Charley Appenzellar is passionate about historical mysteries and thought provoking horror. She has written two novels, two screenplays, a whole batch of short stories, and has a blog entitled 365 Things That I Love About France. Charley has recently finished translating a French historical manuscript that will be published in the spring and is putting the finishing touches on a haunted guide to France. When Charley is not pounding away at the keyboard, she adores exploring France with her two children.
Which came first for you, your love of history or your love of storytelling?
Oh, that's a tough one. I would have to say my love of storytelling, as I was a voracious reader before I even knew what history was.
In your story, The Modern Cathar, you discuss this form of Christianity. The Cathar community was quite large in France. Did you develop a fascination with this religion after you moved to France or before?
After I moved here. There are a series of Cathar castles in the Languedoc region of France, haunting ruins perched on rocky precipices, which utterly fascinated me when I saw them. The more I learned about Cathar culture and beliefs, the more I was convinced I had to write about them.
Their religion is fascinating; there are many similarities between Catharism and Buddhism—amazing for the Dark Ages. But what is thoroughly intriguing to me is their story: how they were utterly wiped out by an early form of the Inquisition, and how it is said that they were the keepers of a great treasure. Mystery ….
Do you think that your blog, 356 Things I Love about France, helped prepare you for your recent work, A Sumptuous Guide to Haunted France?
My blog helps me prepare for everything! It is an excellent disciplinary tool, being obliged to sit down and do a certain amount of research and text each and every day. Along the way of researching interesting persons, places, food, and events in France, I have stumbled across more haunted venues than I anticipated.
I am planning to stick with the theme, and will have a new 365-day blog coming out in the late spring.
You’ve lived and traveled in a lot of places around the world. How do foreign libraries compare to the U.S. library system for writing research materials, etc.?
As I am primarily a fiction author, I don't visit a whole lot of libraries, what I need I find on the Internet, or the Internet leads me to specific books. My spoken French is completely fluent and I am lucky to be very immersed in the French culture; people recounting oral traditions tell many tales to me.
I am translating a French non-fiction historical manuscript at the moment, and the French author spends hours and hours in the municipal library here in Lyon. I know he has dug up some fascinating stuff in medieval texts. When my medieval French is better, I look forward to joining him.
What do you see as future challenges for authors with the increased popularity in electronic media? Do you think paper books will go the way of the dinosaurs?
The future challenge in electronic media is not to get lost in the massive shuffle. To have a voice will become more and more difficult.
I certainly hope that paper books don't go the way of the dinosaur. There is nothing like the sweet smell of a book or a bookstore. I can't wrap my brain around cozying up with a cold, electronic gadget to read. I need to open my book and have that smell waft up to greet me.
Since you designed your own author site, what advice do you have for other authors looking to do the same?
Be professional. Take your time. Do it right. Your website represents you, is the image you present to agents and editors. Make sure it is honest and symbiotic with your work and your essence.
You’re currently looking for an agent. What are some of the challenges you’ve faced in this process?
Oh, boy! Do you have a couple of hours, days? laughs Have faith in yourself and don't give up. Listen to your inner voice, not the voices of others.
Do you have any other future works in progress?
Bien sur! laughs There is always something brewing on the back burner. I have been writing a lot of short horror stories lately, and am wondering if I might turn a few into full-length manuscripts. I am also working with another author on a fiction story filled with many historical facts on the Knights Templar.
If you could only write one more story, what would it be?
The history of the world. I believe that all the answers to so many of our questions are right in front of our noses.