Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Welcome, Victoria Chathman

1: Thank you so much for being here, Victoria Chatham

First up is the obligatory question. When did you first
begin writing?
As soon as I could hold a crayon. I wrote letters and words, never pictures of cats or dogs, and it was not at all appreciated by my family. I could read and write before I started school so I suppose short story and essay writing came relatively easily to me. I won several first prizes for essay writing and I wrote my first novel when I was thirteen, but did not pursue a writing career until I was in my fifties.

2:Sounds like so many authors. So what or Who inspired you to write?
My husband Nitch (a nickname – only his mother and the government referred to him as Neil John) really pushed me to write. I think he got tired of hearing me talking about writing but never doing it. He found me a writers group and made sure I went to an open evening, he bought me a typewriter and later my first computer. Every day he asked if I’d written anything yet and if the answer was no (it usually was, I managed a busy self storage facility at that time) then he’d take over what needed to be done so I had the time to write. My only regret is that he passed away before seeing my first book published. With his photo above my writing desk I don’t dare give up now! As far as other authors go, I really liked Maeve Binchy for the way she developed her characters and Rosamund Pilcher for her descriptions and the flow of her writing. However, my first love was Regency romance as portrayed by Georgette Heyer, and I was a Jane Austen fan from when I first read ‘Emma’ at school.

3: I’m sorry your husband never sat your first book published, but I’m sure he’s very proud of you. A question I’m often asked, what do you like the most and least about writing?

I really love getting new characters and ideas and can easily get lost in any research I might have to do but then comes the hard slog, the actual writing. Getting myself organized to sit down and write gets punctuated with procrastination. I think it’s residual fear that this book might not be good enough for a reader to enjoy it but I am getting past that. One thing I still struggle with is making my villains villainous enough. I think I’m too tender hearted as I always try to find the best in them, or explain why they are the way they are.

4: Even villains have some good points. Tell us what do you do for fun and relaxation when not writing?
Oh goodness! Have we got time? I love being outdoors so walk, hike and trail ride when I can. I love horses so volunteer at Spruce Meadows a world class show jumping center south of Calgary, listen to music – depends on my mood as to whether it be classical (especially Mozart), blues or good old rock ‘n roll. I love the movies too and have a good movie buddy but in between going to the theatre I’ll watch movies on Netflix. And I read a lot which really is a prerequisite for being a writer.

5: Sounds like a busy life. Which authors do you like to read?
Other than those previously mentioned, I really like Mary Balogh, Jo Beverley, Jo Goodman, Tami Hoag, Jeffrey Archer, Ken Follet. I think it goes without saying that I’m also a fan of all our great Books We Love authors, Juliet Waldron, A.M. Westerling and Killarney Sheffield particularly. I have to say that even though I was not a fan of history when at school because I could never remember dates, I now find it fascinating.

6: Funny how we change with time. So, what’s the one thing you’d most like people to know about you?
You do ask some difficult questions Ro! I really had to think about this one. I suppose though that, despite being an on the plump side, bespectacled 72 year old grandma, I still have an adventurous soul and like to challenge myself.

7: I love adventures. Tell uw about your current novel, where can we find it and your website/blog.
My most recent release was the boxed set trilogy, The Buxton Chronicles, comprised of Cold Gold, On Borrowed Time and Shell Shocked. It’s available at www.smashwords.com. My current work in progress is Loving That Cowboy, a western contemporary romance which should be available in September and I have to say that switching from historical to contemporary is more of a challenge than I thought it would be. There’s more about me and my books at www.victoriachatham.webs.com.

8:Wow, that is a drastic change. Do you have any tips for aspiring authors?
Writing is by nature a lonely path, so I’d recommend anyone to find a good, supportive writers group. Attending workshops and presentations helps a lot as does having good craft books and actually reading them, not just having them decorate your bookshelf. Once you are comfortable with your writing, a good critique partner who can provide you with constructive criticism can be invaluable too.

9: Great avice. A question I’m often asked, do you base your characters on real-life people?
I think all writers do to a certain extent. I know I’ve seen people do something, heard them say something, and made a note to myself for future reference or use when building my characters.

10: Very true. Where do you get your ideas?
I’m maybe lucky in that characters present themselves to me. I first have an image of them, they soon tell me their name and the era in which they live. Then I Google what happened in that year to see if I can use historical facts to build a plot around them.

11: Ah,you are lucky. Tell us one thing no one knows about you?
That when I was a teenager and in the Territorial Army (army reserve force in the UK) I drove a tank. I’m not sure whose heart beat faster, mine or my instructor’s!

12. Wow, that sound like a story waiting to be written. So, who’s your favorite author and what’s your favorite book?
It is still Georgette Heyer and especially her book Frederica as whenever I reread it I find it as fresh and funny as when I first read it.

 Excerpt from Cold Gold, Book 1 in The Buxton Chronicles.

Serena considered the irony of the two women’s situations. Lorelei, with her genteel
upbringing, now owning a bawdy house. Maggie using her proceeds from prostitution to fund respectable businesses.
“So,” Maggie’s voice broke the silence. “What do you intend on doing with your Randolph gone?”
Serena put her cup down. “I have to find him,” she said. “But I really don’t know how I shall accomplish that, especially as Mr. Harris will not allow me access to Randolph’s funds.”
“Will he not?” Maggie’s face flushed with outrage. “The old skinflint.”
“Well, unfortunately he does have a point.” Serena told them about her meeting with Frank Harris. “So you see, I am in a rather difficult position. I have next to no money, no access to funds, and absolutely no idea what to do next.”
Serena didn’t like the mischievous glint that appeared in Maggie’s eyes, or her suggestion that she should apply to Lorelei for a position in her house.
“’Course, if I told you some of the positions that could earn you some very good coin, you might not believe me.” Maggie rolled her eyes suggestively and Lorelei giggled and cuffed her arm.
“Don’t tease her, Maggie. I’m sure we can find something for her to do.” Lorelei looked hopefully at Serena. “Can you teach?”
Serena shook her head.
“I can barely thread a needle.”
“The only time I have ever set foot in a kitchen was to discuss menus with our cook.”
“Well, what can you do?
Serena didn’t think horse riding and pheasant shooting would be of any account, but she did have one skill. If she dared do it. She looked from Maggie to Lorelei and back again.
“I can sing.”


Juliet Waldron said...

Buxton Chronicles were fascinating--and your comments on the writer's lonely, abstracted life are spot on.

Sounds like your army allowed women to perform important tasks a lot earlier than ours, but then, often, your country displays a lot more horse sense than ours.

And thanks so much for mentioning my stories. As you know, lots of heart and soul gets poured into our creations.

Tricia McGill said...

Lovely to learn so much about you, Victoria. I too had a supportive husband who didn't live to see my first book published. But they gave us the impetus and encouragement to keep at it. Driving a tank? Now that is something not many women can boast about.