My spotlight today is shinning on the wonderful J. Winfield Currie...
Joan Winfield Currie grew up on a small working dairy farm in Norwell, a once rural town on the South Shore of Massachusetts. A graduate of Massachusetts College of Art in Boston, she has taught art at the secondary level, operated a part-time freelance design studio, displayed fantasy watercolors locally, worked many years in retail hardware … and writes.
of a taxidermist who loved camping, fishing and hunting, she grew up shooting
skeet in the back fields, skiving hides, riding horses and milking cows: part
of the daily rhythm in farm life. This unique background proved invaluable when
creating different aspects of her novels, especially her heroine’s independent,
earthy, self-sufficient nature.
Homestead Farm where I grew up, and two of my fantasy art watercolors: ‘Celtic Greenman’ ©1999 J. Currie Virta and ‘Inquiring Mind’ ©1997 J. Currie Virta
Wow awesome artwork! So let's get this interview rolling...I think this is going to be fun!!
Do you write as yourself or under a pseudonym?
I write under my maiden name: J. Winfield Currie Why? Two reasons: It had a nice ‘ring’ for an author of historical fiction, and I also wanted to separate my writing from my graphic design and fantasy artwork which is all created under my former married name: J. Currie Virta
made you want to be a published author?
Ever since I was a kid in grade school, I have used my writing as a means of ‘escape’, beginning with simple, short stories that I illustrated, and graduating to more serious subject matter as I grew up. As an adult, my stories became much lengthier and more involved. When I finally created a tale of impressive size, “Beyond All Reason”, I showed it to several people who suggested that I try getting it ‘out there’ for others to enjoy. That sounded good to me.
genre do you write in and why?
Historical Fiction/Romance set in the Revolutionary War Era: my comfort zone partly due to where, when and how I was raised. Granite foundation blocks under the Georgian Colonial Farmhouse I was raised in were set in 1722. My grandmother, Bertha R. MacLean, purchased the farm from heirs of Revolutionary War Chief Justice Nathan Cushing. She was also one of the first women to pass the bar in Massachusetts and helped found Portia Law School in Boston in 1908 with Dean Arthur Winfield MacLean; the first known husband and wife Team of Law at that time. See where my unique middle name came from? My grandfather, a direct descendant of the Union Army General Winfield Scott, ‘Old Fuss and Feathers’ himself. By the way, Portia Law School for women-only at its founding is now the noted co-ed New England School of Law.
you could talk to your 12 year old self, what advice would you give?
Never give up your dream, or your individual unique ‘voice’. No matter what others might strongly suggest, remain true to yourself. However, if all you’re seeking is instant success and lots of money, you better find a good daytime job.
any other authors influenced your writing through theirs?
No, I have marched to the beat of a different drum all my life; I am who I am, and don’t attempt to imitate anyone else.
you are a self-published author what made you take this route and what was your
experience (good or bad)?
After realizing all the time involved in seeking a traditional publisher I decided to self-publish. I’ve worked with three different self-publishing companies and have had varying experiences: from good to really bad. But it’s all been a great learning curve; I try not to repeat the same mistake twice.
would you rate your writing?
My goal was to take many of today’s emotional problems and wrap them in a different era (the Revolutionary War). Life’s inherent problems are universal, transcending both time and place; wrapping them in a good storyline with a bit of action, adventure, and several fascinating characters, had the makings for a great novel. From reader feedback, many seem to feel I’ve accomplished that. I sure hope so.
do you react to poor reviews of your book?
I tend to ignore reviews of any kind; after all it’s only an opinion. I’ve roamed through many book stores and thumbed through lots of books bearing a large ‘Gold Seal of Quality’, and have yet to purchase one. Give me a lesser known author with a unique ‘voice, and that’s the one I’m apt to take home.
influences your choice of book covers?
No outside influence of any kind. From my first book in 2003, I wanted to develop a stand-alone look—whether it was an ‘in look’ or not. I come up with the concept and my Graphic Designer (www.ranagraphics.com) tweaks them into a finished product. We’ve worked together for so many years he doesn’t even need a sketch: a sentence or two and we’re on the same page. I also like the continuity that flows throughout all my books; it identifies me.
do you balance your writing with your real world responsibilities?
At this point in life it’s easier than when I was working long hours in retail hardware, which I thoroughly enjoyed for almost 28 years. I’m a high energy individual with obsessive focus and drive when I’ve set my mind on a goal.
