Novelist, Cherese A. Vines was born into a military family in the late 1970s. She has lived in a number of different cities and states throughout her life. Although she has a background in Journalism, her love of reading fiction led to creative writing pursuits. She has incorporated her experiences and travels into her stories, which include young adult fiction, science-fiction, and fantasy. She has self-published two young adult novels, Countercharm and Countercharm 2: Of Stars and Dreams and is currently working on her third novel, Elan Vital. Cherese currently resides near Atlanta,GA with her husband and two children.www.chereseavines.mysite.com
Interview with Cherese A. Vines author of Countercharm.
I want to thank you for being my guest here on Mymcbooks Blog
What is the last book you read?
The last book I read was Pendragon: The Merchant of Death by DJ MacHale. I found the book at my local thrift store and saw that there was a series so I bought all the Pendragon books there. Thrift stores and libraries are good places to take a chance of an author you don’t know. I had never heard of the Pendragon series, but it seems like a pretty good series so far.
What were your earliest memories of writing?
I wrote a story in second grade for a project. We made our own books with wallpaper and cardboard and wrote our stories inside. I still have the two that I made some 27 years ago. It’s amazing to see your words in a book that everyone can enjoy. It was not until I was 24 that I was able to see my words in a professional, glossy book when I self-published my first young adult novel, Countercharm. It was only a little more exciting that those first ones in second grade.
Were you encouraged to write or was it something that came natural?
A little of both. But I was definitely nurtured as a reader first and then a writer. I love reading and that’s where writing starts. Once I discovered that I could make up my own stories and write them down, it became a fun thing for me to do and to escape into a new world. But it wasn’t until I was about 13 or 14 years old when I got typewriter as a present that I started typing up my first book. It was about a young girl who’s parents were going through a divorce. I guess it was therapeutic because my parents were divorcing at that time. I think a lot of children could relate to the story today, but I never published it I think because it was so personal to me.
Are you working on a new book?
Yes. Elan Vital is my next book. It is a fantasy adventure story. It takes place on the same world as the one mentioned in my first book Countercharm and the sequel, Countercharm 2: Of Stars and Dreams. In Elan Vital two sisters are being trained as priestesses to protect their world by maintaining the balance of energy when they are orphaned by an attack on their village by semi-immortal beings. Afterward, the girls must complete their training on their own so that they can prevent the semi-immortals from further disturbing the balance and subsequently destroying their world.
What do you do when you’re not writing or promoting your books?
I am a stay-at-home mom, so I have plenty to keep me busy with two young children. I also help other writers by critiquing and editing their work.
How did you come up with each character?
A lot of my stories come from dreams I’ve had so the characters come to me pretty well rounded already. Other characters come in to support my central character. In Countercharm, Sydnie Knight is 16, so she needs a guardian. Since her mother is not there, Aunt Sandra becomes the mother figure. So most of my characters evolve because my protagonist needs them. They all add something to the protagonist’s transformation.
Have you ever suffered from writer’s block?
Oh definitely. When I put too much pressure on myself to produce something spectacular on the first draft, I end up blocking my creativity. I usually write without outlines and so most of the time I’m working from a general idea. As I write the inspiration for characters, settings, plot come to me without much planning. But when I try to be too specific and rigid with the direction of my story, it stifles my creative flow. The best thing for me to do is to put the story down for a few days or start on another part of the story and then I can usually work around the writer’s block. It’s always better to keep writing than to have a perfect first draft.
What is the most difficult part of writing?
Editing is the most difficult part of writing for me. I’m really all about getting the story out and going along on the adventure. This is the fun part for me. But when I start to edit, it becomes work. I’m no longer riding along, I’m checking the gears to make sure it’s working right and replacing parts: Work. However, it’s something that must be done to give my characters and the story the respect they deserve. Spending all that time on editing makes me feel like I’m really invested in this story and that I really want it to be heard. There have been some stories that I didn’t think deserved editing, and so they’re in the bottom drawer somewhere. That’s not to mean that I will never revisit those stories again, it just means not now. They may get a second try because I may feel differently about them a few years from now. Another reason why editing is my least favorite task is that it tends to be a “forever” activity. As the author, I will probably always find something to change or make better, even when the book is in print.
How do you react to a bad review?
It can hurt a little, but if people only say “I liked it” when they really didn’t, this does me no good. How can I fix something so my reader can enjoy the journey if I don’t know something is wrong? With a bad review, I can take it and use it to make my stories better. I’m a bit of a perfectionist so I take critiques seriously and I make sure I don’t repeat the mistakes that brought that type of review.
Who are some of your favorite authors you would love to dine with?
It would have been great to sit down with Octavia Butler who passed away in 2005. She had such a phenomenal imagination. Before reading Octavia Butler’s books, I didn’t know African-Amercian women read or even wrote Science-Fiction and Fantasy. I thought I was a little strange for liking it when I was younger. Anne Rice is another writer I would like to meet. The way she writes is so beautiful. The words flow almost without effort, taking you into new worlds that although seedy at times, still sound pleasing just because of the way she puts the words together. J.R.R. Tolkien is another creative author. The world created in Lord of the Rings is amazing. The history is what drew me. The attention to the details of each character’s history and the worlds’ history is so appealing because Tolkien knew these worlds as if he really lived there. That’s what I like about J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series as well. The characters are not just thrown in there. They are well thought out and have their own history that is just as real and important as Harry Potter’s because it made them who they are in the story.
What discipline do you impose on yourself regarding schedules, goals, etc.?
Well, as a mother of two young children, I don’t have much time to write. But what I do make sure to do is to have a notebook and pen nearby at all times. I can get inspiration while driving or getting the kids ready for bed. Ideas come at such strange times for me. I also make sure I participate in the National Novel Writing Month each November (nanowrimo.org). It’s where you write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. It’s very ambitious, but I have finished three out of the four years I’ve done it. I like the challenge, it gives me the added discipline or push I need to make sure I write. It also gives me a sense of comradery with other others and a sense of accomplishment which is really a motivator in itself.
What advice would you give parents on selecting the right books for their children to read?
I would tell them to talk to people who work with children like teachers, caregivers, librarians. Also, try different types of books to see what your child likes. Libraries and the internet are good resources as well. The best resource, however, is other parents. See what they are reading their children. What works best for me is letting my daughter choose her own books. I found that if I chose her books, they were more to my tastes and did not always interest her. But allowing her to choose the books actually was amazing. She seemed to pick the right books for her, for the time and message that we/she needed at that particular moment. She gets some sense of independence and responsibility as well which promotes positive emotions about reading.
What advice you would give to new writers?
My advice is to read widely, even genres you don’t like. Write daily. Take an English class. Interact with others who like books, whether it’s reading or writing. I like the idea that you write, write, write and then edit later. My focus is on getting the story out of your head and on paper. It’s so rewarding to see those words, your words, in print. Experience life as much as you can because every story has come from some bit of reality. Use all your resources and get positive support for your writing. Most important for me would be to write because you love to write not because you want to be a bestseller. I believe when you start writing to please others, your writing loses that sincerity and heart that makes it worth reading.
Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?
I believe everyone has a story in them, fiction or non-fiction, it doesn’t matter. Some people may not believe they are “writers” but if you can speak, you can write. And there are so many resources out there to make what you write, glossy and print ready. So write, because your story needs to be heard, read and enjoyed.
Thank you for this interview.