Author’s Corner – An Interview with Christina Hamlett
For the past few weeks, I’ve had the pleasure of reading While You Were Out, written by Christina Hamlett & Jamie Dare.
After reading the book, I had the pleasure of interviewing Christina Hamlett and write an honest review. All her answers are in her own words.
About the Authors
Christina Hamlett – (Copied from Author’s page). Former actress and director, Christina Hamlett is an award-winning author and media relations expert whose credits to date include, 35 books, 163 stage plays, 5 optioned screenplays, and squillions of articles and interviews that appear online and in trade publications worldwide. She is also a script consultant for the film business. (Which means she stops a lot of really bad movies from coming to theaters near you) and a professional ghostwriter. (Which doesn’t mean she talks to dead people). She and her gourmet chef husband live in Pasadena, California with Lucy, quite possibly the world’s cutest dog.
Jamie Dare – (Copied from author’s page). Jamie Dare is a freelance writer who, in a former lifetime drafted TV ads, radio promos, and corporate training materials. In other words, content that people were subjected to against their will. In 2012, she teamed up with author/playwright Christina Hamlett for a series of “Seusspeare” comedies. This proved to be a far more entertaining than writing how-to manuals, and a vibrant partnership was born. Something new is always in the works with Hamlett & Dare, from plays to contemporary novels. Ms. Dare lives in Southern California with her family.
The Synopsis of While You Were Out
It’s one thing for Henny Tinker to think that her handsome and charismatic new boss, Geoffrey Bond, is way out of her league. The more she reflects on his secret trips and his uncanny ability to acquire never-before-seen artworks, the more she starts to suspects that he’s also – quite – literally – out of her time-zone
Could it have something to do with the Scottish railway clock in his posh office that runs perfectly…in reverse? Is it his penchant for period outfits that supposedly coincide with the various themed costume parties he attends? Or has Henny simply been watching too many time-travel movies with her father and now seeing evidence everywhere she looks?
When I received the book in the mail from Christina, I was thrilled to see the story was based in England – my native county. As I gave the book a glance over, before settling in to begin the story, my excitement peaked when I saw it was written in British – English. I can’t remember the last time I had read a book that wasn’t in American-English. What a nice change and the writing was spot on, I might add. So good in fact, I’m now craving a visit back home to England.
This was an entertaining read and I was engrossed the whole time, with a zillion questions, wondering what the outcome was going to be. The story had me guessing right up until the end. The main Character Henny finds herself without a job and is saved by the dashing Geoffery Bond who hires her. A mysterious man who’s character unfolds brilliantly.
The story was charming and witty, making me laugh out loud at times. A surprising ending with many unexpected twists. Overall a fantastic read.
COVER DESIGN 5 STARS – Loved the cover, perfect for the content of the book. I liked how Henny is holding an hourglass. A nice touch.
CHARACTERIZATION 5 STARS – The characters were well written, using the correct British dialog. I could easily hear their accents in the writing. By the end of the book, I felt like I knew them all.
STORY & PLOT 5 STARS – An excellent story with a highly anticipated ending. Everything just pulled together with no loose ends or disappointment. I thoroughly enjoyed the book.
OVERALL RATING 5 STARS –
1 – How long have you been writing and why do you enjoy it?
I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember! As an only child, my primary entertainment was reading books and writing plays for my puppets and Barbie dolls. For me, the written word was the ultimate escape to distant lands, earlier centuries and fascinating careers that I could vicariously be a part of. Coupled with what has always been an active and unrestrained imagination, I love the role of raconteur (a word that sounds a bit wicked, doesn’t it?) and having my listeners and readers say, “And then what happened?”
2 – Other than writing, what else do you like to do?
My husband and I love to travel, theatre, shopping and we’re both exceptional gourmet cooks. (My first cookbook, Easy Eats and Frugal Feasts, came out last year and I am now nudging him to write his cookbook.) I do script consulting for stage and screen and am a professional ghostwriter (which does not mean I talk to dead people). I also dabble in architectural design, play my 1906 upright grand piano and am currently taking professional singing lessons.
3 – What inspired you to write “While You Were Out?”
I’m always fascinated whenever I read that a painting or other work of art by someone famous who lived centuries ago has just now been “discovered.” Where has it been all this time?! Did the artist have a secret cache of canvases of early pieces s/he never showed anyone? Is the artwork a clever forgery? Was it part of a treasure stolen by the Nazis? Was there time-traveling involved to go back and retrieve things no one even knew existed? The more I dwelled on it—and the more I shared it with my amazing playwriting partner, Jamie Dare—the story began to take shape. Jamie had never written a novel before but we decided to take the same approach as we’ve done with our theatrical scripts; specifically, I’d write a chapter and send it to her with the “reveals” for the next chapter (which she would write) and so forth. For this particular project, the one thing I never told her was how the book would come out. Happily, I kept her guessing up until the very end. It should also be mentioned that our enigmatic leading man looks like Robert Downey, Jr. As soon as I told her that, Jamie’s response was, “RDJ? Okay, cool. Count me in!”
