Do you ever lose things? After I finished the first draft of To Sleep With Stones, I remember writing a plot outline for the sequel. I don’t think there was a title, but it included new characters with photographs (I like to use photos when I create these folks), and detailed scenes. Since then I’ve changed computers, started and stopped journals, and drafted plot lines for a couple of other sequels. Now that I’m ready to pick that one up again, it is nowhere to be found.
But in perusing old flash drives, I did find something else of interest. This is a transcript of a radio interview I did with Nik Beat in 2011. Everything we talk about is still true today, but two things have changed since then.
At that time, I was not out, and was using a pen name: Charra Rede. Charra means “boggy area” and translates from Scottish Gaelic into Carr (my maiden name). Drochaid Charra is the oldest stone bridge in the highlands and sees you safely over boggy ground. Using a pseudonym does make things mirky though, and so this time around, I’ve relaunched To Charm a Killer using my own name.
The other thing that’s changed is dreadfully sad. In September 2014, we lost Nik Beat. Michael Barry AKA Nik Beat was a kind, talented, poet, singer, and radio personality, who did much to promote the artistic community (especially in Toronto). It came as something of a shock, and he is terribly missed. You can read more about Nik Beat here.
And so, with that in mind, I offer you:
CIUT 89.5fm Toronto Live Interview with Nik Beat on Howl – Aug 9, 2011
Nik: We have on the phone here, Canadian mystery writer, Charra Rede. Charra, how are you doing?
Charra: I’m doing great. It’s a beautiful night here in B.C. It’s perfect.
Nik: Is it always perfect? I hear Vancouver’s just a bit of a paradise.
Charra: It wasn’t really perfect till about three weeks ago.
Nik: Really. So, I’m wrong again. Holy crow. I’m going to let people know just a little bit, about who Charra Rede is: Charra Rede lives in the Pacific Northwest and writes contemporary urban fantasies. To Charm a Killer is the first of the Hollystone Mysteries.
It’s so funny that we just did the Hollywood dolls and now we’ve got the Hollystone Mysteries. This is a book: To Charm a Killer. Is it the first in a series of books?
Charra: Yes it is. I’m hoping to write quite a few with the same characters, the same group. Hollystone Coven is a Wicca group. Several characters are actively involved in the coven:
Sensara Narato is the group leader, the High Priestess. She works as a massage therapist, but is also a gifted medium who uses her psychic abilities for healing. Sensara trained and initiated all of the members of HollyStone Coven.
Sandolino Estrada is a gifted Mestizo magician and Coven High Priest.
Dr. Sylvia Blackstone is a Welsh university professor who researches and publishes articles on Celtic Mythology.
Dylan McBride is an archaeology major and bagpiper who has a unique gift: he communes with stones.
Daphne Sky is a landscaper and photographer.
Jeremy Jones operates an online shop called Regalia that specializes in ritual paraphernalia.
Maggie Taylor is a high school senior who wangles her way into the coven in book one.
Other key characters are Michael and Nigel Stryker.
Michael manages a West Coast Goth club called Pegasus. He is a libertine who fancies himself the reincarnation of Lord Byron, indulges in fetishes, and frequently plays vampire.
Michael’s grandfather, Nigel, owns the club and several other businesses. Something of a British godfather, Nigel indulges Michael and Estrada.
Nik: Now how many books is this going to be? A trilogy or …
Charra: I really don’t know at this point.
Nik: What would influence it to be a long series? Lots of book sales for the first book?
Charra: Well, book sales, interest, but also it depends if the characters keep talking to me and if the stories keep coming. Right now, I’m writing the sequel to the one that you have, and it’s coming really well. I’m at chapter eight already in the sequel so they’re talking to me right now.
Nik: I’m going to let people know a little bit about the book, To Charm a Killer. When another witch vanishes from Vancouver, the witches of Hollystone Coven spin a charm to catch the killer—hence the title of the book, To Charm a Killer—but spells have repercussions and in the ensuing chaos, Estrada—sexy magician and coven priest—discovers that he is the real object of the man’s desire. As obsessed with the killer as the killer is with him, Estrada journeys from Canada to the west coast of Ireland and beyond. And this is exploring Wicca?
Charra: Yes it is.
Nik: Are you Celtic yourself, Charra?
Charra: Am I Celtic? Yeah, I definitely have some roots there and a calling in that area … Ireland, specifically.
Nik: Tell me about it. My family’s all from Ireland. Is your family from Ireland originally?
Charra: Ireland and Wales … definitely Celtic. Something there calls to me. I can’t let it go. I went to visit a couple of times and I just really became quite obsessed with Ireland.
Charra: I don’t know. I mean part of it is … I think that the land is sacred in a way, if you can understand that. There’s something special there. There’s some magic there for sure, and the people are fantastic.
Nik: Even in a depression. They’re in a depression there almost, a recession.
Charra: They are, but there is something in the warmth of the people. If I could just go and live in a little cottage and sing and play music in the pub and write books that would be great.
Nik: You know it’s funny, John Lennon said the same thing.
Charra: About Ireland?
Nik: Yeah. He said: Yoko and I are going to retire to the west coast of Ireland and look through our scrapbook of madness. Because you know, he’s part Irish?
Charra: I did not know that.
Nik: Yeah, John Lennon. His grandfather was an Irishman and John Lennon was born in Dublin.
Charra: Ah. Okay. Well, the west coast is really where the magic is, and that’s where my characters ended up in this story.
Nik: Now this story … how long was the gestation period for writing this novel?
Charra: Goodness. I started this in about 2005 … I started thinking about it and I went to Ireland that year as well, and it just kind of percolated. But it took about two or three years before I wrote it and then when I did write it the first time, I didn’t write it as it is now.
