Saturday, 14 March 2015

Author Interview: Christina Courtenay

Today I'm joined by Choc Lit author Christina Courtenay to tell us about her latest novel The Soft Whisper of Dreams.

Some dreams shouldn't come true... 

Maddie Browne thought she'd grown out of the recurring nightmare that plagued her as a child, but after a shocking family secret is revealed, it comes back to haunt her - the same swing in the same garden, the kind red-haired giant and the swarthy arms which grab her from behind and try to take her away ... 

In an attempt to forget her troubles, Maddie travels to Devon to spend time with her friends, Kayla and Wes. However, it becomes clear that relaxation will not be on the agenda after a disturbing encounter with a gypsy fortune teller. Not to mention the presence of Wes's dangerously handsome brother, Alex. 

And then there's the fact that Maddie's dream seems to be coming true.

Can you tell us about your latest novel The Soft Whisper of Dreams?  
It’s a contemporary romance with some paranormal and suspense/thriller elements. The heroine, Maddie, finds out she’s adopted and an old nightmare comes back to haunt her. When she visits friends to recover from the shock, she meets dangerously handsome Alex, has a disturbing encounter with a gypsy fortune teller and, terrifyingly, her bad dreams seem to be coming true …

Where did the inspiration come from to write about Maddie's recurring nightmares?
I sometimes wake up from dreams thinking they seem terribly familiar, as if I’ve dreamt the same thing before and knew what was going to happen. Usually they are the scary type, where you wake yourself up trying to scream but can’t. I think that’s where I got the idea for Maddie’s nightmares.

Did you have to do much research about dreams and what they meant to enable you to write about the nightmares? 
No, I just used my own experience and imagination for that.

What can we expect from you next? 
I have a historical romance coming out in August called The Jade Lioness.  It’s the third book in my Japanese trilogy (sequel to The Scarlet Kimono and The Gilded Fan) and follows adventurous English girl Temperance Marston as she is kidnapped by outlaws in 17th century Japan and rescued by a handsome samurai.

I’ve also just started work on a new time slip novel set partly during the English Civil War. I just love the Cavaliers and have long wanted to write a story with one of them as a hero.

When do you do your best writing, daytime or evenings?
From the afternoon onwards as I’m definitely not a morning person!

You write contemporary, historical and Young Adult novels, how difficult is it to switch between writing different genres? 
I don’t find it difficult at all, it’s actually very relaxing!  If I’ve been working on a historical novel, for example, writing something contemporary is like being on holiday (not as much research and having to get all the details right!), but then after a while I start to want to immerse myself in history again, so switching back is fun. I guess I just like variety – I get bored easily!

What is the best writing advice you have ever received?
Get yourself a writing buddy, someone you trust and can share honest critiques with. They’re also brilliant for brainstorming with if you’re stuck on a plot point.

Do you set yourself a daily/weekly writing target? 
No, I write as often and as much as I can, but I have a lot of other commitments so I know I wouldn’t be able to stick to any specific targets.

What would you say is the hardest thing about writing? 
Self-promotion! I’m really bad at blowing my own trumpet and although I try to keep up with Facebook, Twitter etc, I know I should be doing more. But then when do you have time to write? It’s a Catch 22 situation, isn’t it ☺

What writers inspire you? 
Barbara Erskine, Susanna Kearsley, Johanna Lindsey, Georgette Heyer and lots of others.

If you could write in a collaboration with another author, who would you like to write with? 
I have actually tried it with an Australian friend of mine (although we never published the result) and it was great fun, but if I were to do it again I’d probably like to try with one of my writing buddies – Henriette Gyland or Gill-Marie Stewart – because I think you have to really know each other well for it to work.

When you’ve finished writing/publish a book, do you treat yourself to a reward? 
Yes, I sometimes buy myself a silver charm (for a bracelet) that has something to do with the book. Other times I just eat lots of chocolate!

Thank you very much for having me as your guest!


  1. An interesting interview, Christina and Shaz.

    I'm exactly the opposite from you in at least two aspects: I love the mornings and start writing as soon as I've had breakfast, and I can only work on one novel at a time.

    I live with those characters until the end of their story and am totally focused on them and their journey. I admire your ability to move between two worlds.

    1. We all work differently, Liz, so it's best to stick with whatever works! Your way is probably more logical than mine :-) xx

  2. I write in contemporary romance and thriller. I do find moving from one to the other does actually rest my brain. With you there, Christina. I love the idea of buying a charm for your bracelet when you complete a book. There's something a bit magical about that. Best of luck with The Soft Whisper of Dreams. :) xx

    1. Thank you, Sheryl, glad I'm not the only one who does that! And yes, charms are great as there's such a huge variety to choose from :-) xx

  3. Count me as another morning writer! I always find it fascinating to know what goes on 'behind the scenes' for other writers, so thank you for letting us see a bit of Christina's processes.

    1. Thanks, Jane - mornings don't exist as far as I'm concerned - that's still the middle of the night! :-) xx

  4. I can’t wait to read The Soft Whisper of Dreams; I love books that mix romance with suspense! It’s really interesting to read about your writing process; thanks very much for sharing.

    1. Thank you, Clare! I've never written suspense before so it was fun to try :-) xx

  5. Interesting interview and I always enjoy finding out how other writers work! Your idea for a novel with a Cavalier hero intrigues me so I'll be looking forward to that one.
    Angela Britnel

    1. Ah, another fan of the Cavaliers? I love that period in history - many thanks! xx

  6. Looking forward to more of Alex. I seem to have a thing for younger of my other loves being Jamie Kinross. And the thought of a time slip with a Civil War background is mouth-watering.

    Liv x

    1. I think we like the same kind of heroes, Liv :-) And thank you re: the Civil War story, I'm having fun writing it at the moment! xx

  7. Brilliant interview - you are such a prolific writer, Christina. I would never be able to work on more than one idea at a time. I like Cavaliers too . . . and Musketeers :)
    (Suddenly we're back to bearded men in leather!) *shakes head*

  8. Oh yes, Musketeers, love them! :-) xx