Sunday, January 18, 2009

Interview with Eileen

I've known and admired Eileen Charbonneau's writing for a number of years. She's also one of the best critiquers in our group. Janet
For you, which comes first the characters or the plot?: Depends on the book, what visits me first!

2. How do you create your characters? This is a great mystery to me. Sometimes they start out as "based on"...someone I know, someone whose essence pops out of an image or chance encounter, but as the book progresses, each charater takes on a life of hisor her own, and becomes very unmanageable. Then, I have to creatively "listen!"

3. Do you plan ahead or go with the flow? Because I write mostly historical fiction, I do a lot of research. I think that's where I'm more methodical and disciplined. Plot and character are more flowing, and that's what keeps me interested in writing a book, and, I hope, will keep readers interested all the way through, too. I have tried mapping out every scene and plot point. I was left with a stack of index cards and I never wrote the book!

4. How much research do you do and how do you go about it? I start with general research...for overview I love well-written books written for young people. Then, if I realize something's going to play a big part, say, my heroine is a Quaker, or my hero is a traditional Navajo, then I find out everything I can about what that life is like. As I write I'm constantly going back to research to keep things how long did the A train take to get from Grand Central Station to Harlem in 1943, or where did Dolley Madison live after the White House was burned during the War of 1812?

5. How do you select goals and the reasons your characters what to accomplish these goals? Ah yes, this is the essence of conflict. I don't select goals, I let them come from the characters. Sometimes they're simple: like a handicapped man who just wants to be able to win the love of a woman he adores and provide for a family, other times they get twisted: like how a life that is based in honesty deals with a sworn duty to a life of espionage? For me, it's important that the goals be important and blocked and involve big ideas.

6. Tell us about your latest release. That would be RACHEL LeMOYNE, which is about a Choctaw woman who goes to Ireland with corn to donate to the Irish during An Gorta Mor...the Great Hunger. She brings home an Irish husband who is a renegade so they light out for the territories on the Oregon Trail in 1848. It was a Rita Finalist.

7. What's on your backlist? I've published nine novels, including 3 young adult novels set in the Hudson River Valley and Catskill Mountains and 3 adult novels set in California, Virginia, Mississippi, and Missouri. I'd like to live long enough to honor every state with a story!

8. What are you working on now? I'm revising the second in my World War II Navaho Codetalker series, WATCH OVER ME, and working on a Civil War romance set in Maryland.Thanks for your interest!