Curling Up by The Fire is thrilled to welcome Christine Nolfi, author of Treasure Me (April 2011) and the upcoming Second Chance Grill. She is here to talk about her new release, as well as answer a few questions about her writing and future projects on which she is working. Also, look for my upcoming review of Treasure Me, coming soon!!!
To start off, can you tell me a little about yourself?
I owned a small public relations firm in Northeast Ohio until sixteen years ago, when my ex-husband and I adopted a sibling group of four children from the Philippines. I began writing novels full-time in 2004. I worked with one literary agent then another, and thought I had a sure sale first to Random House then, later, to a division of Penguin.
After those twin disappointments, I entered the fray of Independent Publishing. The e-book version of Treasure Me was released on Amazon in April. Given the positive response the novel has enjoyed, I’ll release a paperback version later this summer.
Two other novels will soon reach on Amazon—the next book in the Liberty series, Second Chance Grill, and a stand-alone novel, The Tree of Everlasting Knowledge. Of course, the books will appear on Barnes & Noble and other sites in the near future; it’s been a busy summer, juggling the kids’ schedules and my writing duties.
Can you tell us a little about the novel, Treasure Me?
Treasure Me is the first novel in the Liberty, Ohio series. It’s women’s fiction with elements drawn from the mystery, comedy and romance genres.
Petty thief Birdie Kaminsky arrives in Liberty, Ohio to steal a treasure hidden since the Civil War. She’s in possession of a charming clue passed down in her family for generations: Liberty safeguards the cherished heart.
The beautiful thief wants to go straight. She secretly admires the clue’s author, freedwoman Justice Postell, who rose above the horrors of slavery to build a new life in Ohio. As Birdie searches for the treasure, she begins to believe a questionable part of the story: a tale of love between Justice and Lucas Postell, the French plantation owner who was Birdie’s ancestor.
If the stories are true, Justice bore a child with Lucas. Some of those black relatives might still live in town. Birdie can’t help but wonder if she’s found one—Liberty’s feisty matriarch, Theodora Hendricks, who packs a pistol and heartwarming stories about Justice. Birdie doesn’t know that an investigative reporter has arrived in town to trip her up—as will her conscience when she begins to wonder if it’s possible to start a new life with stolen riches.
Yet with each new clue she unearths, she discovers a family history more precious than gems, a tradition of love richer than she imagined.
What inspired you to write Treasure Me?
My late mother’s family is of French and English descent. My French ancestors arrived in Charleston, South Carolina not long after the U.S. Revolutionary War. The history is sketchy, but they may have been plantation owners. Given that, I’ve always wondered if, like Birdie in Treasure Me, I have black relatives I’ve never had the privilege of meeting.
This question is dear to my heart because of my adopted children—questions of skin color were common around the dinner table when they were growing up. I hope Treasure Me portrays that “family” has nothing to do with skin color and everything to do with finding people you love, and who love you in return.
I find that fascinating as that has always been something that is near and dear to me as well. Like you, my mother's side of the family is French Canadian, and we have been here since colonization began, so there have always been a lot of rumours swirling around our heritage, usually to do with the Native Americans however. What was your greatest challenge while writing this novel?
Writing from multiple points-of-view. Each character’s knowledge of Birdie was limited, which restricted elements of the plot as the story progressed. While revising the manuscript, I had to ensure each character’s dialogue made sense based on what he or she knew at a particular moment.
Through it all, I had to take care not to confuse the reader—I don’t know about you, but I dislike novels that force me to rifle back through the pages piecing elements together. All of the POV characters were distinctive so the reader would remember them and to create a richer reading experience.
In the novel, we are introduced to some very interesting and intriguing characters. Who was the most fun to write about? Which character presented the biggest challenge?
Theodora, the town’s elderly matriarch, was so much fun! She spouts the sort of take-no-prisoners wisdom we all wish we dared to offer. Literature rarely celebrates older characters even though many of us will experience the privilege of reaching an advanced age. Theodora is my inspiration of how all women should greet maturity—with fire and sass.
Do you have any writing rituals?
Creating a compelling novel requires mind-body balance. I start writing early in the morning, knock off at lunchtime and head to the gym. After I work out, I return home to edit the morning’s pages. And I eat well—lots of fruits and veggies, thank you very much.
Even though my four children are all now young adults, my mothering instinct remains strong. Given that, I find it very disheartening when attending writing conferences and finding so many of my compatriots overweight and appearing unhealthy. They deserve better. I want to take them aside, one by one, and say, “God gave you this marvelous gift. You can’t fully honor your creativity unless you honor yourself as well.” The demands of the publishing life make any sort of balance difficult to maintain. But it is possible.
Can you share any projects that you are currently working on or plans for the future?
With luck, the women of Liberty, Ohio will catch fire with readers, allowing me to extend the series indefinitely. Second Chance Grill will appear on Amazon in August or September. The third novel in the series, The Impossible Wish, will be released in early 2012. I could easily write ten novels about the town—Meade and Finney have their own stories and romances, and I have a very poignant plot worked out for Theodora and her nemesis, the fluttery Ethel Lynn.
I’ll also release a stand-alone novel in July, The Tree of Everlasting Knowledge.
Geraldine Brooks, Sue Monk Kidd, Ann Patchett, Fannie Flagg, Sarah Gruen—so many talented authors come to mind. When I complete a novel, I must—absolutely must—take a month off simply to catch up on reading. There’s nothing as delicious as starting a new book and thinking, “Oh, this is wonderful. How will I ever put this book down tonight?”
The Bible. I try to read a passage from the Old or New Testament every night.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Swim laps and daydream as the water rushes over me. Plan weekend events with my four children and fiancé. Walk my dog, Nala, in the park. And read—of course!
Any advice for aspiring writers?
Find a specific time of day to write, even if only for a few minutes. Join a critique group to improve your skills. Don’t diminish your wellbeing by pulling all-nighters pounding out fiction. This isn’t a college exam. Producing your best work comes with time, reading often and well, and having the courage to put emotion on paper.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with readers?
I’d love if they’d visit my blog at http://christinenolfibooks.blogspot.com/
Treasure Me is available on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Treasure-Me-ebook/dp/B004XMOP9I/ref=sr_1_1?e=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2&s=books&qid=1304016571&sr=1-1