Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Interview: Nicole Chardenet, author of Young, Republican, Yuppie Princess

Nicole's Bio: Nicole Chardenet was in college back when Duran Duran was still considered cool. She was in the medieval re-creation group The Society for Creative Anachronism, where she learned how to dress like a historically misplaced dork, belly dance, flirt outrageously, terrify battle-hardened Vikings and dance around campfires at midnight surrounded by screaming barbarians wearing loincloths and roadkill and very little else. She currently lives in her Den O' Iniquity with Belladonna the Demon Beast in Toronto, where she now terrifies Canadians rather than Vikings.

What inspires your stories?

I have a T-shirt that says, “Careful, or you may end up in my novel.” I’ve had characters inspired by bad behavior, odd or funny behavior, or just someone who strikes me a certain way. At a US airport somewhere is a Homeland Security power nazi who will find himself lampooned in my next novel. Behave yourself around me. Consider yourself warned!

What genre do you gravitate toward and why?

I gravitate towards fantasy, but not what’s popular at the moment. I offer absolutely no vampires unless you count the mortal wannabe in a future project (who still lives in the modern world) and I prefer twists on the other classic tropes. My witches are Wiccans or Pagans who live in our real world (although sometimes they discover that those hoary old European crones of yore and their magic weren’t as deluded as we think). I have a zombie in one project, but he’s a major babe.

What are your work habits like?

Funny, my boss is always asking me that! I’ve been so busy for the past year with my Young Republican, Yuppie Princess project that I haven’t had time to write much, although when I found myself briefly unemployed this summer I got forty pages written. I find a downtown patio table on a sunny day with discount cocktails at your elbow is highly conducive to creative writing ;)

What do you consider your best work?

I have a largely-completed project that I’m proud of because it has a lot of plot twists and red herrings.

Do you plot out your novels in advance or do you write on the fly?

I wrote a novel on the fly when I was eighteen and it was bloody awful. I don’t recommend it, especially for new writers. I have an outline that gets fleshed out as I go along, usually beginning with a sentence or two, then I add to it as I’m working. I mean, the first outline literally reads like, “A recently-divorced woman is looking for love again and meets some guy who has some weird secret involving The Partridge Family and then some stuff happens with some hippie ghosts and there’s some thingy they all have to find or, I don’t know, the Satanist plumber will do something bad with it, and in the end the divorcee marries the zombie instead of the Partridge guy.” I’m also not dogmatic about the outline – I have characters that I don’t know if they’re going to be good or evil until the very end.

What experience do you want for your readers?

My mission in life is to make people laugh, at least when Congress isn’t in session. I wrote the first draft of YRYP during the '93 recession while I couldn’t find real work. I made fun of the tight-assed Reagan-obsessed Young Republicans common at Kent State University (same time period for main character Joyce – 1984). I pulled it out again, ironically enough, in the middle of the recent big financial meltdown and as I read through Joyce’s wild-ass conservative opinions, with everything she held dear falling into disrepute in 2008, I thought, “This is actually a lot funnier today.” If I write a sequel Joyce’s yuppie greed is going to transport her into a world of trouble.

Are any of your character traits or settings based on real life?

Hell yeah! The four main characters in YRYP are based loosely on myself and three college friends at Kent State. Two of them know about this and are okay with it. The other one is still looking for me, so please don't tell him where I live :) Prince Chip is based on a guy I met at a Society for Creative Anachronism medieval re-creation event a long time ago. At the time I thought, “Man, he’d make a good villain.” (Although he was a nice guy in a very rough Jersey Shores way.) I usually, however, base characters on just that one aspect of a person that inspired me, and make the character otherwise obviously different. I don’t want to inadvertently cause anyone pain.

What are your most significant challenges when you write?

Today, it’s finding the time to write. Between my YRYP publicity campaign and my full-time job and George Clooney’s obsessive pursuit of me, it’s a wonder I have time to breathe!

What are you currently working on?

Now if I told you that then I’d have to kill you! Well okay…it’s about a loose collection of fairly nutty people and an ancient horndog demon-thingy stalking the wilds of Toronto. Plus a band of angry radicals with an entirely different ‘solution’ to the ongoing Jewish/Palestinian land dispute. That said...I won't have to kill you, I'll just mess you up a little.

Do you have any writing advice you would like to share with aspiring authors?

Start writing. Do or do not, as Yoda would say. Absolutely read writing books and join writer support groups to learn how to write better. You’re never as good as you think you are. Remember that your first draft is NEVER even close to being good enough and don’t think an editor at a publishing house will take care of it - your Slurpee will melt in the slush pile. Get yourself a good book on editing fiction & read it before you start the second draft – and when you do, prepare to cut, cut, cut. Network with others and research everything you do so that you can move forward in a more organized, better targeted manner. And never give up, no matter what. Remember that the most alcoholic club in the universe is Publishers Who Passed On The First Harry Potter Novel!

Where to buy Young Republican, Yuppie Princess:


Barnes and Noble

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