Could you please start by telling us a little about yourself?
I have always been an avid reader and dreamed of becoming a published writer. When I was in my late teens, I decided I wanted to find a middle road between the longwinded style of the great Russian writers like Tolstoy and the terseness of someone like Hemingway. Many years later, I'm still on that road.
If you could be one of your characters - Who would you be? And why?
Although I try placing myself inside the skin of my characters, I would never trade places with any of them. The challenges I make them face would probably overwhelm me. Let's face it, when they bleed, feel pain, denial and anguish it's only on paper.
What's your favorite genre to read?
I love a well-crafted mystery as well as a good tour de force. Nevertheless, quality writing is what I look for whether it be fiction or non-fiction. And I review all categories of books for the Roanoke Times.
Who or what influences you when you write?
I tap into what I call the collective conscious mentality in which my characters become living entities, willing to make their own decisions even if it means turning their backs on my plans for them. In that respect, one of my favorite books on writing is "Becoming a Writer" written by Dorothea Brande more than sixty years ago. Her theory is that with practice writers can harness their sub-conscious minds to do all the heavy lifting. She was right then and right today, too.
What do you do on a typical writing day?
I don't have a set routine. However, I estimate that I spend between four to six hours writing, and no telling how many hours thinking about what I've written and where the characters might take me next.
When you have writer's block how do you break free?
The only times I experience writer's block is when my computer is down and my hand is cramps up from writing longhand.
Can you please give us a sneak peek at any of your upcoming books?
My next novel, Exotica Zone, is due in March. In this one I used my personal experience of owning and operating a singles matchmaking service in Los Angeles. A brief synopsis: Shannon Billups is a beautiful and successful sales-consultant for an elite Beverly Hills dating company. She's stuck in the routine of her life until her office manager--who is running a prostitution ring on the side and dealing cocaine-creates major problems that spill over into her world Also, surprisingly, a rather prudish Shannon finds herself irresistibly falling for Eric Monday, known as the Electric Porn King.
Please tell us what you have planned next?
I am presently working on a sequel to Exotica Zone. Also, a film producer is interested in a screenplay I wrote based on a short story called A Told Story. I am presently refining that script, which I wrote under my full name, Charles Shea LeMone. That and other stories can be found on the Net at http://www.allwordman.com/
In 5 years, where do you see yourself? -In general and in you're writing career
I see myself completing at least one erotic romance per year along with whatever else I dream up along the way. But my main goal is to see my name in the credits on a big screen. I have been told often that all my novels and many of my short stories have cinematic potential. Although I've had scripts, a short story, and one novel optioned in the past, nothing came of those deals.
Who is your perfect hero? And why?
First off, no one is perfect. Good characters all have a few flaws. That's what makes them believable. However, for a romantic hero to have the stuff readers look for, I believe he needs to be honest with himself, have compassion for others, be perceptive and in need of love.
What do you do for inspiration?
I am a current affairs junkie. I never seem able to get enough international or local news. So many of the stories I read give me ideas for plots. If I could clone myself a dozen times, I would still be wishing I could write more. Also, when I walk through the woods that surround my house, that collective conscious spirit I spoke about earlier starts planting all kinds of seeds. Bottom line, though, I never know exactly where, when or how my next jolt of inspiration will come.
Is there a genre of book you would like to write but haven't yet?
Although my novels for Whiskey Creek Press Torrid are classified as erotic romance, I like to think of them as contemporary fiction that combines elements of suspense and humor. That genre suits me fine.
What type of book have you always wanted to write?
I've written one children's book. I hope to add to that.
What kind of research do you do for your books? Do you enjoy the research process?
Basically, I am a student of human behavior, so my research is never done. I read everything that comes my way about relationships to help understand what makes men and women tick, and what I have learned through personal experiences. However, for one of my short stories about a young journalist on his first foreign correspondent assignment to a country on the eve of their first free elections, I scoured through a host of books about Africa while I was writing.
Do deadlines help or hinder your muse?
I set my own deadlines and seldom disappoint myself.
When did you first decide to submit your work? Please, tell us what or who encouraged you to take this big step.
After a major deal on a screenplay I wrote went dead in the water, I decided to try my hand at writing a novel, "A Dance in the Street" by Charles Shea LeMone. Then I was at a writer's group meeting when I met an editor who enjoyed the first chapter she heard me read. Later, when I was finished the first draft, she sent a copy to Jim Morris, the writer behind Disney's Operation Dumbo Drop. He was working in New York with Berkley Press at the time. He launched my career.
What would you like to tell your readers?
As W. Somerset Maugham said, introducing a movie based on three of his short stories, "Foremost, I want to entertain."
What is the best and worst advice you have ever received?
The best advice was to hang in there. The worst was to give up. I think anyone with a dream should remind themselves that there's only three ways someone else can react to their dreams and goals: positively, negatively or indifferently. And either response can be used as motivation.
Do you outline your books or just start writing?
Mentally, yes. But I think of writing outlines as a deceptive way to procrastinate. I dive in head first. I have met too may writers who spend years outlining their novels and never get any further than that.
Do you belong to a critique group? If so, how does this help or hinder you?
I was a cofounder of the Second Saturday Silverlake Writers Group in Los Angeles in 1990. We had lots of fun at our all day potluck meetings. And when I read aloud, I often felt where a sentence, a phrase or a word needed help. But now that I am living on a remote mountaintop in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, most of best friends are a long way off. Fortunately, though, I have about a dozen friends who love to read my work via e-mail. Their comments, reactions and suggestions help me know if I am succeeding or failing to compel their attention.
What was your first published work and when was it published?
I had a few poems published when I was in my earlier twenties, took a long break to live rather than try and capture every moment of living. Then, about twenty years ago, I became obsessed with writing again, and my first novel came out in 1993.
What would be the best way for readers contact you? Do you have a website? Email address? MySpace site? Blog? Message Board? Group?
I recently designed a homepage: http://www.allwordman.com/. Now I plan to start a newsletter. How can readers find out more about you and your books?
Easily. They can go to my homepage or write me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for this opportunity!
Interviewed by Tammie King