4 – Who as an author, inspires you and why? You may mention more than one.
William Shakespeare (because over 400 years later, his plays are still relevant); Agatha Christie (because she was adept at leading one astray with deceptive but plausible clues); Neil Simon (because his comedies so aptly capture the New York state of mind); Erma Bombeck (because what’s not to love about someone that mirthful?); and Terry Brooks (because his Landover series reinforced my belief in magic).
5 – Name three of your favorite books. Explain why these are your favorites.
Magic Kingdom for Sale by Terry Brooks (because I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough to see how it would all come out); The Royal Spyness Series by Rhys Bowen (because I love the historical time period, the well-crafted characters and the snappy banter); The Hollywood Murder Mysteries by Peter S. Fischer, creator of Murder, She Wrote and Columbo (because he so artfully incorporates his vast knowledge of filmmaking and behind-the-scenes studio politics. Peter has also been a personal friend for years and yours truly is always the first one he allows to read his new manuscripts).
6 – What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
The universe will never open up and grant you nine unobstructed years to work on your Great American Novel. If you’re really committed to the dream of being a writer, you have to grab chunks of time whenever and wherever you can find them. As a writer, you are your own boss. You are also your own worst obstacle if you allow procrastination and self-doubt to keep you from plunging ahead. Further, you have to learn not to edit-as-you-go. Many a writer never finishes a book because s/he is much too hung up on trying to craft the best possible first sentence in Chapter One. Insider secret: Whatever you write, a zealous editor could likely end up changing it anyway so just stop agonizing about it.
7 – What common mistakes do you see new authors commonly make.
- Not staying abreast of what the competition is doing. If you’re going to be an accomplished author, you have to be a voracious reader.
- Not understanding who your audience is and whether they’ll be interested in what you have to say.
- Jumping on the bandwagon of whatever is popular at the moment instead of recognizing it as a fad that will likely fall by the wayside.
- Assuming a level of informality and non-existent friendship with prospective agents and editors. I largely blame email for this trend of addressing strangers by their first name, chatting about their cats and children, and confiding all their insecurities. In a nutshell, the agent or editor is a business exchange, not your instant new bestie.
- Submitting sloppy, unedited work on the belief the content is so brilliant that all the mistakes will be overlooked.
- Getting defensive about rejections and, even worse, trying to argue a “no” into a “yes.”
- Choosing to become a writer for all the wrong reasons (i.e., to become rich and famous or to exact revenge in a tell-all). The only reason to become a writer is that you’re a born raconteur and simply can’t imagine doing anything else.
8 – Are you currently working on anything now? If so, tell us a little about it and when it can be expected to be available.
I am presently working on 11 new scripts for the 365 Women a Year playwriting project, an international database for theatre directors and producers (365womenayear.wordpress.com/). These scripts will be available for reading in 2019. Jamie and I are at work on two new novels, a chick-lit called Saving Captain Cupid and a romantic suspense called Silent Knight, which should be out in 2019. I am also working on a playwriting how-to titled The Play’s The Thing…and How To Write It, which should be out sometime in summer 2018 and reflects what I’ve gleaned about the craft from 40+ years of writing, acting and directing.
9- What genre do you normally write in?
I write in multiple genres—plays, screenplays, nonfiction, humor, business, time-travel, romantic suspense, YA and mystery. That level of variety keeps me from getting bored.
10- Other than Amazon is there anywhere else, readers can purchase your book?
While You Were Out is available at Barnes and Noble and on electronic platforms such as Kobo, Apple iBooks, Playster, Scribd, 24 Symbols, Tolino and OverDrive.
11- Do you have a website, Facebook page or any other social media page where readers can follow you? If yes, please provide links.
12- Is there anything else you would like to say?
My husband (who is also an excellent writer, editor, and proofreader) is not only my brainstorming partner but he’s also the first one to read whatever I’ve written. We especially have fun reading all of my new scripts together out loud over cocktails at the dining room table. (In another life, I’m sure we were Nick and Nora Charles.) Since we have both spent time on stage (I was in theater; he was in opera), we’re adept at splitting up the roles and doing a wide range of accents. I’m sure that on the occasions when a window is open and our readings are particularly boisterous, our neighbors must wonder exactly how many people are living with us.
Thank you, Christina, for this wonderful opportunity. You are one busy woman. I loved every one of your answers, but especially the advice you gave to aspiring authors.
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