Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Author Spotlight - Christina Courtenay

Today we have historical romantic novelist Christina Courtenay joining us on the minxes. Christina's books are lush and exotic, and she'll be giving away a signed copy of her book to one lucky commenter, so leave a comment if you'd like it!

1. Where were you in your writing career 5 years ago?
I think I’d just had my first Regency novella, ‘Marry in Haste’, accepted for publication by DC Thomson’s ‘My Weekly Pocket Novel’ series, which felt like a huge step in the right direction!

2. Where did you get the idea from for this particular book?
When I was a teenager, I lived in Japan for a few years and I fell in love with all things Japanese – the culture, food, people and places. Later I started to read more about the country and its history and it seemed natural to set a story there. Since I write historicals, I decided to go back to when Europeans first ventured that far. The English were a bit slow in that respect (the Portuguese and the Spanish were there much earlier), but that helped my story so it didn’t really matter. As far as I know, no foreign women ever went to Japan though, and that got me thinking “what if ...”

3. Where do you hope to be in 5 years time?
Still being published! The publishing industry seems very uncertain right now, so I’ll be happy if I can just continue to write and sell novels. If my books sell well, that would be a bonus of course. I want to continue to write historicals, but I would also like to branch out into time slips and YA stories if possible.

4. Which was the last book you read that you wish you'd written?
The “Wicked Lovely” series by Melissa Marr (I just finished the last one, “Darkest Mercy”, at the weekend). She’s created the most wonderful (and scary!) faery world, and I love it, and there is lots of romance at the same time.

5. Was there any particular author or book that made you want to be a writer?
No, I decided I wanted to be a writer because I wanted to stay at home with my older daughter when she was a baby while earning some money at the same time. My writing is influenced by lots of different authors – everything I read in fact, but some of my favourite authors are Georgette Heyer, Barbara Erskine, Susanna Kearsley, Elizabeth Chadwick, Ellis Peters and Steve Berry.

6. Do you find writing love scenes giggle-worthy or cringe-worthy?
Neither, they’re only cringe-worthy when I think about close relatives reading them, but in a brilliant workshop fellow RNA author Julie Cohen told us we have to “turn off our inner mother” when writing love scenes, and that’s great advice. I just try and see it from the characters’ point of view, tapping into their emotions.

7. What's the most romantic moment of your life so far?
The day I got married I think. I had just the kind of wedding I wanted, in an old-fashioned Swedish church, with a Victorian style dress complete with bustle and with a ride in a horse-drawn carriage afterwards to get to the reception. It was perfect!

8. What do you wish you'd known about being an author before you were pubbed?
I’ve been a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association for quite a few years, so had heard about most of the “downsides” from other published authors, but I don’t think I was really prepared for how hard it is to do self-promotion. I’m having to learn to blow my own trumpet, which I find very difficult, and I’m doing talks and things as well, which I’ve never done before. I had no idea it takes up so much time!

9. What's the best writing advice you've ever been given?
Just persevere and believe in yourself and find a writing buddy, someone to share critiquing with – they’re invaluable!

10. Tell us about your latest release.
The Scarlet Kimono is the story of Hannah, a young English girl in the 17th century who envies her brother’s adventurous life. She decides to stow away on his merchant ship and ends up in Japan, but once there, she is abducted by a warlord, Taro, to whom she’s instantly attracted. He, in his turn, is fascinated by her, but there’s both a clash of cultures and wills and this of course stops them from admitting the attraction. With Hannah’s brother desperate to find her and a jealous rival equally desperate to kill her, she faces the greatest adventure of her life. And Taro has to choose between love and honour …

11. What’s next for you?
I’ve just finished writing the sequel to my novel Trade Winds – it’s called Highland Storms and will be published in November this year. It’s set in Scotland and since I love all things Scottish, I really enjoyed writing it. The only downside is that my hero wasn’t allowed to wear a kilt – the story is set in the years just after the Jacobite rebellion when they were forbidden. Still, you can’t have everything!

You can read more about Christina at her blog:

And The Scarlet Kimono is available from Amazon here
Or the Book Depository, here. 

Thank you for joining us, Christina, The Scarlet Kimono looks lovely, and sounds intriguing! And thanks for the giveaway, I know our readers will be very pleased!


Liz Harris said...

Good luck with the third book, Christina. I enjoyed the first two, and I know that I'm going to enjoy the third.

Liz x

emily13 said...

Sounds great :)

Maya Blake said...

Your stories sound fascinating, Christina. Thanks so much for going Minx today :)

Unknown said...

After reading the reviews on Amazon have added to my wish list :) Loved reading this interview. Thank you!

Ellie Swoop said...

Good luck with The Scarlet Kimono, I would enjoy reading it. It was an insightful interview that is encouraging to us budding writers hoping to be published one day.

Christina Courtenay said...

Thank you for your comments - glad you enjoyed the interview! And thank you to the Minxes for having me!

Lacey Devlin said...

Your wedding sounds gorgeous Christina! Thanks for joining us!

Patsy said...

Your stories sound interesting, CHristina - I'm guessing you enjoy the research for them.

Romy Sommer said...

Romy Minx checking in rather belatedly here. Thanks so much for visiting here Christina. I have to admit that I haven't yet read any of your books, but I'm fascinated by the idea of an English heroine in an exotic foreign setting so I will definitely put The Scarlet Kimono on my TBR pile.

Cherie Le Clare said...

Japan has always fascinated me. Loved the book "Memoirs of a Geisha." Would love to visit some day, especially at cherry blossom time. "The Last Samurai" was filmed in my old home town of New Plymouth, in New Zealand.

The disastrous earthquake and tsunami there followed on the heels of our own massive earthquake here in NZ.

Remembering your happy time living there I'm sure you enjoyed the process of researching and writing "The Scarlet Kimono."

All best.

Christina Courtenay said...

Thanks again for your comments - yes, I loved living in Japan, it's a wonderful country and doing research there was great fun too.

Cherie - I didn't know The Last Samurai was filmed in NZ, that's very interesting! Very sad about all these natural disasters though, both in your country and Japan. Let's hope there are no more!