Monday, April 11, 2011

Author Interview - Charmaine Gordon - Romance Author

Deanna:  Thank you for joining us on location! We at a small cabin hidden in the woods with a gazebo filled with rocking chairs for our guests. Please grab a warm drink and a blanket from the railing if you need one. Come rock with us as we chat once again with the talented Charmaine Gordon! Thank you for inviting us to relax here with you! Tell us a little about your books.

Charmaine:  I’m so glad to be back here with you and your readers, thank you! My stories have been called Survive and Thrive by several reviewers. At first the phrase made me laugh until I realized that’s what my women do. Each one suffers a loss; death, abandonment, maybe divorce and must find courage she doesn’t know she has to begin again.

Deanna:  Your latest book just released follows that same pattern.  

Charmaine:  My latest release, RECONSTRUCTING CHARLIE, is a bit different. She came to me in the night. A fifteen year old girl this time not a woman and didn’t let me go until I began her story. Demanding, possessive of my time, Charlie took over, forced me to do a lot of research and many times I held my head and said this is too much work…and continued to write. Four months later, I typed The End and cried. I edit as I write. And I don’t like to be disturbed.

Deanna:  So many of us pour ourselves into our books as we write but they’re also a part of us and I think sometimes that makes it hard to get onto paper. Do you find it hard to name your characters?

Charmaine:  Names come easily. They appear in my head like sign posts and I continue to type. Visualization is natural for me. After years of acting, you learn to see the characters. I never dreamed of writing when I was in daytime drama, movies, commercials, on stage. It was a time of learning lines other writers wrote and auditioning. Always auditioning. I read enough scripts to learn about dialogue and sets and when I finally decided to write, ideas flew on the page.

Deanna:  How exciting to have been a part of that world. Although it makes writing a little easier, do you still need to do outlines or synopsis?

Charmaine:  I don’t outline and usually know only the beginning and end of a story. With Reconstructing Charlie, I didn’t know quite where she was going so I let her guide me.

Deanna:  I don’t outline either. I write by the seat of my pants with only a few details in my head. My characters usually fill in the scenes for me. What is a writing day like for you?

Charmaine:  First thing after a quick breakfast is writing time. Back to my desk early afternoon after exercise and life and then at night after a good movie, fill in quiet time at the computer. I care for my three year old granddaughter quite a bit and have to make up the lost time when I can. And of course, there’s time spent on promotion. No one prepared me for that prior to becoming published. Surprise.

Deanna:  Promotion is a huge time-consumer for sure, but I do love it. That’s how most of my mornings are spent. Is it hard for you to decide on story locations?

Charmaine:  Locations are places I’m familiar with. RC takes place in Chicago, my hometown, life on Lake Shore Drive in a beautiful home, Northwestern University, meanders to a fictional northern town with a mysterious house in the woods. Charlie - as a woman of 25 - arranges to buy the house and names it The Haven, where women and children can come to heal and recover from trauma. She’s a whiz at construction and now is CEO of a construction company.
Deanna:  Like your other main characters in past stories, Charlie sounds like a wonderful, caring woman. Let’s read on to the excerpt you’ve brought along! 


In 1996 I killed my father.
Dear old Dad was great with a belt. A belt of whiskey. A belt from around his waist unbuckled when you least expected it and later I knew when it was coming and some of us escaped. Not me, not Mom. Never Mom. I’m the oldest. I didn’t want the little ones to see the okay dad turn into a monster on payday. Every payday.

