It’s a pleasure today to welcome J Arlene Culiner, whose latest book is A Swan’s Sweet Song, from The Wild Rose Press, although like me, she’s also had a book published by Crimson Romance. Welcome, Arlene.
It’s a pleasure being invited by you, Stephanie. Thanks.
Interview with J.Arlene Culiner
by Stephanie Cage
I liked the fact that A Swan’s Sweet Song has a very grown-up hero and heroine, who have both had some great life experiences. Do you enjoy writing about mature characters?
Actually, I only write about mature characters. I really do think experience makes us more interesting. When we’re older, we have more to say, we’re not just guided by hormones or the desire to find a mate so we can reproduce. Mature characters can have great discussions; they know, finally, how to communicate — and, for me, that means their romance really does have a chance of lasting.
Sherry Valentine is a country singer and Carston Hewlett is a playwright. What made you choose these jobs for your hero and heroine, and did you have to do a lot of research about the music and media worlds?
I certainly did — but that was a long time ago. I once worked for Radio France — I had a country music program — but my job wasn’t just to play music. I had to give the history of country music, tell about it’s origins. For that, I read enormously, talked to musicians, delved into archives, dug up the old country music recordings from the Library of Congress. So, the material was all there, sitting in the old folders in my house: all I needed was the funny, feisty character of Sherry Valentine to make all that research come alive. As for theatre, I have, off and on, been working as an actress all my life (I was in British filmmaker Andrew Rokita’s film, Sunflowers, last summer) so there was no great mystery there either — althoug
I loved the scene where Sherry and Carston get caught in the storm, because it's such a contrast to the shiny TV studio we see at the start of the book, and her glamorous stage persona. What’s your favourite scene in the book?
I love that scene in the barn too. It gives us the first hint that Sherry and Carston are not really those glamorous glittery people most people think they are. There are other scenes that were a delight to write too: the cocktail party at the Midville Culture Festival, or the scene with the dreadful waitress in the Paradise Café. But maybe the most fun for me was the scene when Mrs. Brown gives birth to her piglets, after which we find out who the real Sherry and the real Carston are.
What’s your best piece of advice for newer writers?
Write and re-write, and re-write, and re-write. Polish every paragraph; make sentences sing; steer away from ALL name brands or designer labels (you can do better than that if you’re a writer; you’re not here to promote products). And never stop doubting.
Do you read books about writing, and if so, which would you recommend?
A wonderful writing classic from 1934 (I found my copy in a junk shop in Poole): Becoming a Writer, by Dorothea Brande with John Braine’s introduction.
What about a favourite romance novel, or author, to read?
Another classic from 1932: Cold Comfort farm, by Stella Gibbons. It’s romance and satire along with humour.
Thanks for being on my blog today, and for allowing me to review A Swan’s Sweet Song. I loved it, so hopefully some people who read this interview will ?
Thanks so very much to you, Stephanie. Here are some links for buying a Swan’s Sweet Song:
A Swan's Sweet Song
Great Romance and Engaging Stories!