Beyond Books Exclusive Author Spotlight: C.S. Woolley
C.S. Woolley (Caroline Sarah Woolley) was born in Macclesfield, Cheshire and raised in the nearby town of Wilmslow. From an early age she discovered she had a flair and passion for writing. This was fuelled by winning local poetry and short story competitions during her years at Mottram St. Andrews Primary School. During high school, she continued to write and found her time split between acting, writing and her studies. At 14 she began writing novels. University did nothing to change her love of writing. C.S. spent a year reading Law at Manchester Metropolitan University before changing her mind and moving to read English at Hull University. After graduating she moved to Nottingham where she now lives. In 2010, C.S published her first novel, Nicolette Mace – The Raven Siren: The Kevin Metis Saga. Since 2010 she has published books in two series – The Chronicles of Celadmore and Nicolette Mace: The Raven Siren.
Beyond Books: Hi CS, thank you for joining us today! Tell us a little bit about yourself?
CS Woolley: What would you like to know? I grew up in the north of England and now live in the midlands. I miss the northlands a lot, but I really enjoy living in Nottingham. I write for a living, I love sport, but especially rugby and cricket. I love computer games and tend to use them as a way to relax or break writers block. I’m one of the seemingly few authors who doesn’t have a cat and I really hate coffee. I love tea though and if I need something with a bit more kick to it, there is Pepsi Max. I’m a massive geek of many different fandoms, but then I think it’s hard to be a fantasy author if you aren’t a little bit geeky. I love a wide variety of music, but rock from the 1960s to 1980s is my favourite genre. I like things to be neat and tidy and find it really distracting if I am surrounded by mess. I’m ridiculously organised and tend to clean as my way of avoiding doing things I know need doing.
BB: So tell us what inspires you?
CS: Music a lot of the time – might be a line in a song or the way a classical piece is put together. I also dream in plot, which is great but also really annoying at the same time. I keep getting amazing ideas for books with entire plotlines all laid down but have to put it to the bottom of the book list as I have so many other titles that need to be finished first. Being outside I find can be inspirational too. I got a lot of my inspiration for Nicolette Mace: the Raven Siren from walking around Manchester when I worked for the university and I got a lot of the inspiration for the Chronicles of Celadmore just being out in the British and Austrian countryside.
BB: What are you working on at the moment and what can you tell us about it?
CS: There are a few things I am working on at the moment. I’m doing a re-write of Rising Empire: Part 3. It’s a book I wasn’t entirely happy with when it was published and it needed sorting. I didn’t want to regret just leaving it for the sake of leaving it. I’ve got 9 shorter adventures from the Nicolette Mace series that are all coming out this year and the final books in the main narrative – the Lily & Rose Saga and Legacy. Then there is the next trilogy in the Chronicles of Celadmore and a new series called Alpha Sigma, which is completely different from Siren and Celadmore.
BB: What genres do you write in and are there any genres you would like to write in?
CS: At the moment I have three non-fiction books under a different pen name in the works, a few children’s series under yet another pen name, but at the moment I write in the crime/thriller/mystery/film noir genre (Siren) and fantasy (Celadmore). Alpha Sigma is going to see me branching out into post-apocalyptic sci-fi though. There will be few genres that I think I will try my hand at later in my career, but at the moment I think I have far too much to do to even think about what other genres I’d like to play around in.
BB: When did you first realise you wanted to become a writer?
CS: When I was six or seven. I have written stories since I can remember and it is always something I wanted to do. I started to try and do the traditionally published route at the age of 12, just after I had started writing the first of the Chronicles of Celadmore books. I spent all my spare time in high school writing one thing or another – when I wasn’t working on my own stuff, I was writing fan fiction.
BB: What’s your favourite book?
CS: I have a couple of favourites. I love the Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas, Winning by Ginny Elliot, Sharpe’s Prey by Bernard Cornwell, but at the moment I have to say that my favourite is Silverthorn by Raymond E. Feist.
BB: What is your favourite movie?
CS: Again I have a few, though my all-time favourite is A Muppet’s Christmas Carol, followed closely by Space Jam. I also really love Muppet Treasure Island, Remember the Titans, We Are Marshall, Dodgeball, Hot Fuzz, Jurassic Park, the A-Team, Under Siege, the Lord of Rings and Narnia movies; there are so many great ones I could go on for a long time about my favourites.
