Aparna (inspirethoughts) wrote,

Book Critique 2016 – 09/04/2016: Interview with Christine Feehan

Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a book review.
Prologue: Go here

In April of 2016 I had opportunity to meet one of my favorite author Christine Feehan while I was visiting family in California. The year before when the Romance Writers America met in New York, I had gone to see a few of my favorite authors there and came to know that Christine Feehan hadn't made it to the meet. So I wrote to her and she obliged me with giving me a few of her hours to meet her in-person if I could go where she lives. So when I went to CA last year, I took the opportunity and met her. Incidentally C. L. Wilson happened to be there too so got a chance to meet her too.

Christine Feehan is the author of the well-read Ghostwalker Series, Sea Haven Series, Sister of the Heart Series, Dark Series (involving Carpathians) and the new Shadow Series. I have written reviews of quite a few of her books in this "366 Critiques by Amateur" project that I started in Jan 2016. Check them out here: Ghostwalker Series, Sisters of the Heart / Sea Haven Series, Carpathian Books and the Shadow Series.

I went with my parents to meet Christine. She was very generous and had been patient to answer all my questions. A few pics from the day.

We also got to meet Shaila, one of her granddaughter, who wants to have a story based on her name. :). My mom thought that she looked like a snow white.

And here is the excerpt of the interview:
Aparna: How did the idea for Carpathian series sprout? A new language, a new species, culture and wonderful  characters. You have developed an intricate story with each book. How did you put such an amazing story?

Christine: I lost one of my sons at a very early age. And I went into a wave of depression. Then it began to make me think what if there was power to protect your loved ones and have them live longer. And that’s how the concept for Carpathian series started. Yes, it had come out of a dark period in my life, hence the series titles that start with “Dark” but it always provides light everywhere.

Aparna: Wow! You made something beautiful out of the memory. And we are glad for it since we get to enjoy the books.
Christine: Thank you.

Aparna: This is the 29th book in the series. Are you thinking of finishing it? Bringing all the characters into one place before finishing it?

Christine: No. The series is continuing into California now so will have a few more new characters coming in. Along with reprising older characters.

Aparna: Why did you think to move the location to California.

Christine: You know what. I was getting a little bored to write about Romania all the time. I will still keep the connection to Romania and Carpathian Mountains but as a writer I think it’s time to change the scene. And naturally I picked California for obvious reasons. (She laughs).
Aparna: Yes, you live here.
Christine: Yes. So there will be more books, more characters and more plots.

Aparna: Dark Dream (featuring lifemates Falcon and Sara Marten) and Dark Descent (featuring lifemates Traian Trigovise & Joie Sanders) stories have unfinished businesses. Will you be solving that in future?
Christine: Perhaps, perhaps not. It all depends on what the characters ask of me. So far they haven’t asked anything of it.

Aparna: Alright. I am hoping they ask and we get to see it. How did you find the names for your characters? They are so different and sound complex in nature.
Christine: There is a lot of research that goes into the names as well. But more than often the characters just pick their names too. (laughing it off).

Aparna: The poetry written by your siblings for the Dark Series, the hymns and healing chants, they are amazing.
Christine: Thanks.

Aparna: Me and my friend loved Dmitri and Skyler story, Dark Wolf, even though it came after a long wait, as well as the Christmas celebration episode, Dark Celebration.
Christine (looks at C. L. Wilson and both laugh out loud)
Aparna: Why what happened?

Christine: Well your comment on Dark Celebration made us laugh it out. My editor and publisher neither had liked the concept or the book. But I was insistent that it will work and people will love it. So they printed limited editions first. But then they started getting requests for the book that they had to re-publish it for another 50,000 copies.

Aparna: Amazing. That is one of the book that I thoroughly enjoyed. I am glad you stuck to the fact that you wanted to get it published.

Christine: Yes. As for Dark Wolf, there is a reason for this book to come very late. Skyler is one of my granddaughters. I named the character in the book after her. So I didn’t want to write an erotic story for her without her growing up. So I had to wait all these years for the real Skyler to grow up so I can have the fictional Skyler a story of her own. And now Shaila (pointing to her other granddaughter in the room) want to have a character named after her too.

Aparna: (Laughing) Really?
Christine: Yes, she wants it. And I am still figuring it out on how to introduce her character. (Laughing again).

