Name C.S. Woolley
Where are you from
Born in Wilmslow, Cheshire in England. Went to University in Hull to study English literature, language and dead languages, moved to Nottingham, UK after graduating to work.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
C.S. Woolley: I’m currently waiting to hear back from a certain TV company about possibly turning the Nicolette Mace: the Raven Siren series into a TV series. I’m really nervous about it, but very hopeful! I’m appearing at the UK’s first indie literary festival in July, which I am very excited about and I’ve got several new books on the way. So 2016 is looking to be full of promise at the moment.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
C.S. Woolley: I’ve written for as long as I can remember. I won a few poetry competitions in primary school and wrote lots of short stories, I had many plans for books even when I was seven. It’s just always been something I wanted to do.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
C.S. Woolley: It wasn’t until 2012 when my best friend, who is also my plot editor, asked me why I didn’t consider myself an author when I was a freelance writer and had published several books that I really started to think of myself as one.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
C.S. Woolley: The first book I started writing was Shroud of Darkness and the inspiration for it came from the Lord of the Rings: the Fellowship of the Ring movie trailer – not the book. The moment where Arwen has Frodo in the river and has been chased by the Nazgul, then says ‘if you want him, come and claim him’. That was the inspiration behind the character of Venetia and it just went from there.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
C.S. Woolley: My writing style changes depending on the genre I am writing in, but I try to make each style suitable for the genre it is in.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
C.S. Woolley: I actually don’t have a process for titles, I tend to write and have the naming process simmering in the back of my mind and they just sort of come out when they are ready.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
C.S. Woolley: Hope, hope is the one thing that all my books have in common. It isn’t necessarily in the most obvious form, but it is there. Hope, that no matter what, things will come right again.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
C.S. Woolley: I try to make things as close to reality as I can in some respects, but there are a lot of things that happen that are as far from realistic as they can possibly be. I try to strike a balance between the two so that the unbelievable isn’t too overwhelming and the believable isn’t too pedestrian.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
C.S. Woolley: The events of the Nicolette Mace: the Raven Siren series are a lot closer to home than I would ever like to admit, but I have this nasty habit of writing something and a few years later it happens to me, rather than the other way around. The character of the Abbott in the Chronicles of Celadmore is one that I wrote and didn’t think much about him. I met my best friend, who is like a brother to me, and went back to working on one of the Chronicles books that the Abbott features in the opening of. I read through what I’d written and realized that the Abbott was pretty much identical to my best friend.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
C.S. Woolley: My mum used to take me and my sisters to the library every Saturday. We didn’t have a lot of money when I was growing up, but my parents did everything to make sure we had what we needed. The library meant we could read lots of books without having to buy them. I started reading the Saddle Club books and was hooked and then started taking library books out of the school library as well as the local one. I think that the amount of reading that I did as a young child and the fact that my mum and dad read to us, and mum used to make up stories to tell us at bedtime, meant that I was always going to want to write.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
C.S. Woolley: I’m currently reading Krondor: the Betrayal by Raymond E. Feist, Cricket: the game of life and a few of the Icelandic Sagas in their original format.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
C.S. Woolley: There are three authors that I love the writing style of and have been fortunate enough to get to know recently – D M Singh, Kendall Bailey and Kayti Nika Raet. They all write very different books but I think they are extremely talented. I really need to sit down and write some reviews of their books!
Fiona: What are your current projects?
C.S. Woolley: I’m currently re-writing Rising Empire: Part 3 (The Chronicles of Celadmore) I released it last year, but I really wasn’t happy with it, so I pulled it and am reworking the bits I know I could do better on. I’m also working on the Lily & Rose Saga (Nicolette Mace: the Raven Siren) which is taking a lot longer than I originally hoped it would. I’m doing some work for a publisher re-writing the classics to lower reading levels so everyone can enjoy the stories. I’m also working on Volume 4 in the Filling the Afterlife from the Underworld sub series of Nicolette Mace: the Raven Siren, When Darkness Falls (book 7 in the Chronicles of Celadmore) and a new series called Alpha Sigma.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
C.S. Woolley: I have lots of friends that are incredibly supportive, more supportive than anyone else is, but my best friend, Johnathen is the person that really makes me feel supported. He and his wife, Abby are just incredible.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
C.S. Woolley: I love writing and I believe that you should enjoy what you do. I see my books as one part of my career path, but I write for lots of different companies as a freelance writer, which makes up the other part of my career path. I would love to be able to sell ten copies of each of my books in the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand every single day and have enough money to only write books, but I’m happy I can write and earn money for doing something that I love.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
C.S. Woolley: No, the only book I’ve ever thought about changing once I’ve finished it is Rising Empire: Part 3, but all the other books that I have written I am happy with.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
C.S. Woolley: I have no idea; it’s just something I have always done. I know that I used it to come with being bullied in high school and without that I probably wouldn’t have ever finished writing anything.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
C.S. Woolley: This is an extract from Rising Empire: Part 2
No matter what the young man did, every time he closed his eyes he saw his sister, terrified, standing with a noose around her neck. He watched her die again and again. In part he blamed himself for not paying more attention to her, for not protecting her, but he knew that, ultimately, it was down to Bracha.