BB: Tea or Coffee? And how do you take it?
CS: Tea. Depends on the tea. I can drink it hot or cold regardless of the type, though depending on what the tea is depends on whether I have milk or not – there are some black teas that are foul with milk in.
BB: What do you do when you’re not writing?
CS: I tend to spend time walking around the town I live in and visiting local shops, so I have built up a really good relationship with a lot of them. As I said before, I spend a lot of time playing computer games, things like Borderlands, Mass Effect, Dragon Age, Fire Emblem, Halo, Witcher and Fallout. The number of games I have is quite frightening. I also enjoy going horse riding, but haven’t had much time to actually do it properly for years. Then of course, there is watching cricket and rugby. I’m a member of Trent Bridge so I get to go to quite a few live cricket matches there, but rugby I have to be content with television coverage.
BB: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
CS: Write for yourself. Ignore all the articles you see telling you what you should and shouldn’t include in your writing. It’s a sure fire way to kill individuality, originality and creativity. If you write for yourself you will always be happy with what you end up with. Ignore critics, yes, constructive criticism helps, but most of the time people are just looking for someone else to tear down. Be creative and find yourself a plot editor! People may moan about spelling and grammar mistakes, but gapping plot holes are far worse – after all, your readers may fall down them and end up in Wonderland.
BB: What book are you reading at the moment?
CS: I’m currently reading a few unpublished manuscripts, but I am also working my way through Krondor: the Betrayal by Raymond E Feist, a book that was written based on the game made for the series, not the other way round, which makes it quite fascinating to read. I also got given a few cricket books at Christmas so I am reading them as well.
BB: What do you think makes your books stand out from the crowd?
CS: Honestly, I have no idea. I tend not to worry about that kind of thing. I write because I enjoy it and then I hope that people will enjoy what I have created. My main motivation in writing is to transport people away from the humdrum of their daily lives to somewhere different – whether it’s the gritty underbelly of a city to see how a female private investigator lives and works when she is more vigilante than investigator to a completely different realm where there is danger and war; intrigue and assassins.
BB: Describe your writing style in ten words or less.
CS: I’ve been told the following “You write like Tolkein, just less long-winded with a splash of Joss Whedon thrown in.” “You write like Raymond E Feist.” So I couldn’t tell you what my writing style is. I can say that I started reading Raymond E Feist after I was told that and I can see what the person meant. At least that is true as far as the fantasy series is concerned. The writing style between Siren and Celadmore is very different. Different styles for different genres.
BB: Do you have a favourite character in your books?
CS: I know that you’re not meant to, it’s like asking who your favourite child is, but yes I do. My favourite character is Caslo from the Chronicles of Celadmore. For those who have read my books, I know that it may be a surprise that in books packed with strong female characters and written by a woman that my favourite character is a man, but that’s just how it goes.
BB: Do you have any pets?
CS: I have two tropical fish tanks that have a variety of different fish in.
BB: Who or what has been the biggest influence in your life?
CS: Being bullied in high school had the biggest influence on my life. I was miserable throughout and the school didn’t do anything about it. So I spent my time hiding in books and writing and drama. It wasn’t great for my social development, I’ll grant you, but without that, I doubt I would have ever have accomplished as much as I have.
BB: If you were invited to the Oscars, who would you take with you?
CS: I would hold my own hunger games type event – whoever won would get to come with me.
BB: If you could be any animal what would it be?
CS: Wolf. My surname means wolf wood or pack of wolves depending on which linguistic analysis you use, so I have always identified with the wolf and even have a wolf tattoo on my lower back.
BB: Which is the best Chris – Pine, Pratt, Evans or Hemsworth?
CS: Well depends on what you mean by best really – they’re all great actors, but I loved Chris Evans’ ice bucket challenge so he might be the best because of that.
BB: What are you most looking forward to in 2016?
CS: There are a few things I am looking forward to – the start of the county cricket season, the books that are scheduled to being published, my birthday, though what I am looking forward to most I can’t talk about just yet. If it does come off then I doubt I’ll shut up about it!