Aparna:  Don’t mind if I ask a negative question. As opposed to the Carpathian or the Game / Ghosthunter Series, more than in the Drake Sisters Novels, the Sisters of the Heart has more of the repetitive text. Was that necessary? Weren’t you getting bored of writing the same stuff over and over and over again?

Christine: Lot of times, when you get new readers to know the history behind the characters who read the book first time. The editors and publishers also ask for repeating the context to get the new readers attract to the books. Anything that is important, they ask you to put it at least three times in the book. The editors and publishers want to make sure that the new readers understand what is going on. But it makes you crazy because only in so many ways you can say the same thing. However this also gets me to think as a writer on how can I better do this to get the new readers or readers who have a little problem in comprehending.

Aparna: I always write review of any book I read on Goodreads.com and that is where I found these negative comments on the book Water Bound. Hence, had to ask you this question.
Christine: Now you know.
Aparna: I had not felt this repetitiveness with Carpathian series or the Drake Sisters. Carpathians was smooth and Drake Sisters were perfect.

Christine: But, I do have readers who complain about Carpathian, they hate. Why do you have to put in the ritual again and again? But we need it. One of the new editors had cut out one of the blood exchange in one of the books.

Aparna: But how does that complete the story without the three blood exchanges? I would have looked through the book to find out where the third exchange happened and wondering how she became immortal overnight.
Christine: Exactly. It might have been in one of the novellas. And she said it doesn’t matter, readers already know it. But I was like it is the ritual and we have to do it.
Aparna: My parents here love reading too. They have a huge collection of books back home, the size of this room filled with books.
Christine: That’s my home. Books, Books, Books everywhere. (everyone laughing)

Aparna (explaining what my dad just spoke): Back home in India, earlier the novels used to get published chapter by chapter in weekly magazines. My parents would buy the magazine, tear the pages for that chapter and keep aside. Once all the chapters are published and the book ends they would take them to a book binding place and get them bound. That is how they have most of their books.
Christine: Really, very interesting.
Aparna (continuing to explain on what my dad said): The book would however get published later after all the chapters are done in the magazine, as a stand-alone.

Christine: Amazon used to publish some books chapter by chapter. But Americans like instant gratification. They will not like chapter by chapter publishing. They would not want to wait.
Aparna (explaining again what mom and dad told): They used to wait every week for the next chapter, discuss on what might happen. And this is not just with one author, most of the author used to publish this way. However, now we get both versions.
Christine: Really.

Aparna: When I started Drake Sisters, I was curious to see where Elle Drake and Jackson Deveau would land. When Hidden Currents book came out, it was very hard to read what Elle went through with the villain, a lot of sexual violence. It was very painful. She was very partial to me and felt really upset. Was it the same with you when you write such a book?

Christine: Yes it is painful because at the time, prior to me writing the second Drake Sister books, I received a letter from somebody who worked in the Human Trafficking Division in United States. And they said this is become an international problem. You write women’s issues. Could you consider doing that? So, it was very hard for me. She gave me tons and tons of statistics in the United States and abroad. I thought about it a long time. And I knew I would get some heat if I take that up. But it became important to me to address that because it is a growing problem. Actually it is more lucrative than drugs and running guns.

Aparna: Aah, there was a movie that was based on this topic. The heroine is the local inspector who is trying to get hold of the kingpin who is involved in child trafficking. And they show how the kids and women get abducted and it is so easily done in places like in India. In America there is constant watch on kids, you don’t let go of them, walk them to school etc. However in countries like India we let the kids go to take the bus. Not sure if you want to use it in one of your future books. However, in one of the scene shows that this particular cart-vendor of shaved ice / snow cones laces it with something to make the girl they sell the snow cone to feel groggy when she eats. And someone else comes along claiming her as his daughter and takes her away in a waiting car. And the girl disappears. That’s how much easy it is has become.

Christine: That is what they have been telling me that it has become so easy now. And if you noticed throughout those books, Elle was not in it quite as much as the rest of them.  But I wanted people to feel that she was their sister, their younger sister. And when she disappeared it was horrible. I even whitewashed a lot of the things she went through. I just couldn’t do that. So it was bad enough what happened. And with the Sisters of the Heart I continued the theme and tried to incorporate what they had told me, the ships, etc. They had told me how they had got children, so I did continue the theme and it ends with the last one – with the story of Blythe. So, it was painful to write as well. So you know for me it is so surreal, awful at what happened.

