Friday, June 20, 2014

Interview: C. B. Pratt, Author of Dark Mountain


How much of yourself is hidden of the characters in your book?
I think a writer can't hide herself very well. Like my character, I'm impatient with liars, eager to be up and doing, and always looking for the funny side of a situation. I don't have muscles or much experience fighting mythological beasts, though.

How much of a story did you have in mind before you started writing?
I usually start off knowing the high points of every book. Who the hero is...easy. Who the villain is...though not always all the motivations. I can see where the battles will be and how the book will end. Getting there, though, is always an adventure. Some stuff doesn't make it in; sometimes new things grow and take you in an entirely new direction. Characters take over. All the poor writer can do is hang on!

Can you tell us what genre you write?
I write historical fantasy with a sense of humor. My books tend to be on the lighter side without a lot of political infighting. Eno doesn't care much who is going to be running a kingdom. He wants to do the job he's been hired to do, get paid, and get out. It almost never works out that way, however.

How do you cope with writer's block?
I find that going for a long walk without electronics -- no headphones, no smart-phone -- just myself and the day is very beneficial. Sometimes I only get a block or two down the street before the ideas start flowing. Writers spend a lot of time seated and staring into a screen. Getting out into the fresh air and, with luck, sunshine shakes up the ideas. Having no distractions forces the brain to come up with something interesting.

How do you develop and differentiate your characters?
I try not to be too overt in distinguishing characters' voices. That can get hokey fast. Different people think in very different ways. Putting yourself in their head, listening to their individual ideas, will create that distinction without having to resort to tricks of the trade. Each character will naturally have a different approach to problems.

Do you have specific techniques you use to develop the plot and stay on track?
I pretty much write linearly, begin at the beginning, go to the end, stop. If I get an idea for a later scene, I write it but hold it out until I get there. I've been writing professionally for more than twenty years. Much of this stuff is second nature now, but when I started I studied how other writers developed their plots. Breaking down the scenes to discover which parts of dialog, for instance, advanced the plot and which enhanced the characters' personalities was a big help.

How (or when) do you decide that you are finished writing a story?
When the villain is vanquished and the monsters defeated...and when my characters have completed their emotional journey, it's time to write 'The End'. Of course 'The End' is never the end when you're a writer. There's still the re-writes and edits. As an independent, there's also cover selection, blurb writing, and the rest.

Is there a message in your writing you want readers to grasp?
I think my only message is that life isn't really all that serious. You should face it with a light heart and enjoy the good moments when they come. Don't be so busy trying to succeed that you forget to take some joy in every day.

What are you working on right now?
'Rivers of Sand' is the fourth book in the Eno the Thracian series. Eno finds himself in Babylon, sophisticated city of wickedness and wanton beauty. There's a djinn he accidentally released that is now wrecking vengeance on the city in payment for an old wrong. The beautiful and recently widowed queen has hired Eno to solve the issue but at the same time, there's treachery afoot in her court and rumor has it that the King did not die a natural death. Add in a riled-up goddess of Love and Eno has his hands full, even without a whole harem of lonesome girls asking him to come around and see them sometime.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?
Pretty much. I've done other things, of course, from time to time. I think it's good for a writer to get away from the computer and interact with genuine human beings. Writing, too, isn't the steadiest form of income generation!

At what age did you discover your love of writing?
I started reading early, certainly before kindergarten. After I read my way through all the available books at the library, I had no choice but to start creating my own stories. Plus, my tolerance for boredom is really low. Long car trips -- and my dad loved to drive on vacations -- were a great trigger for stories. Staring out the window for hours, I'd make up adventures. Soon I was writing them down.

What was the first story that you wrote?
Gosh, I have no idea. The first one I tried to really do anything with was a fantasy very much in the Terry Brooks mold. I made the mistake of showing it to someone very unsympathetic. It was some years before I tried again.

When were you first published? How were you discovered?
I sold my first book, a Regency Romance, when I was 27. I wrote about 25 romance novels of one style or another, all traditionally published. But Fantasy was always my first love and I'm so delighted to have returned to it.

What is the most difficult part of the whole writing process?
The process, the writing isn't difficult. But I'm a terrible procrastinator. I'll dither around for an hour straight before sitting down to the computer. Then I have to ignore the internet!

What do you like to read?
I try not to read too much in my own genre when I'm working on something to avoid being influenced. I read a lot of history, which tends to turn into research. But for fun, I read mysteries, especially ones from the 1930's, the so-called Golden Age. I enjoy more recent ones as well, though I turn to historical-set ones rather a lot.

Which writer influences you the most?
Gosh, there are so many. I like writers with a deceptively simple style like the great Agatha Christie. But for humor, I like Terry Pratchett and A. Lee Martinez. Lois McMasters Bujold writes a great combination of emotional depth and world-building, though not without a laugh or two. If a writer can make me laugh, I'll follow them forever.

If your book was made into a TV series or Movie, which actors would you like to see playing your characters?
Tony Gonzalez is a former football player I've seen in an ad or two who'd make a great Eno. He's got the right twinkle in his eye, like Dwayne Johnson.

Where can people learn more about you?
There's always my website. I'm also on Twitter under @CBPratt My blog is mostly about movies, because I'm a huge fan. I don't spent much time on Twitter saying 'buy my book'. I tweet about stuff that interests me...books, cupcakes, astronomy, etc.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself?
Just thanks so much for hosting me!

About The Author

C.B. Pratt is a multi-published author, both traditionally and independently. She lives in Orlando, Florida, not far from the Mouse Empire.

About The Book

Got monsters? You need Eno the Thracian! He's the guy with the answer to your problems, whether they're as small as a dragonet you need moved to the other side of the mountain or as big as a minotaur wreaking havoc in your palace. He can train your youth for battle, cure your vizier of fatal ambition, or slay hydras (up to seven heads only, please).

As you may know, there's a serious hero shortage in Greece at the moment. Most of the more famous heroes have heeded their ancient promises and gone to help out one side or the other in the Trojan War. But the need for heroes hasn't lessened since the war; if anything it has increased. More monsters than ever are appearing in our blessed islands. If you're one of the unlucky ones beset by strange beasts, summon Eno the Thracian.

Swift sword...reasonable rates.


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