A Proper Charlie is a comedy romance for the female market. I have been told not to use the chicklit name anymore because this offends, how light hearted entertainment can offend is beyond me, but there you go! Anyway, Charlie (Charlotte) is a girl who wants to better herself. She grew up in a children’s home and hasn’t had it easy, and came to London to find her GBF (gay best friend – it’s chicklit for goodness sake!) who encourages her to apply for a job at London Core, a newspaper where he works. With his help she gets the job, but it’s just a nine to five, and she wants a career. The newspaper gains a new ownership and worried she may be out of a job Charlie decides rewrite her job description and become a journalist researching the local prostitutes who are suddenly going missing. With Charlie’s background, she thinks she’s street wise and can look after herself.
The new ownership of London Core is the gorgeous Ben Middleton. His family, although well off, are dysfunctional too. His mother newly dead, his sister has discovered that their father isn’t her father. At their mother’s funeral she drives off and isn’t seen again. Worried because a killer is seemingly haunting London Ben hires a PI to find her. The PI finds his sister’s mobile phone on a prostitute, but then the hooker goes missing. Ben is doubly worried now. He sets out to find his sister.
Of course Ben and Charlie meet unknowing several times on the streets, but in the work place she is the office comedienne and he the shy boss.
Tell us something about yourself.
I come from England (the same town where Princess Diana grew up), and I have been writing since I was a child. Unlike Charlie I had loving parents. I grew up, married and had four children and have been writing alongside my job as a dispenser in a pharmacist. I’m so boringly ordinary it’s untrue – maybe that’s why I like to make up stories!
What inspired you to write this book?
I never meant to write chicklit – er romantic comedy, I mean – but my voice came when I was writing my previous book Eden (out of print). I found I had a natural talent for making people laugh through words (it was hard to keep Eden as a straight romance). And let’s face it, life is funny. I like the Cinderella idePrince meets down-trodden woman, and both live happily ever after. Charlie is Cinderella, and Ben the Prince in modern times. But Charlie is also her own woman, and Ben not as confident as Prince Charming. I wanted someone from “uppity class” falling in love with a prostitute – a bit like Pretty Woman I suppose only Charlie isn’t really a prostitute.
How did you choose the title?
“Charlie” is a name you’d call someone if they are being unintentionally silly. You’d say, ‘She’s a proper/a right Charlie.’ And of course, Charlie is short for Charlotte, my character’s name.
What obstacles did you encounter in getting this book published? How did you overcome them?
I tried the traditional route at first and sent off proposals to many agents. And it’s been SO frustrating because a few have said yes but then couldn’t find a publisher for it. I’ve never been this close to a publishing deal before so you can image how I felt. In the end I used a POD company YouWriteON, and later I made APC available as an Ebook.
How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?
It started as a hobby, and in my families eyes it still is. I don’t think I’ll ever be classed as a serious writer until I can make money from it. I used to write little books as a child, hand written with drawn “covers” – still have them in the attic (great for a giggle)! I was always criticized for dreaming and I think I was writing in my head long before I put words on paper.
Do you have any writing rituals?
I’ve a big family, so it’s where I can really. I have my laptop on the kitchen table and have to have the radio on for background noise. I can understand why some writers have offices though, because I sit here feeling guilty because all around me are the breakfast things that need clearing up, the carpets need a vacuum, and I haven’t even got dressed yet! OK, so it’s only 9.30am at the moment, and it will get done, but I do think this is the best job in the world.
How do you come up with the names for your characters?
Well, Charlie came from the title. But normally I like ordinary names. I’m a lazy reader. If I see a name or word that I can’t pronounce such as Mr Tomaszewski that will become Mr “Tom.” So I like to keep my names simple.
Did you learn anything from writing and publishing this book? What?
I had to learn about how newspaper offices ran, how prostitutes worked, about children in care homes and street drugs. The street drugs were OK because I work in medicine, I have worked in offices in the past so that wasn’t too bad either. I researched prostitutes and children in care on the Internet. Interesting and harrowing stuff!
If you were doing it all over again, what would you do differently?
Know the difference between editor and proof reader! I paid a lot of money for an editor, when in fact my money should have gone towards a good proofing. In the first edition of APC this is apparent, and I hope people aren’t put off by the reviews. Although those you have read APC said they enjoyed the story even though they found errors. These errors are corrected now.
What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors?
I like chicklit, and just lately paranormal chicklit. I also like a good horror and my favourite authors for that are Dean Koontz and Steven King.
Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?
The working title is called Miss Anthrope. In her words she’s “an ordinary person living in a chicklit novel.” She’s the female version of Scrooge. She hates everyone, and it isn’t until her self-acclaimed fairy Godmother arrives that cracks in her so-called tough exterior show. It’s in its final draft.
What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?
Write without editing. Get it all down. Then edit and proof it as if your worst enemy or critic will read it.
Who is the perfect reader for your book?
Women only, definitely. No men allowed. It’s a little “rude,” so no virgins either!
Where can readers learn more about you and your book?
My blog: http://louisewise.blogspot.com
Twitter: http://twitter.com/louise_wise (In between Louise and Wise is an underscore!)