April 9, 2013.
3:37 PM PST.
Facebook Messenger blinks with an incoming missive. It is all of five sentences long and ends with an off-handed suggestion:
“…you could turn it into a steampunk paranormal romance.”
Back then, Steampunk wasn’t a blip on my radar, although I have been a fan of paranormal and romance (and paranormal romance) since before the dawning of time.
I had been discussing a long-term writing project with my dear friend Christina, lamenting that I was wasting my time on it. I won’t delve into why but trust me, I couldn’t publish it (for many reasons). I’d lamented my problems to other friends many times prior.
I gave Christina’s Steampunk suggestion a passing thought and went about my chores. But her suggestion had merit where the previous ones just wouldn’t work.
Her suggestion was raging genius. How did I know? Because pieces fell into place and everything made sense. Not like regular sense. Like enlightened, blinding and deafening sense. Like it was kismet.
I couldn’t get the suggestion out of my head as I tried to go about my day doing dishes, changing my son’s diaper, scouring the carpet for scorpions (there were none that day).
From those nine words on that fateful spring afternoon, The Witches’ Rede came into being.
And I have Christina Olson to thank for that. (If you’ve read and enjoyed Alight, you owe her a debt of gratitude because I wouldn’t have stumbled upon this solution on my own.)
So today it is my honor and pleasure to feature her on my blog for the return of Friday Frivolity!
Christina and I met at a renaissance faire in Southern California in 2009 while playing ladies of shady virtue at the faire’s bordello. (True story.)
As I was a guest of the faire’s PR person, I got the treat of playing what seemed like a fantastically fun role with people who do it every weekend day for the run of that faire (true story). As I’m a very shy person in real life (also true story), I hadn’t really talked to any of the other actors or actresses up until one of them decided to sit beside me and strike up conversation. Enter into my life this lovely lady I’m pictured with here.
I am so grateful Christina approached me (and not just for that fateful day she said the words that may well launch my dream career–it is apropos that I interview her the same week I resume querying the book she set me on the path to writing).
It was immediate friendship. We’re both writers and crafters (knitting, crocheting). We both do historical reenactment (renaissance faires). She helped me into Doctor Who and recently when I got into Sherlock, she’s my go-to person to gush to about that show. We’re also both mamas (my daughter and her son were born less than two months apart).
We’ve shared an awful lot in 7 years (there was once a time we’d preface topics with “this may be TMI…” but those days are long gone). I had to move away from Southern California and she’s one of few reasons I really miss it.
So without further ado, let’s hear from Christina in her own words. ♥
QUESTION 1: Would you tell me about the genres in which you write?
Romance and Fantasy. I guess my stories could be considered New Adult too since they feature characters in their early 20s. I’ve also dabbled in erotica, and published several short stories and serials under the pen name Amanda Bridges.
I grew up reading a lot of fantasy and sci fi as a kid. I loved the Dragonriders of Pern, the Star Wars Expanded Universe (Rest in Peace) and a lot of those stories always included some romantic sub plot. So it was only natural.
QUESTION 2: Aside from the influences of what you read, where do you find your inspiration for your writing?
TV shows, movies, heck even just a picture can set off stories in my head. I also used to play a lady of the evening at a local ren faire, so when we weren’t participating in gigs (interactions with other volunteers to keep the guests entertained) I would people watch and wonder ‘what if’ and day dream a lot.
People-watching is great fun and something I do, myself. Listening and observation are great tools for writers to have. 🙂
Oh, totally. We had a lot of Scotsmen hanging out at the bawdy house sometimes – so watching them walk about in their kilts was very entertaining;)
I understand that’s a very popular opinion! LOL!
QUESTION 3: Would you share a little bit about your writing process?
For the longest time I was a pantser, and on a few of my stories I still am one though I do have a vague idea of what I want to do and where I want to go when I write. However I’ve recently learned that creating an outline can be pretty awesome to refer to if you get lost. So now when I get an idea, I try to do the outline first, then I’ll start the first draft. I do it all entirely on the computer or my ipad, because my handwriting is pretty horrible. (It’s so bad that even I can’t read it at times!) I usually write when my two year old son is napping or sleeping, because otherwise he wants to help.
So, unfortunately, I don’t get as much done as I’d like to, but they claim that slow and steady wins the race!
It’s sweet he wants to help but these are pains I know all too well. I have to be careful what I’m writing or editing when my 7 year-old is around. He’s a fast reader and needs to be involved in All The Things. And considering I write “romance,” well, there’s concepts I don’t want to have to explain. (And words he doesn’t need to know about just yet.) 😉
I hope that slow and steady wins the race because that’s how I’m going, too.
QUESTION 4: I mentioned some of your other interests in your introduction. Would you tell me more about your sewing?
I sew my own costumes that my husband and I will wear to our local renaissance faires. I make a lot of chemises, shirts, bodices, bloomers, and such. Eventually I started making western frock coats and shirts for my husband to wear when he was a train bandit at Knott’s Berry Farm, and I had just started toying around with steampunk stuff as well.
At some point, I decided to start selling things on Etsy. The plan was that I would have this big costume empire in addition to writing, and that I would visit different faires and have my own booth. Unfortunately, it’s kinda hard to do that when your two year old is as active as mine is. He loves to crawl all over things and is constantly getting into trouble. Plus, due to the fact that he was born 9 weeks prematurely, he has some delays that he’s currently in therapy for 3 times a week. All that therapy doesn’t leave a whole lot of time for sewing, so I’ve stepped away from the costume business for now.
However, I recently got into quilting. I really enjoy it. Don’t get me wrong, I still love making costumes, but it is so simple compared to dealing with flat felling seams, princess curves, and gathers. It’s so relaxing. So I’m toying with the idea of selling baby blankets on etsy instead. Though I may go back to costumes once the Boyo starts school.
QUESTION 5: I know you’ve done a LOT of improvement projects in your new home (seriously people, this woman is a jack of All The Trades). What’s been your favorite?
For the longest time my kitchen has been my favorite. I love the shade of green we picked for the cabinets, and the hardware we chose compliments it so well. I love it so much. However, the play yard we are currently working on for my son is a close runner up. We pulled out some of the plants there, leveled things out, put down fake grass, and we’re in the process of adding better fences. The Boyo absolutely loves going out there and running around, and we love hanging out with him.
I think that play area is my favorite of Christina’s home improvement projects. We have a huge backyard and plenty of space to run around but I don’t feel it’s entirely usable like hers is. Not gonna lie, I’m a little jealous. :p
Thanks for letting me interview you, Christina! 😀
You’re very welcome! I had a great time!
Lastly, as Christina’s birthday is just a few days away, I’d be remiss not to include a couple special messages to her:
YOU CAN FIND CHRISTINA ONLINE AT THE FOLLOWING PLACES:
Thanks for joining Christina and me today! If you’re a writer who wants to be interviewed, send me a Tweet anytime.
(If you’re not on Twitter, you can reply here, email me at jewel.e.leonard (at) gmail (dot) com, or reach out to me on my Facebook page.)
As I’m only doing these updates on Fridays, I am booked into August but I’m happy to plan ahead as long as there’s interest!
Come back next week (Mon/Weds/Fri)!
Tales by Rails available now through Amazon and on Kindle Unlimited!