We sit down with local author C J Spammer and discuss her debut novel Misled, a heartbreaking story about love, mental illness and the secrets people keep.
Thank you so much for making the time to sit down with us C J, let’s get stuck right in…
What inspired you to write this novel?
I actually started writing the story more than 10 years ago. I don’t remember what prompted me to start, but I discarded the one and only chapter I had written by hand because after writing those 3 A4 pages nothing else would come. I drew a blank. I liked what I’d written, so I stashed it away in a draw and completely forgot about it.
About 3 years ago, while clearing out some junk, I stumbled upon those few handwritten pages and felt such excitment when reading them. If they hadn’t been written in my own hand, I would have thought someone else wrote them.
I remember thinking, “Oh my word! This is really good. I have to see where this story is going.” I honestly had no idea where it was headed or what was going to happen, but I felt compelled to finish it. It felt like I was reading someone else’s story. I wanted to know what had happened between Sara and Justin. Why had Sara left them?
Months later I still didn’t really know, until I read Dorothy Koomson’s book “Goodnight, Beautiful”. Something about that story resonated with me and I had a sort of “Aha!” moment. After that, the story pretty much wrote itself.
How long did it take you to write the book?
It took roughly 3 years, I think. Being a mom and working full time made writing difficult; but over the past few months I spent every spare moment I got writing like a demon.
In July, on your Facebook page, you set a goal to finish the book by January 2017. What triggered the sudden completion and publication so far ahead of schedule?
I received so much great feedback from friends and family who were impatient for me to finish; that’s what made me want to write more.
It’s always been my dream to publish a novel, but trying to have my manuscript picked up by a traditional publisher from a sea of submissions felt like a lost cause. The best option was to self-publish but I wasn’t in a position to do so (financially) until my dad passed away in August and left me some money. I really felt like that was a gift from him; like he was saying “Here; pursue your dream.” I’m very thankful to him for that.
It’s a fiction novel, but did you draw inspiration from real life?
I think every author puts a little of their own truth into their stories. To me, that’s what makes a good writer; when you can feel a connection with the characters because of their realness. And I think the only way they can have that is if they are created from our own feelings / experiences.
Do you have plans for a sequel?
As a matter of fact, I have just started writing one. When I finished Misled – even though it was only 180 pages – I felt the story was complete. It didn’t even occur to me to add to it.
Then, someone wrote a review on my Facebook page, and I had another light bulb moment when reading about how she had connected with the characters on such an intimate level she felt that she wanted to invite them over for coffee. The ideas for a sequel bombarded me and, again, I felt compelled to write their story. Questions like “What happens to them now? Do they live happily ever after?” “Do Sara and Justin tell Grace the truth?” ran through my mind, and I decided I would attempt to answer them. I have a solid outline for the book, now I just need to try and weave them all together.
I know we’re all dying to know… What are your plans for your characters in the future?
That’s a secret. Ha ha. All I can tell you is the story follows their new family dynamic and how they tackle the truth about Grace. As with Misled, there will be a few shocking moments and definitely more tear-jerking revelations.
Any ideas for the name of the sequel to Misled?
Yes! I was stumped for a while, but then it jumped out at me: Deceived. It fitted perfectly and followed on from Misled so easily. I’m so excited about it.
What do you want your readers to feel while reading Misled?
I just want to connect with the reader’s on an emotional level. It’s such a satisfying feeling for me when people tell me that they fell in love with the characters and felt like they were friends. I put so much of myself into this story – I actually shed a few tears when writing certain scenes. I hope that the reader’s feel that.
Time to be completely unbiased now, what do you think makes Misled stand out from the rest?
I’m not sure it stands out. I like to think it compliments other books of the same genre. I don’t want to compete with other authors. I prefer to think of us all as a community of like-minded, talented people who just want to connect with our reader’s. We have been blessed with a gift, and I just want to share that gift with others.
What or whom influenced the creation of your main character Sara?
I think there’s quite a bit of me in her. But I tried to make her different too. Her awkwardness and shyness don’t come from me. I’m an extrovert.
What is it like seeing your thoughts and feelings and your characters being born from your mind into book format?
It’s incredible. I really can’t express it. It’s weird to read my own words, yet feel as if I’m reading somebody else’s work. I poured my heart and soul into it, so to see it all on paper, in an actual book, is simply… I don’t have words.
What has the response from your readers been?
Amazing! I’m so happy with the way the story has touched people. That’s exactly what I wanted. I’ve been told it’s an inspiring story and that it was impossible to put down – which is what any reader wants – to get lost in a book and forget everything around them. I’m so grateful.
Having known you for a few years, I know that you are very open about your struggles with Bipolar Disorder. Is there anything you want to say to others who are living with a mental illness?
Yes. I want to send the message that mental illness is not a death sentence. With the right treatment, we can all function well in our every day lives. We can have successful, albeit challenging, relationships. We can hold down a job, have children and do anything else that other “well” people do.
I also want to urge people to seek help. So many of us are afraid to admit they have a problem and try to hide it; but if we are ever going to overcome the stigma that is sadly still attached to mental illness, we NEED to speak out. You are perfectly imperfect, unique and beautiful. Don’t ever doubt that.
If you’d like to get your own copy of Misled by C J Spammer, honestly we couldn’t think of a reason you wouldn’t, follow the link below to the Reader’s Warehouse website and support this incredibly talented local author.
When Sara bumps into her ex-boyfriend, Justin, whom she hasn’t seen in four years, she is overwhelmed with thoughts and emotions that take her on a nostalgic rollercoaster ride through the past.
Sara has Bipolar Disorder which caused her to act impulsively and even irrationally at times. The relationship between her and Justin was riddled with
Sara’s often erratic behaviour, which led to its ultimate demise.
Meanwhile, in the present, Sara has to wrestle with a long-kept secret – a secret that has haunted her for the past eight years – and the guilt that accompanies it.
When she doesn't have her nose buried in a book, Rachel can be found surrounded by furry friends or cooking up delicious plant-based feasts.
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