Author Interview & Giveaway - Christine Schulze

Monday, November 22, 2010

I'm so excited to feature Christine Schulze, the amazing author of one of the books I just read and reviewed, Bloodmaiden. With a story rich in dragon lore, fantasy, and a touch of Christian undertones (don't worry - it's not at all preachy!), Bloodmaiden was a surprisingly great book with far too little hype surrounding it. I'm excited to introduce Christine Schulze today, so without further ado...the interview...


1. What can you tell us about your approach to sitting down and writing a story?

Well, in a word: sporadic! Some authors say they have to sit down and write a certain
amount every day. That would drive me crazy though! Nor do I write from start to finish; often, the beginning and end of the book are done before all the middle is. I write what I am inspired to write, when I am inspired to write it. And, as a Christian, I would say God inspires me quite a bit, whether through people, movies, books, art, video games—as you’ll later, I can be inspired by many things!

I did recently push myself to finish a book. While I still enjoyed it, pumping out over fifty thousand words that fast was pretty crazy! But I only did it because it was my first fanfic, entitled Silent Hero and based on Nintendo’s Legend of Zelda. I’m pretty sure I’ll never write that crazily ever again! On the other hand though, it was nice to finish a good book that quickly.


2. You write mainly young adult Christian fantasy fiction...what attracts you to this relatively small sub-genre?

Well, I have always LOVED fantasy. I love being able to create new worlds, peoples,
characters. I just can’t write realistic fiction because it limits me too much. Plus, I really love how almost all of my books—all thirty-plus of them—connect in some way, shape, or form.

The “Christian” aspect comes in because, as a Christian, I feel I should give something back to the God who blessed me with talents of writing. That said, most of my work is NOT preachy; I try to incorporate any Christian aspects so that they flow naturally with the characters and story, instead of seeming awkward. In the words of Briana from The Book Pixie, another young lady who reviewed
Bloodmaiden: “Another thing I loved was the incorporation of religious elements. They were subtly done so that a Christian like me would pick up on them; however, they weren't blatantly obvious enough to detract from the story for those non-religious readers out there.”

This is exactly what I aim for, so I was glad to here it from another reader. Many of my books simply contain Christian virtues like the importance of friendship, forgiveness, love, redemption, or self-sacrifice. Others do talk about God, but mostly in an allegorical sense, like Aslan from Narnia. For those looking for a more obviously Christian read, my short book, The Pirates of Meleeon, does refer to God directly, and salvation is a big part of that book. For the most part though, my books will still appeal to as wide an audience as regular fantasy. I do plan to wrap up all my books with a final book, Carousel in the Clouds, which draws on the book of Revelation to bring an end to all worlds. Though the book is already finished, I have much else to do before it too is published.


3. Who or what inspires you to write?


One of the common questions I get asked as an author is what inspires me. My simple reply is that I believe my inspirations come from God and that people in my life, above all things, inspire me. But I’ve gleaned inspiration from a variety of interesting sources, so I’d like to share with you the inspirations for some of my favorite books.

The Gailean Quartet, my favorite series of all time, was actually inspired by the main reason I gave above—people in my life. In particular, Dr. Gail Hagler Fleming, whom I still declare is the most awesome teacher ever. I first took Music Appreciation with her at Southwestern Illinois College. Pained to leave that class, I ended up joining her choir. It was one of the best experiences of my life. At the time I took choir, I was going through some hard times in my personal life. Choir and Mrs. Fleming’s presence gave me something to look forward to—and inspired a “magical, musical” series full of rich characters and intricate plots, making it one of my favorite series I’ve written to date. Mrs. Fleming retires this coming spring in 2011, but her inspiration to myself and students like me will live on in these books. I plan to take choir one, last time to relive the magic once more.

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.


4. Describe Bloodmaiden in five words or less, please!

(Okay, this is the one I had to cheat on. I know you said five words, but can we make it ten? I just can’t do it in five, and this is Bloodmaiden’s tag line, so it works!):

Four Aria. Four Dynasties. One brilliant quest.


