Much of the world is aware of the tragedy that befell Pompeii in 79 AD. An eyewitness report details the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in letters from Pliny the Younger to the historian Tacitus. Even with this recounting set to paper, Pompeii faded out of history to become little more than myth.
In the late 16th century, Pompeii’s ruins, and those of her sister city, Herculaneum, were discovered by architect Domenico Fontana. Pompeii finally reappeared as more than mere legend. The horror of seeing her citizens frozen in time, struggling against their demise, has shocked and amazed the world ever since.
Years have passed and some of us are lucky enough to be able walk within the city’s walls to uncover her history. The surrounding region, which holds Pompeii firmly in its embrace, is still volatile. Vesuvius slumbers, looking peaceful, yet anyone who ever has walked Pompeii’s streets understands the devastation that will rain down should it awaken again.
This past year has been quiet. However, several weeks ago, Pompeii experienced a severe quake. Afterward, my fellow archaeologists and I were surprised to find that the only damage was centered in a remote section of the city’s northwestern region. We discovered a new chasm and entered a large, heretofore unknown, subterranean chamber. Detailed exploration suggested that we were in a storeroom belonging to an affluent city councilman. This hypothesis was later supported when we discovered the remains of a young woman along with a written account of her life.
There is some eeriness in the finding of this chamber. The superstitious among us wonder if the woman’s spirit remained trapped within this cavern until it finally managed to break free, causing the quake to pinpoint this location.
However it happened, wherever she is now; this is her story. Will you listen?
Hello book lovers! Today is a day where I will be writing another author spotlight for a well-accomplished author whose work I have loved. As you know book lovers I love learning about authors and the inspiration behind their work, it fascinates me and adds to the depth of the book because the reader will be able to better understand it. That is how the author spotlights were created because I soon discovered that you lovely readers ALSO love learning about author’s, so I am excited to tell you a little bit more about author Charline Ratcliff whose book A Life in the Age of Pompeii compelled me from beginning to end. I personally would recommend this book to all of those that love Charline Ratcliff but really the book can be read by anybody as it is flawlessly written and highly enjoyable. With today’s author spotlight for Charline Ratcliff, a biography of the author and an interview between us both will be shared, and I hope that you book lovers enjoy reading it! To kick this off here is an author bio about the wonderful Charline Ratcliff!
Mine is not your typical life’s story. Growing up, my family life, schooling, and lifestyle were anything but conventional, average or predictable. Being tenacious, an avid reader and hard-working allowed me to prevail against the pitfalls of my unusual upbringing.
As a child, my time spent alone in the outdoors brought about a love of photography; for with the camera I can capture countless wonders that encapsulate nature, land, and wild life. These frozen moments in time do evoke joy and other wonderful responses from viewers of my work.
Having a personality that craves to see the world, at one point I found myself in Maui. This led to the creation of Island Scents by Charline, an addition to my all-natural soy candle company and also the launch of my sea glass jewelry designs.
It wasn’t until my late twenties that the writing muse found me and thus has begun an extraordinary voyage of self-discovery. I began writing novels, blog posts, book reviews, provided author interviews, and even started mentoring other writers.
Having finished the writing of my most recent Historical Fiction, “A Life in the Age of Pompeii,” I am about to embark on the writing of my next historical novel, “The Queen’s Lost Daughter.”
Now, how wonderful does Charline Ratcliff sound?! The author is a truly exceptional writer and I hope that you lovely readers have a read of the author’s work because you will not regret it! Please see below an interview between us both, I hope that you enjoy the author’s answers to my questions, they are incredible and provide some great advice too!
Thank you for joining us today at Red Headed Book Lover! Please tell us more about yourself.
Hi, Aimee Ann. Thank you for hosting me. I could be here all day answering this question, but I will skip past my younger years and simply sum up who I am today…
First and foremost, I’m a writer, (shocking, I know) who accidentally discovered a passion for writing.
I’m a photographer. My favorite photographs to take are those of animals, then landscapes, and then people.
