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Published on February 15 2015

Author Interview with J Arlene Culiner #romance #TWRP

Hey everybody! Please help me welcome fellow Wild Rose Press author J Arlene Culiner. So glad to have you Arlene!

If you had to describe yourself, what three words would you use?

Amusing, anachronistic, intrepid

Who’s your favorite author and/or what’s your favorite book?

This is a difficult, even an impossible question. Haven’t you ever had the feeling that certain books were just right for a particular time? It happens to me a lot. For example, for the last couple of years, I’ve been working on a narrative non-fiction work. There was so much research involved, so much intensive writing, I was afraid I’d get lost. And then, by pure chance, I happened upon Stanley Stewart’s, In the Empire of Genghis Khan, and it was just the right book for the moment. I loved it; I loved crossing Mongolia with him. It kept my thoughts clear. He helped me to, mentally, get where I wanted to go.

And then, suddenly, my manuscript was finished. I couldn’t revise anymore, I couldn’t do another thing. Yesterday, I sent it off to an interested potential publisher… and felt unemployed. Lost. Rudderless. Bereft, even. And then, I came across two books: The Thing Itself: On the Search for Authenticity, by Richard Todd, and, The End of early Music, by Bruce Haynes. And I’m under their spell. I’m not saying everyone should go read those particular books – just that they’re my all time favorites right now. They appeared at the right moment. Magic, in a way.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I’ve always written. It’s something I’ve done most of my life. But that didn’t make me a writer. It made me someone who writes. Then I wrote and broadcast stories on Radio France, and I was a writer…of sorts. But I finally was able to say I was a real writer when my first book was accepted by a publisher, and the contract arrived in the mail. It was an exciting, heady moment, particularly because I’d waited years for it to happen.

If you could do your journey to getting published all over again, is there anything you’d do differently?

Nope. It was long, it was hard, and getting rejections was good training. It made me refine my style.

How many books have you written? Do you have a favorite?

Here’s a story: many years ago, I was being interviewed by a journalist for one of my (contemporary art) shows, and he happened to mention he wrote books. He was working on his seventh book at the time — the first six had been rejected. But the rejections didn’t stop him because the first few had been form letters, but last two had been personal letters from the publisher. He said that he now knew he was refining his craft and gaining the publisher’s respect. He was pretty sure the seventh, or the eight, or the ninth book would finally be accepted for publication, and he’d be a real writer.

I don’t remember his name and I don’t know if he succeeded, but his story stuck with me. When I started writing whole books, they were all refused. How many did I write? At least eight or nine. I consider those books my apprenticeship, and when I look at them now, they really were fairly bad. But I remembered that journalist’s story, and I kept at it. I’ve now had six books published, and I know I’ve done a decent job of writing them. So the struggle was worth it. A favorite? Well, they’re all in different genres, so they can’t be compared. Besides, you aren’t supposed to love one of your children more than the others, are you?

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Definitely a plotter. If I don’t know what I’m writing and why; if I don’t have something I want to say to people, to share with them, then what’s the point? That doesn’t mean that I know all the wonderful twists and turns of the plot, but I know where I’m headed.

What’s one thing readers would be surprised to learn about you?

I can’t think of one specific thing, but I suppose people would be surprised at my life so far. I’ve lived in many different countries and in many different ways: in a car in Paris; out in an isolated and haunted stone cottage on the English moors; in a fifteenth century Bavarian castle; in a mud house in Hungary; and now, I’m in a seventeenth century former inn in the west of France. I’ve been a belly dancer in Turkey, a newspaper seller in Greece, a painter of murals in the Sahara, a radio broadcaster in France, an actress, an artist, a photographer etc.

What’s your writing routine like?

When I’m working on a book, I wake at five, go at it until noon. After that, I do something else entirely.

What makes a book great in your eyes?

Wonderful, original style, humor, original ideas and intelligent characters.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I’m a classical musician. I play in two orchestras, one symphonic, one baroque, and two chamber groups. I play the oboe, the oboe d’amore and the English horn.

How about some fun questions. Let’s do some favorites:

Favorite car? Well…for me a car is a means of transportation. No favorites (I don’t know one from the other anyway.)

Favorite scent? I adore the way my dogs and cats smell: warm and furry.

Favorite movie? I haven’t been to a movie in years and years and years. I have never owned a television. I don’t know the names of film actors or actresses. I did tell you I was anachronistic.

Favorite dish/food? Nothing fancy, really. A nice glass of wine, some warm toast and salty butter, a good romaine lettuce salad with freshly shredded parmesan, fresh garlic, good olive oil and homemade wine vinegar.

Favorite superhero? Don’t know any. Do they exist? Really? Actually, my heroes are probably very much like yours, Joanne: strong, sensitive, good neighbours and good friends. My heroines are like yours too: real people with real emotions, not vampire slayers.

Favorite candy? Good, pure black chocolate.

About the Author:

Born in New York, raised in Toronto, J. Arlene Culiner has spent most of her life in England, Germany, Turkey, Greece, Hungary and the Sahara. She now resides in a 400-year-old former inn in a French village of no real interest. Much to everyone's dismay, she protects all living creatures -- especially spiders and snakes -- and her wild (or wildlife) garden is a classified butterfly and bird reserve.


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Blurb for A Swan’s Sweet Song:

The instant Sherry and Carston meet, there’s desire and fascination in the air…but they’re complete opposites.

Smart-talking Sherry fought her way up from poverty to stardom as a country music singer. Now, she’s ever in the limelight, ever surrounded by clamoring fans, male admirers, and paparazzi, and her spangled cowboy boots carry her all across the country, from one brightly lit stage to the next.

A renowned but reclusive playwright, Carston cherishes his freedom, the silence of his home in the woods, and his solitary country walks. Any long-term commitment is obviously out of the question: how about a quick and passionate fling?

But when their names are linked in the scandal press, Sherry’s plans to become an actress are revealed. Is their budding relationship doomed?

Buy links: The Wild Rose Press -- Amazon -- B&N

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