CJ Harter has dissected human bodies in Sheffield, shushed library-users in Wigan, shared poetry in Liverpool, and organised bedbaths in Salford. Now she lives to write. First novel, psychological suspense "Rowan's Well", is garnering fabulous 5 star reviews. Newly-published paranormal novel "Fitful Head", a contemporary ghost story, recently won second prize in one international novel-writing contest and has made the short-list for another. CJ has a degree in Literature and Philosophy, is mother to two adults, wife to one and slave to two tiny dogs.
CJ's first novel, Rowan's Well, recently won the Chill With A Book Readers' Award.
Her new novel, Fitful Head, is already Runner-Up in the prestigious Liverpool Writing On The Wall Festival's Pulp Idol First Chapter competition, and this year is placed 11th out of 3,112 entries in the UK-NWC competition
Recent INTERVIEW with CJ:
Who are your favourite authors?
Gosh, where to start? Right now I love Sarah Waters, Donna Tartt, Iain Banks. And a Canadian writer, Anne-Marie MacDonald. But don't our favourites change as we do? I read Angela Carter's 'The Magic Toyshop' in my twenties, and that had a profound impact. I did my undergraduate dissertation on JG Ballard, and still love his short stories. To relax, I always turn to Stephen King (that's never changed - he's the gift that keeps on giving). And I love the classics: William Faulkner, Charles Dickens, Fyodor Dostoyevsky. But ask me again tomorrow and who knows?
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
My dogs, though I'm not sure 'inspire' is the word... more like 'impel'. Seriously, I love my writing, so it's really not hard to persuade myself out of bed in the morning.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Walking my dogs. My favourite dog walk, Pennington Flash, has become a setting for my new novel, ghost story 'Fitful Head', out soon. I love reading (though when I'm deep in writing a first draft, I find reading anything challenging quite tricky - not sure why). I'm passionate about the theatre and also enjoy cinema-going. Anything with a good story. Oh, and I like a bit of t'ai chi. And when I can, I love to go whalewatching - quite a feat when you live in Manchester, England, let me tell you.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Of course. It was 'Midnight, the Stallion'. I was five years old and not entirely sure it was fiction. I loved that horse.
What is your writing process?
Ha! Oh, sorry - you were serious? Does picking fights with family members so they don't want to be in the same house with you, then rushing upstairs to the spare room to take advantage of the ensuing peace and quiet count as 'process'?
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
Hm, first story... not sure. I remember my Mum reading Enid Blyton's 'The Magic Faraway Tree' to me when I was very small and ill with scarletina. I loved Blyton after that, especially 'The Secret Island'. I suppose the first book I read to myself would be a school reading book: 'Clifford The Big Red Dog' comes to mind. I do remember the thrill of finishing that book all by myself, hiding among the coats and pump bags when I should have been playing out.
What are your five favourite books, and why?
Golly, that's really hard. I think this changes with your mood, even day to day sometimes. An early favourite was 'The Magic Toyshop' by Angela Carter because I identified with Melanie and fell in love with Finn. 'The Little Stranger' by Sarah Waters, because it's frightening and beautiful and she keeps getting better and better. And it contains the perfect final sentence. I aspire to write as well as Sarah. 'The Brothers Karamazov' by Dostoyevsky - a life changing book in so many ways. I love 'The Crow Road' by Iain Banks. Great first sentence - look it up. How many's that? This is hard. Can I get back to you...?
Describe your desk
It's my Dad's old bureau, where he used to sit to pay bills or catch up on some office work in the evenings while we kids watched TV and Mum did the ironing, watching along with us. It's the only piece of furniture I was sure I wanted to keep when he died.
What are you working on next?
I'm writing a story inspired by the bravery of lifeboatmen (and women). Like most people, I was deeply affected by the loss with all hands of the Cornish Penlee lifeboat in December 1981. My story's not about that, but that's where my drive to write it came from. Watch this space...