I’m also a candle creator. I have a wonderful line of soy candles (IslandScentsByCharline.com) which means I split my time between Maui, Hawaii and Monterey (Bay) area, California.
I love animals (my friends call me Snow White), I love nature, and I love history. And lastly, I have a severe case of wanderlust; which means I travel as much as possible.
Could you please tell us readers about your book and what inspired you to write your book?
A Life in the Age of Pompeii is a Historical Fiction set in ancient Pompeii. It’s about a young girl (Sonata) who is brought to Pompeii as a slave, but instead grows up as the adopted daughter of a very wealthy and influential town councilman and his wife.
A Life in the Age of Pompeii provides the reader with a glimpse into the fabled history of ancient Pompeii, (cultural, historical, mythological, romantic) while allowing them to learn the tale of Sonata’s short, yet memorable, life.
A Life in the Age of Pompeii came to fruition because of a dream I had (over a decade ago). The dream has been memorialized as the book’s Prologue.
What would your advice be for aspiring writers?
You know, I have been (and done) many things in my life and I think the most important lesson I have taken with me is the need to just ‘do’ whatever it is that you feel called to do. This means, (to partially borrow from Hemingway) “that the writer must write what he has to say…”
- Write for yourself and not for others.
- Believe in what you feel must be written and not what (or how) others feel that the words should be written. Honor that.
- Remember that each of us holds our own truths and our own form of expression within us, and that we cannot allow our truths and expressions be trampled on by someone else’s view of the world.
- Write your book(s) and when questions arise – ask yourself. If you cannot answer them; then set them aside to ask (yourself) again at a later time. You may find that the answer to a previous question is provided in a later written entry. (Always remember too, that more often than not, someone else’s answers will not cohesively mesh with your writing intent and can cause paralytic things like self-doubt, writer’s block, and/or giving up.)
Lastly, before you hire an editor – interview them. You need to be certain that they understand your voice, the voice of your book, who the protagonist is, what era are you writing from, etc. Go through the full premise of your book with them. If they don’t feel like a good fit for you, then keep looking!! (This is their job. Hire someone who works well with your vision.)
As a writer, it is important for you to realize that there will be times when you’ll need to break today’s ‘grammatical norms.’ You will need someone who can open-mindedly work with you to either rewrite a sentence/paragraph to appropriately convey what you’re wanting said, or who will be accepting of your choice to leave it the way you wrote it; if you so desire.
What you don’t want is an editor who is so inflexible that they will only argue with you…
At the end of the day, it is your book and you have the freedom of the final say. (Never forget that.)
In your opinion, what is the most important thing about a book?
As a reader, my most important criteria is the cover.
Does it grab my attention? Is it inspiring? Pleasing to my eye? Does it reflect the title given?
At that point, I’ll move to the jacket blurb. Is it interesting? Does it hold my attention? Does it make me want to know more?
I’ll be honest here too. There have been times that a book cover has grabbed (with an exclamation point) my attention, but I’ve returned the book to the shelf after reading the about blurb because it was just. so. tedious.
No, you “can’t judge a book by its cover,” and yet, sometimes, it seems that you successfully can.
What is your writing process like?
That’s a difficult question to answer, but I’ll try and condense it as best as possible. (For the record, I envy those who can immediately create an outline and then detail what will happen in each chapter.)
For me, my books start with a very vivid and life-like dream. Like going to the movies, except that you’re watching an entire lifetime of events in however many hours you manage to sleep.
Next thing, roll out of bed at whatever ungodly hour of the morning it is. 3:00 AM? Pfft!! What do the writing muses care?!? Just get the dream, in its entirety, scribed onto paper (or typed into a word document, if awake enough) before the reality of the world intrudes and whatever isn’t scribed is lost.
Did I mention that I also envy those who can write in the midst of conversations, and dog barking, and children crying, and floors squeaking, and, and, and ? Not me! Nope. I have to have quiet. Peace and quiet. Absolute peace and quiet. Do you know how hard it is to have absolute peace and quiet in today’s world?
