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.