Welcome to the two hundred and seventeenth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, directors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. Today’s is with political thriller novelist Cheral ‘DC’ White. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Morgen: Hello Cheral. Please tell us something about yourself and how you came to be a writer.
Cheral: I’m a wife of 37 years, mother of 4 and grandmother to 8. I’ve always had OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) much to my family’s dismay. I’m actually hardest on myself. I have to totally succeed in everything I try. Failure is not acceptable. My husband and I are conspiracy theorists. We sit around in the evenings and take a normal day in the news and turn it into something weird, strange, disturbing.
Morgen: I love writing weird so it’s a shame that I don’t live near you so I could make notes. One of my other interviewees JD Mader wrote a blog post on OCD by the way, it’s really interesting. What genre do you generally write and have you considered other genres?
Cheral: The three books that are finished are a trilogy, and fit in the Political Thriller genre. There are so many stories floating in our heads that I’m sure other genres will be written. Fantasy being one, mysteries, romances just a couple more.
Morgen: I’m the same, I write a bit of everything… dark and light, usually. What have you had published to-date?
Cheral: Capitol Angst (book 1) and Angst to the Nth (book 2) of the Angst Trilogy are both published and available online. I’m an Indie Publisher and belong to the Independent Authors Network. Total Angst is being released in Spring of 2012.
Morgen: Have you ever seen a member of the public reading your book?
Cheral: Yes and it was exciting and humbling.
Morgen: You didn’t go up and say “that’s me!”? 🙂 I’ve had a couple of interviewees try that and it backfired so maybe wise just to have the warm glow. How much of the marketing do you do for your published works or indeed for yourself as a ‘brand’?
Cheral: I do all the marketing, which is why it’s not as well-known as I’d like it to be.
Morgen: Oh dear. Let’s hope this helps a little. It all takes time, I’m learning that. Have you won or been shortlisted in any competitions and do you think they help with a writer’s success?
Cheral: I won a short story contest a few months ago. I entered it because I wanted to see what they were like. It was actually fun, and surprisingly, I took 3rd place for a story I wrote in about fifteen minutes. I was excited and surprised.
Morgen: Our Monday night workshop exercises are 10-15 minutes and it’s surprising (pleasantly so, usually) what we can come out with in such a short amount of time. Do you write under a pseudonym? If so why and do you think it makes a difference?
Cheral: Yes, actually our writer name is D.C. White. I didn’t want to lose privacy with my first name and my husband likes to remain anon, so in actuality we sell our books by D C White Dennis(D) and Cheral(C). So really, we don’t use a pseudo name, just our initials. It works the same as a pseudo, I guess, a definite benefit!
Morgen: Like Washington DC, very politically apt. 🙂 Do you have an agent? Do you think they’re vital to an author’s success?
Cheral: We do not have an agent and I really don’t believe you need one to become successful. Times have changed the way things are and I really believe that Print on Demand is so much better and that the future for books is e-books.
Morgen: As an eBook-only author, I do tend to agree with you. If an agent offered to represent me I’d seriously consider it but I like being able to choose everything about my book, alongside a very good editor. It’s opened up such opportunities that it’ll be interesting to see how things go from here. Are your books available as eBooks? If so what was your experience of that process? And do you read eBooks?
Cheral: Both of my published books are available in e-book format, all of them. I have regular books at home, gathering dust, but I carry with me my Sony reader that has close to 150 books in it, wherever I go. E-books are the new way for reading and that won’t change, print books are nice but if you’re an avid reader like I am, you appreciate the library you carry more then the one that collects dust.
Morgen: That’s very true – they are great for on the move although I’m still working through my paperback library at home. 🙂 Do any of your books have dedications? If so, to whom and (if appropriate) why?
Cheral: Yes, all of our books have dedications. I dedicated to my husband, family and friends that helped with the reading of rough copy. They are the reason that I was able to publish so quickly.
Morgen: Who designed your books’ covers?
Cheral: I’m an artist and did design both covers. I went with the word Angst for the first cover and tried to demonstrate that with the pictures of the Capitol building in Washington D.C. I believe that it shows appropriately the Capitol Angst in the title. For book 2, I went with a picture of the White House in which the book talks a lot about. So both covers relate to what the books are really about.
