· Favorite Food: Chocolate, hands down. But for food that is supposed to sustain you
(lol) I enjoy Asian.
· Favorite Movie: Lord of the Rings.
· Favorite TV Show: Grimm. This was based on a character who is the descendant of
The Brothers Grimm. The fantasy/magic elements in the series were really good.
· Favorite Author: Diana Gabaldon for romance; Jim Butcher for Fantasy.
· Favorite Song: This is a hard one! I love 80s music, so anything by Duran Duran,
Kool and the Gang, Michael Jackson, George Michael. I can listen to their songs and not get
· Favorite Book: Diana Gabaldon’s OUTLANDER. I would stay up sometimes until
3am because I would constantly say “just one more page; just one more chapter; oh let’s see
how this chapter starts.” In the morning I’d fall asleep during class! LOL
· Print or Ebook reader? Print! I love the convenience of e-book, but the feel of a book
in my hands as I turn the pages is better.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
· What made you become a writer?
I loved reading since I was a young girl. A friend, who was an aspiring writer, needed
help in typing her manuscript (yes, back then we had to use typewriters and send paper
manuscripts to agents!) As I worked on it, I was drawn into the story and she took me to
one of her writing sessions at Toronto Romance Writers, affliated with the RWA (Romance
Writers of America). What I loved was the support, creativity and strong work ethics. I
decided to give writing a go and never looked back.
· Describe a typical day for Charlene.
I work a full time job in the reinsurance industry (reinsurance = insurance for insurance
companies. Yes, that’s true!) Unfortunately, it leaves a certain amount of time to write in
the evenings, so I have be diligent and organized to get those words.
· Why romance and, specifically, romantic suspense?
In today’s world, that HEA is more important than ever for me. I need to read something
that lifts my spirits and take me away from the reality for a little while. I want to provide
the same happiness in my writing. I decided on Romantic Suspense because I love
reading and writing complex stories, and I have fun figuring out clues!
· What, to you, is the most difficult part of the writing process?
Getting those words in! because I work a full time job, I have about 2-3 hours to write in
the evenings, while the weekends are filled with errands I couldn’t do during the work
week. The problem is, I don’t always want to look at another computer when I just
finished staring at one for a whole day. Or I need a self-care break. When I do write,
sometimes my characters want to do something completely different to the outline, and
I’ll yell at my screen “what are you DOING?” But then I take a deep breath and just go
with the flow. And you know what? Those damn characters knew what they were doing,
· What do you enjoy doing when you are not writing?
I like to exercise, so either going to the gym or doing a workout at home. Walking outside
is my “me time” and it helps me to unwind after the full time job. I enjoy reading fantasy
books – it gives me a break so that I can look at my writing with fresh eyes.
· What the best book you have read in 2023, so far?
Reading has been hit and miss this year. I’ve been reading a fantasy series by Michelle
Sagara called the Chronicles of Elantra. The books are long, complex and filled with so
many interesting worldbuilding ideas! It’s not a series where you can sit down and read a
book in one sitting; you have to really digest it and think on it to understand what’s
going on with the characters.
ABOUT THE BOOKS
· How long have you been published and what is the name of your first book?
I first published way back in 2008 with an erotic book called A Gentleman’s Savior with
Ellora’s Cave – that was a crowning achievement! But having a full time job kept me from
writing novels on a steady basis. I tried self publishing, but that was also a full time job,
and had to give that up. But I still loved to write, and kept that up until Harlequin
purchased my book.
· Tell us a bit about WATCHERS OF THE NIGHT.
This was a book of my heart. I hadn’t written much and started this book as a “what do I
want to read?” project. A couple of what I call “coincidences” happened while writing
this—first, the Black Movement in 2021. Many established authors were offering mentor
services to POC authors. I threw my hat into the ring with an author I knew, and she
took me under her wing. The second was HQN’s trade paperback open call submission.
With my mentor’s encouragement I submitted a proposal. They liked the book but it
wasn’t quite right for them, and suggested I try Harlequin’s Romantic Suspense line. I
got turned down twice! I shelfed the manuscript and worked on something else, when an
editor friend told me about a Twitter event called PitBLK, who assisted POC authors to
get their Twitter pitches in front of editors and agents. I didn’t have Twitter at the time,
so I made an account, put up 3 pitches and waited. One editor liked all three (Guess
who? Harlequin! lol)
The original manuscript was too long, so after cutting it to the required length, it was
· How did you feel when you got the call?
Honestly, I was in shock! I’ve been writing for a long time with plenty of rejections and no
sales (hence the self publishing route). As I mentioned above, WATCHERS OF THE
NIGHT was a “book of my heart” so I had no expectations.
I received an email from the Harlequin editor and I had to look at the email three times
before it clicked in my mind. We set a date and time for a Zoom chat and guess what? My
computer decided to act up, lol. So we set up a phone call for the next day, and she gave
me the great news that Harlequin wanted to offer me a 2 book contract! I wasn’t
expecting the second book!
· What quality/characteristic, do you believe, makes your books special?
I love writing unexpected twists. The suspense of a book builds up the tension and as the
reader thinks they figured out who the villain is, I’ll do something that makes them think
“Whoa, I didn’t see that coming!”
Sometimes the story will do that to me as I’m writing. For WATCHERS OF THE NIGHT, I
had a specific character who was to be the villain. When I got to the reveal, the character
promptly told me “NO”. I sat at my desk, wondering “What the hell just happened?” But
after a bit of thinking, the new villain was exactly the one I needed. Who knew?
· What is next for Charlene?
Book #2 in my Night Guardian Series, DEFENDER AFTER DARK, will come out in
April 2024. I believe that’s up for preorder. And, I was recently invited to participate in
a Colton continuity series! This will be interesting as I’ve never written with a group of
authors before. That will come out in 2025. In the meantime, I have a couple of other
ideas I want to flesh out first to see if they will work before starting those. Keeping
ABOUT THE READERS
· If there was one thing you could tell your readers about Charlene, what would it
I have a fun sense of humour. I love jokes and making people laugh!
· What advice would you give an aspiring author?
DON’T GIVE UP. I can’t stress this enough. If you love to write stories, keep going.
Take classes to improve your craft. Join valid writing groups to get ideas and
inspiration. Make friends with fellow writers.
Writing is a journey; enjoy it! I’ve been doing this for almost 20 years and I’m still
learning and still loving it.
· How can readers reach you?