Name C. L. Schneider
Where are you from?
I was born and raised in Atchison Kansas, a small town on the Missouri River. Atchison is also the birthplace of Amelia Earhart, which, I admit, is something that made no measurable impact on me as a child. I’ve long since come to admire her as a role model, and I’m proud to share a hometown with such a strong, independent woman. Having traded living on the Missouri River for living on the Hudson River, I currently reside in the scenic Hudson Valley Region of upstate New York with my husband and two sons.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I’ve always been writing. When I was a little girl I would write TV scripts for my favorite shows. If I didn’t like the direction they were going, or what was happening with the characters, I would fix it by writing my own episodes. I also wrote fake commercials and news casts, some poetry, and started dozens of stories. My siblings were ten and twelve years older than me, so I had a lot of time to myself growing up. I filled a great deal of it with books. I was an early reader and a diverse one as well. My parents had an extensive home library with shelves chocked full of a variety of genres: westerns, mysteries, horror, sci-fi, biography, true crime, and the classics; I loved them all. I vividly remember reading Gone with the Wind in middle school. It was such a beautiful, epic story, as well as one of my favorite movies. There was a lot at home to keep my busy. Of course, I still walked out of the public library with handfuls of books on a regular basis.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Looking back now, I should have considered myself a writer long before I did. But it wasn’t until my children were both in school, and I could devote myself to it full time, that I was ready to actually pursue publishing. I wasn’t just scribbling away then. I had a goal. That’s when I started referring to myself as a writer. That’s when I saw myself as one. Perhaps this was because I believed the title only belonged to those who were published.
I often wondered if I’d truly believed I was a writer earlier in life if it would have given me the confidence to pursue my dream a lot sooner than I did.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
While I’ve enjoyed writing since I was old enough to hold a pen, it wasn’t until high school when I started dreaming of becoming a published author. I always made it a point to finish every book I started. If the author took the time to write it, I owed it to them to make it to the last page. But after a long streak of reading several books in a row where the writing was less than stellar, the plots were bad, and the covers were almost as bland as the characters, I was annoyed. I’d given up both time and money to those books. I was disillusioned with the publishers. How could they put their names on something so poorly done? Mostly, I was disappointed in the authors for squandering the chance they’d been given, and the characters they’d created.
At the same time, I was encouraged. If this was the level of writing that was being accepted by publishers, then maybe I had a chance. I figured I certainly couldn’t do any worse. And maybe I could even do better. I don’t know if it was arrogance, or desperation, or hope, but at sixteen I sat down to write my first full length novel, a post-apocalyptic epic adventure entitled, Twist of Fate. I started the story in a notebook (as I still do), then moved onto a typewriter. I wrote in my parent’s living room, sitting at an old, wobbly card table, and pumped out a behemoth of a novel with 800 some pages. After an attempt at getting it published, Twist of Fate retired to a box in my closet. But it won’t stay there forever. I have plans to rewrite the entire story down the road.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
A fellow author once told me that my writing taught them it was okay to ‘bleed on the page and not clean it up after.’ I guess that’s a way to sum up my writing style. I believe in writing fearlessly; in telling the story as it’s meant to be told. The best way I know how to achieve this, is through writing in first person, which I suppose is also part of my style. While I have written third person, first person feels natural to me. By dropping myself into a story (as opposed to observing it) I can completely envision the scene. The setting and characters play out in my mind like a movie—with me smack in the middle. I think it adds a level of depth and intimacy to my sensory imagery when I can see, hear, and feel along with my characters. By channeling his or her emotions, I can pour out my own. I can tell the story from inside my main character’s head. And if I do it right, I pull the reader in there with me.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
The Crown of Stones trilogy revolves around the story of Ian Troy, a man born with an addiction to magic. Ian’s race (the Shinree), are natural magic users. They are born with the ability to sense the auras, or energy, in certain stones. They can pull that energy out of the stone and into their bodies, shape it to their will, and then cast it back out. This interaction is physically and emotionally pleasurable, inducing a very brief, but highly addictive, state of euphoria. When the Shinree go too long without casting, they suffer withdrawal similar to a heavy drug user. But, giving into their cravings doesn’t simply ease their suffering. The spells need energy to be born. Once cast, magic arbitrarily steals the energy it needs from whomever or whatever is nearby the caster. Most often this theft is fatal. So while magic brings the Shinree great pleasure, it brings death to all other living things.
From the start I wanted Shinree magic to revolve around auras and stones. I had this beautiful chunk of amethyst on my bookshelf that I’d always wanted to write about. And a crown is a well-known symbol of power. It also fit well into my plot with some of the characters that were fighting over this magical object. Originally, the title was The Amethyst Crown. But as my magic system evolved and became more complex, so did the Shinree race, and the crown. I decided I wanted each stone within it to represent one of the nine different kinds of Shinree magic users. The Crown of Stones just seemed more logical and mysterious. It also fit better with Ian’s personality. Amethyst felt too feminine.
