I’m pleased to welcome Charles Blanchard, author of Kingdom’s End to The Book’s the Thing. He has written an adventure story where the main characters are rodents. Being a big fan of the Redwall series, I was intrigued. I hope to get a chance to read and review this one for you at some point. In the meantime, Charles has agreed to an interview to give us a little more info.
- When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I have always wanted to do something creative from the time I was very young. I believe that desire came from my love of the movies. I remember going to see Jaws and 2001: A Space Odyssey way back in the seventies when great storytelling was put before my eyes on the big screen in an exciting way that drew large crowds. I loved being a part of the film going experience in those days so much that afterwards I wanted to read the novels on which these films were based. I picked up the paperbacks and began reading the stories, immersed in the description of what was happening on the page and seeing it in my mind as I recalled the scenes from the films. That was the beginning. Yet, I wanted to achieve something along those lines that I could do alone. Creating a story through writing fiction seemed the best choice.
I kept thinking about writing throughout my adult life until I turned forty, when I decided to stop procrastinating and get to work, writing my first novel, Mourning Doves after the Fire, published in 2010.
- Why did you choose to write in your genre? And why animals instead of humans?
I have always enjoyed animal-themed fiction such as Animal Farm, Charlotte’s Web, Stuart Little, and the works of Richard Adams. I have always enjoyed animal themed work where the characters are animals and are given human characteristics. They are able to think and feel and have opinions about life and the hardships it imposes on them. One day, I was waiting for the train to arrive in the subway in NYC when suddenly I saw a group of about three or four rats gathered together with their noses coming together as in a huddle. I thought to myself, what are they saying to each other? Are they able to communicate with each other in a way that we as humans do not understand? What is their life like living in the sewers and subway tunnels? Kingdom’s End began shortly after that.
- Do you have a favorite book that you’ve written?
I like Kingdom’s End. It took four years to complete from the enormous research material gathered and lifting it and crafting a dramatic character driven story that was emotionally stirring.
- Do you have any writing rituals that you adhere to?
I always listen to classical music when I am writing, whether it’s on the radio or on record. Classical music adds a certain dimension to my writing that is very satisfying without being distracting to the creative process.
- Do you experience writers’ block, and if so, how do you deal with it?
I take time off from writing and go out for a walk, see a film, talk with a friend on the phone or just watch tv. I usually will not go back to a passage that I’m having trouble with until an idea comes to my mind that I think I can use to move the story along. That might not happen for days or weeks.
- What are some of your favorite authors or genres?
The three greats: Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Thomas Wolfe. And Willard Savoy, who wrote Alien Land, a powerfully written novel, published in the late 1940s. It deals with racism and justice as experienced by a light skinned black man who can pass for white in a time before the civil rights revolution. The prose is elegant and gritty.
- What keeps you writing – coffee or tea? (or neither?!)
Coffee definitely. And the constant drive to get whatever I am working on to be as good as possible.
- What book(s) / series can we expect to see from you in the future?
I am outlining a war novel set in the past. Another project will be a book about coal mining in the early 20th century.