Hi Christine! Welcome to Coffee Time Romance & More’s Interview Hot Seat. Sit back, relax and get ready to confess all those things your fans have been dying to know about you.
First let’s talk about Kentucky Charm. What a delightful story. Kissy and Trevor’s romance is sweet and tender while maintaining a charged and entertaining conflict.
Tell us, what inspired you to pick the pen up one day and create such charismatic characters that capture the imagination?
I got fed up with life! For the last three years, I have wanted to go to the Kentucky Derby and wear the hat and the pretty dress. But it just didn’t happen. So I decided to take control and live life vicariously through characters of a book! Hmmm..something doesn’t sound right about that! LOL! Hopefully, if enough people buy my books, I’ll be able to get rid of the ‘vicarious’ part.
I also loved the suspense you’ve surrounded Krissy and Trevor with. Were any of those eerie scenes from personal experience?
Well I do love a good midnight sneak! I remember as a kid there was this huge brick mansion being built near my house. And inlayed in the brick were all these crosses. Late at night, a light would turn on as though someone was sleeping there. So I would convince my brave and fearless German Shepherd Heidi to go with me and check for vampires. But we never went past the front gate, we just stared a lot. Who doesn’t love investigating Nancy Drew style?
How did you create the story line? Are your characters modeled after actual people or a combination of people you have met?
They are real people! Krissy is me, Sam is me…but Trevor is a combination of three men. One man is a South African I knew in real life who would wink at me every time he walked…or swaggered…by. Very sexy the wink! Because of him, every hero in every single book I write for the rest of my life will wink at the female character. Physically, Trevor is based upon Prince William’s polo buddies. I’ll let you guess which *cough*…brothers…*hint hint.* And then several of the conversations Trevor and Krissy have are based upon cute stories I heard at weddings. I’m the girl who goes up to everyone and asks, “How did you two meet!” I love hearing couple stories!
The story line simply evolved on it’s own. Jill and O’Reilly were well-defined bad guy characters, so they were off doing their bad guy thing. I just watched and took notes.
A personal love I have are for horses and your knowledgeable narrative about them in Kentucky Charm struck a strong cord. Can you tell us of your own experience with horses?
Uh oh…the truth is…the only time I’ve been on a horse was when my dad put me on a pony at Knott’s Berry Farm petting zoo! But my favorite way to spend a Sunday afternoon is to attend a polo game at the San Diego Polo Club. It’s heaven! I also hope to take a few polo lessons as well. I’m a huge animal lover and with two dogs and four cats…I think there’s room for a horse. Don’t you?
How long did it take you to write Kentucky Charm and did the end result differ from the storyline you began with or did your original vision persevere?
It took 3 months to write the novel, with one month of final edits. But I was writing 1000 words a day, and I have no memory of those three months. It’s all a complete blur. As I mentioned above, the story wrote itself. I think the characters were strong enough that the plot just followed from their own personalities.
When you write, is atmosphere important? For example, do you use mood music or candles? Do you need complete quiet to concentrate?
This is a huge problem for me. I need complete quiet and darkness. To write Kentucky Charm, I stayed up every night till 5:30 am. The middle of the night is cool, calm, and relaxing. I make tea, I walk around in circles, I eat chocolate…all while hearing the characters talk.
What’s the strangest inspiration you ever got for a story idea?
Yetis! I wrote an unpublished novel about Yetis trying to take over the planet! Oh yes, it’s not as far fetched as it sounds. I’m going to turn that novel into a series. But my main inspiration for writing is the X-Files. The love story between Scully and Mulder, Scully’s desire to have children, the alien conspiracy…all gold. Whenever I’m feeling creatively ‘empty,’ I watch an episode of the X-Files. In fact, when I publish my second book in a few weeks I’m going to go on an X-Files marathon vacation to celebrate, relax, and get ready for the next novel!
Do you do any kind of background work before writing or do you just make up your own world based upon personal knowledge and experience?
For Kentucky Charm, the only background work I did was to attend a polo game at the San Diego Polo Club, a polo game at Will Rogers State Park, and Opening Day at the Del Mar Race Track. I wish I had gone to Kentucky and seen the horse farms, but money does not grow on trees! This upcoming book is set in St. Petersburg, Russia. I wish I had gone to Russia! It would have made the book much easier to write. I am squirreling away some money right now to take a trip to the location of my next romance/suspense/who knows novel. I think visiting the locations would make my writing pop and bump the stories up to the next level. Also, isn’t that the perfect excuse for a vacation?