A blood moon rises and madness is unleashed
The nine kingdoms of Celadmore are at war. The people suffer under tyrants that strive to gain land and power in the struggle for superiority.
Kasnata, Queen of the Order and Queen of Nosfa leads her armies against the people of Delma. A war she did not want to fight, but her husband, the King of Nosfa, Mercia Nosfa VI has forced her hand.
Leinad, the heir to the throne of Nosfa and son of Kasnata, is held hostage in the city of Grashindorph where revolution is beginning. Hermia, mother of Mercia and former Queen of Nosfa leads the revolution against her son, a revolution to end the wars and tyranny that their people suffer under. Kasna and Kia are safe from their father in the Oasis of Tulna, but Duke Kelmar DeLacey, Regent of Delma, still hunts for them.
Kasnata’s empire is growing and her legacy is being forged through war, not diplomacy, a mantle her people will carry down the ages.
But there is more at work than any mortal knows, their lives, though fleeting, will form the realm and the consequences of their actions will be felt for centuries to come.
Extract from Rising Empire: Part 2
No matter what the young man did, every time he closed his eyes he saw his sister, terrified, standing with a noose around her neck. He watched her die again and again. In part he blamed himself for not paying more attention to her, for not protecting her, but he knew that, ultimately, it was down to Bracha./
He had imagined over and over again what he would do if he ever came face to face with the woman, what he would say, how he would act. He knew that he would never be given a second opportunity to do what he felt needed to be done.
“Are you sure you want to do this?” Asahel asked one final time as he looked between his friend and the traitor.
“Yes.” Helez said firmly as he drew a dagger from down the back of his collar.
“Helez, stay your blade.” Jephthah warned as he appeared in the doorway. Asahel looked over his shoulder to see his mentor had been accompanied by Layla and Hermia.
“The guard sent for you?” Asahel asked and Haman nodded.
“Put down the blade, Helez. Justice was done.” Layla said slipping past Asahel and her hands resting on her own daggers that were slung at her waist.
“No, it wasn’t.” Asahel said from behind Layla. “None of you were there when Ilana was hanged. You didn’t have to see, you aren’t still tortured by it.”
“Justice has been served.” Hermia said firmly. “Doing this now will not take away what you saw, you will not punish her, you will release her.”
“She doesn’t have any sense of remorse.” Helez argued.
“Do this and there will be no way back.” Jephthah warned. “You will be considered traitors to the Gibborim. You will no longer be welcome amongst our number.”
“You would exile us for this?” Asahel asked.
“No, just Helez, you have done nothing but support a friend.” Hermia assured the older of the two men.
“If you exile Helez, you exile me.” Asahel said grimly.
“Headstrong fools. Helez, put away your knife. Asahel, stop being so pig-headed.” Jephthah barked at the two men.
Layla was within arm’s reach of Helez, and creeping closer, when Helez darted forwards and stabbed Bracha in the chest. Layla moved faster than Asahel thought possible and within the blink of an eye, Helez was lying on the floor, Layla straddling him with her daggers at his throat.
“You leave me no choice.” Hermia said sadly as she walked over to look down at Helez. Jephthah stepped forward and pulled the dagger out of his wife, her lungs already filling with blood.
Helez wasn’t paying any attention to Layla or Hermia. His eyes were fixed on Bracha. He waited for satisfaction to fill his chest, for the pain of losing his sister to subside. The light faded from Bracha’s eyes but Helez’s pain remained unchanged.
“Jephthah, take them to the surface.” Hermia ordered. The man mountain hauled Helez to his feet as Layla sprang back and half-dragged him from the cell.
“Farewell, my lady.” Asahel bowed to Hermia and followed.
“It was always going to happen.” Layla said quietly to Hermia.
“Because he has always been a victim of his own folly?” Hermia asked.
“No, because revenge promises to bring closure and end to pain that it seldom delivers. He knows that now, a little too late for the sake of the Gibborim. But the death of Bracha -”
“Murder of Bracha.” Hermia corrected the shadow.
“- murder of Bracha, it will celebrated, not lamented.” Layla looked at her leader, her lips set in a thin line.
“I know, it’s the only reason that they are being exiled instead of executed.” Hermia sighed. “Send in the guards to clean up this mess. Her body can be floated into the sewers, the king’s men will find it eventually.”
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