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Author Interview: Christine Schulze



Synopsis:

Zale. Gauthier. Varden. These three dynasties... They all sound like something out of an ancient, oriental myth or fairy tale. The concept of humans and dragons helping and living in harmony with one another, without fear. To me, that's exactly what they are. A distant dream only read of, whispered secretly, quietly yearned for.

For, you see, I am the new Quelda of Tynan.

These words echo the mystery, horror, and romance found within Schulze's fantasy novel. Along with her new husband, Chalom, Crislin must choose to embrace cruel tradition, run from it, or stand against it. The young couple's only hope is to rally the help of the three peaceful dragon dynasties of Sulaimon-but tradition is not on their side, even outside the realm of Tynan. The dragons outside Tynan's borders have been rumored as too stubborn and proud to believe their Tynanian brothers would commit such horrors as inflicted upon the Quelda. Gaining their aid is not a likely hope. Yet, any hope at all is valued in Tynan... If they are to stand a chance of bringing cruel tradition to a permanent end, Crisilin and Chalom must brave the constant, consuming blizzards of the Ever-white. They must brave the three dynasties and the challenges awaiting there.

Together, they must convince the dragon emperors to allow them access to the shrines which house the sacred Aria - protective strands of music which may be able to disperse the evil from Tynan and unite the four dynasties of Sulaimon as a whole once again. Their only aid stems from a sprite whose moods are as unstable as her magic, a young minstrel, and a mysterious fox. Despite the odds, such plans are daring, dangerous, unprecedented, but fully possible - if they can escape the Wall first.








Author Info:

Christine E. Schulze has been creating books since she was too young to even write them in words. The stories from Bloodmaiden: A Fantasy Anthology are only a small part of her vast twenty-seven book collection, The Amielian Legacy. She hopes to inspire readers throughout the world with these books by publishing in both traditional and electronic formats to make them available to all readers.

Christine has published several stories with Calliope and Kalkion magazines and is an active member of the WEbook online writing community. She has also published several Christian/fantasy books which are available at various online retailers, as well as publishing several eBooks via Writers-Exchange. Her latest and most exciting venture is publishing her novel Bloodmaiden with Old Line Publishing.

Christine draws inspiration mainly from the people around her, such as friends and favorite teachers. She also enjoys reading fantasy, watching fantasy and independent films, playing fantasy video games, and can draw inspiration from these and other fantasy-inspired media.

Christine currently lives in Shiloh, Illinois with her Mom, three dogs and a rabbit.

Interview:

1. When did you decide to start writing?

Well, I don’t know if I ever made a conscious decision. It’s just who I am, what I’ve always done. My first complete book was written when I was around four. I was a flower girl for a lady we knew from church, and she asked me to make her one of my books as a wedding present. So I made her a copy of “Jonny to the Rescue”, which would later serve as inspiration for my currently published series, The Legends of Surprisers.

I know there was a point in my young life that I started looking at my favorite series and saying, “This is really good, it will be published someday.” I did that until now, finally, my most current works are published.

2. Why young adult?

I write what I love, and that is fantasy. I think the young adult part comes more or less naturally. I am twenty-two, still considered a young adult. Young at heart, I never feel like I get any older. My characters have grown a little older as I do, and sometimes I wonder if I will veer from young adult writing as I age, but I doubt it. It just comes naturally, as I said, as naturally as writing fantasy. I really can hardly write anything in the real world because my imagination seems stifled, the possibilities far less endless.

3. Were you worried about the word count of your work?

Definitely not. See, to begin with, I grew up in a Christian school. This made me sheltered from the norms of life; I have never really been a self-conscious person. I am very comfortable with myself, and I think part of this may stem from not having to adhere to the social quirks of regular high school, where there are hierarchies, a lot more bullying, and the concept of needing to “fit in”. I have, more or less, never really tried to “fit in”. I am who I am and hope you like me. I write what I love and hope you like it too.

So, word count doesn’t come into play when I set out to write a book. Some of my works are very long, others quite short. But I don’t really trouble over it. When I finish something, I just get this feeling of, “It is finished.” Sometimes, I wonder, “Should I add more?” But when I think about it, there is nothing more to add. It is what it is, and everything that needed to be said has been.

