Today, I would like to introduce you to…
Céleste and I met Goodreads where she was looking for Christian authors to share whether or not they wrote Christian or secular material for her blog post.
I hope you enjoy getting to know more about her as much as I have.
When did you know you wanted to become and author, and why?
I knew I wanted to be a writer long before I equated that with a profession, or in my case, a writing ministry. My parents advised me to write as a hobby, and train for a “real” job. So I became a nurse, but continued to write constantly. About four years after I graduated from high school, I started submitting stories for publication, and I began to get published.
It took a long time to feel like a legitimate author. I think I felt as though I’d “arrived” when my first book was published. But really, writers ultimately write for themselves. I “arrived” when I first put my thoughts on paper. Getting them published was great, but writers write, and from the moment I began writing, I was an author.
As for why…I didn’t have any visions of fame or glory. I write all the time; whether or not it gets published is kind of secondary for me. I mean, if suddenly I couldn’t get published, I’d still write. I don’t know why. I just always have. It’s like breathing in that way.
But in terms of publishing, I do have a very specific agenda for my writing. I decided when I started out that my writing should be a means of sharing the gospel. It’s my vehicle for fulfilling Jesus’ command in Mark 15:16: “ ‘And then he told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone’ ” (NLT). I have to say, being in partnership with Jesus writing books is the most exciting thing I’ve ever done in my life. I can, literally, hardly wait to get up in the morning and start writing.
What adjectives would you use to describe yourself as an author?
Tenacious. Determined. Stubborn. I really think you have to be all of these things to make it in writing. The most common scenario I see among new writers is that they give up when the going gets tough. But that’s the time to dig in and keep going. I can say that with confidence because I’ve been writing and publishing for about 26 years now. I wouldn’t still be here if I let every setback and bump in the road derail me.
Everyone wants instant results, but with writing, patience pays. Nothing sells your frontlist like your backlist and nothing sells your backlist like your frontlist. So the best thing you can do is staple your pants to your chair and write.
How long did it take you to publish your first book?
I’d been writing about a year when I had my first book proposal accepted. It took me about six months to write the book, and it came out a year or so later. (One of my favorite aspects of indie publishing is getting my book out within weeks of finishing it. With traditional publishing I could be finished with another book before the previous one was released. And then I had to wait until the following spring for my first royalty check. That’s a LONG time. And the first royalty check is usually slim to non-existent because the royalties have to exceed the advance before you receive any. So it was usually the NEXT year before you saw much money at all.)
Are you published through the traditional method, or are you an Indie author?
I’m both, so I’m considered a hybrid author. I started out publishing traditionally. I have 17 books published traditionally (twenty-one altogether.) I was extremely excited when the platform opened for indie publishing. As much as I love publishing traditionally, it’s hard to watch someone else in control of your brain child. My publishing houses changed book titles on me, commissioned artwork, and made those executive decisions without even taking my input into consideration. The first I usually saw of the artwork was when I got my comps in the mail!
I admit I’m a control freak, but it was hard to sit by and watch my work get changed. So when I had the chance, I decided to explore the indie publishing platform. While I can’t say it’s been easy, it has been incredibly rewarding. I’m about to release my fourth indie published title, and I’m extremely pleased with each of them. (And I LOVE the covers!! LOL!)
What are the problems you face while writing, either with getting your story down or with interruptions during the process?
Interruptions are tough. I wrote during my children’s entire growing up period, and I thought it would get easier now that they’re grown. But one of the dynamics of family is that they constantly “touch base” with you when they are home. We’ve all got different schedules now, so the interruptions can come at any time. In addition to which, I often have to deal with sick animals. I find the older I get the harder it becomes to regather my focus after being interrupted.
(Case in point: as I’ve been working on these questions for the last hour, my family has interrupted me at least half a dozen times. And I am working in the back of the house, so they have had to come and seek me out to do it!)
The other type of “interruption” that I find difficult to deal with is the social media interruptions. Writers have to be a lot more “social” than I am typically comfortable with. Left to my own devices I’m not sure I’d even have Facebook. But as a writer, I have Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, About Me, LinkedIn, and probably others I’m forgetting. They are a lot of work and contribute significantly to interruptions. But they are also vital, so you have to find a balance in order to deal with them.
When do you know you have the story the way you want it to read?
I’ve always been a little odd in this sense. I could never figure out what a first draft was. The way the story comes out of my head is the way it is. Period. I may tweak a word or two here or there, rearrange a sentence structure, or clarify something, but I rarely make big changes after it’s written.
That said, I do write slowly compared to some authors who just try to get their thoughts out on paper and worry about editing and correcting later. That method would be too confusing to me, and I would end up going back to tidy something up before moving on.
For me, a book is done when I’ve read it through and haven’t found any inconsistencies, and I’ve made all the little adjustments to eliminate redundancy, etc.
What would you most like to see changed about your own writing, if anything?
I’ve always wished my language was more poetical. But for the most part, poetry baffles me. However, there is a lyrical form of writing I really admire. A book such as The Wind in the Willowscaptures it well, I think.
What is your genre? Do you think you may write in another at some point?
I sort of created my own genre. I call it Indie Christian. It’s a very bold form of Christian writing. I try to create practical demonstrations of what Christianity looks like when it’s lived out. I want to show people what happens when we have a relationship with a living God and His power in our lives.
So many Christian novels are little more than ordinary novels with characters who are supposed to be Christians. They act like pretty much any other non-Christian character. I wanted to smash that stereotype.
How many books have you written?
I’m just completing my 21st book. I’ve lost track of how many articles and stories I’ve written. Hundreds for sure, probably more than a thousand by now.
