Tag Archives: Charlotte Hawkins

Exploring the Creative Process-Part VII: Interview with Charlotte Hawkins

The TempestHere’s a new instalment of our Writing Process Series to inaugurate our 2016 posts. This time we get some insight into the matter from Charlotte Hawkins, the published author of a well-known Gisborne trilogy.

Enjoy and get ready for more interviews in the coming weeks.


What type of environment do you need to write?

 
Solitude and quiet. I find it impossible to work when other people are around, and most any noise breaks my concentration.

How do your ideas come to you? Do you always write them or do you let them disappear? The BARON

 
They just pop into my head. I have to write them down or they vanish.

Do you plan a story from the beginning to end or start with an idea and let the chapters come to you as they do? 

I plan everything as it comes to me. My “Muse” dictates everything, so I rarely have a set path to follow.

Do you prefer writing easy, quick stories or long, layered stories?
 
Layered stories, for sure. When a story comes into my head, there are so many images and details floating around in my brain that I can’t contain them all in a short story. I just have too much to say.

MY LADYWhich do you find easier to write: dialogue or description or are the equally hard/easy?

I think I’m much better at writing dialogue. It’s not that I dislike writing description. I love it just as much. But I find that the voices of the characters speak to me in my head. They’re alive and say exactly what they need to. I just write it down.

Is there anything that you won’t write or feel uncomfortable writing?

 
I don’t think I would ever write mysteries or thrillers. I have little interest in the darker topics those kinds of stories sometimes take. I feel there’s too much darkness in the world already.

What do you do to cure writer’s block?

I wish I had a real cure. Some writer’s have it, but I don’t. I just have to wait it out.

What advice can you give to new writers who might be scared to post their stories?Grace

Find a good beta, preferably a fellow writer. Keep your work between the two of you until you feel comfortable sharing. Then, move on to writing groups. You’ll most likely find that your fellow writers are your best cheering section and your greatest sources of advice. After all, they’re in the same boat as you.

What is your favorite book and why? 

 
Jane Eyre, bar none. I’ve never felt such a spiritual connection to another story.

Visit Charlotte’s official blog: https://fromthequilltip.wordpress.com/

Contact her on Twitter or Facebook.

Get her books from AmazonUs or AmazonUK.

Sample the first Chapters of her latest book, The Grace Emancipation, on her blog: https://fromthequilltip.wordpress.com/the-grace-emancipation/ (updates are found on the blog’s homepage).

Love is in the Air: The Best Love Stories Ever Penned

It’s the season for hearts and flowers and The Armitage Authors Network has asked a few of our own talented romance authors — Elizabeth Hanbury, Nancy Klein, Hazel Osmond, and Charlotte Hawkins — to share which written tales of  love are most dear to their hearts.

Discover some traditional favorites and maybe one or two you haven’t read yet. What are your absolute favorite stories of true love?

vod01

 

Elizabeth Hanbury:

Persuasion by Jane Austen

I love Darcy and Lizzie in Pride and Prejudice but Persuasion resonates with me more. It’s a deeply moving, against the odds story of two people who get a second chance at love. It’s also about Anne’s personal journey. Anne is a slightly older heroine who is also the overlooked middle sister at everyone’s beck and call. During the course of the novel she realizes she is the best judge of what will make her happy, and learns how to live her own life and stand up to her family and well-meaning friends. You feel for Anne (and Captain Wentworth, the self made man who never stops loving Anne through the intervening years they have been apart) in such a visceral way you can’t put the novel down.

Favourite scene: When Captain Wentworth ‘placed it before Anne with eyes of glowing entreaty fixed on her for a time’. ‘It’ is one of the most beautiful love letters in literature:

‘You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone forever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight years and a half ago. Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you. Unjust I may have been, weak and resentful I have been, but never inconstant. You alone have brought me to Bath. For you alone, I think and plan.’

Le Sigh.

The Masqueraders by Georgette Heyer

One of Heyer’s most tender romances. No spoilers but due to circumstances Sir Anthony (Fanshawe) and Prue (Merriot) spend a lot of time alone. This is different from many of Heyer’s other novels—society at the time didn’t allow unmarried young women to be in a man’s company without a chaperone present.

Prue and Sir Anthony’s romance is also very tactile; Sir Anthony touches Prue on the shoulder or on the hand a great deal.

Georgette Heyer wrote The Masqueraders early on in her own marriage so perhaps that had some bearing on the restrained yet heartfelt passion. The high stakes plot also heightens the intensity of the romance.

Favourites scenes: Sir Anthony fighting a duel on Prue’s behalf (it’s complicated but trust me it’s incredibly romantic), the ‘ride through the night’ and ‘the proposal’, where Tony makes his feelings and desires for Prue very clear.

