Charlotte Henley Babb Interview
Who is your audience?
I write for older women (older than 25) who like their fantasy and science fiction with a bit of humor.
Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I have written one novel and three story collections, mostly fantasy, but one Southern fiction story collection. I have a science fiction story in the works, and a steampunk novel.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
Maven Fairy Godmother (2012) is my first novel, which was inspired by the number of people I saw in my classes who needed a fairy godmother. I thought it would be fun to wave my magic wand and fix all the patriarchal elements of the fairy tales we all know. I have a couple of sequels planned, based on outtakes from the first book, one of the dangers/benefits of pantsing
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
Not particularly. I sometimes listen to a movie theme for writing channel on Pandora. I struggle with having writing time, like every other writer, since I work two jobs, one as an online teacher.
What authors or books have influenced you?
My mom bought a set of books for us when I was in first grade. Alice in Wonderland and Black Beauty were my early favorites, but I also read Robinson Crusoe, Treasure Island and The Knight of the Round Table.
My first love was Robert Heinlein, the grand master of science fiction in the 1950s and 60s. At the same time, I was reading the Little Women series and the Anne of Green Gables series. I liked the humanist flavor of each of them, and the realistic optimism they expressed. I also read Isaac Asimov’s robot mysteries and everything I could find by Andre Norton.
Now I am a fan of Sir Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels, which are both satiric and hilarious. I also like Sherry Tepper’s work, and some of Ursula Le Guin. Neil Gaiman is another favorite.
What are you working on now?
My current WIP is a steampunk novel set on a brothel airship in British America, set around 1860 in an alternate history line where the American Revolution failed.
What is your best method or website for book promotion
I have hired a publicist because I haven’t found my best method yet. I did manage to give away 150 copies of an ebook by sending a number of my facebook buddies a link to the book when it was free. Sending them individual messages in reply to comments they made about designing the cover gave them some sense of ownership, so they felt like they had received a gift. That book is selling better than the others, but not by much (500,00 rather than 1.5 million rank) .
On the other hand, just posting a “this book is free today” message on my timeline did practically nothing. The book does include the first two chapters of my novel. I hope that a few people will read it and feel compelled to buy it.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
Don’t listen to any advice from anyone who does not write, no matter how many books they have read. Readers are like consumers: Eating does not teach cooking, no matter how delicate the palate.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
Anne Lamott: “Allow yourself to write shitty drafts.” Larry Brooks’s Story Engineering and Randy Ingermanson’s Snowflake Method are very good ways to help conceptualize and plan the story. They have very good blogs and offer advice and answer questions online.
What are you reading now?
I’m reading Tim Musgrave’s historical/detective Patrick O’Malley series set in1860s New York, after the American Civil War. It’s mostly detective, but with steampunk elements. For those who aren’t familiar, steampunk is the amalgamation of Victorian adventure fiction, golden age science fiction, and paranormal/fantasy—H Rider Haggard, Jules Verne, and H.G. Wells on acid and steroids.