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Celaine Charles lives in the Pacific Northwest where she teaches elementary school, writes fiction and poetry, and blogs about her writing journey on Steps In Between.
Her YA Fantasy, Seam Keepers, debuted May 12, 2021 (The Wild Rose Press). Always busy, Celaine is currently drafting the sequel, Dream Keepers, along with a brand-new YA Contemporary Fantasy, Life Song.
Her poetry book, Colors Collected, debuted in August 2019. This book stemmed from her online poetry series, Colors, hosted on Channillo, and awarded Best Continuing Series, Best New Series, and Best Poetry Series for the 2018 Channillo Awards. In addition, she has poetry published with other various presses.
When Celaine isn’t writing, she is usually with family and friends, or hiking among the trees and the flowers in her beautiful evergreen state.
What inspired you to write this book?
The inspiration for my story, Seam Keepers, evolved from a literal dream and a challenge. I woke up one morning thinking about dreams and if there could actually be different worlds inside dreams. If so, what might they be like? What would their purpose be? How would someone from Earth get to that dream-place? Why would they want to go?
I dove in, drafting my story without any direction or know how. I was soaring on the famous quote to write the story you’ve always wanted to read. I had a human character, a hidden dream world, and a pretty clever dream creature. Then I wrote linearly until I found myself stuck, stuck, stuck. I had no idea how to really plot or develop a book of that scale. I simply grasped ideas and themes I wanted to glean. It was time to do some more reading. What were other authors doing to make their books work?
A couple years later, after almost giving up, I said a little prayer and gave the idea to the stars. Two weeks after that, I met a woman who changed my life. I had discovered she was an author and shared with her my want-to-be-writer secret. She shook her head and said if that’s how I felt, then I already was a writer. She challenged me to start over with a new story idea and write a whole new book without stopping to revise or edit. Her rules were simple, don’t look back, just finish. Her initial thought was that I would complete something, even if it was trash, then be able to go back and finish my original story. There’s a lot of motivation that comes from finishing, I know this firsthand now. But what really happened for me…the new story I wrote became the story I published…Seam Keepers!
Okay, I fibbed a bit. My friend challenged me to write a whole new story, nothing I’d ever written before. But I couldn’t quite bring myself to leave that dreamy setting I had created. So, instead of continuing my original story inside the dream world, I wrote about new characters outside, or what is now the seam surrounding the Dream Realm. I am smiling because now I get to write the sequel, Dream Keepers, picking up with some of my original story ideas from all those years ago.
A literal dream and a writing challenge—that’s how Seam Keepers came to be.
What can we expect from you in the future?
My writing future is glittering in tiny firefly lights. After bringing Seam Keepers to life, I can’t possibly stop creating. I have book two, Dream Keepers, in process now. I have also began plotting a beautiful YA Fantasy, Life Song. Not to mention, I have a fairytale I’m working on with two incredible characters I can’t get out of my head! They will see the light one day. In addition, prompted by a fun challenge from my writing critique group, I wrote a Christmas Paranormal Romance for a holiday themed series with my publisher, The Wild Rose Press. It hasn’t been accepted yet, so I am crossing my fingers. If it’s a big fat rejection, then maybe I will query it somewhere else. Or maybe I will just share it with my followers. It was an absolute delight to write! As always, writing begets more writing…
Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
I have learned immense amounts through the process of writing this book. For one, I am a recovering pantser. Unfortunately, Seam Keepers was created linearly, and most certainly, by the seat of my pants! I started at the beginning and wrote until the end. But then the journey really began. I spent hours re-writing the beginning, re-organizing the middle, changing the ending, re-writing the beginning again, deleting and tightening parts in the middle and end, only to do it all again. There was a total of three re-writes with this book.
Honestly, it’s because I had no idea what I was doing. I trusted I had a story to tell, and like an energizer bunny, I worked my heinie off to write it. Since then, I have learned that plotting (at least for the big scenes) isn’t such a bad idea. I’ve slowed down to take writing classes and trusted in the need for beta readers. Most importantly, I’ve learned to save up money to pay a developing editor so in the end, I can query a polished manuscript.
