C.M. Blackwood, pen name
Where are you from
I’m from Springfield, Massachusetts. I’ve lived here all my life. The farthest I’ve ventured from home is the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. (Though I’d go to London and Dublin, if I had the chance!)
I come from a small family. Hardly any of them live close by. But I have my faithful Dachshund, Mattie, to keep me company.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
In recent months, I published my first mystery, veering away from my typical (and not-so-typical) romances. I am working on the second, and plan to publish it in the first half of 2017.
I’ve been having a lot of fun with my blog, as well as with trying to grow on Twitter. I’m trying to develop a focus for assisting other indie writers.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
Hmmm. I began writing when I was in elementary school, little tidbits of poems that one of my mother’s friends actually thought were pretty good. I kept writing poetry through middle and high school, and started my first novel (which is as of yet unpublished) in eleventh grade. I finished it after graduation, and then began my headlong dive into the strange and maddening world of authorship.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I think I first considered myself a writer when I was about twenty-one or so. Only then, I didn’t realize how far I still had to go. I guess I thought success was like a golden egg that would fall out of the sky and hit me on the head. But it’s very different from that, as all of my indie colleagues can attest to.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
My first story, sort of a lengthy character study set in WWI Ireland with a fuzzy historical background, was inspired by an essay I wrote in eleventh grade on Constance Markievicz, an Irish revolutionary who fought for Ireland’s independence. She fascinated me, and I built the whole story around her – although she only has about three lines in the book.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
My writing style has evolved significantly over the years. Someone once told me I wrote like Charles Dickens, and that I should try “loosening up a bit.” So I did. I try to maintain the classic tone, while saying things in a way that I think modern audiences can relate to.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Well – as I said, my first book’s unpublished. So are my second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth books. Number seven is called My White Dahlia, and is titled after one of the main characters, Dahlia Frobisher. It is, as you can probably guess, a romance. People seem to respond fairly well to it. My most recent book, however – the one that I center my campaigns around – is a mystery called Who Killed Edie Montgomery? Not too hard to figure out why it’s called that, I suppose.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
In all of my books, I have a simple message that’s conveyed in different ways. I believe in good triumphing over evil; and love conquering hate. At first, I painted this message in very simple colors: in fairy tales, in characters overcoming haunted pasts, etc. But I’ve recently transitioned to a more complex portrayal of this same truth. Because, really, life is much more complex than books. An author’s work should reflect that.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
I will admit, Mary Meade of Who Killed Edie Montgomery? is based in large part on my own introverted, antisocial personality. She’s also rather crabby. (Me again.)
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
The book that influenced me most as a child was Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens. It portrayed perfectly, and in an almost fairy-tale-like manner, an innocent orphan’s triumph over the evils of the world that surrounds him. It always spoke loudly to me, and still does.
In my adult years, the book nearest my heart is Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. It’s a perfect blend of fantasy, classic-style writing, and good old-fashioned quality story-telling. I can’t praise it highly enough. (I may be somewhat obsessed with it.)
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest and who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I’d have to say that (as is fairly obvious from the “fave books” question) my favorite modern author is Susanna Clarke. I’ve not come across another who grasps me in such a way with their writing. I’m looking forward to reading The Ladies of Grace Adieu.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
Entity? That would be Jesus, I think. I know, I know – I can hear a few snickers already. But it’s true enough. I derive all my strength and support from Him.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
I can see it well enough – but I can’t quite reach it yet! Can I get an amen from the choir?
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
To be honest, shortly after the publication, I had a few regrets, and did a bit of revising. The next month, I re-published. No one noticed. (One of the bittersweet effects of indie publishing.)
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
When I was really little, my mom would read to me pretty much all the time. That’s where I got my love for words, I think. Now, Ma sees the ABC Mouse commercials on TV, and she says, “Why’s that necessary? Just read to the darned kids!”
Then, a few years later, I started devouring those Goosebumps books by R.L. Stine. I had shoeboxes full of them. That was the door to the “writerly” world, I think.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
I’m currently working on Mystery No. 2. Also, I plan on re-releasing a middle-grade Halloween novel on October 1, under the pen name “Athellia Lovegood.” In November, I’ll be re-releasing a historical novel called The Grey Rider. I realize it’s a bit short notice for Down the Halloween River, but for both books, I’ll be searching for reviewers to send ARCs to. (If anyone is interested, btw, please let me know.)