He had imagined over and over again what he would do if he ever came face to face with the woman, what he would say, how he would act. He knew that he would never be given a second opportunity to do what he felt needed to be done.
“Are you sure you want to do this?” Asahel asked one final time as he looked between his friend and the traitor.
“Yes.” Helez said firmly as he drew a dagger from down the back of his collar.
“Helez, stay your blade.” Jephthah warned as he appeared in the doorway. Asahel looked over his shoulder to see his mentor had been accompanied by Layla and Hermia.
“The guard sent for you?” Asahel asked and Haman nodded.
“Put down the blade, Helez. Justice was done.” Layla said slipping past Asahel and her hands resting on her own daggers that were slung at her waist.
“No, it wasn’t.” Asahel said from behind Layla. “None of you were there when Ilana was hanged. You didn’t have to see, you aren’t still tortured by it.”
“Justice has been served.” Hermia said firmly. “Doing this now will not take away what you saw, you will not punish her, you will release her.”
“She doesn’t have any sense of remorse.” Helez argued.
“Do this and there will be no way back.” Jephthah warned. “You will be considered traitors to the Gibborim. You will no longer be welcome amongst our number.”
“You would exile us for this?” Asahel asked.
“No, just Helez, you have done nothing but support a friend.” Hermia assured the older of the two men.
“If you exile Helez, you exile me.” Asahel said grimly.
“Headstrong fools. Helez, put away your knife. Asahel, stop being so pig-headed.” Jephthah barked at the two men.
Layla was within arm’s reach of Helez, and creeping closer, when Helez darted forwards and stabbed Bracha in the chest. Layla moved faster than Asahel thought possible and within the blink of an eye, Helez was lying on the floor, Layla straddling him with her daggers at his throat.
“You leave me no choice.” Hermia said sadly as she walked over to look down at Helez. Jephthah stepped forward and pulled the dagger out of his wife, her lungs already filling with blood.
Helez wasn’t paying any attention to Layla or Hermia. His eyes were fixed on Bracha. He waited for satisfaction to fill his chest, for the pain of losing his sister to subside. The light faded from Bracha’s eyes but Helez’s pain remained unchanged.
“Jephthah, take them to the surface.” Hermia ordered. The man mountain hauled Helez to his feet as Layla sprang back and half-dragged him from the cell.
“Farewell, my lady.” Asahel bowed to Hermia and followed.
“It was always going to happen.” Layla said quietly to Hermia.
“Because he has always been a victim of his own folly?” Hermia asked.
“No, because revenge promises to bring closure and end to pain that it seldom delivers. He knows that now, a little too late for the sake of the Gibborim. But the death of Bracha -”
“Murder of Bracha.” Hermia corrected the shadow.
“- murder of Bracha, it will celebrated, not lamented.” Layla looked at her leader, her lips set in a thin line.
“I know, it’s the only reason that they are being exiled instead of executed.” Hermia sighed. “Send in the guards to clean
up this mess. Her body can be floated into the sewers, the king’s men will find it eventually.”
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
C.S. Woolley: Actually sitting down and doing it sometimes. There are lots of challenges that come with writing, but forcing myself to put words down on paper is the hardest thing about it.
