Today I welcome author EA West. First I hand over to her for a guest post. After that I have an interview with her and a review of her new novel The Key to Charlotte which releases today.
Keeping It Real
Maintaining realism in fiction can be a challenge. Readers want realistic characters that they can identify with, but if the characters are too real, it will turn readers off. How can a character be too real, you ask? Let me give you an example.
In The Key to Charlotte, the heroine is autistic. Now, my task as an author was to make her believably autistic without making readers wonder why on earth this young woman was the heroine in a romance. Autism is an interesting world with so many facets they could never be covered in one book, let alone one character. I had to pick and choose the ways autism affected Charlotte and make it believable, but I also had to find a balance between the autism of the character and the character herself.
Confused yet? You’re not alone. I had no idea how tricky it would be to write Charlotte and show the realities of life with autism without letting the autism overpower the story. I can never thank my wonderful editors enough for their guidance in this area and their patience in explaining why this scene needed to be reworked, where the romance needed to pop out a little more, and how to tone down the focus on autism while still allowing it to be a part of the story. After all of their hard work and the revisions they had me make, Charlotte is now a well-rounded, believable romance heroine who happens to be autistic.
One of my biggest challenges in making Charlotte real, but not too real, was writing the scenes from her point of view. I’ve learned over the years that not only do autistics perceive the world differently from everyone else, they also think differently. Trying to translate this unique way of thinking and viewing the world into narrative and internal dialogue that non-autistics can understand is a challenge. If I had made Charlotte completely realistic in this aspect, The Key to Charlotte would never have seen the light of day.
The most important thing to remember, especially in romance writing, is that while readers want believable characters and plots, they also want a little of that fairy tale feel. You know, the one that allows escape from reality and promises a satisfying happy ever after ending no matter how bad things get for the characters. To provide this, authors must pick and choose what to include and what to leave out. While we need enough information for the characters to be realistic and for readers to understand their quirks, occupations, or anything else that may be unfamiliar to the majority, it’s essential to remember that most people read fiction for fun and relaxation, not to learn the same amount they would in a non-fiction book.
So, if you think you’re including too much information or explaining in too much detail, you probably are. Try to keep it at a minimum. Include just enough to make the characters realistic and to keep readers from being confused. If you’re unsure whether you’ve included too much or not enough, get someone else to read the story for you. Make sure this is a person who will be brutally honest, if necessary. While hearing everything you write is perfect the way it is may feel good, it doesn’t get you published.
To celebrate the release of The Key to Charlotte, I’m giving a copy to two lucky commenters on this blog tour. The rules are simple. Between October 28 and November 6, leave a comment on any of my blog tour stops (including this post) with your name and email address letting me know you want to be entered into the drawing. You can find a complete list of the blog tour stops on my blog http://thewestcorner.wordpress.com. I will draw two names at random from all of the entries and announce the winners on November 7 (winners will also be contacted by email). The two winners will each receive a free PDF of The Key to Charlotte. Good luck to you all!
E.A. West, author of sweet and inspirational romance, is a lifelong lover of books and storytelling. In high school, she discovered the wonders of sharing her stories with others through writing. She picked up her pen in a creative writing class and hasn’t laid it down yet. Her love of writing encompasses not only the romance genre but also a variety fiction and non-fiction styles.
Born and raised in Indiana, she still resides there today with her family and a small zoo of pets that includes the typical dogs and cats, and the more unusual African water frogs and a ribbon snake. Her interests are as varied as her critters. She has been known to carry on conversations about everything from politics and current events to gardening and theology. When she’s not writing, you can usually find her working on her latest knitting or crochet project.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I began writing in high school and haven’t stopped since. In addition to writing, I also love to knit and crochet, read, and spend time with my family. I live with my family and a small zoo of pets in Indiana. For some reason, some of my pets surprise people, such as the ribbon snake and the freshwater lobster.
Please tell us about your latest release.
The Key to Charlotte is an inspirational romance that tells the story of Charlotte Harris and Zakaria Rush. Charlotte is mute because of autism, but she longs to hold a conversation in her own voice. Zakaria is the new director of children’s ministries at Charlotte’s church, and he would love to help her dream of being able to speak come true. Can he help her find the key to unlocking her voice, or will his attempts lock away their chance of love forever?
Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?
The Key to Charlotte is available from White Rose Publishing, Amazon.com, and Barnes and Noble. Although it is an ebook, people without ereaders can still read it on their computer.
What made you want to be a writer?
For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved creating fictional people (and animals when I was young) and scenarios to place them in. When I discovered a love for writing in high school, I finally had a way to share those people and stories with others. Now, I can’t imagine not writing because it is such a big part of my life and who I am.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Write from your heart. Trends in publishing come and go, so the story you’re longing to write may not be in a popular genre right now, but the trend will eventually come around to it again. The other reason to write from your heart is that the story will be better for it. If you’re only writing to please a specific audience and have no real emotional investment in the story itself, readers and editors will likely be able to tell. But if you’re writing a story because you love it and have a burning desire to get it down on paper that will be obvious to others who read it as well. The emotional investment of writing from your heart is always worth it, in my mind.
Where can readers learn more about you and your books?
You can learn more on my website http://eawest.mcphitty.com and my blog http://thewestcorner.wordpress.com. If you’re on Facebook, please “like” my author page for periodic updates and thoughts from my writing life http://www.facebook.com/pages/EA-West/34280264617. I’m also on Twitter http://twitter.com/eawest and ShoutLife http://www.shoutlife.com/eawest.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Thank you, Clare, for having me here today! It’s always a pleasure to spend time with my fellow White Rose Publishing authors. I would also like to thank your readers for stopping by. I hope you enjoyed this interview as much as I did!
We sure did. Thanks for stopping by.
The Key to Charlotte. Available here
Charlotte Harris can't speak due to a quirk in her autistic brain, but that doesn't stop her from communicating with others. Unfortunately, it prevents her from achieving two of her dreams--to praise God through singing and to carry on a simple conversation with her own voice.
Zakaria Rush is the new Director of Children's Ministries at Charlotte's church, and he can't keep his thoughts off the partially mute blonde with a love for guitar music. Her innocence and love of the simple things in life intrigue him and make him long to give her what she wants more than anything: her voice.
Can Zakaria help Charlotte find the key to unlocking her ability to speak, or will his attempt to help her only lock away their chance for love.
Locked in her own world, Charlotte, who’s autism has rendered her mute, uses her phone to communicate with others. Working her first real job, she meets the new youth pastor, Zakaria (love the spelling), when he is playing his guitar as she cleans the church. At first distressed by this disruption to her routine, friendship soon blossoms between the two of them.
I’m not ashamed to admit I laughed and cried as I read this. This amazing, unputdownable book (I stayed up half the night reading it in one hit) packs a lot of emotion and story into its sixty-one pages. Tackling the subject of autism head on, Ms. West not only deals with Charlotte’s feelings, confusion and frustrations, but also how it affects those people around her while combining it with the growing love story between Charlotte and Zakaria,
I can’t recommend this one highly enough. Definitely scoring a 6/5, it’s one to curl up with as the nights draw in.