Saturday, February 25, 2012

Getting to know Charmaine Gordon

I’d like to welcome author, Charmaine Gordon. Charmaine has led a fascinating life as both an actor and an author. She’s written several books, including Reconstructing Charlie, a romantic suspense novel.

Charmaine, where did you grow up? Did your childhood contribute to your desire to be a writer? If so, how?
I was born and raised in Chicago to be a home ‘engineer’ although the triple desire of acting/singing/dancing hummed in my secret heart.
So, you became an actor. Did your career as an actor affect your writing career? If so, how?
Years of experience as an actor on daytime drama: One Life to Live, Ryan’s Hope, Another World and All My Children, Stage, spokesperson and commercials plus writing sketches for Air Force shows helped prepare me for the wonders of a writing career. Of course, I didn’t realize it at the time, when immersed in the written words of others, that I was like a sponge, soaking up how to construct a scene, write dialogue and paint the setting.
My writing effort came later when I wrote a two-page story, sent it to son, Paul, who commented, “Cool. Can you write ten pages?” Seemed impossible but the story poured from my fingers and seventy thousand words later, I typed “The End.”
I kissed my acting career goodbye, leaving on a high note, with the lead in an Off Broadway play, The Fourth Commandment, author Rich Knipe. It was great fun and time to move on.
Movies like Working Girl, Road to Wellsville and having the pleasure of Anthony Hopkins’ company at lunch, working with Mike Nichols in Regarding Henry and singing outside with Harrison Ford, crying with Gene Wilder over loss of another set, When Harry Met Sally with the whole gang singing “It Had to be You.” Lots of fond memories. 
Incredible! Singing with Harrison Ford! That’s hard to top!
What are your favorite things to do when you’re not reading or writing?
In the past, I’ve worked as a commercial artist doing fashion sketches long before computer art took over; color artist for a photography studio before color became the “in” thing; serious gardening and building stone patios, tennis and daily three mile runs until hip replacement and rotator cuff surgery knocked me down. Did I mention dancing and teaching ballroom and Latin? Doctors say that’s a lot of wear and tear on a small frame. Blame it on me, folks.
I’m exhausted just reading that! What’s your favorite color? Why?
Favorite color is pink - all shades, especially hot pink! And why not?
Describe yourself – not physically – but personality wise.
I’m upbeat, determined, ready to place one foot in front of the other, no matter what.
Where do you live now? Do you use that locale for settings in your novels? If not, how do you choose your settings?
I live in Pear River, NY, Rockland County, about 30 miles north of NYC. Thus far, I haven’t used this Irish town as a setting.
The settings I’ve chosen are places I know or imagine. One is the fictional town of Fairview, Illinois, north of Chicago - Haven takes place there; St. Augustine, FL,  where I lived while my daughter attended college and worked, the location for Starting Over; To Be Continued takes place in Westchester County, North of NYC; Reconstructing Charlie begins in Minnesota - a state I’ve never been to - and continues in Chicago. Lots of research went into this book.
Do you like to travel? If so, what are some of your favorite places to go and/or your favorite vacation? 
I’ve been to wondrous places with my first husband, now deceased, when all you had to worry about was getting pinched by an Italian. Venice, Rome, Capri, London, Paris, England and later my son, a performer, took me along to Berlin, Israel, Edinburgh and more. But give me a beach with palm trees and dunes. Ahhh.
I feel the same way about beaches!
Name three of your favorite authors in the mystery genre and/or name specific books you love.
Robert B. Parker; John Sandford; Elmore B. Leonard. Mystery and mayhem.
What’s your answer to this question:  If I won a million dollars, I would -----
If I won a million dollars, I’d pay off every debt, protect my future with dear husband number two, and see what comes next.
Did you plan to write a series before or after you wrote your first book?  
I’m completing a series as we speak. When Reconstructing Charlie ended, I realized there were some delicious characters who needed a story of their own. And so, a three book series began. Haven came next with surprising twists and turns and a hot romance to boot and now the last part of the journey. . . I think, is titled A Sin of Omission. It will all be revealed as soon as the characters tell it to me.
Did the inspiration for your characters and/or plot come from people you know, a specific place or personal experience? If not, what got you started?
Odd the way I began as a writer. I had a week’s acting job down in Gainesville, FL. Call time came early and when the clock radio blasted on, the news was of a tragedy on the hard packed sand on the east coast. A drunk driver in a pick-up truck hit an elderly man out walking with his wife. The excited commentator described the scene with the woman bending over her dead husband, her life changed forever. I pictured waves rolling in, early sun coming up, tears rolling. I had to dress and go to work. Concentrate on lines. But I never forgot the mind picture. A few years later, toward the end of a run in an Off Broadway play, The Fourth Commandment, I began to write Starting Over.
Do you have any words of wisdom to offer writers who are just starting out?
My advice is this plain and simple. You say you want to write, so write. Just do it. Tell your story. Everyone has a story. You might begin with Remember when? And write about a funny incident from the past. If this frees you up, good. You've begun. 
Charmaine, thanks for being with us today. 
Links to Charmaine’s books are listed below.She’s offering a gift of her short story love anthology, Love Lost and Found, to one of today’s readers. She will choose the winner   at the end of this week.