For the subtitles, I wanted them to be telling as well as actual phrases used within the books. Book 1, Magic-Price, represents the cost of Shinree magic, as well as the terrible price Ian (and the entire world) paid the first time he took up the Crown of Stones—and all the ones that came after. Book 2, Magic-Scars, refers to a puzzling, personal affliction that has befallen Ian with his repeated use of the crown’s power. On a deeper level, it signifies the emotional scars he’s suffered as well. Book 3, Magic-Borne, stands for a particular burden that comes about during the course of the final story. It also represents all that Ian has shouldered throughout his journey: responsibility, guilt, magic; each have carried their own weight. Just as each has come with their own price and left their own scars.
Fiona: What are your current projects
I have three current projects. At the top of my list is Magic-Borne, the final installment in the Crown of Stones trilogy. I received it back from my editor mid-October and am in the final push to polish it up before proofreading and publishing. I’m incredibly excited to get it out there and conclude Ian’s story. At the same time, I’m sad. I’ve lived with these characters and this world for so long. It’s hard to put them aside. But it’s not goodbye. The wheels are turning, and in some form, I will revisit the world I created for Ian and his friends. Magic-Borne is due out this winter.
I’m also working on the draft of an urban fantasy trilogy entitled, Nite Fire. The story centers on a hybrid woman named, Dalia Nite, a half-dragon, half-human, shape-shifter who came to our world after fleeing her own (a parallel world filled with dragons and other worldly creatures) under desperate circumstances. For a time, they chased and she ran, but after about 80 years, she’s established a life here in our world, learning to blend and use her unique abilities covertly. Dalia embrace her human side—perhaps a little too much. Leaving her somewhat unprepared when she becomes involved in a string of brutal murders that could only be committed by one of her kind. Dropped into the heart of a conspiracy that will grow to have a devastating impact on both our worlds, Dalia’s attempt to uncover the truth and stop the murders will force her to return home, and change her forever. I’m aiming to release Nite Fire in the fall of 2016.
My third project is co-writing a Viking-themed epic fantasy with fellow indie author, J. R. Swiger, involving a fallen warrior and the Valkyrie tasked with ferrying him to Valhalla. While it will follow some known mythology, we’re injecting a good amount of our own. I am absolutely in love with the story we’ve plotted out, but due to both our tight schedules, there’s no time frame on this one.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
About 6 months after I published my first book, I was lucky enough to stumble upon Mark Shaw on Twitter, and discover his movement #indiebooksbeseen. With the concept of cooperative marketing and the heart of a family, #indiebooksbeseen is exactly as it sounds: a group of dedicated authors working hard to get indie books seen. The beautiful part about it is #indiebooksbeseen members aren’t just striving to make their own books visible, but everyone’s. Whether it’s catalogues, tweets, blog posts, contests, videos; the goal is to raise public awareness of talented and dedicated authors that might not otherwise be noticed in the giant sea of new titles that are released each day. It’s also not just about sales. It’s about supporting and helping each other through this crazy roller coaster of independent publishing. There may be a couple of ‘I’s in the word, but #indiebooksbeseen is all about ‘We’.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
This following is an excerpt from the upcoming Magic-Borne (Crown of Stones 3). My sword-wielding, magic-addicted protagonist, Ian has found himself in a dangerous situation, again. He’s fighting with an eldring, a creature that, on the surface, is merely a large, nocturnal, nasty, flesh-eating predator. But as Ian has come to learn firsthand, underneath, these creatures are so much more.
The eldring jumped. Sliding beneath his broad leap, I rolled onto my back and shoved both swords up into his black-pelted chest as it passed above me. Momentum carried the eldring onward; ripping the weapons from my hands and sending him careening into an empty table. Wood cracked on contact and the heavy beast landed among the splintered pieces.
I got to my feet. Blood ran down my face where his clawed foot had scraped my forehead. I drew an arm across, wiping it away as I watched the eldring throw the broken table aside like twigs. Folding his clawed hands around the hilts protruding from his belly, he whimpered as he yanked out the steel. A torrent of blood sprayed wide as he lobbed both swords across the room. The eldring’s strength and mobility was compromised. Yet, hunger and the life of his child forced him back onto all fours.
Watching the beast, anticipating his next attack, I thought about magic. I always thought about magic. But it was worse in a fight. Anger, violence, danger of any kind, stimulated the temptation to cast. I knew better to let even a morsel of temptation slip through. But as I did, I could think of nothing else. A fluttering hollow of yearning opened inside me. Need rippled cold and hard across my nerves. Waking, the nine auras of the crown slithered down into my veins. My scars warmed, making me shudder as they pulsed in time with my blood.
