Guest interview: Christine Bell & The Twisted Tale of Stormy Gale

Christine Bell is one half of the happiest couple in the world. She and her handsome hubby currently reside in Pennsylvania with a four-pack of teenage boys and their two dogs, Gimli and Pug. If she gets time off from her duties as maid, chef, chauffeur, or therapist, she can be found reading just about anything she can get her hands on, from Young Adult novels to books on poker theory. She doesn’t like root beer, clowns or bugs (except ladybugs, on account of their cute outfits), but lurrves chocolate, going to the movies, the New York Giants and playing Texas Hold ‘Em. Writing is her passion, but if she had to pick another occupation, she would be a pirate…or, like, a ninja maybe. She loves writing fun and adventurous romance stories, but also hopes to one day publish something her dad can read without wanting to dig his eyes out with rusty spoons.

Welcome Christine! That is one of the best and most entertaining bios I've ever read! :) Please tell us about your upcoming release. Do you have a review you could share with us?

First, thanks so much for having me! I am really excited about my first time travel/romance/steampunk release, The Twisted Tale of Stormy Gale. As a young girl in 19th century London, Stormy spent her time on the streets. Discarded by her family, she and the other Fenchurch Street urchins struggled every day just to get enough to eat. Then, Professor Gilly Green blew into town and swept Stormy and her brother Bacon away on a journey through time, to the 20th century where he raised them as his own. Sixteen years later, she is grown and has embraced a life of adventure. She's a time pirate, a modern day Robin Hood hell-bent on righting the wrongs in the world. When she embarks on yet another escapade through time, things don't go according to plan. She finds herself in 1836 New England running an ill-conceived con on a madman in order to get back what is rightfully hers. Her adventure lands her in hot water as she winds up shackled to a bed in The Loony Duke of Leister's torture chambers. Little does she know that the Loony Duke is someone from her past, who is going to turn her life upside down.

It comes out on April 25th, and I am so excited because I LOVE these characters.

And I do have some early reviews from Netgalley useres. My favorite is from Joyfully Reviewed.

Awesome! Congratulations! (By the way, I love your cover!) What inspired this story?

Gosh, I wish I knew, lol! It almost never really happens for me like that. It’s always the characters that come first. I’m usually just sitting around and a character comes to mind. The plots just sort of fill themselves in as I write. Secondary characters (Bacon, Gilly and Devlin-the Loony Duke of Leister) came to me first. Then Stormy’s voice rang in my head. She’s so funny and sharp and dry. Once I knew her, the story kind of flowed around her.

What is your writing process like?

I’m a total pantster, so my process is…well, I don’t have a process. I just have characters that start to sort of nag me, usually at inopportune moments, lol. Then I just start writing and it comes out. One time, my husband did say something to me that directly resulted in a book. It was an Ellora’s Cave release (by my erotic romance alter-ego Chloe Cole) called Naughty Godmother. Hubby and I were sitting around talking plots (because that’s what people who love writers have to do in their spare time, lol) and I told him I wanted to write about a fairy godmother who sort of helped nerdy guys get in touch with their cooler, sexy side etc. And he said “Ooh, cool. She can be a Naughty Godmother. Maybe she used to be in teeth.” And I was like “Wait, what?” and he said, “You know, she just got promoted. She used to be a Tooth Fairy and this is the next step up.” That’s all I needed. I got out my laptop and wrote it. It was a lot of fun. And I guess I’ll give him double the credit because the sequel, Tempting Trent is coming out on the 22nd.

Oh that sounds like fun! Congratulations on your other new releases! How do you choose names for your characters?

I love naming characters. It’s like my most favorite thing! I truly believe you can almost tell a story in a name. You can almost know a character just by reading a really well constructed name. I am a huge fan of Charles Dickens, and he is positively lethal at it. For instance, take Ebenezer Scrooge. What a great name, right? Without reading another word, you can almost visualize him. I am certainly no Dickens, but I try not to just slap a name on for the sake of it. I think of who my characters really are. So in this book, Stormy Gale is an adventurer, she’s unpredictable and sort of shakes things up wherever she goes. Her brother Bacon is lovable and simple and without guile. In Naughty Godmother I have a fairy named Holly Tucket. She’s clumsy and funny and cute at a button and it just fit.

