Saturday, 20 January 2018

Diana talks to Linda Ciletti

Hello Linda. I have known you on social media for ages, but we have never really had a chance to talk... I am sure there is a question that you have always longed to be asked. Now is the chance. Ask your own question and answer it!
I saved it for last. J

What is the genre you are best known for?
I would say medieval. For whatever reason, I’m drawn to the medieval time period and love medieval characters, possibly due to one of my better past lives. So all of my published books have medieval characters or elements in them, whether they are medieval, time travel contemporary/medieval, or medi-fantasy.

If your latest book was adapted into a TV show or a film, who would you like to play the lead role?
Ben Barnes
I never envisioned my latest book, Lady Quest, as a film, but the one before it, Faerie Dust, I did and still do. When starting a book, I’ll often create a picture collage to hang on the wall with photos of how I imagine the characters and the setting. For Faerie Dust, I chose a photo of the actor Ben Barnes. Ben played Prince Caspian and also another medieval role in the movie The Seventh Son. He’s not your typical muscular, hunky, he-man hero. He’s tall and lean, but he has a strength about him that’s perfect for Alasdair, who is fae.

What made you choose this genre?
I love a medieval setting and medieval characterization, whether in books or in film. Putting aside the past lives remark, in this life it probably goes back to when I was a little girl reading classic medieval period fairy tales like Sleeping Beauty. Though in all honesty, I have written a couple of contemporary stories. I’ve just not published them (yet).

How do you get ideas for plots and characters?
Sometimes I find them in my dreams. When I wake up, I immediately start writing down what I heard or saw... and viola the beginning of a plot and characters are born. Sometimes I find them in inspiring music. Faerie Dust came to me at a Ren Faire where I was listening to Cast in Bronze play the carillon. Dream of the Archer was inspired by a song of the same title. Sometimes all you need is a seed to get started. Miraculously it grows.

Favourite picture or work of art?
I have a work of fine art hanging in my home. It’s of a young medieval lady with long strawberry blonde hair (a teenager). The background is solid black. She is standing facing forward and wearing a light blue gown. Most of her body is in shade, but her upper chest, and the outer edges of her arms, face, and hair are lit up by a bright unseen source of light. She’s holding a small red book open in front of her, her fingers pinching a page as if she’s about to turn it over to read more; but her eyes are raised and focused coyly over the book at something in front of her (maybe the person looking at the painting... ooOOOoo). I’ve always wondered what she’s really thinking (as she’s obviously not reading) and who she’s watching. I imagine her look to be shyly flirtatious and focused on a young medieval knight or lord forbidden to her. (How absolutely lovely!)

If, as a one off, (and you could guarantee publication!) you could write anything you wanted, is there another genre you would love to work with and do you already have a budding plot line in mind?
I’m already writing in the genre I love. What I would like to do (one day) is revise and finish the contemporaries I started and publish them.

Was becoming a writer a conscious decision or something that you drifted into (or even something so compelling that it could not be denied?)
It was a conscious decision. One day while taking a walk, I found a romance book lying on the side of the road. It had just rained and it was sopping wet. I took the soaked book home and immediately began to read it (which was much easier to do once it dried). When done, I told myself that I could write one, and better.  And I did write one. The first draft, however, wasn’t better, but it sent me on a journey of learning the craft, and now it’s published.

 How old were you when you first started to write seriously.
I don’t recall the exact age, probably around 37. Before that I dabbled in poetry. I still do from time to time.

Marmite? Love it or hate it?
Never had it.

Do you have any rituals and routines when writing? Your favourite cup for example or ‘that’ piece of music...??
No routines. There’s usually a cat on my lap though (like now). Music inspired two of my books, but when I’m actually writing, I like silence. I need to hear the voices and feel the environment. Noises distract me from that.

I promise I won’t tell them the answer to this, but when you are writing, who is more important, your family or your characters?
Always my family (don’t tell my characters). But my characters are a close second.

Other than writing full time, what would be your dream job?
I wish I had pursued an acting career. I think I really would have enjoyed that because I like to dress up in period costume and roleplay whether on paper as I’m playing my characters or literally like when I belonged to the Society of Creative Anachronism and became medieval Alys Herstmonceux. Unfortunately, when I was younger (and maybe even now) I was too introverted to perform in front of people. A close second would be something in the fine arts field or book cover design which I dabble in now.

Coffee or tea?
I love the smell of coffee (hate the taste). So Tea. Chamomile for something light or Earl Grey when I want something stronger. I love a nice hot cup of tea and pastry in the evening when at the computer or watching a movie DVD.

Red or white?
I assume you’re referring to wine. I rarely drink alcoholic beverages, but when I do, I prefer blush or rose. Something semi-sweet. My favorite wine is called Isabella from a local winery.

How much of your work is planned before you start? Do you have a full draft or let it find its way?
Before I start? Usually none. I don’t begin figuring things out until I’m in at least three chapters. Then I either find my way or let the characters work it out. Sometimes they lead me down a dead end street and I have to intervene, but for the most part, they know their story better than I do.