4. Do you have any writing quirks and what are they?

Well, for one thing, I am often very satisfied with my work, which is apparently a quirk in the writing world. That is, I’m not stuck-up; I’m always open to improvements, advice, etc. But I find a lot of writers really think their work is awful, and they have to labor and sweat to even get anything decent, and so many people I know don’t even finish what they start writing. That’s not me. To me, it comes very naturally, and there have been a few, very rare times that I considered a piece really crummy and didn’t even consider finishing it.

Another quirk, I suppose, is the fact that I don’t write in order. I can’t fathom writers who think they must sit down and pen a book or story from the first word to the last. I must write in chunks, snatches, scenes, paragraphs. I skip about. I love beginnings and endings and often have both written before all the middle. I suppose it helps that I often have a large part of where I want the book to go planned out in my head before I start the writing. I write whatever I’m inspired to write, whatever comes to me. If I’ve done chapter 1, and chapter 2 is romantic and chapter 13 is horror and I’m in the mood for horror, I’ll go straight to writing chapter 13.

5. If you can describe your novel in one word, what would it be and why?

Well, one word, appropriately, would be the title itself, “Bloodmaiden”. “Blood” denotes some sort of sacrifice. Crisilin must make a sacrifice, risking her life to save others from a much more terrible sacrifice. And “maiden” speaks of her youth, her purity. The concept of stolen childhood crops up in the book for more than one character.

But perhaps another appropriate word would be “Revelation”, or, less formally, “Aha!” You go through the book, wondering how the Aria will work to solve the evil that’s settled in Sulaimon. You feel what Crisilin feels, which is, in part a desire to see the evil destroyed with the same violence it has rendered on the innocent. But then, at the end, Crisilin learns an important lesson, and the evil is vanquished in quite an unexpected way. Whereas many of my books contain many twists and turns, this one is a lot more straightforward, though there are some interesting secrets to learn about various characters. Despite its straightforwardness though, it does end unlike how one might expect a tale in which the heroes are fighting against such an evil to end.

6. Why did you decide to focus on three dynasties in your novel?

Well, in the book, there are four dynasties. Bloodmaiden was actually originally entitled Quelda: Quest for Aria. I started out with a concept of a band of people going around collecting the Aria, magical strains of protective song, and was inspired by The Legend of Zelda games. Perhaps I was thinking of Majora’s Mask, using the four cardinal directions to determine the locations of the dynasties with the vast field Yves in the center. Later, I came up with the ideas for the beginning of Bloodmaiden and decided to combine them with the story ideas for Quelda: Quest. This gave the book a much more serious tone which needed the title change.

Getting back on topic though, at the beginning, I focus on Tynan so readers can experience Crislin’s every step, thought, feeling, and sensation. It’s very visual, and for a while, readers don’t really get much sense of her character except in emotions like fear. This makes sense, because, due to the horrors surrounding her, Crisilin has sort of numbed herself to really trying to feel much of anything. She can’t hold back the fear, but we don’t really see deeper into until later on. We’re just along for the journey. Seeing things through Crisilin’s eyes also makes the readers biased because all we have are her opinions. We never see much of the Tynanian dragons because she doesn’t want to think about them. We just have to take her word they’re as bad as she says.

After Tynan though, I wanted to focus on each of the other three dynasties to show not only different aspects of Crisilin’s character but also to show different traits about the dragons themselves. The dragons of Zale oppose the atrocities of Tynan but can’t do much about it. But it is in Zale too that we see Crisilin open up a bit, perhaps the most she opens up in the whole book. She views Zalino as a father figure, and we glimpse that child part of herself that she thinks she has lost.

A large theme of the book is following tradition versus doing what’s right. Zalino can’t stop the dragons of Tynan because he can’t collect the Aria himself because that’s just how it is. In both Gauthier and Varden we see families of dragons also controlled by tradition; certain dragons would make a choice to help our heroes, but because traditionally other dragons are in a higher place of authority, the lesser have no say.

I don’t want to give away too much, but hopefully, by reading the book yourself, you will be able to learn, as Crisilin does, that all the dynasties really aren’t that different from one another. She takes something away in each of her journeys to the dynasties, so hopefully readers will as well.

7. What do you hope your readers will get out of reading your novel?

Well, first off, as ever, I hope I will have immersed my readers in a rich, new, wonderful, if sometimes quirky world and given them a new look on subjects such as dragons and musical magic. I also hope they will return to read other of my works, especially as Bloodmaiden is actually a lot different from many of my other books, being more experimental in its writing style. Finally, I hope by the end of the book they take a moment to reflect upon the message of forgiveness which doesn’t really even appear til the end but plays an important role. And if nothing else, I hope my readers can at least put the book down, and, with a satisfied sigh, say, “Ah, well, that was a nice little story.”

