Monday, November 15, 2010

Author Interview: Christine E. Schulze

Hello readers! I'm very happy to bring you an interview today with author Christine E. Schulze who has written many middle grade and YA books. We have a lot to talk about so lets get to it! :)

Mixturesbooks: How many books have you written?

Christine: Oh, goodness; I stopped counting past thirty, to be honest! Used to have an exact number, but I’ll have to recount sometime. Originally, I meant to twenty-seven books comprise The Amielian Legacy, which is basically a collection of series and individual books which all connect in some way or other, though all definitely do not have to be read to understand them. If you decide to read them all, there are rewards, sort of like finding “Easter Eggs” in video games, but again, this isn’t necessary. It would be quite a compliment for someone to read all my works, but some are quite different than others and might not be enjoyed by all. But, yes, going back to the question, I think I’m at around thirty-three, still counting, and still writing!

MB: Out of those ones, which one would you say has been your favorite to write or read?

Christine: This is a TERRIBLE question. Lol, only because, as you see, I have so many. The Gailean Quartet is certainly a favorite series of mine. Comprising four books, it combines music, magic, and epic adventures to create a unique fantasy world. It was inspired by a favorite teacher of mine, Dr. Gail H. Fleming, who teaches at Southwestern Illinois College. I’ve taken Music Appreciation, World Music, and Choir with her; all classes were fascinating and you learn loads. Of course, I love classical music, but she makes the classes enjoyable for everyone, even those who don’t like classical music so much. Being in her classes really helped me out when I was going through some hard times at home, and the choir especially provided much inspiration.

MB: What are you currently reading (if you are reading)?

Christine: Ugh, so, I know I am supposed to be reading something as a writer; but I really write too much to read that much anymore, because I am so inspired! However, one of the last books I read was Quest for Celestia. As a Christian, I love Christian fantasy like The Chronicles of Narnia. Celestia was also Christian fantasy, a retelling of The Pilgrim’s Progress, to be exact. It was beautiful, especially at the end. Its message was that truth is the greatest thing, because you can love or put faith in the wrong things. But if you know the truth, the rest will follow. Of course, the book said it much more beautifully, but you’ll just have to read for yourself! Lots of great fantasy elements, adventure, and two great main characters as well.

MB: What is your favorite YA book or series to date? (I'm currently in love with Cassandra Clare's Infernal Devices Series)

Christine: Again, I don’t read nearly as much as I should! So I am going to be a little cliché and name series like Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, Harry Potter, and Twilight. Okay, so maybe the first two at least are more classic than cliche. I also love books by Diana Wynne Jones, particularly Howl’s Moving Castle and its companion, Castle in the Air. Jones’ writing is so fresh, with such quirky worlds and characters, and you’re never quite sure where the story will go. I have read some manga that Aaron, a friend of mine—who appears in an uncanny number of my books as various characters—let me borrow. I really am enjoying Bizenghast; it has a dark fantasy feel like Nightmare Before Christmas or Pan’s Labyrinth, the latter of which is one of my favorite movies, if I may (though I also did have a crush on Jack from Nightmare as a kid and still think he sings exceptionally well for a skeleton). Chobits was another series I adored. For anyone looking for a bittersweet, gripping romance tale with such a pure, innocent girl and a crazy but good-hearted guy, Chobits is your pick.

MB: Can you write anywhere or is there a particular spot that seems to be more inspiring than others?

Christine: Well, to answer the first question, I can’t really “write” anymore like I did as a kid. Now that I’m prolific at using the computer, I must type since my ideas come so fast; I simply can’t stand to hand-write them anymore, save to jot down ideas to type into scenes later on.

My inspirations, however, can come from anywhere, from art to nature to other books to video games, to people—that last one is my biggest. Here’s some examples of some of my books and where I drew my inspiration for them from:

The Legends of Surprisers series was actually inspired from a series I wrote as a kid, Jonny to the Rescue. I came up with Surprisers when I was actually about five years old. I had these toys called “Surprise, Surprise, Puppy Surprise!”, little dogs and cats that came with a surprise outfit. I thought if they could wear clothes, they could do everything like people. Thus, my first definition of Surprisers was “dogs and cats that do everything like people”. Being older now, I took the concept, expanded it, made it a little more deep and complex, and now I have a brand new Christian fantasy series for middle grade readers.

Bloodmaiden and Black Lace are actually two of my books inspired by photography. I admit I have a small streak of vanity, and every now and then, I’ll come up with a cool idea for a photo shoot. Sometimes, the pictures turn out so awesomely that I must conjure an accompanying book! Bloodmaiden, my most recently published novel with Old Line Publishing, is such a book. I also have a series of anthologies. The first is Bloodmaiden: a fantasy anthology, published by Victory Tales Press. The second is Broken: A Horrifically Romantic Anthology, which I also hope to publish with them. The third will be Black Lace: A Darkly Epic Anthology. I haven’t even done the photo-shoot yet, but I can envision me and lots of black lace and maybe a piano—and I know it will inspire many an interesting tale!