Do your characters drive the plots of your stories or do you plan out your plot? My characters drive me, often changing what I had pre-planned for them. I have a somewhat off beat approach to writing: no outlines, write the first and last chapters (not necessarily in that order) and allow all else to come to life in jigsaw puzzle fashion. As my story evolves, I immerse myself into each character, becoming that individual as I write; it creates great authenticity but can be extremely draining at times.
you ever write what you dream? Give an example.
Never! My dreams would give Stephen King nightmares!
you market yourself or pay a professional?
I market myself as hiring people gets costly. As a graduate of Massachusetts College of Art in Boston, MA, with a degree in Graphic Design, I create all my postcards, bookmarks, business cards, posters and flyers for my ‘speaking gigs’. FYI: I wear my men’s Revolutionary War Era greatcoat, waistcoat, breeches and boots for all appearances.
are your tips for editing?
Write and re-write and don’t rely on spell-check. The more often you write, the smoother and easier the flow. Trust in yourself and weigh the odds before following certain ‘dictates’ as to how one should proceed correctly; they have the potential to rob an author of their unique ‘voice’ and style. Why would you choose to sound like everyone else?
inspired you to write your current WIP or current published work?
I have always loved the early American era of westerns and the likes: my comfort zone. But it was the movie “The Patriot” in 2002 that I became obsessed with. After seeing it numerous times I wondered if anyone as evil as the Colonel, so marvelously portrayed by English Actor Jason Isaacs, could become a decent human being? Perhaps a female not from his social status, a rebel on the opposite side in a bloody war with a fiery passion that intrigues him … and could I make her believable? A challenge arose and I dove in.
you prefer to write stand-alone novels or a series? Why?
I started to write one book, but readers got back to me, wanting to know more about Kathryn and Jason; once you ‘buy into’ my two main characters, you won’t want to let them go. One book became three, which I brought together in “The ‘Beyond’ Trilogy” last fall. A Prequel and Fourth Book are well under way and a Screenplay of Book I, “Beyond All Reason”, is now in the works on the West Coast.
you could change one thing in the publishing process what would it be?
There needs to be more communication and follow-through between departments within each publishing house; they also need to work on their organizational skills.
advice would you give to a new author?
Stephen Tyler of Aerosmith got it right. “Life’s a Journey; Not a Destination”. Tell yourself that regularly and have patience.
Share a favourite quote from your book.
Kathryn, my rather outspoken and opinionated Scottish lass, has many ‘bon mots’—here’s one of my favorites on aging: “Passion does not diminish or die with the passing of years; it merely learns to pace itself out of necessity.”
Lets have a looksy at her books...
“The ‘Beyond’ Trilogy” brings all three novels of my historical fiction romance series into an updated, omnibus edition. A tale of passion, betrayal, and courage set in the Carolinas during the Revolutionary War— crackling with authenticity and grounded in historical accuracy, it is a seamlessly interwoven tapestry of both real and fictitious characters amidst an unforgettable love story.
Book I: “BEYOND ALL REASON”: Meet Kathryn MacLean and Colonel Jason Tarrington, their destinies irrevocably sealed by an odd twist of fate; driven to succeed in a bloody war they will ultimately lose. But can they survive? For theirs is a love Beyond All Reason.
Book II: “BEYOND ALL ODDS”: Scanning the bloody remains littering the battlefield at Guilford Courthouse, Lt. Jackson discovers dreadful personal loss. However, his grief must be put aside for he has a sacred promise to fulfill: save a small child considered to be a valuable pawn by either side in this ugly war. It was her notorious parents who led many an English victory in the South.
Book III: “BEYOND THE HORIZON”: The Revolutionary War is declared over, yet danger lingers on all sides. Who to trust? Where to go to start over? Perhaps an answer lies in the wilderness beyond the horizon. Grim, life changing choices must be made. A robust tale of enduring passion as a unique couple’s story unfolds and life comes full circle.
I have to admit I love history and even have a History and Sociology Degree myself! I cant wait to read the trilogy and you can too here :
J. Winfield Currie Website: http://jwinfieldcurrie.com/index.html
J. Winfield Currie Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/j.w.currie.3
J. Winfield Currie Twitter: https://twitter.com/JWinfieldCurrie
“The ‘Beyond’ Trilogy” You Tube Book Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OM4rszaQzx4
Amazon Author Central Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/jwinfieldcurrie
Abbott Press “The ‘Beyond’ Trilogy” Press Release: http://www.prweb.com/releases/2012/10/prweb9959408.htm