It’s always wonderful to have the opportunity to visit with an author about her very first book. During this “Week of CJ,” we’re going to start off by finding out more about author C. J. Chase and her new book, Redeeming the Rogue. Tell us about yourself, your family, your background and how you came to be a writer.
My parents were both Christians, so I was raised in a Christian home, albeit, not your ordinary Christian home for part of that time. My father was diagnosed with a terminal heart condition in his early 30’s, and he decided he wanted to dedicate some of his remaining time to God. When I was seven, he and my mother became house parents (live-in staff) at a Christian group home for semi-delinquent children – mostly those who were old enough the state had difficulty finding foster families but who weren’t so bad the state wanted them in juvenile detention. We were there a couple years before we had to leave because of my father’s declining health. My dad died a few years later when I was 13.
As for my writing, I credit my ninth grade English teacher with putting that idea in my head. Of course, I didn’t follow up immediately. I studied quantitative analysis (statistics) in college and worked in the IT field for a number of years. After I left the workforce to stay home with my oldest son (then a toddler), I decided I needed something that let me (1) sit and (2) think in complete sentences. Nap time became my writing time.
But the path to publication wasn’t straight or smooth. We went on to have a child with physical and mental challenges, my husband had health issues, and we moved. But after each interruption, I returned to writing, sometimes after a longer delay than I should have allowed myself.
Savvy readers may see some of these influences in Redeeming the Rogue – particularly in the characters of Nicky and Caroline.
Tell us about Redeeming the Rogue.
I call Redeeming the Rogue an anti-Regency romance novel. Though the book takes place in Regency-era London (1815, to be exact), the plot revolves around the War of 1812, America’s second – and last – war with Great Britain.
Tell us about your hero. What makes him special? What in his past most negatively affects his present?
Kit DeChambelle speaks six languages (English, French, Italian, German, Latin, and Greek) and can mimic French regional accents with the precision of a native. The government made use of his talents during Britain’s war with Napoleon. He spent ten years in and out of France, doing many things he now regrets, and he is trying to wash away his memories with alcohol.
I love an intelligent hero with a troubled past! Now tell us about your heroine. What's her biggest weak spot? What does she see as an obstacle between herself and the hero?
Mattie Fraser was born and raised in Washington, DC, and she still lived there on August 24, 1814, the night the British army burned the city. Mattie's had a difficult life. After her mother's death when Mattie was 8 (and her brother 6), her father, a Washington shopkeeper, consoled himself with alcohol. Her brother ran away from home, eventually finding himself impressed in the British Navy. Mattie has always believed if she'd just been a better sister and daughter, she might have been able to save her family.
With a chip on her shoulder and a pistol in her pocket, she travels to London to see if she can find information about her brother. But her questions lead to threats, danger, and murder. Kit DeChambelle is the only person who has offered to help. And then she learns who he really is …
Oooh, the sparks are going to fly. That’s a great setup. Tell us about your research for this book. What inspired you to write this particular story? What appeals to you about the time period?
The British Regency period has long been a popular setting among American readers – which is a rather interesting turn of events given that America was at war with Britain during that time. I wanted to look at that setting from an American point of view. During my research into the War of 1812, I learned about the unusual ratification process for the peace treaty. And then I said, what if …
What part does faith play in your story?
I don’t think the story would have a happy ending without the characters undergoing a major spiritual change. Lacking spiritual healing and forgiveness, both have bleak futures before them.
That's so true -- for them and for all of us. What else have you had published? Do you have stories, either complete or only partial, hidden away at home? Will they one day see the light of day?
Redeeming the Rogue is my first published novel. I have something like nine other manuscripts, all unpublished – as yet. Maybe someday… I’m also published in nonfiction. For five years, I wrote short news articles for a small denominational publication called The Banner.
What do you have planned for future books? Do you have any sequels in mind?
I’m currently working on a story that features on Kit’s older brother. Julian gets involved in quelling an uprising against the British government, only to discover his niece’s governess is aiding the rebels. Doesn’t everyone love to see a governess find love and happiness?
That sounds great. And my dad’s name is Julian, so I’ll have to make sure and find out what his story is. What would you advise others who want to be published?
Write, write, and write some more. There really aren’t any shortcuts. Writing a novel is a large undertaking that requires learning many disparate skill sets: designing a viable plot, creating complex characters that change over time, developing a unique voice. I think people sometimes assume that since they know how to read and write, they should be able to create a publishable novel without a lot of effort. That’s kind of like saying since I can already walk and run, I should be able to compete in the Olympics or Boston Marathon without years of practice. Um … no.
That’s a great analogy and great advice. Now for the most important question: Where can people buy your new book?
Are you sure this shouldn’t be the first question??? Anyway, I’m so glad you asked. Most Walmarts carry multiple copies – my local store gets about 8 of each Love Inspired Historical. Officially, the book releases on August 2, but I’ve noticed the distributor in my area tends to stock the books a few days later. Of course, you can always buy online at places like Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Christian Book Distributor.
Thank you so much for telling us about yourself and your story. I can’t wait to read it!