Nik: Really. How did it appear originally?
Charra: There’s a young girl in the story that gets tangled up in the charm, and originally the story was about her. And then, what happened is, the protagonist who is Estrada, really just took it over and I completely rewrote the whole thing and intertwined the two stories, so I could tell his story at the same time as her story.
Nik: Charra, you said that your characters talk to you. Are you afraid that people are going to think you’re crazy?
Charra: (laughs) Well … no. I’m not. I’m not afraid of that, no.
Charra: No. Really. They do. That’s the thing about writing. Sometimes people dream things; sometimes people see things, and I have a lot of dialogue that goes on in my head, particularly when I’m out walking and that’s when I tend to really see clearly what’s happening … they are telling the story. I’m just kind of writing it down.
Nik: Really? In other words, you’re not going to take credit for this book at all.
Charra: Well, I’ll take a little bit of credit, especially if it will get me over to Ireland again. You know?
Nik: I hear ya. Where can people get it Charra, if they want to buy it?
Charra: I just put it up on amazon.com (kindle) actually as an ebook, and it was quite an experience learning how to do that.
Nik: Tell me about it. A lot of people don’t know what you mean by an ebook.
Charra. Oh, well, if you’re interested. Amazon.com has the kindle site. You can either have a kindle app on any of your computers or you can use your e-reader. I wanted it to be accessible as an e-book so I had to figure out how to get it from my computer into something that kindle could read. And that took me awhile. I blogged about it because it was quite the experience.
Nik: How much has real life impinged on the storyline of this book? It’s a fantasy book so I’m just wondering.
Charra: Okay. Yeah. That’s a bit of a complicated question. In some ways, I think a lot of me probably ends up in the characters in bits, you know, aspects of me. Also, a lot of the traveling and the places are real. And some of the things that happen in the Wicca thing are real; others are not … I mean I haven’t done some of the things that they do in their ceremonies, but some I have.
I like to use real places as settings in my books; that way, readers can relate if they’ve been there or they might go there someday to experience the sense of place. In this book, the archaeological sites are real—archaeology is one of my passions. And the Irish pubs that feature traditional music are real—another one of my passions. Tig Coili, Taafe’s, and The Quays are all in the vibrant and funky city of Galway, and Furey’s Sheela-na-Gig is in Sligo. These are all magical places where as they say, the craic is always ninety.
Nik: Charra, do you see a movie being made of this?
Charra: I’d love a movie made of this.
Nik: Do you think the Wicca groups would be happy about this book?
Charra: I would hope so. I did have a couple of people that are involved in Wicca take a look at it, and they seemed to be pretty happy with it. It certainly is talking about the positive side of Wicca, in terms of healing and using your power for good. There’s also this sort of underlying warning to be careful what you put out because what you do put out does come back to you and you create everything with your words and your intent.
Nik: Charra, what does writing do for you? Is it cathartic? Is it healing?
Nik: Energizing. Really?
Charra: I get a kind of euphoria going. I crack myself up. I’ll be laughing. I’ll be crying. There’s a couple of scenes … when I wrote them, I was crying through them. It just builds me up.
Nik: Really? Because you know, I’ve talked to a lot of writers and I’m one of them, by the way. I’m writing a book … I’m about a third of the way through it and I’m exhausted. So, I don’t know if I’m getting the same thing you’re getting.
Charra: Well, maybe you need to get your characters to talk to you more.
Nik: (laughing) Well, there’s only one character and he’s lost in space, so …
Charra: See you’re doing too much work. You need him to do the work.
Nik: Yeah. Good point. Charra. What are your plans? You’re writing another book and it’s somehow related to this one obviously. Do you have a title yet?
Charra: I do have a title. It is called To Sleep With Stones.
Nik: Oh I love that title. That’s a very very good title.
Charra: Thank you.
To Sleep With Stones is set in the area of Kilmartin Glen in Scotland. It is a magical place by the sea, rich in megaliths. When Dylan spends the eve of Summer Solstice sleeping among the Ballymeanoch Standing Stones, he ends up in some big trouble, and calls on Estrada to dig him out.
Nik: Who influenced you?
Charra: I don’t know… I mean, I like contemporary urban fantasy so that whole genre, and I like Charles de Lint. I like the kind of things he does with his faeries and his characters, but for this particular grouping of books, I don’t know. Maybe True Blood.
Nik: I hear ya.
Charra: There’s a little bit of that in there for sure.
Joseph Campbell has influenced me greatly, especially his work on comparative mythology and the hero’s journey. It’s brilliant. And I’ve been influenced by Carl Jung. As for contemporary writers, I like Charlaine Harris’s premise for the Sookie Stackhouse novels and what the producers of True Blood have done with it. I also admire JK Rowling and Anne Rice, Irish writer O.R. Melling, and American writer, Holly Black.
Nik: Charra, before we go. I just want to let people know one more time. Where do they go to buy your book?
Charra: Actually, it’s all over the place now. You can get it online through Amazon, through Barnes & Noble, all of those different places.
Nik: Is it in any stores?
Charra: Out here it is, but not where you guys are. So, you would have to order it.
Nik: I hear you. Actually, sometimes it’s a lot easier ordering than buying it in some of these crazy stores. You want this thing to be as big a possible. What kind of publicity machine do you have or is it just you?
Charra: (laughing) It’s me.
Nik: Well, you’ve got a lot of work to do, but you’re doing it well, and I want to thank you so much for being on Howl.
Charra: Well, thank you.
Nik: It’s been a pleasure having you on Howl. I’m enjoying reading your book. I haven’t finished it yet. I don’t normally read mysteries, but this is a really good one. Thank you again for being on Howl.
Charra: Thank you for the invitation. Cheers.