The Last Star is a book I have not yet published because I’ve decided on it being the book I submit to agents, to try and get into a big publishing house. Its a middle-grade fantasy adventure, and it was inspired by many things. First off, Diana Wynne Jones’ Dogsbody. Now, I love Jones’ work for its rich, unique worlds and quirky but lovable characters. I haven’t gotten to read Dogsbody though I still desperately want to get my hands on a copy. But after reading only the blurb and first couple of paragraphs in a bookstore, I was hooked and knew I had to write a book with stars. Also inspired by Paper Mario, as well as my earth science class—we were learning about astronomy at the time—I incorporated many scientific terms like “blue stars”, “falling stars”, “white dwarfs”, and “supernovas”, while adding magical meanings and twists to these terms. It is quite the fun and unique read with a whimsical story and characters, as well as some educational value, though hidden beneath the magic.

Silent Hero is my first fan-based work, inspired by Nintendo’s Legend of Zelda. The Zelda games have actually inspired many of my books. When I created the world of Loz, for example, which appears in many of my books, I named the world thus as a tribute to Legend of Zelda; Loz is an acronym. I got this idea from Swiss Family Robinson and Robinson Crusoe, one being named similarly to the other because of one author drawing inspiration from another. Silent Hero, on the other hand, is a fan fiction, but I of course tried to write it as professionally as anything else I write. The only difference is, of course, it is not edited; however, it is available for free download on Smashwords, and quite a few of my readers have expressed enjoying the story and quality of writing. For this I’m quite grateful; especially when you get into a fan-based work, it can be easier to offend readers than please them.

MB: On average, how long does it take you to write a novel? Do you write frantically as ideas come to you or do you tend to map out your stories more?

Christine: To answer the first question, it’s hard to say, though I tend to write pretty fast when inspired. The Gailean Quartet contains four books, three of which are over four hundred pages each, and that took only about a year and a half to write. I just pumped out over fifty thousand words for Silent Hero in a matter of weeks.

The answer to the second question is: kind of both. Usually, I don’t sit down and try to make myself write in a structured manner. If inspiration strikes, I’ll start writing. That means I don’t write in order; if I’m inspired to write Chapter 3 and Chapter 1 isn’t even started yet, I’ll do it. However, before I really sit down to write a new book, I usually have to have the main plot planned out in my head or have a sense of where the book is going—unless I just think of a really awesome, random scene and then decide to write a book around it later. As a Christian, I believe my inspiration and gift of writing come from God, so when God gives me good ideas, I just go with it and usually end up with a great story pretty fast. I’m pretty good at thinking of interesting twists, ways to connect different books, intricate plots, and deep characters to add in once I have a main sense of where the book is headed.

MB: Are you currently working on another book? If it's a secret then can you tell us a bit about the last book you released?

Christine: Well, I actually have a finished book that I’m editing, one I’ve chosen as the book I will start sending out to agents when ready. It’s a middle grade fantasy called The Last Star. I was inspired to write this book by playing Paper Mario, reading the blurb and first few paragraphs of Diana Wynne Jones’ Dogsbody (still need to get my hands on that book), and by my love of astronomy; we were learning all about stars in Earth Science at the time. Here’s a blurb for the book:

There were no Stars that fateful night; they had all been extinguished, all save one:

the work of the Shadows had begun.

Thankfully, that work goes unfinished, for if all the Stars should ever go out in Novalight, that world and all within would come to an end. Hope remains solely in Olette, the last Star. As a Backwards Star, her Starfire, or life source, cannot be snuffed in like all the other Starfires. Can she, being the smallest and youngest of the Stars, take up the position of Blue Star and unravel the mysteries of Star Appointment? Can she help her new friends discover the truth behind their parents’ disappearances? Together, can they overthrow the Shadows before it is too late?

Combining astronomy with magic to create a unique mythology, The Last Star is also a tale of friendship and forgiveness, a classic story of light against darkness, and one which shows that even the smallest person can make the greatest impact.

Also, here’s a blurb for Bloodmaiden, my most recent publication with Old Line Publishing:

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.

MB: Is there anything else that you would like to add, Christine?

Christine: Yes; please consider reading some of my work, and if you like what you see, spread the news! Also, please stop by Goodreads to visit me sometime! Most of my works are available as both paperback and ebooks, though some aren’t. Still, for most, ebooks are a cheaper way of finding out if you like my writing. Just remember some of my works are for middle grade, others for young adult, and while one book might float your boat, another won’t, as I’ve experienced already from reviewers.

At any rate, you can find me at this link:

On Goodreads, you can read about each of my books, including reader reviews. You can also keep on the look-out for new releases and book give-aways.

That said, thanks very much to Isa for having me. To her and all her readers, God bless, happy reading, and thanks so much for reading!

Thank you for being here with us Christine! I'm really considering reading Chobits now since you found it nice. I haven't read stories like that in a while. I must say that BLOODMAIDEN has a pretty cool sounding storyline. Have a wonderful day and good luck with The Last Star, Christine! It was a pleasure :)

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