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

There can be only one! The classic love story of John Thornton and Margaret Hale, beautifully imagined by the 2004 BBC adaptation and Richard Armitage’s broodingly powerful yet subtle portrayal of John Thornton. You have to look ‘ard ;0) for the romance in the novel but it’s superbly done.

Devil in Winter by Linda Kleypas

The rake/wallflower romance is a well-worn plot but Devil in Winter is brilliantly executed. The characters are three-dimensional, the pace and sensual tension don’t let up for a moment and the sex scenes are steamy yet also romantic and moving. A modern classic.

Favourite scene: When Evie decides it’s time to end Sebastian’s restraint and helps him lose his bet. Keep your fan ready to cool your blushes while enjoying the heroine taking control.

The Far Pavilions by M.M. Kaye

the far pav

Not only a wonderful romance but an epic adventure and a story about identity and belonging, set across the class, cultural and race divides in 19th century India.

Ash and Anjuli’s romance is heart wrenching every step of the way. You doubt they can ever be together given who they are (he is a British Army Officer, she is an Indian princess). When Ash has to escort Anjuli to her wedding in another state thousands of miles away, their turmoil is almost unbearable to read.

Favourite scene: Ash and Anjuli in the cave during the sandstorm. Exquisitely written and never have two characters deserved their moment of physical and emotional release more.

 

Elizabeth writes “wickedly captivating” Regency romances. See our interview with her here. 

 

Nancy Klein:

What are my three favorite love stories? Now, that’s a tough one—I have any number of romantic novels that I will revisit over and over. Putting aside North and South, which is a given, my three favorite love stories, in no particular order, are Jane Austen’s Persuasion, Marion Meade’s Stealing Heaven, and Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander.

I prefer my love stories to have a large element of angst—I believe it adds suspense to the story, depth to the characters, and longing to my soul as I read. Persuasion is such a perfect story of a couple who loved, lost, and came together again; Captain Wentworth harbors bitter feelings while Anne Elliott deeply regrets turning him away. The way in which Austen brings them together is quite lovely, and the story holds a great deal of foolishness and fun which I expect from Austen.

Stealing Heaven is a novel I stumbled upon in college when I saw a production (don’t even remember the name) of two actors reading the love letters of Heloise and Peter Abelard. The acting was dreadful, but the words stuck with me. I tracked down their tragic story and stumbled on this novel which portrays their lives and love perfectly. For those who know the story, the novel is a must-read. For those who don’t, the novel is a must-read.

stealing heaven

Finally, I find myself revisiting Outlander over and over again (both in novel form and in the excellent STARZ series, which returns in April—hooray!). This time travel gem catapults a nurse from post-WWII Scotland via a circle of standing stones back to 1700’s Scotland—and into the arms of one of the best modern romantic characters ever written, James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser. Their story has been told to date across a series of novels, but the first one remains my favorite.

Nancy’s romantic fan fiction stories of both Guy and Thornton are legendary. We reviewed her published N&S story here. 

 

Hazel Osmond:

Thank you for giving me this opportunity to discuss a few of my favourite love stories …

It’s funny, when I started thinking about those love stories that have really ‘got’ to me, I realised that most of them don’t follow the trajectory of ‘boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy wins her back again.’

They are more ‘boy meets girl, boy gets girl, boy loses girl forever’ or ‘loses her and might get her back, we’ll never know’.

I’m not sure what that says about me. Maybe I like the yearning, will they/won’t they element of these type of love stories? Maybe I find it satisfying that the doomed love affair will forever remain intense and unsullied – the couple will always remain true to each other and they will never have to navigate their way through the practicalities and niggles that creep into a life-long relationship? I mean, much as I love Pride & Prejudice, don’t you just wonder how well that love story continues? I can’t help suspecting that Darcy’s brooding intensity might hack Lizzie off three years down the line on a wet Sunday evening when they’ve been arguing about her family yet again.

No, the love stories that I come back to are not the happy ever after variety. One Day, Anna Karenina, a lot of Thomas Hardy’s books, Me Before You, The Fault in Our Stars… you’re probably getting the picture.

And if you can throw in one or both of the couple sacrificing their prospect of happiness for a noble cause, well, I’m hooked.

Here are two of my favourite love stories in novels – they don’t end happily but to me they are satisfying in a bittersweet way – the characters are battered or even defeated by what fate throws at them, but they continue to love each other. Timeless, all- transcending love, who can resist it?

‘His Dark Materials’ Trilogy by Philip Pullman

I remember reading these to my daughters when they were still quite young. As I reached the last few pages of the final part of this trilogy where Will and Lyra decide that for the greater good they have to part and return to their separate worlds, I started to cry – the tears streaming down my face variety. I remember my daughters looking at me as if were mad. What was all the fuss about?