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Sometimes the simple act of writing is challenging. When your mind is full, it’s tough to sit down, clear everything away, and fill your brain with the subject at hand. It’s like nothing else can exist, while you’re writing. If it does, you’re going to have trouble. I know I sometimes do.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
Oh, I really wish I did! Someday I’d love to be able to travel to a foreign location, and set a book there. It’s one of my dreams.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
I’ve always designed my own covers. Granted, when I first started out, I wasn’t very good at it – but I think I’ve gotten the hang of it. “Design” is one of my new favorite things. I sometimes think of starting up a small service for designing marketing materials for entrepreneurs.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Usually, I’d say it’s getting all of the historical details lined up correctly. If you put one little tidbit in the wrong place, you’ll look like a dummy, and then it’s hard for people to take your writing seriously. So sometimes that stresses me out a little! (But it’s okay. I still have most of my hair.)
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I always learn new things from writing. Mostly historical facts. But there’s also always a larger lesson in there, usually about perseverance. You might be able to squeeze orange juice in a few minutes – but you can’t become a recognized author in the same period of time.
Fiona: If any of your books was made into a film who would you like to play the lead
Weeeeelllll – for my latest book, I see Katherine Heigl as Mary Meade, and Anne Hathaway as Jessica Price. Be honest. Am I pushing it?
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Just a little something. DON’T GIVE UP! If you do, someday you’ll regret it.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
First and foremost, I appreciate your taking the time to read my books, when there are so many other choices out there. Second of all – buckle up, because I think the ride’s going to get a lot crazier from here! (I didn’t used to like to wear my own seatbelt, btw – but I recently got a new car, and if you don’t put your seatbelt on, it makes that annoying ding-ding-ding noise. Yeesh.)
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I’m reading The Twistrose Key by Tone Almhjell. It’s a YA fantasy, and it’s pretty good so far. It actually even gave me a little inspiration for something I’m working on. I’m planning to re-release my middle grade novel, Down the Halloween River, on October 1. The simple illustrations at the top of each chapter in The Twistrose Key gave me the idea to make simple little drawings for my own book. Admittedly, they don’t look as good as Tone’s – but I tried!
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Maybe not exactly the first, but one of the first was The Velveteen Rabbit. I’ll always remember that as one of my favorite picture books.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Almost everything makes me laugh. As a friend on my blog said just the other day, “When you’re mentally unstable, you have to be able to laugh at yourself – or you’ll die.” And, yes, I admit it – tearjerker movies make me cry. For some reason, I always get really teary during the last Harry Potter movie. (Don’t laugh at me.)
Fiona: Is there one person pass or present you would meet and why?
You know, I’m not sure about that. Once upon a time, I thought I might like to meet Charles Dickens – but what if he turned out to be not such a nice guy, and that ruined my admiration for him? I think I’d like to leave him shrouded in a little mystery.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why ?
Oooohhh – morbid. Love it. Probably something like, “(Real Name) – Her spirit relieved a little of the world’s darkness.” Someday, if my books take off, I’d love to use them as a platform for other things, like sharing my love for God with a diverse audience, especially LGBT people. I love people like Joyce Meyer, but I feel that the minority groups need a bigger representation in the ministry.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
I love searching for bargain music on Amazon; and I LOOOVE shopping for clothes. Way too much, I think.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
A couple of my fave TV shows are “Zoo” and “Major Crimes.” At least – those are the ones I’m watching right now. My fave of all time is “Once Upon A Time,” which should be coming back soon! So excited.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
Fave food is linguine with sausage sauce, fo’ sho’. Fave color? Hmmm — #1 is definitely pink, #2 probably purple. As to music? I can be very eclectic. Absolute faves, though, are classical music and movie scores. (I’m obsessed with movie scores, as my Amazon download history will tell you.)
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
Hmmm. I sometimes think it might be interesting to be an interior decorator. I love design, not just with my books and social media, but with personal things, as well. I recently did a little re-decorating at home, and looking at the outcome, I thought maybe that was something I might have been good at. Maybe.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
I have two blogs: one I’ve been running since October, and another I just started this month. Here are the links:
Blackwood’s Magazine (Literary Journal): https://cmblackwood.wordpress.com/
Blackwood’s Follies: https://blackwoodsfollies.wordpress.com/