Welcome to Sugarbeat’s Books – The Home of the Romance Novel!
Today we are welcoming Cornelia Grey to the blog! She is one of the authors for the latest anthology from Storm Moon Press – Weight of a Gun. She’s dropped by to answer some questions and share with us about her part in this book! Sit back and enjoy!
Barb – Tell us a bit about yourself and your writing.
Cornelia – Hello, everyone – thank you so much for having me on your blog :)! I’m an Italian lady, from a little town lost in the hills, surrounded by woods, but I have been living in London for about four years.
I’m currently going through the panic-filled, coffee-fueled, chocolate-packed time known as Final Semester of Uni. My degree is in creative writing, which at least means I get to obsess and panic over something I love doing! Apart from a few exams, in January I’ll have to hand in the Final Project of Doom – an extract from a novel. I’ve had the entire detailed synopsis of the thing and drafts of about five different possible extracts ready since July, and after that, I succumbed to dread and have been avoiding the entire thing, tiptoeing around it and shooting it sideways glances… On a random note, I realized my last exam before graduation will be on my 24th birthday. I have a feeling there will be some serious partying going on that night!
Although I don’t have a lot of free time these days, and while writing has always been my favourite activity, I have way too many hobbies. I’ve always loved reading, I love painting, especially oil and watercolours, and history of art (I went to an art high school back in Italy), I sew handbags, I used to perform in a theatre company… and every time I discover some new activity, say, origami or decoupage, I have to obsess over it for a month or so learning everything about it! Living in London is a blessing. All these wonderful, free museums, and so many amazing theatre plays with great actors – I was lucky enough to see Ian McKellen, Benedict Cumberbatch, and lately Colin Morgan, among others – it’s just Heaven. Sure, I end up living on pasta and tomato sauce because I spend every extra penny on books and theatre tickets, but boy is it worth it. And let’s face it – I couldn’t cook if my life depended on it, so I’d probably end up surviving on pasta anyway 😉
Barb – Tell us about the Weight of a Gun anthology and your contribution.
Cornelia – As soon as I saw Storm Moon Press’ call for submissions for this anthology, I was sold. Smut and guns – the combination is sizzling, and it set all sorts of exciting scenarios in my mind! Gritty, dark alleys, fluttering leather coats, sleek guns tucked in thigh holsters. A wild post-apocalyptic world, ragged clothes and dirt-smeared faces, homemade sawed-offs to fend off the evil zombies. Strong hands taking a gun apart, quick and steady, cleaning it with practiced ease, the heady smell of oil and leather and gunpowder. And then – then I saw yellow dust, worn-out brown leather, sunburned skin, a gorgeous, burnished vintage Colt, and I couldn’t resist. My gun was going to belong to a rough, tough cowboy.
I could picture this character: a lean, muscular man, his skin tanned, his hair streaked blond by the sun. He had blue eyes, and he was smiling a mischievous grin, challenging, tempting. He seemed to be daring someone – to catch him, perhaps. So I started wondering, who was this man smiling to? Who would want to catch him, and why? And… what was going to happen after he finally got caught?
That’s how Bounty Hunter was born. William Hunt is a strong, silent, rough man, who has been chasing his ex-lover-turned-outlaw James Campbell for years. The plain is simple – find Campbell, kill him, and pocket the considerable reward. But when he finally finds himself face to face with Campbell again, all the lies Hunt has been patiently repeating to himself crumble, and he realizes that things are nowhere near simple as he wanted them to be.
I’m a conflict junkie – I like to put my characters in impossible situations, make them clash against every possible obstacle, against each other, against their own feelings. This is why I fell a little bit in love with William and James – they’re strong, stubborn, fiery men, and when these two come together, all the tension explodes, and it’s fiery and hot and maybe a little bit angry, and I just can’t look away.
What part is your favorite in this anthology?
I confess I haven’t read the whole anthology yet! I received the e-book a couple of weeks ago, but I’m in full exam season, and I have a stack of books I need to read for research – what is this free time people keep talking about? So I’ve decided I’ll wait till I get home in Italy for the Christmas holidays, where I know I’ll find the paperback waiting for me. This anthology is going to be my Christmas present to myself – it’s torture to wait having the e-book just a couple of clicks away, but the anticipation is actually very much exciting. I foresee long Italian nights with me sprawled in an armchair, looking at the snow falling outside, nibbling Panettone, and delving into the stories. I can’t wait!
Barb – What part of writing do you find the easiest/hardest?
Cornelia – The easiest part is coming up with the plot – it’s the part where I have the most fun. I love sitting down with pen and paper and just letting my imagination run wild. I jot down names, sketches of descriptions, random interesting scenes or snippets of dialogue that pop into my head – and then I start connecting them, trying to figure out where they fit in, what’s the overall story arch. By the time I’m done, I have quite a few sheets of paper covered in scribbles and arrows and circles… and a fairly definitive idea of beginning-middle-end and how the story will develop. For some reason, this is the easiest part for me – it just flows naturally. It’s a magic moment, where all the possibilities are open, and I can literally feel the story shaping itself in my head. I know many writers prefer to start writing with just a general idea of what will happen next, and find out as they proceed, but I’m just not wired that way. I like to have the full high-definition color movie in my head before I start transcribing it.