What is your favorite love story movie and why?
Red Sonja! Just kidding. That was my favorite movie growing up as a kid. The scene where Calidor beats Sonja in a fair fight…that’s a pretty sexy scene! But as an adult, I really have found something in the X-Files. The characters are so well-defined. Mulder or ‘Spooky Mulder’ is the believer, he doesn’t put all his faith in science. Scully is the skeptic who clings to science despite all evidence to the contrary. That is good writing! That is great character development! That’s my goal as a writer: to have conflict generated from the character’s own personalities and flaws.
But to answer the question, one day I’m going to ride a horse to my wedding like Julia Roberts in the final scene of ‘Runaway Bride.’ And I always watch Notting Hill when it is on. “I’m just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her.” Does romance get any better than that? “No!” say the readers of Horse and Hound!
Who is the first person to tell you to reach for her dreams?
My parents of course! They have always been supportive of my crazy ideas, of which there have been many, each progressively crazier than the last. But I don’t think I’ve ever really had a distinct dream per se. I enjoy making people laugh, I enjoy telling stories, and I enjoy being girly. So everything I do is an attempt to achieve those three things. Writing is one more way of achieving those goals.
What do you personally look for in a good novel? Which genre are you personally drawn to?
Everyone accept for the kind hearted souls who help edit my novels (Thanks Mom! Thanks Dad!) are always shocked to find out that I don’t read fiction books that often. That being said, I do read historical blogs every day and the occasional history book. Reality tends to be stranger…and scarier…than fiction. A good understanding of history is everything for a novelist. History is conflict generated by competing groups, each group having a specific personality. Which is exactly what a good novel should be, accept on an individual character level.
Do you like your books/stories when they are finished or are you overly critical of your own writing?
I know when something I have written is less than stellar. But perfection is the enemy of completion. There comes a time when you have to stop re-writing, and worry about your sanity. Sometimes the mere act of ‘moving on’ actually frees your mind to think of an even better idea!
How important is the beginning chapter-the opening-the first few lines?
For Kentucky Charm it was nerve-wracking! I rewrote that paragraph at least 20 times. I know the writing gurus all say that the first page is the most important, but I’m not convinced. I’ve seen some downright shocking opening paragraphs that actually made me not want to read the book. Murder in the first paragraph, or even first few pages, is not my style. I prefer getting a feel for the place, time and character.
What would you term your writing style? Are you a plotter or a pantser? Any favorite POV?
My goal is to write action/suspense driven novels, in which the action or suspense is based upon some type of universal truth. To be more specific, I want my plot lines to be exciting but still stay grounded in reality. Oh sure I turned Trevor into a billionaire, but that’s because the word ‘Billionare’ is so much fun to say! Say it out loud! ‘Reclusive….Billionaire!’ Yeah!
As mentioned above, I strive to write characters who are well-defined. Characters whose flaws and personalities contribute to the action.
What’s next on the horizon for Christine Libbey?
Before Christmas, I shall publish my second novel which is currently being referred to as ‘Russia Book.’ It is a bit more high concept then Kentucky Charm, and much of the plot is based upon Soviet history specifically the Gulag system. That sounds very serious, and it is, but the book is written to be first and foremost an enjoyable read, complete with entertaining dialogue.
After Russia book, I will publish a sci-fi novel. Then I intend to return to Kentucky Charm-like romance, before starting work on the aforementioned Yetis series! Don’t worry, all good stories are love stories, including ones about fuzzy monsters *wink wink.*
It’s all very exciting, and I’ll be sure to keep Coffee Time Romance informed!
And finally, Christine…are you a coffee drinker? If so, what is your favorite brew and how does it relate to your personality? If not, we won’t hold it against you but at least humor us with your beverage of choice.
Sorry guys, I don’t drink coffee. Sometimes I go to Starbucks to write, and then I’ll get a green tea. But not because it is enjoyable, but because it is only $2.45 for the largest size plus free refills. When I get the free drink coupon in the mail, I always get a Caramel Apple Spice! So that would be my favorite drink. You know what I think it says about my personality? I think it means my personality is complicated! You have apple cider…then caramel…then whipped cream…and who knows what other stuff they add to it. It’s a complicated drink! But it’s fun! So there you have it Coffee Time Romance! Thank you so much for doing this interview with me! Until next time