Each throb was both a potential for pleasure, and a mocking reminder of the price.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
My book covers are designed by a wonderfully talented local artist named Alan Dingman. I have been friends with Alan and his wife for over ten years. Alan works at Simon & Schuster and also has a very busy portrait business. When I decided to self-publish through CreateSpace I wasn’t happy with the sample covers they provided. There was nothing wrong with them, but they were nowhere near the vision in my head. So I went to Alan. I told him what I was looking for and was thrilled he said yes. I hired him on the spot and couldn’t be happier with the results. I am enamored by Alan’s ability to suck the image in my head out onto the cover, while at the same time, adding his own flair and style.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I want to say thank you. You’re amazing. I never expected the reception I’ve gotten. I never expected my creations to be taken into the hearts and minds of so many. There’s no greater honor than when a reader ‘gets’ the character you’ve tried so hard to mold and grow.
I also want to say: I want to hear from you! Reach out to me on Twitter or Facebook, or through my website. I love it when readers contact me and want to pick my brain on a chapter, dissect it, or simply give me their thoughts. It’s such a fun interaction. It gives me the opportunity to see the story through someone else’s eyes. It’s like creating it all over again.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I love character driven shows and movies, especially adventure movies or anything with a supernatural, sci-fi, horror, or fantasy slant. I also enjoy shows involving the FBI or CIA. The genre isn’t as important to me though as the characters. Sometimes I’ll watch a movie simply because I know the actor (or actress) in it has the proven ability to pull me in, even if the story won’t. If I can’t connect with a single character, I’m done. But if I care about their arcs or they amuse or interest me, if they’re quirky in an endearing way, I can forgive a lot with the plot.
Supernatural has been a long-time favorite. Another current must watch show is Arrow. I have a girl crush on Felicity (and a regular crush on Oliver). Gotham I’ve recently discovered, after binge-watching the 1st season on Netflix, has some great characters, The Walking Dead (of course). Doctor Who—I desperately miss David Tennant. Defiance; Stahma and Datak Tarr are wonderful to watch. Sleepy Hollow is fun. And I’m eagerly awaiting the next Sherlock.
But while I loved Alias, Farscape, Lost, and the X-Files, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve re-watched Firefly, I was also a fan of The Shield, White Collar and Covert Affairs. I’ve watched Gone With The Wind as often as I have Terminator or Evil Dead. So again, it’s not really the genre that draws me. It’s the actors and the roles they play. I’m fascinated when someone can nail a role so well they can make me believe the unbelievable. I think Tatiana Maslany is brilliant in Orphan Black. And I adored the character of Connor Temple on the BBC show Primeval. Andrew Lee Potts played him perfectly. His character was the sole reason I kept watching.
I guess you could say I’m a bit of a fan-girl.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
Favorite Food? Can I say all of them? I love to eat, whether it’s fine dining or a burger joint. But if you’re going to make me narrow it down, I love lobster ravioli, duck, calamari, pizza, Thai food, and all things chocolate. And Starbucks. Starbucks is a food group, isn’t it?
Colors: red and black, hands down. I love red and black anything. Clothes, jewelry, décor, even my hair. As you can see from my picture my hair is red, but for a time in my 20’s it was black, and I loved it. I died it to match the black leather I bought jacket for a concert.
Music; while I do enjoy pop and can appreciate other music genres, my favorites are alternative rock and industrial metal. Nothing can improve my mood like a drive with some earsplitting Godsmack exploding angrily out of my speakers.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
There was a time, when I was much younger, that I really wanted to work in special effects makeup. I looked into schools and considered it as a possible career for a time. Then I started working for Liberty Mutual Insurance. I moved up within the company until I was managing the service staff in five local offices. Years later, when my first son was born, I quit Liberty to stay home with him. I missed the people, but I haven’t missed the job for a second. My plan was always to devote myself full time to writing when the kids were older. I’ve been able to do just that, and I couldn’t be happier.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
My website is http://www.clschneiderauthor.com/
I do have a blog on my website, though most have my posts lately have been book reviews and guest posts from other authors. I love being able to help fellow authors showcase their new releases or cover reveals. But I have a hard time keeping up with writing my own posts. That’s one of my resolutions for next year.
Links for Book 1
Magic-Price Kindle http://bit.ly/COSBk1Kindle
Magic-Price Paperback http://bit.ly/MagicPricePB
Links for Book 2
Magic-Scars Kindle http://bit.ly/ScarsKindle
Magic-Scars Paperback http://bit.ly/MagicScarsPB
Google + http://www.google.com/+CLSchneider