Morgen: Which is what they should do. 🙂 Have you had any rejections on the way to publishing your books?
Cheral: I started the submittal process, investigated who to send my book to for agents. I received negative form replies; “I’m sorry, but at this time…”. I’m not known for my patience, and felt it was a waste of time. Agents live in a different world and seem to be narrower viewed. This is 2011, times have changed and the publishing world needs to learn to have a more wide view. That also goes for the bookstores out there. They need to come up with ways to carry Indie authors on their shelves. People shop online and in stores but heavier online.
Morgen: They do, that’s been in the news over here recently, it’s quite staggering and there’s a big campaign to boost the high streets but online is so convenient and often cheaper because there are no shop rents, rates etc. My father was a (photographic) shopkeeper, it must be really hard now. What are you working on at the moment / next?
Cheral: Total Angst, book three of the Trilogy.
Morgen: Ah yes, you did mention that earlier. Do let me know when it comes out and I’ll add the link to my books other people’s page. 🙂 Do you manage to write every day?
Cheral: I wish. I would rather be writing than marketing, but have found that marketing is a tough boss and so extremely time consuming.
Morgen: And a necessity, even for traditional published authors, I’m finding. What is your opinion of writer’s block? Do you ever suffer from it?
Cheral: Yes, I’ve experienced it. The only way I know to get through it is to write. Maybe something not already worked on, but a short story, to take your mind off the job.
Morgen: Variety, it does help. A question some authors dread, where do you get your inspiration from?
Cheral: My inspiration comes from the news and our think sessions that my husband and I have, and sometimes pull our adult kids into.
Morgen: Which sound like fun… could you do them on Skype? 🙂 Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Cheral: I always work off of an outline. Without an outline my thoughts can go way off. The only way I can keep on target is with an outline.
Morgen: That could be why I don’t outline, I love going off at tangents, but then I write short stories so much easier to do so. Do you have a method for creating your characters, their names and what do you think makes them believable?
Cheral: I monitor every name I mention. I then write down what I’ve written so that soon I have pages of characters. It’s important for the books to make sure I don’t deviate from who is who.
Morgen: It is because someone will pick you up on it. Do you write non-fiction? If so, how do you decide what to write about?
Cheral: I haven’t written any non-fiction yet, but I have a few that I’m interested in writing. I have had many careers in my life and some were so interesting that I’d like to elaborate. I may do that in book form.
Morgen: Ah, writing about what you know… good plan to start. Do you write any poetry?
Cheral: I don’t do poetry at all, but my oldest daughter does and my mother used to.
Morgen: I do very little. The latest competition I entered was poetry and I was pretty proud of it (especially after my normally-strict critique group liked it), although it didn’t get anywhere but I still have it to do something with a that’s the point of writing. I mentioned short stories earlier, do you write short stories?
Cheral: Short stories are fun and quick to do. Getting them published? That’s would be difficult I’d think, since I don’t know anyone that buys books with short stories in them. When I buy a book, I want a story, not a short one. Some meat, I guess you can say.
Morgen: Most people do which is a shame (me being predominantly a short story author) although I do think that eBook fiction is getting shorter. I have three c.40K novellas to edit so hopefully a bit of both to please everyone (or a few, we shall see). Who do you first show your work to?
Cheral: My husband.
Morgen: Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
Cheral: I started off editing after I was done writing. I found that to be so very labor intensive that as time goes on, I edit now as I write so that the final edit is easier. It also takes me longer to write, I’m so busy editing as I go that I tend to forget where I was headed. I’m still searching for a balance between the two.
Morgen: You’ve said that news is your main inspiration, how much research do you have to do for your writing?
Cheral: I research heavily. I want to be right when I mention something in the books.
Morgen: Absolutely, because someone will always pick you up on it. What is your creative process like? What happens before sitting down to write?
Cheral: I think about the book, and then read the last chapter before beginning again. I tend to go into a zone when the imagination takes over. I hate being interrupted when that happens. I do my best writing when zoned.
Morgen: I think that’s going to answer my next question… Some writers like quiet, others the noise of a coffee shop etc. Do you listen to music or have noise around you when you write or do you need silence?
Cheral: I prefer quiet. I don’t need anything to take my focus off of what I’m doing.
Morgen: Do you write on paper or do you prefer a computer?