8. Tell us a little about your road to publication.

My, my, what a long and arduous journey, especially for a journey that’s just begun! Well, my first actual acceptance was from Tate Publishing when I was around eighteen or nineteen. I was so excited—especially as they accepted The Prism of Ashlei, first in The Gailean Quartet, my favorite series! Then, I found out they wanted close to fourteen grand to publish the book. I tell you what, I really wanted to do it...but to do so would be to say that my work wasn’t good enough to be published else-where; why should I forfeit to dishonest publishers who didn’t even say on their site what an exorbitant amount of money they wanted just to have the honor of publishing my book?

Well, not long after, a true God-send. I get an acceptance from Writers-Exchange E-publishing for Golden Healer, Dark Enchantress. It was a surreal moment—especially as I didn’t even remember submitting to them at first! But then I remembered sending the book for them because Sandy Cummins, the publisher, mentioned accepting both Christian, young adult, and vampire stories—it was a perfect fit! Thus began my ebook career.

I still wanted to see at least some of my favorite works in print though. The usual string of rejections came, and then one day, I discovered Createspace, a self-publishing website. After debating a little while, I decided to self-publish The Hero Chronicles, sort of for fun, but also with hopes to make some sales. Then, in honor of my favorite teacher, I published The Gailean Quartet as a retirement present. Finally, because I was having so much fun designing cover art, interior files, and such, I added The Legends of Surprisers series to the collection. My hope now is that I might either still publish them traditionally someday or else that people will like my traditionally published books enough to buy them. though, to tell the truth, to date, I have sold more of these books in ebook format than any other, including whole series, so people must not necessarily mind if a book is self-published these days! I do pride myself in them; having the opportunity to work with Laura Shinn, Rebecca Vickery, and other great editors prepared me to do the work necessary to create good-quality self-published works.

Well, in between all this, I made some small publications in magazines and ezines like Calliope and Kalkion, and I continue to search out these fun little opportunities. I joined Rebecca Vickery’s Victory Tales Press which publishes romance anthologies. Rebecca was kind enough to edit and publish Bloodmaiden: A Fantasy Anthology for me, which contains short story excerpts from Bloodmaiden and other books of mine.

Finally, one day I’m browsing online for story contests and such when I come across another true God-send. I found a site listing publishers’ information, but it was one of those sites where they want you to pay for the info. Excepting one of the publishers on the page—Old Line Publishing. After checking them out, I sent in Bloodmaiden and was very soon signing my first contract!

The first leg is down—finding a publisher. I hope and pray it’s all uphill from here—it may be a rocky climb, but I can handle that, just have to keep strong and trust God to seek me through. My next goal is getting the word out and getting people to invest in Bloodmaiden and Golden Healer, though I’m exploring a few other publishing ventures as well, including a young adult personalized novel with Books by You—but that’s another adventure to be told for another time.

9. What advice can you give other aspiring authors out there?

Don’t give up! It’s easy to write a book (really, it is, you can do it), a little harder to get published, and very hard to get known, especially as a new, young author!

Don’t settle. You should never pay to have your work published. While I myself have several self-published books because I wanted to—it was a fun little venture, creating the covers and all, and surprisingly, they’ve sold the best so far of any of my books; plus, I used a publisher in which I didn’t have to pay any fees—I know that in order to get known, I can’t do that with all my works. I did it because I wanted to, which, if you self-publish, should be your reason, not because you believe no one will publish your book. It can be done; I still intend to find a good agent and big publisher. I love the small presses I work with, and there’s no harm in publishing with them, but if you want to dream big, you must aim big.

The bigger you dream, the more work you must invest. Get involved in writing sites. Learn how to really edit and polish your work before sending. Working with my editors at small presses has set me up so that when I do start submitting to the big folks, I’ll have a much better handle on the quality of work I need to send.

But I’m rambling now. In short, know your stuff—the editing process, the proper way to write a query, the submission process; everything!—before even thinking of sending, learn to acquire A TON of patience, and don’t ever give up! That said, may God bless you and me both as we continue this exciting venture of our writing careers!

Blogger Remarks:

Thank you very much for your time, Christine. It's an honor to have you on this blog. For those who want to know more about Christine, you can visit her website. To order any of her books, you can click here.

2 comments:

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