I love the title of your book! Did you choose it and if so how did you do it?

I did! And I knew I wanted it to have Stormy’s name in the title. I had gotten as far as The ____ Tale of Stormy Gale, and during and impromptu brain storming session, my husband said “Twisted!” It was PERFECT, because there are a lot of nods to L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz in this book, so I loved the play on the words twisted and twister (tornado). I was ecstatic that Carina Press loved it too.

Which element of story creation is your favorite?

Ooh, good question! I actually think plots are highly overrated. At the core of it, there isn’t a story that hasn’t been told a thousand times. A plot is secondary, maybe even tertiary (because I think voice is more important than plot too), when it comes to entertaining people. The story is in the characters.

Take the movie, The Matrix. A conceptually ambitious story about…err, I don’t know, whatever it was about. The fact is, I couldn’t care less. Why? Because Keanu Reeves was like a walking mannequin; totally lifeless and unappealing to me. I didn’t care whether they unplugged him or plugged him in, or whether he was The One, or Not The One or whether he saved humanity. They could have set him on fire and I would have been like, “Where’s the marshmallows?”

Then, take Ellie, the wife in the Pixar animated film Up. She’s in the movie for all of ten minutes and I wept when she found out she couldn’t have children and sobbed when she died. Because she was so full of life, so real, so nuanced and quirky. A CARTOON CHARACTER.

Don't get me wrong, you need a good hook. But it's your CHARACTERS that will keep them hooked. If your readers love them, they'll follow them anywhere. Or nowhere. I’ll meander along for seventeen books of Stephanie Plum doing the same stuff, book in and book out, because I love her. I love that she eats olives and peanut butter. I love that she blows up cars and eats more than one donut in a sitting. Do I remember what the plot of the last book was? Not really, because it was pretty much the same as the previous five. But do I care? Not really. Because when I’m reading, Stephanie Plum feels like an old friend and I’m just happy to enjoy the couple of hours we get to spend together. So, to my mind, it’s IMPERTATIVE that your audience can connect your characters. Because if not, who cares if they find the Wizard and get back to Kansas? Who cares if their ship sinks and there aren’t enough lifeboats? Not me.

I definitely agree with you on that. Can you share with us “the call” story?

My call story is actually kind of funny! Rather than recreate the wheel, I’ll just copy and paste my blog post from that day. Mainly because I think you can *hear* my excitement and lunacy just from reading it!

“They want to publish my steampunk romance novella, The Twisted Tale of Stormy Gale! My whole body is shaking right now. They want it, Angela James just called me. From Carina Press. On the telephone. And she said it was her and I said “No it's not.” And she said yes it was. Then she laughed. Then I said, "Wait, you don't call with bad news do you?" and she said that no, she didn't. And then she told me that they want to publish my book. At which point I burst into tears. I wish I was kidding about that part, but I'm not. And then I babbled on and on about how I almost emailed her to get it back because of all the goofy dialogue tags and stupid adverbs and how I am taking her editing workshop. I came across very cool, suave, you know? Anyway, it's scheduled for release spring 2010. And I am STILL freaking out!!!”

LOL! I read that sometimes and laugh because I remember just how I felt at that moment. It was probably one of the top ten moments in my life.

Wow, that is wonderfully emotional! Do you have any advice for unpublished authors?

Probably nothing earth shattering that hasn’t been said, but these are a few of the things I think can’t be said enough:

Don’t quit.

Get a copy of On Writing by Stephen King

Find a crit group or at least two CP’s who are at the same level as you are as a writer.

Be willing to listen to constructive criticism.

Did I say don’t quit? DON’T QUIT!

Wonderful advice! What’s next for you?

Let’s see, well, I have Tempting Trent coming out on April 22nd with Ellora’s Cave. I also have an anthology project I am working on with three amazing authors that will come out in June on Amazon. And, as always, I’m writing my head off! I’m working on novellas for two of my e-publishers, and I’m also writing my first paranormal single title that I hope to pitch at RWA Nationals in July.

Would you like to ask readers a question?

Absolutely! Are you like me, where the characters make you come back for more? Or is it flowing prose, or maybe intricate world-building that sucks you in? What makes you all fall in love with a book?