5. What fantasy creature would you write about if dragons were banned from all
literature?


I already told Melissa this would be my “fun” question, so thanks again to her for asking. Truth be told, though I love fantasy, I’ve never been a big fan of dragon stories. BUT I love taking fantasy creatures that already exist and adding my own lore or writing my own twists to them. For example, I have a book called Wish Granter— which shall eventually be published by Writers-Exchange e-publishing—which is about genies. They live in musical instruments, and you have to play the correct song for them to come out. Also, they physically cannot walk very far from their lamp, so they are kind of bound to whoever is carrying the lamp around. By the same e-publisher, I released Golden Healer, Dark Enchantress, which I wrote because I’d never done a vampire book before. As a Christian fantasy writer, I take the concept of “good” vampires a step further and bring up the concept of vampires and salvation; can they be saved? Can they go to Heaven, or are they eternally damned? I also come up with my own mythology for how vampires were first created.

SO, all that said, I wrote Bloodmaiden with dragons because I hadn’t done dragons before and wanted to come up with something unique. Hence, the four dynasties where the dragons protect the humans, and the humans, in turn, offer a yearly tribute. Of course, as readers will find out, Tynan’s tribute has gone terribly wrong, as summed up in these darkly poetic words: The field of sunlit gold has become the field of rubies.

To actually attempt to answer the actual question though, here’s a list of some of my
other favorite creatures, as well as what books they can be found in. Many of these books are published, but a few aren’t, so if you Google and can’t find, you’re not crazy:

Surprisers ~ Well, the prologue to the first book in The Legends of Surprisers series sums it up pretty nicely, so: “Long ago there were seven kingdoms which dwelt peacefully amongst each other: Anicleo, Labrini, Swala, Marineland, Arabis, Guedappleus, and Hyloria. But Labrini had always thought itself superior and wanted to rule over all the other kingdoms. Labrini stirred up strife amongst the other kingdoms until a great war ensued between them.

“Then, the three, great fairy sisters, Keren-Happuch, Jemimah, and Kezia, guardians
of the seven kingdoms, appeared, declaring that if they were all going to continue
fighting like wild animals, they would look like animals as well. So the fairies cast a spell upon the seven peoples, giving them animal-like features—fur, tails, and, depending on what animal they were, dog, cat, or bird faces. These animal-like people became known as ‘Surprisers’ to all who beheld them. For their appearance greatly surprised, and in many cases frightened, those whom the Surprisers came in contact with. It was said the spell would not be broken until the seven kingdoms were once more united in peace and harmony.” Thus is how the Surprisers came to be.

Forest-footers ~ These are one of my races of elves. They bear a green thumb and toe, which makes things grow wherever they touch—which is why they are prone to wearing boots and gloves! It would be rather inconvenient to have a tree sprouting from your lover’s forehead...In Golden Healer, Dark Enchantress, Chrystine is a special Forest-footer bestowed with the golden thumb, which means she can heal instead of grow. The Forest-footers are found in many other works as well, such as The Hero Chronicles, The Legends of Surprisers, The Gailean Quartet, Loz: Zephyr’s Islands, and Loz: the Mass.

Elementals ~ People highly-connected to nature. Some are rock, others earth, water, fire, etc. In Lily in the Snow, I have a gorgeous rock elemental; to be exact, her rock is mica schist, so her skin is covered with beautiful but very fragile green, glistening, mica schist crystals. If a rock elemental loses all their crystals, he or she will die. So, when Mica — for that is actually her name—is in danger, an earth elemental named Jewett must take her from her cave to protect her. But his gentle world of earth proves too dangerous for her—can they actually be together without him risking her death? Lily in the Snow is part of an anthology being released by Old Line Publishing in Spring 2011, so keep a look-out and read the story for yourself!

