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Friday, January 18, 2013

Author Interview: Charmain Zimmerman Brackett

Today I am pleased to present to you all the forty-sixth in a series of Author Interviews. Recently I sat down with the photography loving Charmain Zimmerman Brackett, and our conversation went something like this:

Paul:  I like to start my interviews by asking if you have any writing rituals?
Charmain:  When I’m writing a novel, my approach is to put some words on the page every day until the book is finished. I don’t go for daily word counts; some days it might be 2,000, but on others, it may only be 10.

Paul:  If someone had the power to step into your creative mind what would they see?
Charmain:  Imagine a pinball machine at a level where all the lights are flashing and several balls are in play at one time. Ideas about artist profiles, community theater productions and bands playing at local haunts for my newspaper work, as well as specifics on my latest novel, bounce off the bumpers, illuminating the machine and triggering the sounds as I hit the flippers.

Paul:  Do you have a favorite character in each of your series, aside from the lead? If so, which one and why?
Charmain:  I like the character of Lucy a lot. Although she’s a kid, she’s feisty, strong and not afraid of anything. She’s a composite of some of my favorite people, and she embodies characteristics I wish I’d had at her age.

Paul:  How do you find the time to write?
Charmain:  Writing is my life. I’ve been a journalist for 25 years, most of them as a freelancer. If I don’t write, I don’t get paid. My children like to eat. I write something every day.

Paul:  What is one thing you hope I do not tell the readers?
Charmain:  I have a couple of bad writing habits I have to keep in check. There are some words I overuse. I print out copies of my manuscripts and ask my editors to mark them in red ink. Sometimes, those words are needed, but 90 percent of the time, they have to go.

Paul:  Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Charmain:  With my two novels, I started with the opening scene and let the story flow from there. I had some elements I wanted to include in the stories, but I let my characters lead me. There were some plot elements in The Key of Elyon and in Elyon’s Cipher I didn’t see coming when I first started.

Paul:  What is your most recent book? Tell us a little about it.
Charmain:  My most recent book is called Elyon’s Cipher and was released in November 2012. My hero, Stephen, from The Key of Elyon returns and travels with family to a small town, where they find a mysterious plague has wiped out many of the residents. Immediately, they recognize it’s the work of a familiar enemy from another realm, but why does this enemy want these people dead? Stephen must use Elyon’s Cipher to unlock clues to the mysteries behind this attack and to defeat his enemy.

Paul:  What inspired you to write this book?
Charmain:  There were a couple of things that inspired me to write novels. My son, Jeremy, loves to read. He’s 19 now, but when he was younger, I found it difficult to keep age-appropriate books in his hands. He’d blast through any series in a few days. At the time, I was writing heavily for two newspapers and one magazine so I couldn’t write a novel. Also, there were many times I’ve watched a movie or read a book and predicted what would happen. The thought of “I could do that” came into my mind often. Because of changes and cutbacks in the newspaper industry in the past few years, I decided to pursue the idea that “yes, I could write a good and different book for people to enjoy.”

Paul:  Do you also write any poetry, non-fiction or short stories?
Charmain:  I’ve never been much for poetry or short stories, but as a freelance journalist, I write loads of non-fiction.

Paul:  Do you have any pieces of work that will never see the light of day?
Charmain:  Not really. I didn’t start writing novels until I’d been a professional writer for more than 20 years. After so many years of being published, I write with the intent of seeing that work in print. My first attempts at novels I’ve shelved, but I believe they have potential. I plan to rework them at some point.

Paul:  How much marketing do you do for your published works or for your 'brand'?
Charmain:  I’ve done a lot of local marketing with interviews on radio shows and in the newspaper I write for. I have had several book signings, spoken at Rotary Club meetings and made appearances at writing events for NaNoWriMo. I carry paperbacks with me at all times. I have a Facebook author page and a Twitter account. I’ve also purchased a couple of banner ads on e-book websites here and there. I am cultivating my own blog and trying to wriggle into other people’s – like yours. Thanks!

Paul:  What do you do when you're not writing? Do you have any hobbies or party tricks?
Charmain:  I love photography. My children are dancers, and I learned a few professional tips from the photographers at the newspaper I write for to help me get great action shots of them during rehearsals and performances. I’ve also performed in community theater productions. My favorite role was Glinda the Good Witch in a production of Wizard of Oz. I got to fly. 

Paul:  Thanks Charmain. I wish you all the best for the future!

About Charmain Zimmerman Brackett: A graduate of Augusta State University with a bachelor degree in English, Charmain Zimmerman Brackett is an award-winning journalist, who has written for publications such as The Augusta Chronicle, Augusta, Ga. and The Signal, Fort Gordon, Ga. She and her husband, Bret, have been married for 25 years and have three children, Jessica, Jeremy and Allie; one son-in-law, Kris, and a grandpuppy named Lilah.

Charmain's Blog: Charmain Z Brackett
Charmain on Twitter: @CZBrackett
Charmain on Facebook: The Key Of Elyon
Charmain's latest book: The Key Of Elyon (Amazon)

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