Name CW (Chuck) Lovatt
Where are you from: The Canadian prairies (yes, it does get quite cold here some days)
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc:
I grew up pretty much where I live now: on the family farm just outside of the tiny hamlet of Carroll Manitoba. I chose carpentry as a trade some forty years ago. God help me, I thought it would be fun!
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
The latest book in my Charlie Smithers Collection, “Adventures Downunder,” was released in November, and is doing well, thank you, making it to #3 in it’s Amazon category in the UK. As well, I’m down to working on the dreaded blurb for my next book, “And Then It Rained,” which is an eclectic collection of short stories and novellas, due out later this year.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I began in the early 80’s, because of two books – one written very well, inspiring me to excellence, was Richard Adams’ “Watership Down.” The other book was written very badly, instilling the idea that I could do much better. I can’t remember the name of the author, or the title of the book, which just goes to show.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
About ten years ago. As I’ve mentioned earlier, I’d been writing off and on since the early 80’s but never really took it very seriously. The very idea of actually becoming a writer was so close to pure fantasy that it seemed pointless to pursue it. Aside from that, there was never any encouragement; in fact quite the opposite. In a small community like the one I live in, there aren’t all that many social circles, and those that we do have consider writing (if they ever consider it at all) as beyond the pale, so it was something I felt that I had to keep a lid on. Then one day I made a new friend, and all that changed. Suddenly I fond myself in a situation where my writing was valued and encouraged, and by someone I respected at that! All that I had to do was apply myself, and boy did I ever! It was sometime between the time when my first short story was published in 2008 and 2013 that I began to whisper ‘writer?’ cautiously in my own ear, and wondered if it might not be too grandiose a word? Then, when my first and second novels were published, and I found that I no longer had to wait an entire year, only to get the inevitable rejection slip in the mail – that my work, in fact, was being accepted, virtually out of hand – that I’m beginning to become more comfortable with the idea.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
The Flashman books written by my idol, George MacDonald Fraser. I love how he wrote, and I thought that I’d try to write something with his style in mind.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
Gosh I don’t know. I’ve been compared to so may writers that it’s difficult to say. One day it’s CS Forrester, the next it’s Bernard Cornwell, still other times it’s Michener. But I must say that my all round favourite was when a fan told me that my work was the closest to George MacDonald Fraser’s that he’d ever read.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
With both Josiah Stubb and the Charlie Smithers books, I was looking for names that reflected common origins, as opposed to that which might be mistaken for the nobility. With Josiah, I also wanted a name from the Old Testament (which was quite normal among the commonality during the 1750’s.) With Charlie Smithers, I also wanted a name that hinted at a bit of humour. For some reason that made me think of my relatives living in the town of Smithers, in northern British Columbia.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I seldom consciously have a message to impart when setting out to write a book. I’m the sort of author who writes the book first, using little more than an original idea and instinct, and then tries to figure out what it’s all about after it’s finished. That isn’t to say that there aren’t any messages, though, because there are, but they were part of the story all along, even before it was written. For instance Josiah Stubb challenges us to regard heroes differently than what contemporary thought allows. We tend to demand that they be held to a higher standard than everyone else. Heroes can be from common origins, but they must live their lives unblemished by it when that just wouldn’t be the case. In fact, that sort of thinking is just sowing the seeds for disappointment. Josiah was raised by a whore, in a world where morality was a luxury few could afford. It seemed only natural that he would become a whore in his own time. The reviews have been mixed, as you might expect, with some readers finding the content objectionable. My reply is to point out that no one had any objection to the horrors of war, that I described with equal intensity, and asked which is the greater evil?
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic ?
Just about all my books are very realistic, and might well have happened. The exception would be Adventures Downunder, where the muse steered me more to the world of fantasy toward the end of the book. That was great fun!
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
No, just stuff cooked up in my head.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
The Flashman books. I’ve read them all so many times that I practically know them by heart. I have a great admiration for their author, George MacDonald Fraser, who would be the closest thing to an author/mentor that I have, given that we’ve never spoken to one another.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
“Wolf & Montcalm: Their Lives, Their Times, And The Fate Of A Continent” You may gather from that that I’m conducting research for the next Josiah Stubb novel.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Certainly, or at least relatively new. Will Fergus, Tawni O’Dell, and Zadie Smith are all wonderfully talented writers.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
Oops! I let it slip earlier – putting the last touches on my book of short stories, and just more or less beginning the second book in the Josiah Stubb trilogy.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
That would be my friend, Amber Clark. I’m quite sure that I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for her.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Just being an avid reader, I guess. After so many years, I think that it seemed like a natural progression.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
This is just a few paragraphs from the prologue of the second book of the Josiah Stubb trilogy, “Interim.”