Fluffs ~ Adorable little creatures! About the size of a basket-ball, they are covered with white fluff, like a big dandy-lion. They have huge black eyes and smiles, and they hop about on big, bunny-rabbit-like feet. When they jump, they float a bit before landing; in turn, they won’t eat anything that’s not floating, so if you buy a fluff as a pet, you must also purchase special bubbles to place their favorite foods inside. The origin of fluffs is highly disputed. Some say they come from Abalino, the city in the clouds, and others from Chandra’s moon; none know for sure. Fluffs can be found in books like The Legends of Surprisers series, Loz: Zephyr’s Islands, and Loz: the Mass.


6. Is there anything else you would like to tell your readers?

Well, I’ve said so much already, I don’t want to keep them too much longer; a few are probably already nodding their heads and politely trying not to drift to sleep BUT — I would like to grant this one piece of encouragement: to persevere. If you are a writer like me, keep going towards the goal. Never stop, never slack. I may have published many works by self-publishing and smaller presses, and I may have some readers who really enjoy my work, but I’m not stopping there. I am in the process of perfecting a middle grade fantasy, The Last Star, the best I can before seeking an agent to get into the “big” publishing houses. The road is hard, but you can do it. And if you’re not a writer but certainly have other hopes and dreams, keep pursuing those as well. Find God, ask Him to help you, do your best, and something good will come of it!

Thanks to Melissa for having me here today; happy reading to everyone!


-----------------------------------------------

A big thank you to Christine Schulze for visiting today and giving us some insight into her writing and thought processes! She has also generously offered an e-book version (PROOF version) of Bloodmaiden to one of my lucky readers. I highly recommend it, so please enter away!

The Rules: One entry per person. You must leave your email address to be entered in this competition. No email = no entry. I will use Random.org to pick the winner on Monday, November 29th.

17 comments:

  1. Wow, what a fantastic interview! It was fun to read such thorough answers and I never thought I would be a big fan of dragon stories, but this one sounds fun and intriguing. Love her advice to persevere, that's applicable to life on so many levels:) Looking forward to reading this one!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm not a fantasy fan, but this one sounds good! Thanks for the interview, ladies!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I would love to try this book!

    pinkdaddysgirl[at]msn[dot]com

    ReplyDelete
  4. O O O count me in :)

    suitejuju(at)gmail(dot)com!

    I love how she said it's her way of giving back.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Sounds very good. I'd like you to enter me for the giveaway.

    jtheunknown{at}gmail{dot}com

    I loved the interview too. I like getting to know authors and what makes them tick when they write.

    Jen
    In the Closet With a Bibliophile

    ReplyDelete
  6. Not entering, just enjoying the interview.

    And..is that you on the cover?

    ReplyDelete
  7. Oh, this seems great!!
    I'd love to enter! :)

    yvantis[at]hotmail[dot]com

    ReplyDelete
  8. Great interview! This book sounds very interesting :) I'd love to be entered!

    yavampire(at)hotmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  9. Great giveaway. This book looks very interesting!

    Vivien
    deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  10. Hi, this is actually Christine, the author. Blodeuedd asked if that was "me" on the cover, so I thought I would answer; it is indeed me. I've posed for several of my books covers. My boyfriend has fun taking the pics, and I enjoy turning them into covers. Old Line Publishing added the font. Altogether, one of my best covers; I'm quite pleased with it!

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  11. This sounds like a fantastic read! I loved the interview! Great questions and answers! I would love to be entered. Thanks for the giveaway!

    lostforwords.cl (at) gmail (dot) com

    Thank you again! Love the cover!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Wow, it is a beautiful cover - well done!

    Please enter me as well :)

    Chrizette
    baychriz at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  13. Great interview! Thanks for the giveaway!
    chickenherder@hotmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  14. I would love to win this ..


    raluk.93 at gmail (dot) com

    ReplyDelete
  15. this one sounds interesting, I'd love to read it.
    jlynettes @ hotmail . com

    ReplyDelete
  16. Sounds great! I'd love to read it!

    cla37619 at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  17. Great giveaway! Thanks for the chance!

    tabbylewis (at) hotmail.com

    ReplyDelete

Thank you so much for taking the time to comment! I always do my very best to return the favour :)

Please note that this blog is an award-free zone!

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