If you had free choice over the font your book is printed in, what font/fonts would you choose?
I know Times New Roman is overused, but it’s also one of the easiest fonts to read, so I would go with that. (Me too. D.I’m open to other fonts as well as long as they’re easy on the eyes.

Imagine that you could get hold of any original source document. What would it be?
The original written books of the bible. Of course, they would be in Hebrew so I wouldn’t be able to read them, but just touching them would take my breath away… and not just for the religious aspect of them but for the historical aspect as well. I love old things… vintage clothes, vintage furniture, antique pieces, or even just a nice hand me down. I love things that have a history, things that carry the essence of the previous owner with them. 

Have any of your characters ever shocked you and gone off on their own adventure leaving you scratching your head??? If so how did you cope with that!?
I’m sure one of them has at some time, but it wasn’t striking enough to stick in my head. I do recall that in my book, Draegon’s Lair, Diminimis and Leena were supposed to fall in love and get together; but as luck would have it, she and Alan fell in love. Who am I to stand in the way of true love?

How much research do you do and do you ever go on research trips?
I do very little research before I start. Usually I begin writing; then I research as I move along. I’ve never gone on a research trip. It’s just not in my budget. Thank God for the internet. I did go to Paris once and hope to use some of my experiences there as fodder for a book that I started years ago but haven’t yet finished. (a contemporary)

Fiction authors have to contend with real characters invading our stories. Are there any ‘real’ characters you have been tempted to prematurely kill off or ignore because you just don’t like them or they spoil the plot?
I’m not sure what you mean by ‘real characters’. I know a lot of authors will create a fictional character based on a not-so-nice real person they’d like payback on… and so kill them off. (laughs) I’ve not done that (yet).

Are you prepared to go away from the known facts for the sake of the story and if so how do you get around this?
What do you mean by ‘known facts’? If you mean am I prepared to stray from the “plan” to make the story better, then yes. The characters know what they’re doing (usually). I do recall my book, Dream of the Archer (that took place in Sherwood Forest), had cliffs. Of course after researching I discovered there are no cliffs in Sherwood. But as both cliffs and Sherwood were important to the story, I got around it by creating a witch who was able to alter the forest through enchantment. It’s a paranormal time travel, so it worked out perfectly.

Do you find that the lines between fact and fiction sometimes become blurred?
When are they ever not blurred? (laughs) All lines are blurred to me.

Have you ever totally hated or fallen in love with one of your characters?
I fall in love with all of my heroes. Yes, I’m fickle that way. But if I don’t come to love them, who will? If I find myself in love with my hero, I know I’ve succeeded.

What do you enjoy reading for pleasure?
Romantic Fiction. Mainly in the genre of medieval, but also Regency, Renaissance, Fantasy, Soft Sci-Fi, and some Contemporary.

What drink would you recommend drinking whilst reading your latest book?
My latest book is a humorous tale called Lady Quest. So I would suggest something warm and cozy like hot chocolate or tea. Or a glass of wine. Something relaxing so that you can really put yourself in the humor of the hero and heroine’s situation.

Last but not least... favourite author?
I really don’t have a favorite author. That said, For My Lady’s Heart by Laura Kinsale really stood out for me due to its authentic medieval theme and strong period language. Some people are turned off by strong period language, but going full circle, as I said in question one I’m drawn to the medieval time period and love medieval characters.

Now for the question I’ve longed to be asked…
Why would anyone in their right mind want to be a writer? Becoming famous or a best seller is usually far out of reach, the work is 24/7 as the characters just won’t leave you alone, and the pay often isn’t enough to live off of.
My answer is this; maybe we should say, in their ‘write’ mind because writers write because they have to. Because their heads are full of adventures and characters and the only way to set them free are to put them on paper. Because roleplaying is in their blood and writing is a great way to roleplay and have control over all the characters (or at least a fair amount of control). In the olden days, if I had said I heard voices in my head or saw people from past times or other worlds in my dreams, I’d have ended up in the looney ward. As a writer, I can just end that admission with “but I’m a writer”, and everyone will nod in understanding (or at least all the other writers in the room will). True writers write for the love of the art, the love of the adventures, the love of language, and the love of their characters.

I’d like to end this interview with a big thanks of appreciation to Diana for giving me the opportunity to express myself (and possibly make a fool of myself as well). But hey, why not! J

Thank YOU, Linda. It has been a lovely chance to get to know you.

About 'Lady Quest'

A feisty lady! A determined lord! A witty duel of will that will have you laughing out loud.
The plan seemed simple enough. Kidnap Lady Grey andtake her to his brother, Baron Conard, but simple turns complicated when Mikael kidnaps the wrong woman - a woman with a wit as sharp as his blade and the skill to use it.
Mistaken for Lady Grey, Liliane is kidnapped along with Lady Grey's infant son and his wetnurse. Afraid of what will happen to them should the Welshman discover his mistake, Liliane assumes her cousin's identity until she can come up with a plan of escape.
The attraction between Liliane and Mikael is undeniable. To act on it is forbidden, The only way to stay safe is to make him rue the day he ever set eyes on her...

Linda Ciletti

© Diana Milne January 2018 © Linda Ciletti, 1-1-18

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