my book, the more profound and personally affirming it all became. And based on the comments I’ve received from my readers, it has for them as well.
Now, that I’m at an age when the entire issue of appearance is fraught with a lot of societal judgement and personal angst, I started asking my friends and my readers how they felt about their personal appearance as they reached their 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. It came as no surprise that many of them expressed dismay. They described the experience of shopping as extremely frustrating because they had a hard time finding hip, affordable, and flattering clothing targeted to older women. They described becoming “invisible” to fashion designers and marketers, not to mention to the opposite sex. Not only did this invisibility apply to their appearance, they told me, but it reflected a larger dread: That they longer had a meaningful place in the world. It’s a common thread and a very troubling one.
So I set out to see if I could change their – and my own – thinking on this. I searched for women who were traversing the aging minefield in a more gracious way. And, I discovered many spectacular women who are doing so, not just in gracious ways, but in bold and dynamic ways. This was the start of a series of video interviews I conducted for a program I call Vital, Vivacious, and Visible after 50. My guests included women who have had successful careers but decided to go in new directions after 50, 60, 70 and even 80. Some were forced into those changes due to divorce or widowhood. Some simply decided to follow their curiosity or to unpack old passions that had been locked away for decades. And some made changes in their lives, literally, to save their lives.
Along with these inspiring women I also interviewed three wonderful men who offered practical fashion advice for older women: one is one of the most famous red carpet stylists in New York, another is the most sought-after “makeover” expert in the US, and lastly, I interviewed my own color and style mentor, John Kitchener, Director of Personal Style Counselors.
I came away from the experience energized and hopeful, not just for myself, but for my entire generation of women. I learned that by gaining certain habits and skills we can look forward to our later years with energy and enthusiasm. I also came away realizing that the knowledge and coping tools we have gleaned over a lifetime can enable us to become very visible, both in our own lives and also as role models for younger generations of women. These skills and tools have enabled us to move through change – and sometimes profound loss – and have made us stronger and more resilient. They have also allowed us to connect with deeper, more grounded parts of ourselves.
So from a completely new and unexpected direction, developing Vital, Vivacious and Visible after 50 helped reinforce my primary goal when I wrote my first two books: to help women and girls maintain individuality, authenticity, and courage throughout all the stages of life.
Andrea Pflaumer is a speaker and educator, and the author of Shopping for the Real You, the only book based on the Personal Style Counselors (PSC) system, providing a detailed guide to wardrobe, color, and personal style.
Her new e-book, She’s Got Good Jeans, applies that same critical eye to a popular subject: where to find (and how to style) the best jeans for one’s body shape, style and budget.
Her series Vital, Vivacious, and Visible after 50 will be available on both video and as audio podcasts in early May.
You can follow her blog at http://shoppingfortherealyou.com
her Pinterest pages at https://wwhttpsw.pinterest.com/andreapflaumer/
and her Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/shoppingfortherealyou/
Christine Campbell, author and blogger, has six published novels:
You can find out more about Christine and her books at: http://author.to/ChristineCampbell
Excellent advice from Wendy Janes on getting the best value from your proofreader.
Is My Novel Ready for Proofreading?
I love my job as a freelance proofreader, but sometimes authors make it very difficult for me to do my job effectively.
However brilliant your writing, however delicious your story, if there are too many errors and inconsistencies, you are asking too much of your proofreader to spot everything.
Here are a few examples of things that should have been removed by the author/developmental editor/copy editor prior to proofreading. Just in case you’re wondering, they are all products of my fevered imagination:
- A tear-jerking family saga opens with Davina playing with her five-year-old brother, Oliver, on the sprawling lawns of their darling papa’s country estate. When our feisty heroine rescues sweet young Oliver from his evil kidnappers two years later, he is ten years old. The hapless Oliver dies in a fire soon after his rescue, and (miraculously) reappears at Davina’s sumptuous wedding to…
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