The hardest part is absolutely the beginning. I love endings – they are usually the very first scene I write! – but gosh, how I dread beginnings! The pressure of having to introduce the characters for the first time, and sketch the setting, in an effective but not wordy way, of having to be stylish but informative, the stress of having to capture the reader’s attention as soon and as effectively as possible… I get a sudden and imperative craving for chocolate just thinking about it! The opening sentence is actually the very last thing I write, every time. I thought I had necessarily to write the beginning of the novel for my university project, and I was wallowing in mild panic and hysteria the whole summer. Luckily, my tutor took pity on me and said I can submit any 10,000 words of the story. I could have kissed her, I was so relieved. Beginnings – scary monsters, they are!
Barb – Who are your cheerleaders? Who encourages you to continue writing?
Cornelia – I don’t really need encouragement to keep writing per se – my stubbornness is enough for that, and I have this deep conviction that I have to push myself to do what I need to do on my own, no one can do it for me. But I do have a pathological need to think out loud, talk things out, because trying to explain them (to whoever will listen!) helps me understand them better, helps me see what I’m missing. I find it incredibly helpful to have outside perspectives, because people will ask all sorts of questions and clarifications, and even the smallest observation can reveal a giant blind spot I didn’t know I had.
I have quite a few friends who will volunteer to listen to me ranting and raving about the latest plot which is refusing to come together, and often provide invaluable advice. Also, my flatmates are very supportive, and when they see the signs that I’m in the middle of some project – me, holed up in my room like a creepy nightly creature, crawling out with bloodshot eyes only to refill on fruit juice and Doritos and slump across the kitchen table – they will all ask how it’s going, and cheer me on, and bring the occasional chocolate cupcake up to my room to make sure I don’t starve.
But I’d say my biggest supporters are my boyfriend – a musician who much prefers music to words as a means of communication, but who genuinely enjoys just laying back and listening to me tell him stories, with that wide-eyed, little boy listening to his bedtime story complete attention that’s the best thing that can happen to a writer – and my grandma, who’s always willing to offer me a quiet corner to write in when my house gets messy, and who patiently listens as I ramble and fret about missing pieces in the stories. Often, she’ll ponder quietly over what I said, and then make one exact observation and brilliantly find the solution to all my problems. Grandmothers are just magical that way. For example, one of my latest short stories, The Tea Demon, entirely revolves about the need to steal a mysterious, invaluable object, and the revelation of what it is is one of the high points of the story – well, she was the one who figured out what that object had to be. The story wouldn’t exist without her. All the awards to my grandma 🙂
Barb – How can your fans keep in touch?
Cornelia – I have a blog, which I try to update fairly regularly (I kind of fail, but that’s beside the point!), both on Blogspot or Livejournal. I use it to talk about new releases, drool over new covers, ramble about university, life in London, art exhibitions (I studied fine arts and history of art for years, and it’s one of my biggest passions!) and Italy.
I also have a twitter, where I post random, interesting sentences I happen to hear, the odd snippet of life, lyrics that catch my attention and other random bits and bobs: http://twitter.com/corneliagrey
And then I have a Facebook, which I’m afraid is a little bit abandoned as far as updates go, but I will always check the messages :). http://www.facebook.com/corneliagrey
Do you have any projects in the works?
This past couple of months, I’ve had to put my writing on the back burner – I started a new job, and I’ll be completing my degree in January, which means I’m currently grappling with the last exams and the Final Project of Doom. Of course, it means that story ideas are springing on me from everywhere, because apparently they take a perverse pleasure in doing so when I don’t have a scrap of time to write them. There’s the sequel for my novella The Mercenary, that’s been tapping its foot and waiting to be written for a year; there’s no less than three submission calls from Storm Moon Press that I’m dying to start working on; there’s a drabble about two musicians that’s now begging to be turned into an actual story; and I have a couple of ideas for het and lesbian stories, genres in which I have virtually zero experience, that I would really like to develop.
I keep telling myself that as soon as I’m done with the Final Project of Doom I’ll have the time to tackle all of these exciting stories, but the truth is, I have no idea what my life will be like after January – I’ll have to look for a job, do internships, I have a mainstream book proposal to work on, maybe I’ll have a screenplay to write with one of my ex tutors… I honestly don’t know how much free time I’ll have. Picking a story to work on will be hard – I can already feel all the other ideas exploding in my head demanding attention at the same time 🙂
Barb – Anything else you would like to add?
Cornelia – I’d just like to thank you for having me, and thank all readers who stopped by :). It was a pleasure to be here. I’ve met so many new, wonderful people in the almost two years since I started this publishing adventure – I’m so grateful for all the amazing people writing brought in my life, and I’m looking forward to meeting many more!
I’d like to thank Cornelia for dropping by and chatting this morning! Be sure to wander over to Storm Moon Press and have a look at their selection of books. Weight of a Gun is one of their newest releases. I’ve also included the graphic from one of Cornelia’s other books, Apples and Regret.