Monday, October 16, 2006

Make-Believe Mondays With Charlotte Hubbard

Today on Make-Believe Mondays I'm pleased to introduce Charlotte Hubbard. Charlotte writes historical inspirationals and she writes erotica as Melissa MacNeal.

Charlotte, first, tell us a little bit about the manuscript you’re working on now.

Charlotte: Since I write historical inspirationals as Charlotte Hubbard and erotica for Kensington’s Aphrodisia line as Melissa MacNeal, I always have a story perking these days! Just turned in #3 of my “Angels of Mercy” series, a heart-tugger where Billy Bristol reunites with his long-lost twin (now an outlaw!) and reclaims his family’s horse ranch and home.

Debra: Now that sounds intriguing!

Charlotte: So now I get to spend my next 6 months as Melissa, writing a private island/pirate adventure! HOT FOR IT is about Cat Gamble winning the Powerball jackpot and buying her own little Caribbean island—complete with a yacht, lovely villa, a pair of very randy caretakers, and of course all that gorgeous blue water where she can watch the dolphins play from her bedroom balcony.

Debra: Wow! Wouldn't we all love to trade places with her!

Charlotte: But as we all know, even that $158 million jackpot can’t buy happiness, and Cat sends out an online personal ad to find a playmate: Captain Jack to the rescue! (yes, he looks like Johnny Depp! Jack owns a fleet of those pirate ships where cruise ship passengers love to party, but he also offers a special package which includes a pirate kidnapping onto his ship where you become a love slave for a week. Of course, Cat signs on! Trouble is, she gets abducted by REAL pirates before Jack shows up to kidnap her.

Debra: Oho! When fantasies turn real anything can happen! I've been on one of those pirate ships off the island of Grand Cayman and even walked the plank! (It was great fun, but they weren't real pirates.)

Charlotte: This one’s going to be a LOT of fun to write, and is already presenting me with some little surprises which spice up the story even more. I love it when that happens!

Debra: It sounds like fun! There's nothing like a pirate....

Ray Bradbury said, “We are cups, constantly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.” How do you keep your creative cup filled?

Charlotte: I’ve learned that refilling that cup is VERY important, and letting my Inner Kid out to play several times every week is a must for me. This might mean I allow myself to wander through Barnes and Noble or Hobby Lobby just looking and fingering—and when something jumps out at me, I listen to that call.

debra: What a wonderful idea, and so multi-sensory.

Charlotte: I’ve recently bought a how-to kit for beginning to paint with watercolors; I went to a really fun lecture on Sears catalog homes last spring that I know will be a springboard in a future story; I’ve indulged myself in some new, really fun ragtime band CD’s, sensing this musical genre will figure in somewhere with those Sears houses.

I love to tour historical homes when we’re on vacation, and then I load up on little local history books they sell in their gift shops.

For my Angels series, I’ve become an avid reader of angel resources and I’ve begun meditating with Doreen Virtue’s Archangels oracle deck—and that got its boost from when I taught myself to read Tarot cards a few years ago as research for a story character.

Last year I had this yen to learn the accordion (yeah, go figure!) so I bought one and some how-to books, partly as research for a Cajun hero I was writing, but also because learning a new instrument gives your brain cells a little extra muscle!

Debra: It's fascinating how multi-talented authors are. Painting and playing the accordion and writing in two genres. Wow. These are such great ideas for other writers to try.

Charlotte: And I’ve learned that quiet time, and self-care, and time away for vacations and family gatherings are just as important. My motto is: “they don’t pay me enough to miss out on Real Life” and I’m stickin’ to it!

Debra: I agree. There's writing about life and then there's living it.

Is there a point when your characters begin to come alive and you can see and hear them?

Charlotte: When I first began writing historical romances in the early ‘90s, I saw characters and scenes very vividly before I wrote them. Over the years that’s changed, and I’m not sure why. Now, while I start from a fairly detailed synopsis—as I did back then—the characters and their activities don’t usually unfold until I’m sitting at the Mac (or the AlphaSmart) actually composing the main draft.

I now make collages of faces from magazines to represent my characters, so I can look at the bulletin board beside my desk and call them up as I need to. I sometimes do a spread or two with my Gilded Tarot deck—SO beautifully illustrated and provocative of character—when I need a boost or ideas for habits and motivations.

This is true even for my “Angels” series, which is the most character-driven work I’ve ever written. I’m guessing my process has evolved, so I don’t stress about it! My characters always seem to spring forth when I need them to, and my readers compliment them highly, so I keep trusting my Muse to kick in when I need her.

For some writers, dreams play a role in creating fiction. Has this been true for you? Have you ever dreamed a scene or an image that later wound up in one of your books?

Charlotte: I wish it were that easy! I wish I could recall my dreams—or have dreams that actually made enough sense to use as parts of stories! These days I’m just thankful when I get a good, uninterrupted night’s sleep! (which doesn’t sound like an erotica author talking, does it?!)

debra: Well, no. Unless you're having erotic dreams.

If there were no categories for books, no reader expectations to meet, and you could create the wildest work of imagination that you could think of what kind of story would that be?

Charlotte: No doubt I’d write a historical adventure of some type, probably set in the West or on a pirate ship! Lots of action and plot twists and surprises. Actually, my early historicals tended to be that way anyway, because the market would support that kind of story then.

Debra: Historical adventures are my favorite romances, so I'll be waiting for the day you can write that story!

Charlotte: My early erotica, which Melissa wrote for Black Lace, was wildly imaginative, too, because the veil of history allowed you some sexual leeway without having to include that obligatory condom scene. While I’m enjoying Melissa’s fresh new contemporary voice, I felt less limited by reality (especially by technology) when I wrote historicals.

Is there anything else you would like to add about the role of imagination, and dreams in creating fiction? Any other message for our readers?

Charlotte: Where would any of us be without our imaginations?! As an only child I depended upon mine to entertain me—and now as a writer I still crave that escape from reality. In my mind, I’ve been a concert pianist, a night club torch singer, and married to WAY too many men over the years! Not to mention being a beloved member of the Cartwright family when “Bonanza” was big on TV!

Fantasy and imagination—deliberate daydreams rather than those uncontrollable night dreams—have always been great fodder for stories, as well as a way to visualize goals I wanted to attain or phobias/foibles I hoped to overcome. Lord help me if I ever get Alzheimer’s and lose this ability to see things clearly—as I WANT to see them—in my mind’s eye!

For more about my stories—proof positive of what happens inside this crazy head!—click on or I love to hear from readers and writers!

Debra: Charlotte, thank you for joining us here on this Make-believe Monday to share a little bit of the magic of writing with our readers.

Charlotte: Thanks for this interview opp! I enjoyed it!

Debra: It was such a pleasure having you here!

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