Monday, September 1, 2014

Awesomesauce Authors: An Interview with Fellow PitchWars Mentor Charlie Holmberg

Today I'm thrilled to welcome to the blog Charlie Holmberg, who will be mentoring one lucky writer as part of this year's #PitchWars festivities. She's got all kinds of book awesomeness happening, including her new book baby THE PAPER MAGICIAN, which sounds so freaking bad (in a good way.) So without further ado, let's hear all about it!

About Charlie Holmberg

Homegrown in Salt Lake City, Charlie was raised a Trekkie with three sisters who also have boy names. She writes fantasy novels and does freelance editing on the side. She’s a proud BYU alumna, plays the ukulele, and owns too many pairs of glasses.


Tell us a little about your writer's journey so far:

Hmmm… Well, in a nutshell I started writing seriously when I was 18 (I stopped writing fanfiction and started finishing books). Seven years and nine novels later, I landed an agent and a publisher!

Hmm. So maybe 7 is the most powerfully magical number? Okay, let's hear your Twitter Pitch! (140 characters or less.)

Well, it’s not perfect:

19-year-old Ceony never wanted to be a paper magician. She never wanted to risk her life rescuing one, either.

It’s not bad! I want to know more already! So, what inspired you to write this book? How is it a book only you could write?

You know, for a long time I thought it’d be cool to have a book where a side character could manipulate origami—one of many things thought of during a bout of long road trips. Then I finally decided it didn’t need to be a “side,” so I made it the premise of the whole book.

I’d like to believe that The Paper Magician has a quirky sort of whimsy that could only be spewed from my head. It’s a little different, the tone is a little different, and the journey takes place in a space technically no wider than five inches or so. ;)

It sounds all sorts of fantastical. What's your favorite thing about writing?

The creation, and the lack of boundaries in said creation. The thing I love about fantasy is that I can really do whatever I want. I can break the laws of physics, I can invent bizarre creatures, I can turn the ordinary into the extraordinary. I love reaching outside the box and seeing what I can come up with!

See, this is what I miss out on as a Contemp writer. Okay, so what's your least favorite thing?

Honestly? The time. I want my book to be done NOW! But I have to actually write it. You know, put effort into it.

That and writing war and politics is always frustrating for me…

Now it's time to brag a little--What do you love most about your book?

Oh jeez… the first thing that comes to mind is my male lead. Even though he’s not the protagonist, the book is technically about him, and I love how his life and quirks turned out. I’d say it’s a good thing if I have a crush on my own character, right?

Absolutely. So I’m guessing I know the answer to this next question. Who was your favorite character to write? Why?

Again, my male lead, Emery Thane. He was a lot harder to write than my protagonist, and maybe that’s what endears me to him. But I also got to explore his character the most. He’s a little on the mysterious and quirky side. I liked making him odd.

Gah! I love when characters surprise and consume me like that. Speaking of surprises, what has surprised you most about publishing post-agent (or post contract if you don’t have an agent.)

The waiting never ends.

Even once you land and agent and a publishing deal, you are always waiting. Waiting on edits, waiting on signatures, waiting on covers, waiting for the release. Things don’t speed up once you cross the publishing line!

Sigh. But there’s an upside to that right? There’s always more to keep writing and never a finish line! Okay, now a little about you. (And yes, I stole these questions from In the Actor's Studio with James Lipton.)

What is your favorite word?

I really like the word “whilst.” Unless we’re playing hangman. Then it’s “asthma” or “mucous.”

Hah! I have to say I haven’t seen mucous as a favorite word before. What is your least favorite word?

“Unfortunately.” That word doesn’t just lead to “no,” it usually comes right after a stirring of hope. So it’s like “no” with a knife.

Second choice: “privilege.” I ALWAYS spell it wrong. I just spelled it wrong. Word fixed it for me.

What turns you on?

My husband in low-rise jeans? XD

Rawr! What turns you off?

People who spit lougies on asphalt. Or texting whilst driving.

Whilst? I see what you did there. What sound or noise do you love?

This is weird, but I really like the sound of a dropping paper cup…

What sound or noise do you hate?

Metal utensils scraping ceramic dishes. Ugh.

What profession, other than your own, would you most like to attempt?

You know, I used to really want to be a voice actor. I still think that’d be fun. That or a Cupcake Wars judge. If I had the skills, I’d love to do stand-up comedy. (I do not have said skills.)

If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear G-d say when you arrive at the pearly gates?

“Welcome home.”

Finally, what's the one question you've always wanted to answer in an interview? (And of course, you have to answer it!)

You know, I couldn’t really think of anything after staring at this for many minutes, so I’ll just play two truths and a lie because I like that game. ;)

1. I’ve dislocated my shoulder whilst bowling
2. I’ve have twelve teeth pulled
3. I’ve appeared nude on live television

Want to know the lie?


1. I’ve dislocated my shoulder whilst bowling. (I’m a terrible bowler, but not an enthusiastic one. Both shoulders have remained in-tact.)

…as for #3, I was about three years old and video recorded in a bath tub. It made it onto America’s Funniest Home Videos. :)

LOVE it! Thanks so much for letting me pick your brain, Charlie! Guys, this book sounds super cool and if you want to know more about it (and about Emery) check out the blurb and pre-order links below! Add THE PAPER MAGICIAN to your TBR list today!

Ceony Twill arrives at the cottage of Magician Emery Thane with a broken heart. Having graduated at the top of her class from the Tagis Praff School for the Magically Inclined, Ceony is assigned an apprenticeship in paper magic despite her dreams of bespelling metal. And once she’s bonded to paper, that will be her only magic…forever.

Yet the spells Ceony learns under the strange yet kind Thane turn out to be more marvelous than she could have ever imagined—animating paper creatures, bringing stories to life via ghostly images, even reading fortunes. But as she discovers these wonders, Ceony also learns of the extraordinary dangers of forbidden magic.

An Excisioner—a practitioner of dark, flesh magic—invades the cottage and rips Thane’s heart from his chest. To save her teacher’s life, Ceony must face the evil magician and embark on an unbelievable adventure that will take her into the chambers of Thane’s still-beating heart—and reveal the very soul of the man.


  1. You got me on the last one! I was like, wait, Charlie's a Mormon there's no way she appeared nude on TV. Clever girl. Your book sounds amazing. Love the physical restraints of that space.

  2. Great interview. Glad you're not minus twelve teeth.

  3. Loved the interview! :D Your book sounds awesome, Charlie. (Great cover, too.)