Welcome to the House of 1000 Books, and today we have a treat for you. We have an interview with Raven Corinn Carluk. She’s a self-described “desert rose that belongs in the heat.”
Welcome, Raven to the House of Books virtual interview room! Thank you for taking the time to answer some questions with us. I took a look at your profile, and you have a lot of books. I can only imagine you are a pretty busy lady! It surprised me how many books you had written.
So let’s start, shall we?
Topher Hoffman: I read your biography, so I know the answer to this, but can you tell the readers when did you write your first book? I think they will be surprised!
Raven Corinn Carluk: It surprises even me sometimes, especially as I keep getting older. My first completed novel was written back in my freshman year of high school. That manuscript is long since gone, and it certainly wasn’t up to my current standards, but there’s a part of me that wishes I had it for at least the nostalgia of it.
Recently, though, one of my aunts showed me a picture book I had written and drawn about the bicycle she had bought for me. So, I could argue that my first book was written when I was eight.
TH: What was your favourite childhood book?
RCC: There are two that really come to mind, though I read so much while growing up. Green Eggs and Ham will always be a favorite book, because it’s the first book I remember reading. And it has a great moral that more people should embrace.
The other favorite was The Rolling Stones by Robert Heinlein. I was seven or eight when I read it, and I just related to the whole family, but especially the main kids. Precocious, too smart for my own good sometimes, and hungry for adventure.
TH: I see that you write romance, science fiction, and fantasy. Has your family read your romance novels, and if they have what do they think of them?
RCC: I’m not sure if any of my extended family has read my books, because I never connected with them as a child, thus didn’t keep in contact when I became an adult. But my very tight-knit family circle has read the romance, and they like it. Even if they sometimes tease me about the steamier bits.
I’ve been told by them that they enjoy the adventure, that it’s not all heaving bosoms and pining for unrequited love, so it’s something a person can get into.
TH: Now, my favourite random question! If you were walking down the road, and you saw a younger you writing, what advice would you give yourself?
RCC: That’s a great random question, but my answer might be considered “cheesing out” by others. My personal philosophy is that I wouldn’t be the person I am now if I hadn’t lived through my experiences. So I wouldn’t give my younger self advice, because then she wouldn’t become me.
But my advice to any writer is to tell your story. Keep writing. Keep doing. In this day and age of internet access and free information, there is no reason to hide your story just because it isn’t popular, or is too similar to something else, or can’t be defined by a genre. You can publish it yourself, you can get people to read it, and you don’t have to compromise your vision to fit current trends.
TH: You started writing at a young age. Could you tell us how many books have you written and which is your favourite?
RCC: Published, there are five novels, one novella, and two collections of short stories. On my blog there is a serial novel that’s basically a rough draft, and a couple hundred short stories. Three or four short stories published in anthologies not quite a decade ago.
And that’s just what’s currently available to readers.
Currently, Nomycha is my favorite. There’s something about that story of star-crossed lovers, and discovering yourself as a person, and learning to balance good and evil within yourself and your actions, that touches me like nothing else I’ve written. I have other characters that are closer to mine and my husband’s personalities, and I love their tales, but Cyryna and her novel are my babies. I worked the longest on polishing the manuscript, hesitated the most on hitting the submit button, and sometimes worry that it’s not as good as I think it is.
TH: You must have a pretty good idea what it takes to make a good story. What do you think makes a good story?
RCC: It’s easy to say a good story should have relatable or interesting characters, and rising action, and real consequences, and a satisfying conclusion, but those are just parts of the craft. To paraphrase Captain Jack Sparrow: That’s what a story needs, not what a story is.
A good story really has that element of je ne sais quoi: you’ll know it’s good when you read it, but you can’t define it in tangible words. It has to do with the passion of the storyteller, with how well they translate their vision to the page. I could read two novels with similar plots, characters, and conclusions, and one will just feel like the better story to me because of that touch of passion.
TH: Do you enjoy what you write, meaning, do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
RCC: I think of myself as a storyteller, and that my duty is to share my vision with people. Sometimes it’s just a variation on a common theme, sometimes it’s about subverting expectations. Sometimes it’s just about embracing the darker side of life. I’d like to think I appeal to what readers didn’t know they wanted to read.
I’ve been asked if I would write something more commercially appealing if it meant my big break, and I had to say no. I’ve never been one to follow trends in my own lifestyle, so couldn’t do that with my writing. Yeah, it would be easy to crank out another dystopian YA novel where the good guys win, or yet another bodice-ripper escapist romance novel, but that’s not me.
TH: Do all your books run along the same storyline or are they all unique standalone novels?
RCC: I mean, if you boil any story far enough down, then everything is similar. I think someone similar said there are only seven basic plots in the world, and I can’t exactly argue against that. It’s just how that plot is dressed up that makes each book different.
So, there is a basic plot of Girl-Meets-Boy and they live Happily Ever After in all my novels, but it’s the adventures they have and tribulations they go through that make each novel stand on their own. All of them are walking to the same place, but they each take slightly different paths to get there.
TH: Are there any books that you started to write, but haven’t finished, if so, how many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
RCC: Unpublished, I have a novel that my husband and I are working on together. Maybe a dozen short stories out for submission. Another dozen short stories in various stages of revision, and a serial novel I’m still working on. There are a few plots for more Keila books running around, and a handful of other ideas that just haven’t solidified into something that could actually become a book.
TH: With writing so many romance novels, can you tell us, what’s the worst thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
RCC: Gaw, this is a hard one. I actually can’t think of one, because I enjoy writing about my men, and I enjoy writing short stories from male points of view. The hardest part would probably be trying to write a stereotypical chauvinist, what the vernacular considers toxic masculinity. I’ve always had good men in my life, and that translates to the men in my story, so I can’t put myself in the headspace to create such a character.