Prologue: (July 9, 1758)
The night has settled into an uneasy calm. After weeks under siege, the Fortress of Louisbourg lies battered, like a wounded leviathan, washed along the storm-swept shore of Ile Royale.
Battered, yes, but not yet broken.
Still in its first quarter, the moon’s crescent lies low on the horizon; but for numerous campfires of the besieging army – mere pinpricks of light spread out across the low-lying peninsula – the darkness is all but complete. All along the battlements, sentries stare out at them, toward the lines of the hated anglais, their faces gaunt from fatigue and lack of nutrition, but still determined. They do not speak, for their ears are alert for the least untoward sound.
And then it begins.
Close by the Dauphin Bastion, an opening slowly appears on the stone face of the wall, like shadow surrendering to a darker shadow still, as a postern opens silently on well-oiled hinges. A lone man cautiously appears, searching the night for danger. His head is tilted, as though sniffing the air. He stands thus for a long moment until satisfied that nothing is amiss. There’s a whispered command, and then soldiers begin to file out, one after the other, their white coats more grey in the uncertain light, with accoutrements padded with rags so as not to make any sound.
Presently there are dozens, and then hundreds, as they race across the dry bed of the moat to line the counterscarp, their muskets levelled over the lip of the glacis, against any threat that might oppose them, but none does. All lies quiet. Presently everything is ready – close to a thousand men, the moonlight glimmering faintly upon their well-honed bayonets. Up and down the line there comes another whispered command, and the shadowy figures swarm over the top, making their way out into no man’s land.
No, not yet broken…
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
As you may have guessed by now, George MacDonald Fraser is my all time favourite. I admire his courage to write about a bygone era and often defend it with unapologetic fervour.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
Have to? Yes and no. No one puts a gun to my head and says, “Go there, or else,” but sometimes, in order for a story to reach its full potential, I’ll travel to the places that I’m writing about, in order to get a feel for them. For instance, I flew down to Cape Breton Island, and then to St. John’s Newfoundland, while researching for Josiah Stubb, and I just recently returned from spending a month in Australia, to help put the finishing touches on “Adventures Downunder.”
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
The very talented artist, Peter Fussey, designed the cover for Josiah Stubb, and Wild Wolf’s equally talented writer and cover designer, Poppet, designed all the covers for the Charlie Smithers books.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
When I had to kill one of my main characters. I was inconsolable for weeks.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Baby steps. One word, sentence, paragraph, page at a time. Let the story possess you. After all, it’s all about the journey, not the destination.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Yes, I do: I’m a firm believer in traditional publishing, if for no other reason than someone has to read your work and decide that it’s good enough. So do the industry a favour by becoming proficient at writing before you decide to publish your work. Pay your dues. Don’t just claim the right to become an author, like so many other do, but earn it.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Again yes: Thank you all so much for reading my stories, and a special thanks for those of you who take the time to write a review. I can’t stress that enough. We can’t do what we do without your participation.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Oh god no.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Irreverence incites me to laughter. It can be risky, but if you want to induce a really belly laugh, you’ve got to be willing to take the chance. Tears? A broken heart.
Fiona: Is there one person pass or present you would meet and why?
Again, George MacDonald Fraser. Why? Because it’s freakin’ George MacDonald Fraser, that’s why! I’d even let him decide what we were going to talk about, and if he didn’t want to talk at all, that would be okay, too. I’d be happy just to sit there with him, and try to inch closer whenever he wasn’t looking, hoping to absorb some of that brilliance by way of osmosis.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why ?
Here lies CW Lovatt, the best damn writer that the world has ever seen. B 1954 D 2150
Why? Because obviously I want to be recognised as the best. If that doesn’t happen while I’m still alive, I’ll have to come back and chisel a footnote, “Although the world doesn’t know it, yet.”
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
There’s not much on television that interests me, and not much in film, either. Although I do like watching some of the oldies, and sometimes I’ll have a soft spot for a swashbuckler, or a romantic comedy.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
Food: A home-cooked anything. Colour: royal blue Music: With the advent of rap, I never quite progressed beyond 80’s rock.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
I do so admire a talented musician, all the more so because I don’t have that talent myself. When you’ve been through the 60’s you soon find out whether you do or you don’t, because every kid my age had that dream. I didn’t, but I wish that I did.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
Sure do! Here’s my blog. http://chuck-storyriver.blogspot.ca/
Amazon Author page: US: http://www.amazon.com/C.W.Lovatt/e/B00AV9ROR2/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0