I find it humorous because I had been told some of these important parts about writing before. I guess I had to struggle to realize them for myself. I remember thinking that my original story didn’t need to follow a plot chart. My book could be that really unique story that breaks the mold. Snicker-snicker! Maybe somebody will do that one day. But for now, little ole me is happy to follow the scenes that work in a story because…I want to share my story. I want to write more books. It is a bit of a game to play, to get your story out there. So, if it means I must organize myself a little more than I used to, so be it!
Let’s just say plotting is my goal, although I have at least one foot in my pants at all times.
Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story?
As much as I try plotting my book…being a recovering pantser and all…there are times when my characters need to take the reigns and show me the way. They are the ones living the story, so they know best. I find when I try to coerce them in a direction I think they should go, I am usually—mostly—always wrong. Once my characters start to develop into their own beings, I have to trust them. We do a pretty nice job of working together, especially after all our conversations over coffee and during nature walks. Thankfully, they are kind in their tugs to venture down new paths.
Convince us why you feel your book is a must read.
How can I convince you to read my book, Seam Keepers? If you are looking for a fantastical escape…a contemporary coming of age tale with a new version of good versus evil…a natural (and unforced) friendship-to-love relationship…a story with incredible family dynamics, layered beyond what you could ever imagine…bound to otherworldly realms you’ve never read before…filled with dreams, destinies, demons, danger, and dedicated character growth…where the two main POV arcs actually cross over…and with the pacing needed to keep you reading through to the touch-your-heart, girl-has-found-her-power, boy-claims-his-truth ending…then this is the book for you!
If your book had a candle, what scent would it be?
If Seam Keepers was a scent, it would be evergreen. The story starts with a dream leading my characters into the woods of the pacific northwest. There’s hemlock and fir, cedar and pine, and with their adventures between realms, these tall beauties were all constant.
Is there a writer which brain you would love to pick for advice? Who would that be and why?
Maggie Stiefvater is an author I would love to sit down and chat with. Her books tend to carve out a little spot in my chest. She is the master of characterization. Her characters are always original and unique, yet I feel like I might run into them on the street somewhere because they are so real. Her story lines are whimsical and creative, but with layers of reality to ground you. I adore getting lost in her worlds.
How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing since high school (way back when), but I never told a soul. It wasn’t until 2017 that I came out publicly as a writer. My joys have been poetry and fantasy fiction (however during my younger years, when my own children were small, I wrote a few picture books…I’ve yet to do anything with). I hope to keep writing until the end of my days. It feels like such a privilege to do so.
Do you read yourself and if so what is your favorite genre?
I read every day and love to read fantasy! It’s my favorite genre. I enjoy both contemporary and epic fantasy. And although I read other genres sometimes too, whatever I read, must have some level of magic so that I can escape reality. That’s why I read…to escape the world as we know it. Well, and as an author, I read to improve my own writing.
Do you prefer to write in silence or with noise? Why?
I write in silence and with music, both. It depends on what stage of writing I’m in…and how distracted I am. If there is a lot of noise going on around me, then I play wordless background music—usually movie scores, like The Last Airbender, How to Train Your Dragon, The Mortal Instruments, Harry Potter, and many others. If there are no distractions coming from my outside life, then I usually write to the tune of my own voice whispering back the lines I’m drafting or to the computer voice in Word reading back my pages. If I’m at a critical point in my story line, then there’s nothing but silence until I squeal in delight or slump to cry. Again, it all depends on where I am in my writing process.
Pen or type writer or computer?
I pen story ideas in colorful, paper-filled journals, but always I draft on a computer. I love the sound of my fingers pressing keys, and I like to edit as I write, so typing is quicker. Whenever I handwrite, I usually slop my thoughts down in illegible cursive, or doodle flowers and trees, distractedly, so typing is usually the most efficient way for me to create.
Advice they would give new authors?
My advice to new authors: Read books. Write…even when you don’t want to. Take classes. Join writing groups. Go to conferences. Read more books. Immerse yourself in the world of writing. Call yourself a writer. Persevere through rejections and obstacles. Accept that you have room to grow…a lot of room to grow. Keep reading more books. Keep writing. Find a critique group. Create a writing space for yourself. Be kind to yourself. Read even more books! And never—ever—ever—stop writing!
What are they currently reading?
I’ve recently finished reading the Shadow and Bone series from Leigh Bardugo, and The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, by V. E. Schwab, and loved them. I am currently in the middle of Laini Taylor’s book, Daughter of Smoke and Bone. My TBR pile is enormous but makes me smile!
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