Do you have a biggest fan?
LOL! Yes! There’s a woman in Australia who says she’s my biggest fan.
Do you have a favorite character in any novel, including your own? Why do you call this character your favorite?
My two favorite characters are rather similar. One is Jane Eyre. I admire her for being a strong, Christian character who is faithful to her convictions. She has a strong moral compass. The other is a character I created, Brooke Merrill, from The Shaking. I admire her for her faith, her humility, and her tenacity in seeking God.
Do you have aspirations of your work becoming a movie?
I have mixed feelings about this. I think it could be fun, but the one time I was approached by a producer who wanted to make two of my books into a movie it didn’t go well. He kept changing the contract and wanting strange things. In the end, he wanted me to relinquish my “moral rights” to the material. I refused and the deal folded. But I would love to see my novels become movies. One of them was recently turned into a play, and while I can’t attend in person because it’s too far away, the director said she would send me a video of the production. So that’s kind of the same thing. Sort of.
How much time do you spend writing each day?
I write books for at least two hours a day. That’s my scheduled writing time from 6-8 in the morning. I also keep a notebook in my purse and write a lot when I’m in waiting rooms. I wrote at least half of Salome’s Charger in my vet’s waiting room. (I ended up dedicating the book to him!) Aside from scheduled writing time, I write whenever and wherever inspiration strikes.
I also line edit a weekly magazine and write several magazine columns as well as other magazine articles, otherwise I’d spend more time on my books. All told, I probably write or edit for 6-8 hours a day.
Where do you like to write?
My writing space has migrated and transformed over the years. I used to write laying on my stomach on the sofa with a notebook and pen. Learning how to compose on a keyboard when I made the leap to computer was difficult. I often returned to the notebook and pen to compose and transferred my writing to the keyboard. It took time to adjust to the new method, but I’m glad I did. I’m a lot faster on a keyboard (something I used to lament when my thoughts got ahead of my scribbling), and I don’t have to stop periodically because of writer’s cramp.
These days I write in a corner of my bedroom that’s been set up as a tiny office/oasis. My husband put up an antique cupboard to hold all my “office stuff”, and I am surrounded by my very favorite paintings. I have everything set up to be not only efficient, but aesthetic, which is important to me. Although I have a radio and a record player, I never listen to music when I write or edit, but I often do while performing other office chores.
When do you think your next book will come out?
August 31, 2015. LOL! That’s when Salome’s Charger releases. The next, Life & Death, should be out sometime in September or October.
(Note from the interviewer: This interview was received prior to the date she gave for the release of Salome’s Charger.)
Do you have any words of wisdom for future authors?
Nevah, nevah, nevah give up. Seriously. Beyond that, find your own voice. Be willing to stick it out if you want to succeed. And don’t ask everyone and their brother to read your writing and tell you what they think about it. Everyone’s a critic, and more often than not, they’ll just end up discouraging you. (Writing groups can be helpful or destructive. Be wary of them. Search until you find one that is constructive in their criticism and supportive.) Develop the confidence you need to trust your own voice and put your work out there. Don’t rest on your laurels unless you keep them under your desk chair. When one book or project is finished, start the next one immediately. Keep moving forward, it’s the only way you’re going to make progress.
Where were you born, where did you grow up, and did this have any bearing on how or about what you write?
I was born at Andrews Air Force Base in Washington, DC because my father was in the Navy, and we lived there until I was six months old. But my family is from Vermont, and that is where I grew up. When I was ten, we moved very close to the border of Canada, near my mother’s relatives. This factored into my writing for my Toussaint, Vermont Series, which is set in a fictional town that shares a lot of similarities to the one I lived in. It has a French-Canadian flavor, and I drew heavily from my French-Canadian heritage to write it, even though it’s highly romanticized.
What experiences in life have contributed to your writing?
The most significant experience in my life that has contributed to my writing is without a doubt my relationship with God. I’m a practical person; esoteric concepts don’t mean much to me. I grew up in a Christian family not having much idea about God outside of a concept. It was only after I came to know God personally that I began to understand how He communicates with us, how He helps us, and how He changes us. God is dynamic and our relationship with Him should be dynamic, too! It’s interactive and affects every part of our lives. With my writing, I try to demonstrate my characters having that practical, honest relationship with God that changes their lives. That’s what the Good News is all about!
Tell us a little about yourself personally.
I live on a small farm (Reindeer Station Farm) and have a fiber studio (Spindrift Studio). On my farm, I have a few textile animals: sheep, angora rabbits, a llama, and an alpaca. When I’m not writing, I can usually be found spinning, weaving, knitting, felting, designing knitwear, or bunny cuddling. I also play traditional music, primarily on my fiddle though I do play other instruments as well, and I enjoy Sacred Harp singing which I do with a group at a nearby college. I’m avid about being outdoors and love to hike, bike, kayak, and walk. I live very close to a section of the Appalachian Trail as it passes through Vermont and have started a group of “trail angels” (The Bright Wings Trail Angels) who give food and assistance to hikers passing through.
Where can our readers get in touch with you?
My website is cperrinowalker.com.
My farm blog is at firstname.lastname@example.org.
My author Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/cperrinowalker
My farm Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/spindriftstudioatreindeerstationfarm.
On Twitter I’m CelestePWalker.
On Pinterest I’m at https://www.pinterest.com/cperrinowalker/
On LinkedIn I’m at: www.linkedin.com/in/cperrinowalker.
My Amazon author page is at: http://amzn.to/OxG00i.
Here is another of Celeste’s published books. Hope you all enjoyed the interview.
Again, thank you for your time and the opportunity to present you, the author, and your work. It has been a real pleasure to get to know more about you,