Today I’m delighted to welcome Charlotte Langtree, author of Fractured: Tales Of Flame And Fury to Portable Magic. I’m sharing my Q&A with Charlotte with thanks to her for answering my questions!
Have you always wanted to write?
Without a doubt. I’ve been telling stories for as long as I can remember. Even as a kid, I’d carry a notebook around to jot ideas in. As an adult, that dream took a bit of a sideline to work and responsibilities, but in the past few years I’ve fought to get it back and I’m so much happier for it.
What was your inspiration for the stories in Fractured?
I was initially driven by the desire to write an anthology that was a little bit different (I won’t spoil it by saying too much but you’ll understand when you read it). I also knew I wanted to see more female representation in fantasy, and by that, I don’t just mean the young kickass warrior (although she does have her place). I wanted to show a whole range of women – just as we see in real life! So, one of my stories was actually partly inspired by the death of the queen and the ensuing national discussions concerning her inimitable sense of duty. The heroine of that story is a woman at the end of her life. In Drummer Girl, on the other hand, I have a young and somewhat naive soldier hoping to prove herself. I have warriors and priestesses, daughters and mothers, bodyguards and battered women. . . And I’m sure that everybody will be able to see a sliver of themselves in several of those heroines.
What does your writing process look like? Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I used to be a total pantser but I’ve become more of a plotter as I’ve honed my craft. I like to have an idea of where I’m going as it helps prevent writer’s block. So, I tend to start with a solid idea of my character. Once she (it’s often a she) is fully formed, the world starts to build around her, and possible conflicts rise up relating to her beliefs and behaviours. I let the ideas stew until I have a good concept of the story I want to write, and then I jot notes down, order my thoughts, and outline a plan to get my character from A to B. Once I have that in place, it’s a case of following my outline to get my first draft down. As someone with limited free time, this can often take me a while but it’s something I have a lot of fun with. Then comes the editing. And more editing. And even more editing.
How do you construct your characters? Do they have traits of people you know?
My characters come to me as a flash to start with. A brief image of who they could be. I refine details by considering factors that might affect the character. For example, if the heroine lives in the mountains, she would have to be hardy and tough to survive. What experiences might she have had that shaped her? Did she lose anyone to a cold winter? Have an accident while setting a trap? What might her gait be like if she’s adapted to living on rocky slopes instead of walking through flat corridors of grand palaces? All my characters must have traits of people I know but I don’t usually set out thinking of it in that way. Sometimes, if a character behaves in certain
ways, I might be inspired by people I know who have similar traits (even people I’ve only met once). Maybe they wrinkle their nose just so when they talk to people they don’t like. Perhaps they lose all restraint around sweet treats or dance like they’re possessed after only one drink. There’s so much inspiration to be had from the people all around us, whether we know them or not. I think all writers study other people to some extent.
How did you research the stories? Did you enjoy it?
One of the stories was inspired by Celtic mythology, and another has elements of Ancient Greece. In Cwenhild, the heroine is a tribal fire dancer; I did some research on Britain in the time of the Celts for this one, studying up on druids and stone circles. In my writing process, I usually start with a strong idea of who my central character is and go from there. This can lead me down some interesting research routes, and any information I don’t use can always be filed away for future use in another story. I love doing research and can easily get lost down the rabbit hole. Sometimes I even drag others into it. For example, when I was looking into the use of woad and body paintings, I pulled out the face paints and used my family as models to give it a go. I think it’s great fun. I’m not sure my husband would say the same but he does admit that living with a writer is never boring!
Who are your favourite writers? Are you influenced by them?
I’m a huge fan of David Eddings. He’s my oldest favourite and his characters feel like old friends. I think the way I write characters is definitely inspired by him. I love anything by Cecilia Dart Thornton. Her language is beautiful and poetic and she creates such striking imagery in all her books. Peter S. Beagle is another who writes like that. I fell in love with The Last Unicorn the first time I read it and am still as enamoured all these years later. Robin Hobb is also one of my favourites; I particularly enjoy the way her stories make commentary on humanity and civilisation. There’s a realism to her fantasy that can break your heart. I would love for my writing to have as much of an impact as theirs.
If you could invite three people, alive or dead, to a dinner party, who would they be and why?
My immediate answer would be those who I’ve loved and lost. However, I assume this refers more to famous people. In that case. . . How can I possibly limit it to three? I’ll go with Tolkien (because I’d love to have a chat with him about his worldbuilding), Doris Day (because I’ve always been a huge fan and she’d likely turn up with a few dogs I could fuss over), and William Marshal (imagine the stories he could tell!). That’d be a pretty interesting dinner party!
Who would you least like to be stuck in a lift with and why?
Well, Hannibal Lecter would be a pretty bad lift companion. . .
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Spare time? What is that? If I have snippets of time when I’m not needed by my family or cracking on with the editing work that’s my day job, I write. Although I do have several hobbies I’d love to pick up again, so maybe one day. I used to do a lot of martial arts, back when time existed. I also enjoy cross-stitching, researching my family tree (a great inspiration for many things!), and visiting castles and other cool places. I spend a lot of time doing dinosaur activities with my daughter, which is lots of fun.
What is next for you?
I’ve finished my first draft of another book, which is book one in what I predict will be a trilogy (though that may change depending on how much I write). I’m about to start edits – I’m both excited and nervous about that! It could take a while but it’s a project I’m really passionate about. As with most writers I know, I also have a couple of other ideas churning in the back of my mind, so I have plenty to keep me busy!
Book: Do I have to choose just one? I think (and this is really hard) that my favourite series is The Belgariad by David Eddings, and my favourite standalone would be The Goneaway World by Nick Harkaway.
Film: I’m torn between The Princess Bride and the Lord of the Rings movies.
Band/Singer: Doris Day
TV Show: Farscape
Place: There are many places that are important to me and places I enjoy visiting, but I have to say I still love my hometown. Todmorden is the most amazing, beautiful, community-minded little town, and I love being there.
Biscuit: I really want to say Jaffa Cakes – they’ll always be biscuits to me!
Fractured: Tales Of Flame And Fury is available from Amazon.