My writing ‘day’ starts about 10:00 PM since the only noises that don’t bother me are traffic and birds. Yup. Traffic and birds don’t phase my writing – except doves and pigeons, because, well, they just sing the same annoying note over and over and over. Honestly, if I wanted to listen to the same repetitive note, I’d just get a metronome. At least then I could turn it off when I’m over-the-top aggravated by it…
So, anyway, I’m a late-night writer who needs peace and quiet. But additionally, I have to get ‘into’ the story before I can start writing. If I’ve been a good writer, and have been tapping away on the keyboard every night, then I can just reread the last chapter I was working on; because I’m still sort of ‘in’ the mindset of the story.
However, my life doesn’t quite work that way. I’m traveling. I have that previously mentioned line of soy candles. I have friends. I have family. You see where I’m going with this, right?
Which means that I try and go away for about a month; to as secluded a location as I can find. I’ll then reread the entire manuscript (while trying not to get caught up in edits or rewrites) in order to hopefully get the writing of my book finished in that timeframe (or at least as much of it as I can because research for historical fictions also takes a fair amount of time).
Then there are the personal edits, the editor edits, the formatting, the cover, and then finally the publishing. Months and months and months of work, so that a reader can finish the book in several day if not several hours. Isn’t that amazing? LOL. I want their job!!
Do you have a set schedule for writing, or do you only write when you feel inspired?
No, to the set schedule aspect. I write when I’m inspired. In fact, I’ve mentored aspiring authors, and I’ve had to remind them that, “creativity cannot be contained in a box or compelled within an aspect of time.”
Nothing blocks creativity quite like trying to force yourself to be creative every Tuesday from 3:00 to 7:00 PM and then being unable to write. Then you beat yourself up for not getting any words (other than “writing sucks”) onto a page and after a month of this you’ve entered the paralytic realm of writer’s block.
Some people can write on a schedule. Some people can’t. It’s okay to not, so long as you pay attention (and honor) that little voice of creativity when it comes calling. “Oh, I’m sorry, you’re late to a movie? Too bad, because I’m popping up right now to tell you how Chapter 11 is supposed to end.” (My creativity muse cares little for my real-life happenings.)
Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors?
Up until a few years ago, I used to be an avid reader; probably 12-15 books per month. Now I can’t seem to find the time to read more than about 10 per year. Which is sad because I love books. As in books that I can hold. The problem is that they’re heavy to pack onto a carry-on bag. And yes, I have a kindle but it’s not quite the same. (Making more time for reading is on my 2019 list of resolutions.)
Favorite authors… Well, that’s a hard one because I like biographies and (non-fiction) history books.
Asimov was my very first favorite (at around age 10).
I discovered Cussler and Herbert in my early teens. To be fair though, at age 12 or 13, Herbert (Dune Series) seemed a rather pedantic writer, but I really liked the story so I would occasionally just skip through some of the exceptionally long-winded passages. Shh, don’t rat me out.
C.S. Lewis. Is there anyone who doesn’t love the Narnia books?
Michener, Rice, (Nora) Roberts.
I do really like Margaret George, although I definitely feel for her because she does SO much research for each book; which is one reason why (I think) they are exceptional reads.
Lastly, when can we readers expect to read more wonderful books from you?
Well, I do have the Prologue together for my next book, “The Queen’s Lost Daughter.” It’s a historical fiction set in the late 1800’s between Romania and San Francisco, I’m hopeful to have time to start writing it once the summer is over. If all goes well, it might be out by this time next year.
Thank you again for hosting me, Aimee Ann. I enjoyed answering your questions. 😊
Its official book lovers, I am obsessed with Charline Ratcliff! If you have liked what you have read about the author and are interested in learning more about Charline Ratcliff, then please do have a browse of the links below and be sure to have a read of the preview too! You will not regret it.
Goodbye for now book lovers,