Friday, August 17, 2012

Award-winner, Christy Tillery French visits

Award-winning, internationally published author and poet Christy Tillery French’s books cross several genres, including mystery, humorous fiction, romantic comedy, romantic suspense, action-adventure and Southern fiction. They include The Bodyguard series as well as several standalones. She is co-author of Whistling Woman, a Southern Appalachian faction she wrote with her sister Cyndi Hodges under the pseudonym CC Tillery. Christy was listed in the book 50 Great Writers You Should be Reading, 2010. She is a small business owner and presently reviews books for Midwest Book Review and Amazon Vine Voice. She serves on the Board of Directors of Tennessee Mountain Writers.  I had the pleasure of meeting Christy and her sister Cyndi a few weeks ago. I hope you enjoy this interview with Christy. I'm inviting Cyndi to come on the blog soon.

Welcome, Christy! Describe your writing in three words.

Action- adventure (does that count as one or two??), suspense and romance

How many books have you written?

So far, ten have been published. I’m presently working on two more: a post-apocolyptic action-adventure and the next in the Bodyguard series, The Bodyguard and Bridezilla.

Give a short synop of your most recently published book.

That would be Whistling Woman, the Southern/Appalachian faction (part fact, part fiction) I co-wrote with my sister Cyndi Hodges aka Caitlyn Hunter.

In the waning years of the 19th century, Bessie Daniels grows up in the small town of Hot Springs in western North Carolina. Secure in the love of her father, resistant to her mother’s desire that she be a proper Southern belle, Bessie is determined to forge her own way in life. Or, as her Cherokee great-grandmother Elisi puts it, to be a whistling woman. Do your characters take on a life of their own? If so, which is your favorite?

Whistling Woman is based on actual persons and centers around Bessie Daniels, my great-aunt who grew up in Hot Springs, NC during the late 1800s. Bessie was a psychic, healer and strong, independent woman who I think was born 100 years before her time. Although I only knew her as a small child, researching this book and listening to stories from my dad about Bessie and her family and the mountain people surrounding them helped my sister Cyndi and me to see her in a different light. Although we wove fictional characters around her, Bessie was clear to us from the start, as was the rest of her family. Cyndi and I felt we at times channeled her while writing, as it seemed she simply stepped into our minds and took over. Although we both have different voices, now when we read the book, we have trouble remembering who wrote what. Proof positive that Aunt Bessie was with us!

My favorite character is her papa, John Daniels, constable of Hot Springs. He was a man who loved his family and wanted the best for them although at times he and Bessie didn’t see eye-to-eye about these issues, especially when it came to Bessie’s choice of the man she wanted to marry.

Is it available in print and digital formats?

Yes, it’s available in all ebook formats, as a print hardback and paperback. It can be purchased online or at any brick-and-mortar store. If it’s not on the shelf, it will be in the store’s system for ordering.

What challenges did you face while writing this book?

I think the greatest challenge dealt with vernacular, making sure words spoken during that time were correct. We use a lot more slang today than during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Also, Cyndi and I researched this book for 3 years, as we wanted the historical and regional facts to be correct. For this, we utilized many books and spent quite a few hours in the Marshall and Hot Springs Libraries and at the Courthouse in Marshall, NC. We feature a Cherokee figure (Bessie’s great-grandmother) and, through her, relay much information about the Cherokee culture, legends and medicine. That took extensive research. We also introduced a Melungeon character and this research was perhaps the most frustrating because they are a people unsure of their heritage although I read recently that DNA has provided that answer. But the way they were ostracized and poorly treated was quite interesting, although sad, and we wanted to emphasize that through this character.

What do you think is the greatest lesson you’ve learned about writing so far? What advice can you give other writers?

Don’t self-sabotage. This is something I do regularly and I have to force myself to stop. Above all, don’t give up. I know too many talented authors who have done so and it’s sad. Keep learning, keep moving ahead, keep pushing yourself forward. It’s worth the journey.

Where can folks learn more about your books and events?

Thorugh my website: I also have an author’s site at AuthorsDen:    

Thanks for the interview, Susan, and allowing me to share information about Whistling Woman and my books.

My pleasure, Christy. I hope to see you again soon.


Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi, Christy and Susan,

Excellent interview! Your new book looks really fascinating. I totally agree with you advice. If someone wants to be a writer, he/she should not give up. Rejection is just part of what goes into the mix. Those who want to write should be prepared to edit their work and keep submitting it. Also, always be working on something new and creative.

Christy Tillery French said...

Excellent advice, Jacquie. As I said in the interview, I tend to self-sabotage and your words are exactly what I need to read at those times. Thanks!

Susan Whitfield said...

Christy, I self-sabotage sometimes, too. Good advice, Jacquie.

dkchristi said...

Wow! I was pleased to learn about the quality background. Thanks for the thorough interview and clues to some of her books. Great interview. author of Ghost Orchid and more...

Susan Whitfield said...

Thanks for stopping by, dk. I need to get you on the blog soon, too.

Anonymous said...

Fantastic interview, Christy and Susan!

Christy, Whistling Woman may have been a bear to research--3 long years!--but it also achieved something I didn't think was possible, it brought us closer together. I loved every minute of working on this book with you and you're right, it was a delight getting to know Aunt Bessie better!

Loved the questions, Susan!

Caitlyn (aka Cyndi)

Christy Tillery French said...

Thanks, DK!

Susan, I appreciate the interview and hope you'll let the Dames interview you soon.

Right back at you, Gik (Caitlyn)! We logged in a lot of miles and talked to a lot of people but the best part was spending time with you.

Wendy said...

Always nice to hear from Christy, one of my favorite authors! Thanks, Susan for an interesting interview!

Cindy Sample said...

Hi Christy & Susan. Great interview. I love your "Bodyguard" series but for some reason missed "Whistling Woman." I'm going to order it right now. Your story behind the research that you and Cyndi did is really special. I can't wait to read it.

Christy Tillery French said...

Thanks so much, Wendy and Cindy! So much appreciated.

LJ Garland said...

Christy -

I hear you about self-sabotage sometimes, too. Usually takes a couple days to get out of it. But I do keep learning! There's always new stuff out there to inspire.

Nancy Means Wright said...

Nice interview, Christy! I love the description of your Whistling Woman. Sounds like one of my Appalachian Scots ancestors! Will want to read it.

Christy Tillery French said...

LJ, I get so frustrated at myself for the self-sabotage and tend to do it way too much.

Thanks, Nancy. Hey, we may be related!

Betty Gordon said...

Thanks, Christy and Susan for an interesting interview. I loved your words on self-sabotage. We all do it to a certain extent, don't we? We need a magic pill that sustains us.

Anita Page said...

Christy, Bessie Daniels sounds like an intriguing character. Your title made me think of Jo in "Little Women" who was always being told that whistling wasn't ladylike. Let's hear it for unladylike women.