Aparna: I could feel it happening right in front of me when I was reading through it.

Christine: Yes. I could feel it too. The other thing was when I was younger I worked with a lot of girls who had been molested or raped, battered women. Lot of the men who call the crisis line they say she was fine and all of a sudden this happened, so what do I do. And so I wanted to have the man do all the things a partner has to do when his woman has gone through such a horrible ordeal. And so he (Jackson) reacted the right way. The woman has to say no and he has to be ok with it. It was hard, real hard to write. And collectively I wanted to address this problem.

Aparna: Yes, it has to be addressed as it is a growing, growing problem. But then contrary to that, I really loved Safe Harbor (Hannah Drake & Jonas Harrington) especially the different letters her sisters write to her just before her wedding. This was the book I cried a lot, happy tears...thanks for the treat. Really Really liked it. I just want to make sure I am not just talking about the negative side of the books. (Laughing)

Christine: Almost every book has some, it starts somewhere real. There was a supermodel, who had a stalker who actually slashed her face. Yes, it was a real story. But I wanted to give her a happy ending. (Laughing)
Aparna: Hannah did get a happy ending.
C. L. Wilson: I think the supermodel also had a happy ending. A philanthropist, actually his wife, after reading about that super model had persuaded her husband to give this supermodel for life. She gets now money every year no matter whatever job she gets.
Aparna: Oh Wow glad she had a happy ending. Would you like to base any story in India since I am Indian based and so are most of my friends?
Christine: I would love to do that. However in order to do that I need to do a lot of research. Actually I cannot travel anymore. I used to do a lot of travelling before but I can’t get on a plane due to my immune system.

Aparna: Is that why you are not doing any public appearances as well?
Christine: Yes. But I do my own fan conventions although this year I did not have won. Last year I went to one and then came back sick. Then I had a heart attack.
Aparna: OMG that is scary. Please don’t give us a heart attack with that. (Laughing)
Christine (Laughing): But there was nothing they could find out the reason for. Anyways after a number of tests they found an infection in my heart and I was advised to take it easy. So this year I cancelled the fan convention. May be next year I might have.
Aparna: Oh please do let me know if you have and I will come to the convention.
Christine: Definitely. It is always in Lafayette, CA. It is a very nice convention.
Aparna (Laughing): You have the convention anywhere in United States I would be there and so would my friends too.

Christine: Yeah, I will keep your email address and do some research a bit for the concept. I can take your help for the research. I try to have everything based in reality. People, you know, want them to recognize where they live. Yeah it will nice to be able to do that. But I have to be able to get to the places or know somebody first hand who get through for me.
Aparna: I could help you and so my parents would help for anything related to India.

Christine: Definitely. Normally I take the help of my daughter Denise and her husband Cody. They have been all over Romania, Iceland and Amazon.
Aparna (Surprised): Wow! All over the Amazon river?
Christine: Yes, she did a wonderful job with it. She climbs boulders, cliffhanger stuff too.
Aparna: Wow that is amazing. Oh wait did you use the cliffhanger and rock climbing scenes in your books.
Christine: Yes. I did. In three books, one in Ruthless Game in the Ghostwalker Series and another one in the Leopard Series. And another one in the Carpathian series.
Aparna: I love Big Cats, but for some reason Leopard Series never caught up for me. It is way more erotic than I want to read.
C. L. Wilson: That’s one pretty erotic.
Aparna: That’s why I didn’t read it.
Christine: **Laughs out loud**

Aparna: I see that you are continuing the Sisters of the Heart series?
Christine: Well not exactly continuing the series. In the last book with Blythe and Viktor, when he comes back; in the fort school that he was in Russia, there were 287 children at the school and only 18 or 19 survived. Viktor leads them and they back him up. Along with Viktor they end up in Sea Haven. Whether or not I do other stories with them, they will be in Sea Haven along with Viktor in the last book of Sister of the Heart.

