An Interview with Charlee Compo

Any Romance or Speculative Fiction fan is likely to know the name Charlee Compo. She is a multi-published speculative fiction author and was written up in Writer’s Digest’s Publishing Success magazine. She has not only been nominated for a RIO Award this year but also for the 2000 Inscriptions Engraver Awards. Her sci-fi/futuristic shapechanger novel, BloodWind, was named as one of the Best Books of 1999 by eBook Connections last year and is now out in paperback. There are two sequels to it, the first is due out in November of this year.

AUTHOR NETWORK: How did you get started as a writer?

CHARLEE: My husband was a career military weatherman. He spent 12 years in the AIr Force and the last eight in the Navy. On his last A.F. assignment, we were stationed at Offutt AFB, Bellevue, Nebraska. He was going to school to get his journalism degree at UNO and as part of his internship, he worked at the Bellevue leader newspaper as its sports editor. The entertainment editor left the paper and Tom mentioned to the editor that I was pretty knowledgeable about movies, books, etc. so the paper hired me to be the new entertainment editor. I thoroughly enjoyed my weekly column but most of all, I realized that I was good at this writing thing. Along about that time (the mid 1970s), I ‘discovered’ romance novelist Rosemary Rogers’ novels and became hooked on that form of writing. (I don’t mean the sanitized, politcally-correct stuff being written today, but the hardcore romance where things were not always rosy). I was buying so many books, my husband said I was driving us into bankruptcy. He suggested I write my own books and I took him up on the challenge.

AUTHOR NETWORK: Could you give us a biographical nutshell — where you live, where you grew up, etc.?

CHARLEE: I was born in Sarasota, FL. but I grew up in Colquitt and Albany, GA. I proudly call myself a Sunshine Cracker. I was an only child and did not know until three years ago that I was adopted. I learned this when my mother suffered a stroke and spilled the beans: a closely-guarded secret everyone in the family except me knew. I was floored, to say the least. It has been hard realizing my ‘life’ really never was. I married my high school sweetheart and this year we will celebrate our 35th anniversary. We have two grown sons and two grandchildren. We live in Iowa and I have an unreal job as a 9-5, M-F parish secretary of our Catholic church. My real job is creating fantasy.

AUTHOR NETWORK: Do you have a book or story that’s your “claim to fame”? If so, please tell us about it.

CHARLEE: My first novel was The Keeper of the Wind. It was a subsidy novel through the defunct Commonwealth Publications out of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. I, along with a large company of other cheated authors, sued the company to regain the rights to our works and the novels the company never sold. Keeper was the first of a nine volume sword & sorcery romance saga and now that I own it and am selling it at Amazon, it is selling really well. Last year, Dark Star Publications re-issued it as an e-book and will be releasing it as a softcover paperback this year under its new title: The Windkeeper: Book One of the WindLegends Saga. I am getting rave reviews for this novel (and the first of the two sequels currently out). Without having Keeper to tell about on websites, I would not have gotten a publishing deal for the other 30 some odd novels I’ve written.

AUTHOR NETWORK: Why did you choose to write Speculative Fiction?

CHARLEE: I like the darker side of relationships. I love angst between men and women in love. I know it isn’t politically correct to have what some list members refer to as “THE BIG UNDERSTANDING”, but if you play on that idea, coloring outside the normal romance-like lines and give the stories wicked twists and unexpected turns, you can have a cross-genre tale that has no equal among the traditionally pubbed cookie cutter stuff that is out there now. That stuff to me is boring. Give me some meat to the story. Give me some tears. Give me a brooding hero who isn’t predictable. Give me a heroine who doesn’t simper and get her shapely butt into trouble in contrived ways from which the poor hero has to extract her. Give me a villian that has a softer, warmer side while he’s tormenting the couple. Give that poor misguided man (or woman since several of my novels have really mean female villians), a reason for why he/she does that vileness. Give me characters that are not one dimentional and paper cutouts of real, red-blooded Alpha and Beta males. I want truth in the tale and I want it to be black as the villian’s heart at times.

AUTHOR NETWORK: Why did you choose to publish with an epublisher?

CHARLEE: Because epubs allow you to tell the tale you want to tell without having to worry about those readers who are turned off by politically incorrect characters and storylines. My work would never ‘sell’ to the traditional print publishers because those guys can’t see the forest for the trees most of the time. The stories they churn out have a sameness to them that is discouraging to anyone who has visions that differ from the norm. Epubs give you the leeway you need to express yourself in myriad ways that have not seen the light of ‘print’ before now. That is changing….it has to…but for now, only the true independent epubs like Dark Star Publications, Pulsar Books, Clocktower Fiction, and Dreams Unlimited are truly pushing the envelope of darker, meatier fiction.

AUTHOR NETWORK: What are you working on now?

CHARLEE: I am working on a paranormal romance titled In the Arms of the Wind and a psychological thriller called The W.I.N.D Force. I always write two novels at once. :)

AUTHOR NETWORK: Can you tell us how you produce a story or novel, from inception to publishing?

CHARLEE: I sit down and write. I don’t use outlines. I let the story flow as it will. Once it is finished, I will revise it at least four times before I turn it in to my editor. I send it in via email and get the edits back the same way. I have terrific editors, btw. Tamara McHatton does my fantasy novels; Trace Edward Zaber does the psych. thrillers and sci-fi. When they do their thing, they hand it back to me and I do the revisions. Both are very talented writers in their own right so I value their input. Rarely do we disagree about what should and shouldn’t be put into the work so the outcome is very smooth. After they do their thing, it goes to Angie Evans, the final editor, and she works her magic on what the rest of us missed. When she’s finished, it comes back to me for a final read-through before being sent to ‘press’. As you can see, Dark Star Publications takes time to edit and edit and polish and polish before the final product is put out for the reader. That’s not to say you might not find a mistake in the finished book. I defy you to find a book that doesn’t have at least one mistake.

AUTHOR NETWORK: What and how would you like to be publishing in 5 years?

CHARLEE: I would still like to be putting out innovative fiction that blurs the boundaries of the genres. I would like to see some of my work on the movie screen because I believe it would translate well. I have two companies looking into that aspect at the moment.

Charlee is the author of over 30 novels, 13 of which are available for purchase. Her webpage at www.windlegends.comhas excerpts, reviews, and synopses of each novel plus links to interviews she has done all over the web; articles she has written; and information about upcoming work. Charlee’s fan club can be found at Her sci-fi/futuristic shapechanger novel, BloodWind, was named as one of the Best Books of 1999 by eBook Connections last year and is now out in paperback. There are two sequels to it and the first sequel is due out in November of this year.


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