J. Arlene Culiner is a fellow Wild Rose, and the author of mysteries, narrative non-fiction, and romance. She has a new release to tell us about.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? What do you do when you are not writing?
I play several instruments (oboe, English horn, tuba, recorder, baroque oboes, flute) in several orchestras, and manage to terrify dogs, cats, and much innocent wildlife. I’m also a contemporary artist, and my home, a 400-year-old former hotel in a small French village, has become a museum (an interview can be seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MUfuG3MBuYg).
And when I give up sleep completely (I gave up housework many decades ago), I also create cartoons:
Do your travels influence your writing?
Like you, Zara, I’ve spent all of my life shifting between many different countries, so it would be surprising if such itinerancy didn’t touch my writing. I do feel like a citizen of the world with no particular nationality (that being said, my beat is limited to Europe, the Middle East, both North and Central America, and North Africa). Therefore, the characters in my stories tend to be international. Their concerns are global; their foods are certainly eclectic.
How did you choose the genre you write in?
I write in multiple genres. I write romance because I love telling stories and exploring deep attraction; I write mystery because I love being ironic and nasty; I write non-fiction because I love history, doing incredible amounts of research, then turning a history book into something amusing, easy to read, and touching.
Is anything in your books based on real-life experiences or purely all imagination?
Forget imagination! Every single thing I write has happened in real life. All my characters are people I’ve met. Of course, I’ve had to disguise most of them, especially those who live locally, or else I’d have a whole unruly and furious crowd pounding after me with spears, pikes, longbows, halberds, and deadly curses.
What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?
My new book, A Room in Blake’s Folly, gave me the possibility to write only favorite parts. The six chapters link together, describe the evolution of a silver mining town and the people who end up living here—sometimes, but not always, by choice. What can a mail-order bride do when she discovers her husband is a primitive brute, when a former prostitute meets a very original silver baron, or when a desperate war refugee seeks stardom in a semi-ghost town? Just imagine the conversations between a woman who protects spiders and a veterinarian. And, there in the background, one deep old secret is just waiting to be revealed.
You see? How could I have a favorite?