26 comments:

  1. Lovely, Charmaine. I have but one question: Can Harrison Ford really sing? Because, well, when he talks, he sure doesn't have a speaking voice that would lead me to think he could carry a tune!

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  2. We sang outside during a lunch break of Working Girl. Remember the movie Witness about an Amish boy who witnessed a murder? Harrison falls in lust with his widowed mom and in the hayloft where they've hidden his car, they sing 'Don't know much about history. . .' So that's what we sang together-over a hot dog. Fun times on the set.

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    1. Charmaine,
      I loved that movie! I can only imagine what it must have felt like to sing that song with Harrison Ford, one of my all time favorite actors.

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  3. Fun, informative interview, Patricia, and like you, Charmaine, my favorite place is a beach. It just feels like the right place to be! I also like your words of advice. Just write. It's so simple, and speaks volumes. :)

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Anne. My favorite place is a beach too!

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  4. I think you need to gather up some clips of all your performances and put them on your website.

    Malcolm

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  5. Pat, there's a rule about talking to stars on a movie set. DON'T. This never bothered me. At an opportune moment, I smiled at Harrison Ford, said how sexy he was in the hay loft scene and spontaneously we put our heads together and sang.

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  6. Ah, another beach lover. Thanks for stopping by, Anne. We have so much in common.

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  7. Dear Malcolm, I can hardly locate a hair clip let alone a film clip. I'm in possession of a VHR copy of The Fourth Commandment but haven't the foggiest idea what to do with it. The scenes are clear in my mind so if you're a mind reader, feel free to jump in, my friend.

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  8. I felt such a chill as I read your Gainesvill FL memory of the car accident and I immediately pictured your scene in Starting Over - your novel descriptions are so vivid and real. And I feel that way about each of your stories. Great interview.
    ~Chelle
    http://ChelleCordero.com

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    1. Chelle, you have a terrific memory. Thanks for the praise. Coming from you it means a great deal.

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  9. Interesting interview. Most actors I've met have worked at a variety of jobs to make ends meet. That provides lots of background material when they make the transition to writer.

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  10. The more I read about Charmaine, the more in awe I am! I agree with Malcolm about putting clips on your website. That would be so much fun!

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  11. Not only an interesting interview, but an interesting life. And I'm also a beach lover. Sitting on the beach and watching the waves roll in always made me feel like I didn't have a care in the world. Now I live in the desert. Draw your own conclusions.

    Anyway, great interview!

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  12. There are a lot of talented people waiting on tables and tee shirts sold saying actor, singer, dancer, waiter. I got lucky. J.R., thanks for stopping by to leave a comment.

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  13. Hey Melinda, It's me revealed in glorious color, thanks to Patricia. Yes clips would be amazing but where oh where?

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  14. Hi Charmaine!
    Chiming in late...sorry.

    You say you want to write, so write. Excellent advice from an excellent author. You know I'm a fan!!!

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  15. Marja, another beach lover heard from. Go figure you live in the desert. Thanks for stopping by.

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  16. Hi Wendy, we of the mutual admiration society. I appreciate your taking a moment off from your busy day to stop in with words of encouragement.

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  17. Patricia I enjoyed hearing from Germaine...great interview.

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    1. Hi Augie, nice of you to stop by. I see you review and write. Very cool.

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  18. Singing with Harrison Ford ... I'm envious! Nice interview!
    And Pat, I saw the cover of your new book. It's great!

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    1. Thanks, Catherine! Eric at PMP did a great job.

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  19. J.R. Lindermuth wins the short story love anthology written by the core group of Vanilla Heart Publishing authors. Thanks to everyone for stopping by and love to Patricia for inviting me.

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