Tuesday, July 12, 2011

An Interview with Coralie Hughes Jensen

Today my guest is Coralie Hughes Jensen. Author of Winter Harvest. Thank you for joining us Coralie. I appreciate spending this time with you and I know readers will as well. So let's get started, shall we?

What genres do you write?

I started by writing suspense. My first two novels were about terrorism on the European continent. Unfortunately, neither was published. My first published novel was mainstream, my second, women's fiction. Both Passup Point and Lety's Gift took place in Newfoundland/Labrador. My third novel L'Oro Verde, under the name L. E. Chamberlain, is a mystery set in a Tuscan hill town. My latest Winter Harvest is a historical novel in Massachusetts in 1838. I have three manuscripts yet to find a home: a mystery that takes place in New Zealand, a historical novel in Tudor England, and a suspense set in the Arctic.

Tell us what your favorite leisure activity or vacation spot is.

I like to travel. I travel to find settings for books and also to do research on the book I'm writing.

I traveled to Newfoundland/Labrador for my novels set there. While living in the Netherlands, I went to Italy and came up with the idea for L'Oro Verde.

I don't normally travel first class. My husband and I drive and try to stay with people along the way to see how they live. Stories about mishaps - losing our passports to a traffic cop in the Czech Republic so we couldn't leave the country, having to report to a police station in Germany when we passed a counterfeit DM100 bill at a restaurant, sharing fast food with East Germans in Lubec the week after the border opened - are all fodder for upcoming books.

Have you ever included a real experience of your own in a book? Did anyone who knows you notice?

I use my own experiences or those of my friends all the time. The scenes in Montriano's police station are based on the station and detectives in Germany. Most of my sites are derived from real places I have visited. I give them new names and locations, but most of the churches in my books are based on other churches in similar areas. Sophie's fascinating childhood experiences in Lety's Gift are similar to those of a friend in seminary in Newfoundland.

No one has mentioned they recognized a specific experience, but many have written about my knowledge of certain cultures when I use personal experiences in my stories.

Where do you get your inspirations for a book? How do you get your ideas?

I get my ideas from a variety of sources. Events in the newspaper can give me ideas. When I travel, I am always looking for sites, especially for mysteries where I can develop the character of a detective or find a body or hide a suspect. Places where cultures clash are fascinating - both sides are rational and true to their own beliefs, and getting along means both sides understand each other.

What is the best reader or reviewer comment you've ever received?

Recently I received wonderful comments from a couple of agents who have read my manuscripts, including that my novel is "superbly written" and that my work is very literary.

What does your family think about your writing? How, if they do, do they support you in your writing endeavors?

My husband helps me edit my books. He's a tough editor because he seems to sense when a word or phrase doesn't work. My daughter and son always buy my books as gifts for their friends. My sister in California writes reviews for me and also buys books as gifts.

When and where do you do the bulk of your writing?

I write on the computer in my office, a bedroom on the second floor of my house. I can look out the window beside me and see a dogwood tree now in full bloom.

I also have a TV beside my desk where I can glance over and watch the Red Sox while I'm writing. I have moved a lot because I used to work in high tech and the company would move us. I found that being knowledgeable about sports was a way to break the ice with new neighbors and workmates. In each place I've lived, I have been able to enjoy a championship - a Super Bowl, a World Series, or a European Cup.

What's your favorite part of being a writer?

Sleeping in when I need to. I hated getting up at 5:30 a.m. in order to get ready to face the commute. I don't mind getting up early now because I have an idea about how to fix a problem in my novel. It must be the commute I hate!

What advice would you give a new writer?

Having been a copy editor for a small publisher, it is my opinion that writers should know their craft well enough to make the story clear. Many new writers comment that grammar and punctuation will be cleaned up by the editor. I know very few editors who want to spend their time correcting manuscripts. I once got a manuscript that was so bad it needed to be cleaned up just to know who said what. If editors have trouble reading it, they'll reject it. If grammar isn't the author's forte, the new writer should get help from a friend or family member who is able to fix it first.

What book is your favorite and why?

I like Winter Harvest because the main character is much like me. She watches everyone else and falls into her role by accident. Lucy is not as pretty as Sarah or as evil as Ezekiel. She tries to be good, but finds it difficult.

Give us your backlist...with all publishers...

My books include:

Winter Harvest (2010) published by Five Star Gale/Cengage

L'Oro Verde (under the name of L. E. Chamberlain) (2008) published by Lightening Rider Press

Lety's Gift (2006) published by Lightening Rider Press

Passup Point (2006) published by Lightening Rider Press

Give us your URLS...

Twitter: corkyyhj

Thanks Coralie for a wonderful interview. I wish you the best of luck on your next publication. come back and visit us again!


  1. When am I going to be able to purchase Pokeko? I might have spelled that wrong. I SO want to read the full on that one!


  2. Interesting post. Both the Czech and Polish borders are scary. We had some "mishaps" there too.