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
C.S. Woolley: My favorite author is Raymond E. Feist, I really love the characters he has created in the first lot of his books, especially Jimmy the Hand. My best friend got me to read Feist’s books after he told me that I had a similar writing style and that reading his work could help develop my own. I guess I find them really easy to read too, though I do spend a lot of time crying when he kills of characters.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
C.S. Woolley: Not for the content, but I find that I tend to write better when I am in Wollaton Park in the summer months or on the Embankment by the River Trent and in Austria in the winter months.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
C.S. Woolley: I designed the covers for the Chronicles of Celadmore series and some of the Raven Siren covers, the rest of the Raven Siren covers were designed by Jared Drake and the Alpha Sigma covers have been designed by Abby Lundie.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
C.S. Woolley: Formatting and editing them is the hardest part of writing any book. I have gone through several proof readers and editors and spend half my time having to fix things they’ve missed, so I find that really frustrating.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
C.S. Woolley: How to laugh at harsh and unjust reviews. There are lots of hateful people out there, if people don’t like my books, their entitled to their own taste and I don’t expect everyone to love everything I write – in fact, I don’t expect anyone to love it, but appreciate when people like them – but there is never any need for people to be disrespectful and nasty in their reviews. One reviewer was so horrible that I really considered stopping writing altogether, but the guys that Rising Empire: Part 2 is dedicated to helped me get past the pain of someone being so unnecessarily cruel and laugh about it.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
C.S. Woolley: Write for yourself. Ignore all the articles you see telling you what you should and shouldn’t include in your writing. It’s a sure fire way to kill individuality, originality and creativity. But always work at being better. Have beta readers who will help you hone your own writing style rather than relying on the internet for advice. If you write for yourself you will always be happy with what you end up with. Ignore critics, yes, constructive criticism helps, but most of the time people are just looking for someone else to tear down. Be creative and find yourself a plot editor! People may moan about spelling and grammar mistakes, but gapping plot holes are far worse – after all, your readers may fall down them and end up in Wonderland. Don’t expect everyone to love your work, and don’t spend all of your time telling everyone whenever you get a good review – yes, it’s great to be appreciated but, despite what you will see about re
views being everything to an author, there are better ways to promote your book that are much more fun and creative.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
C.S. Woolley: Thank you! You are amazing for managing to finish reading something I’ve written. There is one reader that I have never met that I think is wonderful. There is a girl in London that loves the Raven Siren series. I have never had any direct contact with her, but I think she might be my number 1 fan. When Abby (Lundie) was in the London St. Pancras WHSmith’s store, this girl came up to her and starting talking to her. She asked her if she owned a kindle. Abby said she didn’t. The girl then said that Abby needed to get one as there was a great series that Abby just had to read: Nicolette Mace: the Raven Siren. The girl then wandered off leaving Abby speechless. The girl had no idea that Abby was one of my cover designers, or that she was married to my best friend! Abby called me and told me all about it. Was the most surreal moment of my life so far, but I feel really blessed to have someone who loves me work that much! I’m really looking forward to meeting some of you at the UK Indie Lit Fest in July.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
C.S. Woolley: I have no idea what it was, but I can remember the first book I read that I spent all night reading. I was about 9 and had bought Horse and Pony magazine. It came with a free book, Winning by Ginny Elliot. I started reading it straight after school and didn’t go to sleep. I finished it just before I had to go to school the next morning.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
C.S. Woolley: I love laughing, it’s so infectious! I laugh at terrible puns, bad jokes, people doing stupid things; my best friend and the TV shows Mock the Week and Would I Lie to You have me in stitches. I cry at movies and TV shows, really easily, anything that is meant to be even remotely sad in them makes me cry – even if I don’t think it’s particularly sad.
Fiona: Is there one person pass or present you would meet and why?
C.S. Woolley: I would love to meet Joss Whedon and James Gunn. I think they’re both incredibly talented writers and directors and would love to just chat to them.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why?
C.S. Woolley: “Rumors of my death have been grossly exaggerated” something to bring a smile to people’s faces.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies?
C.S. Woolley: Excluding reading – I am a massive gaming geek, so I spend hours playing on my consoles, handhelds and PC. I really like sport too. Watching cricket and rugby are up there with gaming, though I am definitely much more of a cricket fan than a rugby fan. I was ill the other day and slept for nearly 24 hours. I only woke up because of a phone call and my first thought was “I missed the cricket!” I’m a member of Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club, so I get to quite a lot of games at Trent Bridge and try to go to at least 1 England fixture a year. I also love horse riding, swimming, tennis, walking, painting and martial arts.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
C.S. Woolley: I have pretty broad tastes. I like anime and cartoons as well as period dramas, Shakespeare, Numb3rs, Blue Bloods, NCIS, the Walking Dead, Constantine, Arrow, Flash, Prison Break, 24, Have I Got News For You, Would I Lie to You, Mock the Week, Red Dwarf, Porridge, Yes Minister, Firefly – this will end up being a really long list if I go on any further.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
C.S. Woolley: Red and green are my favorite colors, though I do like blue and purple in clothes. I love rock music from the 1960s, 70s and 80s and boy bands from the 1990s, like my movie and TV taste, it’s pretty varied. My favorite foods are a lot more restricted – Steak, Chips, Bacon, Mangoes and Cauliflower Cheese are my top five foods.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
C.S. Woolley: When I was really little, before I could write, I used to tell people I was going to grow up to be a doctor in the morning, a mummy in the afternoon and a ballerina in the evening. So I probably would have done that if I hadn’t started writing.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
C.S. Woolley: My website is http://www.mightierthanthesworduk.com, there is a blog that I sometimes post to on the website. I do have my own blog, but I rarely update it. I used to have a few blogs for Nicolette Mace, but a few people tried to steal the blog posts and publish them as their own work, so I don’t do them anymore.
Amazon Authors page http://author.to/cswoolley