Chapter 1
I heard the television turned up loud before I opened the door. Mom always hoped for a distraction. Maybe this time instead of beating up on us, he’d watch the Minnesota Twins beat the hell out of the Boston Red Sox. Rant over every play, curse the umpires, yell that the Hubert H. Humphrey Stadium wasn’t good enough. 1996. Not a great year so far for the Twins. On this payday, after I dropped the kids off, I raced home just in time to be with Mom.
The front door banged open hard enough to rattle dishes in the cabinet. Mom’s treasure—a painted porcelain egg—rolled to the edge, teetered for a second and fell end over end to the hardwood floor. The small egg cracked with the force of a bomb. Mom stared at broken pieces from a life she had long ago. Her face turned white, every freckle showing, and my fists clenched.
He staggered around waving a tire iron in the air; muscled from working a jackhammer for the city all his sorry life and ugly drunk. Flowers flew off the table with sprays of water and shattered glass. Cursing, he went after Mom. This time I was ready. I wrestled it out of his filthy hands and hit him good. He lay torn up, didn’t move, blood everywhere on Mom’s clean kitchen floor. I stood there looking down at my father and thought how hard it was going to be for Mom to get the blood up. And how come he was the worst father in the world scaring all of us, hurting Mom and me. I breathed too fast and almost threw up. We were safe now because I’d done this terrible thing and I didn’t know how I could live with it.
Mom’s thick auburn hair came loose from her bun and she looked so pretty bending over him, a finger pressed to his neck as if she was a cop. On tiptoes, she pulled the ceiling fan chain and her sleeve rolled back. Black and blue marks covered her arm. I counted them. Mom had a lot more than I did. The breeze felt good. Then she wiped my fingerprints off the tire iron and replaced them with hers.
I watched Mom change from quiet refined Liz Costigan to someone I didn’t know.
“No more sweltering in my house,” she said.
She reached in his pants like a pickpocket and came up with a handful of dollars and coins. Handing me the money, Mom said, “I guess he drank the rest of his pay. Sorry it’s not more. Let’s get you packed.”
She was in charge, this new mother, and I didn’t question her. Icy cold inside myself, Mom dragged me along to my bedroom. I kept looking back expecting him to come after us.
“Reach up high on the top shelf, Charlie. Bring the suitcase down.”
Mom’s hands caressed the leather case I’d never seen.
“I packed my clothes and ran away sixteen years ago,” she said. “I was wild, out-of-control.”
“Were you ever sorry, Mom?”
“I have you and Jimmy, and my little girls. Take a shower. I have things to do.” She pushed me toward the hall.
I heard Mom opening and closing drawers, knew she’d be too busy to worry about me for a while and crept back to the bloody mess to make sure he really was dead. His dark eyes had turned to an empty stare. Shivering, I ran for the bathroom. Even a hot shower couldn’t warm me and blood refused to wash off. Words spun around in my head. ‘Out, out, damned spot.’ I scrubbed ‘til it hurt. Lady Macbeth, that’s me.
Wrapped in a towel, I watched Mom empty my clothes into her suitcase. I couldn’t move. He’s dead in the house and she packed my clothes for what? Mom added a dress hanging at the back of the closet, folded and placed it on top. The sound of the zipper closing on the suitcase startled me into action. I pried up the board in the closet, removed my money, and secured it into a money belt I’d bought in a second hand shop. Mom nodded approval.
“Wear this,” she said, handing me jeans and a long sleeved tee shirt. I dug some underwear out of the suitcase and dressed. “Take a windbreaker. Air conditioning on the bus.”
Unfastening a gold locket on a long chain she wore around her neck, she said, “Hold up your hair, my girl.”
We stood face to face, her hazel eyes looking into mine. I heard a tiny click when the clasp was in place around my neck. She kissed the locket and let it slide under my shirt.
“What’s in the locket, Mom?”
 “Two sisters, my dear Charlie. One wise. One foolish.” Mom smiled the saddest smile. She held my face in both hands.  “Yes, I have a sister, your aunt Eleanor. Now listen hard. Money and education. Most important.  And one more thing, precious girl, don’t let boys catch your scent. Keep clean. That’s something I forgot.”
Scared and bewildered, I wasn’t used to her making fast decisions. Any decisions.
“I’ll call the police after you’re gone. It was self defense. There are hospital records of abuse for years. The Union will take financial care of us. Your job is to make a new life. Catch a bus to Chicago. My sister is there.”
She pulled a box out from a drawer in my small desk and opened it. Fancy stationery paper, the old fashioned kind with the scent of flowers. Taking a deep breath, mom wrote in her perfect handwriting. I always believed mom had a lot of secrets. Now I got a peek at some just before I was leaving. Not fair and I felt like my little sisters when they stamped their feet against the world. I didn’t want to leave. She tucked two sheets of paper in a matching envelope and added an address.
“Don’t lose this, Charlie. It’s your passport to a new life.”
I couldn’t speak. Somehow words got stuck in my throat so I read the name Mom had written. Mrs. Stuart Alfred. I unzipped a side pocket on my backpack and placed the envelope in with care.
“Don’t let her turn you away. She’s my older sister. She hated your father.”
I never saw her cry before and when tears fell, she brushed them away.
Panic set in. “What if she’s not there?”
“She’ll be there, same as always. I’ve kept in touch with her. Not often. Just enough.”
So sure of herself, this new mother.
 “Charlie,” Mom looked in my eyes so deep as if she was taking a picture, “don’t call. I’ll call you when I have something to say. Now hurry. It’s not too late to catch the bus.”
Mom hugged me and I ran.

Deanna:  Wow! I have goose bumps! What a chilling first chapter; that was amazing! Charmaine, I so enjoyed having you back for an interview and to introduce your new book, Reconstructing Charlie, to our readers. I hear you have a contest and great prize package. Tell us more about that! I’m excited!

Charmaine:  On Saturday, April 15th, I will choose two winners from those who leave comments that are from the heart and who are interested in my stories. They will win e-books from my four books: To Be Continued, Starting Over, Now What? and Reconstructing Charlie AND a gift basket as a grand prize with everything plus two anthologies with my short stories included.

Deanna:  Readers, Charmaine will be around for comments and questions. If you’ve not read any of her books, be sure to read them. They all tell a story of strong females who help others. Thank you all for stopping in!
     Here are a few of Charmaine's links:

Publisher Site:  Vanilla Heart Books