I’d love to give an ARC of The Twisted Tale of Stormy Gale to one commenter, and then anything off my backlist to another!

Thanks so much for your generosity, Christine! And thanks for being our guest today! Everyone, please visit Christine's websites:



Twitter: @Christine_Bell

The Twisted Tale of Stormy Gale is available at Carina Press and other online retailers. 


Toni Anderson said...

Great interview, Christine. Love that your hubby is part of your muse :) And 'whoa' on all that maleness in one house :)

Carly Carson said...

You got me with the ladybug. lol And I agree, hubby should get some kind of reward for his awesome help. I love characters, but I also like wonderful word usage. I agree the plot is not the most essential element. Good luck with all your releases!

Christine Bell said...

Thanks Toni! I am so lucky because he's even more than my muse, he's my rock too. I got up this morning after sleeping only three hours due to a super tight deadline, and my lunch was made. I got into my car and he had filled up my gas tank so I didn't have to stop. *dreamy sigh* Now THAT'S romance!

Carly- I'll tell hubby you said so and will make sure to reward him properly!

Teri Anne Stanley said...

Alot of my story ideas come from overheard conversations, or from seeing people together who don't necessarily "fit". I love to build a story around something like that!

Christine Bell said...

Teri Anne- I do that too! Whenever we're at the store or the diner or something I will start making up stories about people in my head. I think it's the bane of all writers. It's unstoppable.

Lizzie Walker said...

Wow, awesome interview Christine. First, I love anything time travel so I am board. I love your story concept too. Definitely something I would read.

Like you, I am a total panster. Sometimes I come up with a plot but I don't like to be hemmed in. I like my books to take me on a journey so my writing style is much the same. Where ever that moment may lead me.

I also adore coming up with names and book titles. I know when it's right when I get goosebumps.

I wish you much success on your next release and good luck on your pitch at RWA. I am not ready for that yet, but cross my fingers, eyes, toes and legs I will have something to pitch in 2012.

Renee Vincent said...

Great to meet you Christine. Your book sounds like a wonderful read. And yes, my DH is often my muse too!

Shelley Munro said...

Husbands who "get" writing are worth their weight in gold. I love your take on characters. I'm all about the characters too. Your upcoming release sounds awesome, and just my kind of book. Good luck with your releases.

BTW - your call story made me chuckle.

Christine Bell said...

Pansters Unite, lol. Thanks Lizzie, I'm glad you enjoyed the interview. And when you do decide you're ready to pitch at Nationals, I hope I'm there to root you on.

Renee- It's such a gift to have a partner that inspires you, isn't it?

Shelley- I love call stories! When I was just starting out, and needed the motivation I would troll blogs looking for them like an addict! Seeing them, *hearing* the excitement the authors felt really made me push that much harder to get my own.

Taryn Kincaid said...

Sounds awesome. Great interview, intriguing blurb, terrific excerpt. Faboooo cover!

Murphy said...

Hi Christine! *Waves* Love the interview and the call story - freaking hilarious!

As you know, Stormy is a favorite of mine - I love her spunk, the way she slips in and out of differing century lingo - talk about hilarious and it don't hurt either, that the Duke is smokin' hot and into her. <- heheheh

As for me and my writing process? I wing the crap out of everything. Right down to *imagine me leaning down to whisper this in your ear* character names. I start doing name boggle with the post it notes, book titles, and magazines I have on my desk. No wonder I forget how to spell my heroine's name more often than not. <- 0_o That's bad, I know - but hey, in the end it works for me. :) Ooh, and I also like to use the word length to refer to my hero's manliness - WAAAY too much, or so I've been told. ;)

I hope Stormy flies off the shelves - she deserves to be cherished.


Christine Bell said...

Thanks Taryn!


Christine Bell said...

Thanks again for having me here at Fierce Romance, it was a lot of fun.

The winner of The Twisted Tale of Stormy Gale is Lizzie Walker!

Teri Anne Stanley is our second winner. Teri Anne, please go to my website and pick anything you'd like (Stormy included).

Both winners please contact me through the contact page on my website here: so that I can get your email addresses to mail your prizes.

Thanks for the comments everyone!