But that goes for women, too. Writing someone stereotypically weak or simpering takes more effort than a woman who will defend herself or put her foot down when necessary.
TH: How long on average does it take you to write a book?
RCC: From plot outline to publishing, it’s a couple years. But that was while I was working full time, and had to do all my editing and rewrites in my spare time. If I can come up with a good novel idea, it might be much easier now that I’m a full-time housewife.
TH: When you start to think up a book, do you make up the plot first or the characters?
RCC: 60% character first, 40% plot. The two are really linked for me, especially since there’s magical elements to my works. So, I play with character ideas and what kind of adventures they would have. What would be the stumbling block to them based on their abilities, and who would make a good partner for them, and what kind of antagonist would they be going up against?
TH: You’ve written in the romance genre and the science fiction & fantasy genre. Do you have a preference?
RCC: Fantasy is almost always my preference over sci-fi, even in my reading tastes, but I enjoy telling love stories. I know romance has a bit of a reputation that it’s about sex, and I’ve put some explicit scenes in All Hallows Blood, but I really like to read about two souls meeting and becoming one. So I will probably always write romance with fantastical elements, because that’s where I’m most comfortable.
TH: Have any of your books been made into audiobooks? If so, what are the challenges in producing an audiobook?
RCC: I actually am looking to making some audiobooks. I’m not rolling in cash, so I wasn’t going to hire anyone, but do it myself. So I won’t have any idea what challenges come with working with a narrator, but I can tell you what it’s like narrating my own stuff.
Currently, I am posting videostories on my YouTube channel. Me, reading my old flash stories from my blog, while the words are on screen for anyone who wants to read along. And it is a fun project, because it allows me to exercise so many different facets of my creative nature.
Learning how to speak into a mic is probably the hardest thing for me right now. Learning how to give emphasis without spiking the audio levels, how to pace myself, how to make sure I’m enunciating, how to do slightly different voices. But this is an information age, so I can Google lots of tips, and am learning as I go.
Editing the audio itself has been pretty easy. At least so far. Clearing out my breathing, the occasional clicks, trimming down pauses that went on to long, that all takes less and less time. It was always the easiest part.
Once I feel I’ve really mastered audio production, I’m planning to turn Stories With Bite O,.,O into my first audiobook, then Nomycha.
TH: As I can see, you have a lot of published books. Is writing your full-time career? Or would you like it to be?
RCC: Until recently, I was having to work full-time to do all the things that kept me fed and housed. After an injury at work, my husband was able to position himself so I could stay home and become a housewife. Which means I am now a full-time writer, so long as I’ve gotten my daily chores finished.
It is certainly something I’ve always wanted. Trying to be creative while working sapped my energy, and was painful. Trying to find time for self-promotion while working led to a nervous breakdown, which caused me to put writing on a hold for five or six years. Telling stories is in my soul, but it takes time and freedom. Both of which I have now.
TH: You said you have been writing since you were five. When did you first consider yourself an author?
RCC: I didn’t actually consider myself an author until I signed a contract for All Hallows Blood. I was no longer just writing, I was published, and I felt I could call myself an author.
TH: Can you please tell us about your most recently released book?
RCC: The synopsis reads: When war breaks out between the two lands, Cyryna must leave her training and contemplation to recover a relic of great power. Her magical skills are immediately put to the test in skirmish after skirmish with the undead hordes of Valham. Her heart is put to the test when she meets a man with silver eyes.
Nomycha has been an on-and-off again project for probably ten years. It was inspired by a dream, and went through at least one complete re-write before it got to this stage. I tried to explore elements of destiny, of balance, of how light and dark hate each other for being different. Cyryna explores what it means to be yourself, to stand up for your beliefs, to embrace your inner strength. Maksim is warrior, protector, and proves that love will conquer all.
Plus there’s adventure, action, monsters, magic, and villains.
TH: What is the significance of the title?
RCC: I’ll let Maksim explain it: “Mychas are spirit hounds. They act as guardians of the mystic plane, guiding magic users. Nomychas are the little hounds that watch over dreamers. I’ve dreamt of you my entire life. You are my nomycha. You are the one who guides me.”
It’s his pet name for her throughout the book. It seemed the most appropriate title, even if it’s a made-up world, because there is so much in the tale regarding dreams and the great hounds.
TH: If your book one day made into a movie, who are the celebrities that would star in it?
RCC: Even though I tend to write my action scenes with a cinematic style, I don’t usually think about who would play my characters in a movie. I don’t even usually have a particular person in mind while I’m writing. But in this book, Orlando Bloom was my inspiration for Maksim’s looks. He’s always my guilty pleasure; I’ve loved him since I first saw him, and always will.
I’m not sure who would be cast, but they’d need to be young and hot.
TH: Where can people buy your books, and what book do you recommend starting with?
RCC: I’m on Amazon http://bit.ly/RavenCorinnCarlukAmazon and Smashwords http://bit.ly/RCCSmashwords I recommend starting with Stories With Bite O,.,O to get a feel for what I like, how I write, and then decide where to go from there.
Or come by my blog for free stories every week. http://bit.ly/Raven-Corinn-Carluk
TH: Finally, is there anything else you want the readers to know?
RCC: Leave reviews about the books you read. It helps the author, especially us indie authors, but you’re really helping your fellow readers. They want to know if their time and money are worth spending on a book, and you could help them make that choice.
RCC: Thanks for having me!
So there have it folks! Raven Corinn Carluk! She’s definately an author to keep an eye out for!
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ravencorinncarluk/