Fast forward a few years and my eldest daughter revisited the books and appeared in the kitchen red eyed and sniffing. She was old enough to understand the emotional kick the book delivers. I still cannot think of the gentle, noble Will and the fearless Lyra’s pact to sit on the same seat, albeit in different worlds, every Midsummer’s Day and remember how much they love each other, without dissolving into a pile of mush.

Atonement by Ian McEwan

Atonement

Oh my. The exquisite cruelty that McEwan inflicts on the reader in this one. Robbie is bright, funny, honest but wrenched away from the love of his life, Cecilia, for a crime he did not commit. She waits for him and they are reunited after much adversity. Except they aren’t … we find out the happy ending has been created by Cecilia’s sister the novelist, to atone for the fact that she played a huge part in the misunderstanding that ruined their real lives. The news that Robbie died at Dunkirk and Celia in a bomb attack on London, having only met once since he was taken away to prison, is devastating.

When I read the book the first time, I remember the shock of realising that there wasn’t going to be a happy ending. I felt cheated of it, but now I think the lack of one actually makes Robbie and Cecilia’s story much more poignant. In a story that goes from a dream to a nightmare, they endure as honourable and true.

Sigh …

Hazel has written several contemporary love stories. Her ‘Who’s Afraid of Mr. Wolfe’ was shortlisted for Romantic Comedy of the Year 2012 by the Romantic Novelists’ Association. She’s also written a Guy of Gisborne fanfic that gets raves. Find out more about her and her works in our interview here.

 

Charlotte Hawkins:

The Armitage Author Network contacted Charlotte via Twitter and she gave the following short summary.

AAN: Tell us your two favorite romance books and why.

CH: My two favorites are Caught in the Act by Betina Krahn and Outlander, book one.

Caught in the Act is set in Elizabethan England. It’s about a rogue entering into an arranged marriage in order to pay off his debts. His bride is a naive but very intelligent beauty who tries to get rid of her intended groom. Of course, they fall in love. But …

The story is anything but typical. It’s clever, witty, and romantic. And very sexy.

Caught in the act

As for Outlander, I love it because of the characters. Jamie and Claire are fantastic. The story is wonderful too, and it’s sexy as hell.

AAN: But you are also a big Jane Eyre fan as well, aren’t you?

CH: I wasn’t sure if Jane Eyre would be considered a romance novel, since it’s a classic piece of literature. But yes!

AAN: And you love Jane because….

CH: I am Jane. I feel her experiences and words are mine. Although I’m still waiting to find my Mr. Rochester!

AAN: Thanks for your answers.

CH: Thanks for having me!

 

Charlotte is well known for her very romantic Guy of Gisborne series of books. For more about Charlotte and her work, see our recent interview with her here. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Love Is In the Air: A Review of THE TEMPEST

I first read The Tempest by Charlotte Hawkins a couple of years ago when it was still a stand-alone book and before the author spent months revising it into its current form. It was a good story the first time, but with the revision it has become more complex, with the back story fleshed out a little differently. The previous version was more fan fiction-y than this one, an extension of the universe of the BBC’s Robin Hood series though some details were changed. The revision goes even further. It is not necessary to have Gisborne as played by Armitage in your head as you read but the Guy on these pages still has enough in common with him that of course he’ll be there, along with a strong-willed Original Character, Cassia DeWarren.

Because, really, would you want to picture anyone else? Guy doesn't think so.

Because, really, would you want to picture anyone else? Guy doesn’t think so.

Cassia and Guy are each outcasts in their own ways. He’s still the hated and feared henchman of the Sheriff of Nottingham, of course, and she comes from a long line of healers. The dangerous charge of witchcraft haunts her family, setting up a rare moment where the reviled Gisborne performs an act of kindness that Cassia doesn’t forget.

One of my favorite romance tropes — the proud man humbled and dependent on someone he sees as an inferior — is a major plot driver and is played for laughs in a few instances. As the two characters bond over their losses and discover a mutual enemy, Cassia’s pride takes some hits, as well. Hawkins is particularly sensitive in describing the delicate balance between the relative freedom that has allowed Cassia to become the woman she is and the bonds of duty that threaten her budding romance with Guy. I absolutely rooted for Cassia as a character, especially when she was putting Guy in his place, and for them as a couple.

Does true love eventually win? There are as many scorching love scenes as there are fiery arguments between these two stubborn people, and there are two more books in the trilogy so whatever happens is bound to be a bumpy ride. Armitage Authors Network is giving away paperback copies of The Tempest and My Lady Gisborne,  the second book in Charlotte’s Gisborne trilogy, this weekend to one commenter on either this post or tomorrow’s interview with Charlotte Hawkins.