Cheral: I write only on the computer. I type close to 70 words a minute, but write not even half. Plus it’s hard on the hands to hold a pen / pencil.
Morgen: I’m about the same ratio and although numerous interviewees have said their handwriting is poor, mine’s just slow. Apparently the different formats use different parts of the brain but when you’ve written one version it’s done so you can’t create from scratch from the other so not sure how to prove that theory. 🙂 What point of view do you find most to your liking: first person or third person? Have you ever tried second person?
Cheral: I actually prefer third person. It’s easier to write, it flows nicer. I’ve never tried second person.
Morgen: Oh you should, it’s great. It’s not for everyone as it can be quite dark but I love it, probably for that reason. 🙂 Do you use prologues / epilogues? What do you think of the use of them?
Cheral: I did use a prologue for book one. I wanted to try it and people seemed to like it. I’m not sure if I’ll use another for this series.
Morgen: I think it depends on the book, perhaps you’ll know when you’ve written the first draft. Do you have pieces of work that you think will never see light of day?
Cheral: Not yet.
Morgen: You’re lucky, I have loads. 🙂 If anything, what has been your biggest surprise about writing?
Cheral: How easy it was to actually finish the first two books. I guess I never realized how many people were writers that just never finished anything.
Morgen: It could be that they get a saggy middle and it swamps them down. I’m fortunate in that I wrote three of my novels / novellas for NaNoWriMo so just had to keep going and really enjoyed them in the end. What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Cheral: Never give up. If you have a story, tell it.
Morgen: Absolutely. What do you like to read Cheral?
Cheral: I love Nalini Singh, Leslie Parrish, J.D. Robb, Mariah Stewart just to mention a few.
Morgen: And what do you do when you’re not writing?
Cheral: I’m a wife, mother and grandmother. My time is valuable to any and all.
Morgen: I think just being a writer means our time is valuable. You’re based in the Unites States, do you find this a help or hindrance with letting people know about your work?
Cheral: Marketing is Marketing I guess. It’s hard wherever you are.
Morgen: The joy of the internet. Are you on any forums or networking sites? If so, how invaluable do you find them?
Cheral: I belong to LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Blogger. Twitter has been the most beneficial for marketing out of all of them.
Morgen: My blog stats show Twitter and Facebook fairly level pegging (not that I look at the comparison every day) but I think you’re probably right. Where can we find out about you and your work?
Cheral: I have a website at http://www.dcwhite.org. You will also find both book trailers on there. My youngest son created them and I LOVE them, they’re awesome!
Morgen: I’m only just becoming aware of book trailers and must look into them more, they do look fun to make. I took a look at the Capitol Angst trailer (http://www.dcwhite.org/Book-Trailers.html) and wow, it’s so impressive (especially alongside the music). Well done your son. 🙂 We’ve touched on this a little but what do you think the future holds for a writer?
Cheral: The sky’s the limit, once the e-book area is set. I truly believe that the e-books are the future and the future is now.
Morgen: Yes. I couldn’t have put it better myself. 🙂 If you could have your life over again, is there anything you’d have done differently (writing-related or otherwise)?
Cheral: Nope, I’m very happy with life.
Morgen: That’s lovely to hear. 🙂 Thank you Cheral for joining me today.
I then invited Cheral to include an excerpt of her writing:
After a surprise attack occurs in Congress, a murderer taking out one congressman a week for a month, D.C. Metro One police murder investigator, Lieutenant Kathleen Thomas (KAT) joins rank with not only the Capitol Police and the FBI, but with a Special Ops unit, in a race against an unknown force. Will this be the last chaos? With government corruption and multiple murderers’ blamed, they all come to the conclusion that this fits the terrorism criteria. Soon, D.C. becomes the most dangerous place to be in the United States, if you’re an elected official, that is. After a couple of near death experiences, the group has more questions than answers. Maybe the question should be, who in an elected position would benefit from these murders?
After uncovering a diabolical plot that encompasses more than just the United States, Kat and her cohorts are appalled. This can’t be happening. The people of the U.S. are in trouble, especially if all that’s been promised them, comes true.
Welcome to the land of chaos, Capitol Angst, book one in the Angst Trilogy. The new psychological thrillers by D.C. White.
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