Aparna: So, after this series are you going to start a new one with these remaining survivors?
Christine: Yes, they will be part of a motorcycle club and the series will follow them.
Aparna: Yes. I read about that in your website. So will the remaining 17 have a book for each? Or will some be grouped together?
Christine: I hope to do one per person of they let me. You know how the characters take their own way for a writer, whether they tell their story to me or not. I have got four them already ready calling me “Please pick me pick me”. (Laughing)

Aparna: Ok. Now moving on to the Ghostwalker Series. It’s an amazing series. I cant even imagine someone experimenting about putting animal genes into human beings and give them ability to do whatever the animal can do. That human experiments, I have seen in movies like Wolverine, Captain America, etc. That’s how they become super heroes / soldiers. How did you come up with that idea? Is that from a comic book you read? Has that kind occurred for real somewhere?

Christine: No, not from a comic book. Actually here is the thing. I had never read comic books. We weren’t allowed to do so as children.
Aparna: Oh really. (Surprised tone)
Christine: No no no. Not in my house.
Aparna: Then how did you conceive such a concept and write about them.
Christine: Hitler!
Aparna: Hitler?
Christine: All the experimentation he did on children, tons of experiments on humans.
Aparna: Did he really do the gene thing as well?
C. L. Wilson: No the gene transplantation technology wasn’t there yet, but he experimented on humans.
Christine: Yes he did. And I always take one step further. What’s the worst that a man can do or happen, would he have done this if he had the technology available – so that’s what I always do. Whatever we have I take it one step further.

Aparna: Ken Norton’s story in Deadly Game, was very hard for me to take.
Christine: Ok that happened for real.
Aparna: Somebody got peeled for real, every place in your body?
Christine: Yes, that happened for real
Aparna: OMG, that is unimaginable. That struck a chord for me. That’s why I was wondering if such experiments do happen in the world.
Christine: Yes they are happening for real.
C. L. Wilson: Yes experiments involving tools implemented inside human bodies, animal genes incorporated, and much more.
Aparna: Just thinking of all of this makes me feel the world a scary place.
Christine: The torture was real. I read a bunch of transcripts on tortures done and they were just heart breaking. So that got me the idea. You know what if this person had a twin. He had been really handsome and then he did this service to the country, but people look at him and turn away because of the torture that he endured. I have lot so male soldiers read my books. And one of them wrote to me and he said – I read Ken’s book, and I cannot read the ending because she left. And if she doesn’t come back I will be so upset. Then I responded to him to read it.

Christine: This is why they always tell me that you don’t write romance, you write thrillers. Because romance means happy ending. So I just say I write happy endings.
Aparna: But I was glad that she came back to Ken.
Christine: Of course she came back.

Aparna: One of my friend read one of the Carpathian books that she borrowed from me. She is a bit close-minded so she wanted me to ask you this. Do you want to write books with less erotic stuff in it for readers like my friend?
Christine: No. I write erotic thrillers. (Laughing).
Aparna: Yes, that’s what I told her. But she wants to read if there is less explicit stuff.
Christine: That’s what turn the page is for. (Laughing) I write what I read. And I don’t read books if they don’t have erotic stuff in them. I read every genre except for horror.

Aparna: There are few stand-alone novels and whatever they are, they are more of extensions to one of your series. Are you planning to write any stand-alone novels in future without the series in the background?
Christine: No. You know you have to think about the reason I don’t write anymore. It’s not that I don’t want to write, because I am already writing six books a year. And it’s not easy with that schedule to write just stand-alone books.

Aparna: I have been asking so much about your books. But, what is your favorite book? Or a favorite author that you like to read
Christine: I pretty much read everything. I have a few favorite authors, obviously Cheryl’s (pointing towards C. L. Wilson) books. But I have a girl, her name is Kristen Ashley, and I really really enjoyed her story a lot. I have been reading a lot. I have been doing research for the motorcycle series for a couple of years, actually quite a few years. Apparently we don’t get that many bikers opening up for discussions. (Laughing)

Aparna: Yes, they don’t.
Christine: I do have a few biker guys who are fans of my books. And it is a bit scary to know that. (Laughing nervously). But, I do read a lot. I found some good motorcycle romances. One in particular, Joanna Wylde, who is really good. Her biker books are very realistic. Kristen Ashley’s aren’t that realistic but I still like them.

Aparna: Thank you so much for your time today and I appreciate it very much.
Christine: Thank you for coming all the way and also introducing your parents too.

I had a fun time with Christine and hopefully will get to see her again. Only regret was I wasn’t prepared for a whole lot of questions for C. L. Wilson. Perhaps next time I will remedy that. Hope you all liked the interview. :)
Tags: books, critique by amateur, interviews, reviews

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