About C. R. Stewart:
I am originally from Newport Beach and have twenty years of experience writing fiction, nonfiction, and movie screenplays. My areas of expertise also includes film and media production, global strategy, and international marketing.
I received a Bachelor of Arts in British Literature and European History from Brown University; did post- graduate work at Harvard University; earned an MBA from Boston College; and am pursuing a Master of Science in Advanced Management and a PhD in Strategy.
NI am now based in San Diego and am a strong supporter of education and the arts. I enjoy world travel, reading, riding, swimming, sailing, tennis, and is currently on a National School Book Tour with Britfield & The Lost Crown speaking to students on the importance of creativity!
Britfield & The Lost Crown was conceived as an idea over 10 years ago while I was enduring a boring finance seminar. It started as a sketch of a hot air balloon with a young boy and girl trapped inside. From this simple drawing sprang the entire concept and story for Britfield.
What inspires you to write?
I loved reading as a child, movies and storytelling, so all these areas had a huge influence on my life. Some of my favorite books growing up were The Mouse and the Motorcycle, by Beverly Cleary; James and the Giant Peach and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, by Roald Dahl; and the Hardy Boys series. As I grew older, I enjoyed Charles Dickens and his ability to take a Shakespearean cast of characters and seamlessly weave them through his stories (Oliver Twist, David Copperfield, and Great Expectations). I was heavily influenced by C. S. Lewis, his amazing depth and creativity as an author. Jane Austen captured the aristocracy, the intrigue, the forced etiquette and the psychological games and hypocrisies of the upper classes. The Bronte sisters, Charlotte, Emily and Anne, wrote mysterious, romantic gothic novels that are powerful, moving and deep, such as Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. Thomas Hardy took simple characters living in a rural setting and created complex, multilayered stories. And Daphne du Maurier, such as her epic novel Rebecca. I have visited most of the places these stories took place or were based on.
With all that said, it really started for me in 6th grade. What a wonderful teacher and an amazing class. Our assignment was to write a book. Can you imagine an assignment like that, where do you start? I think there was a limit of 30 pages. I was 12 and loved the James Bond movies, so I wrote James Bond Eat Your Heart Out. I was a secret government agent working for the British government and had an assignment to track down a notorious villain. My partner was Jaclyn Smith (that should date me). We traveled all around Europe tracking down the villain and were involved in highspeed chases and plenty of combat. I had so much fun writing this and the experience never left me. I still have this book, wrapped in a leather binder with embossed lettering. This was when I knew I wanted to be a writer, it just took a long time to get there.
What authors do you read when you aren’t writing?
I enjoy biographies and history, which has obviously influenced my writing. I like going deep into a subject, learning the details of people’s lives, how they lived, what they overcame and how they succeeded. I just finished two extraordinary biographies–Mary, Queen of the Scots by Antonia Fraser and The Life of Elizabeth I by Alison Weir—and I highly recommend both books. The history is fascinating and what these two women endured is stunning. The truth is often far more dramatic than fiction, which is why I enjoy weaving history into my novels.
Some of my favorite books growing up were The Mouse and the Motorcycle, by Beverly Cleary; James and the Giant Peach and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, by Roald Dahl; and the Hardy Boys series.
Tell us about your writing process.
I like to get up early (morning person) and begin writing or editing around 7:00 AM. On a good day, I can go for about 8 hours. I take breaks, have lunch, work out or walk and then wrap up around 5:00 or 6:00 PM. I do like walk around the room when I am brainstorming and creating a scene—movement helps me think and frees the mind. When I am doing my final rounds of editing, I will print 2-3 pages at a time, relax on the couch with a pen and a highlighter and start reading through. The printed work reads very different from the computer screen—very different.
I have learned that by spending more time at the beginning working on the story, the structure, the plot, the twists and the characters, that when I begin to write the story, it moves faster, smoother because I have already navigated many details, problems and questions.
When I am writing a movie script (first draft), I will spend three weeks on the structure and outline, which is usually 2-3 pages of bullet points (each bullet point representing a 1-3 minute scene); then I will spend three weeks and produce 117 pages of work. This is the power of planning and outlining.
A few tips: One does not have to write in order—if you get stuck on the next section, simply leapfrog to another section if you already know what you want to write. It’s important to keep going and get your ideas down on paper (or on the computer). Also, if you hit a “writer’s block,” simply go back to the beginning and start editing what you have already written.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
Absolutely! Doesn't every other author?!
One of the best techniques I use in developing a character is to relate the character to someone you know or have encountered. Often, a new character that I develop can be a compilation of many attributes of real people, not just one. I based Professor Hainsworth on two professors I have had while attending Brown University, hard exterior but a kind heart. The deeper one goes with creating a character, the more believable they will be—they tend to write themselves!
What advice would you give other writers?
Story is everything. It can be simple or complex, but it must be interesting and well told. Find a unique story and start writing. First create your structure: beginning, middle and end. It’s easier when you think about the story in chapters: where’s the book going, what happens next and how will it end? Develop your characters and know them well—give them depth and obstacles that they must overcome. Do your research and master the subject you’re writing about. Also, read. Enjoy reading and understand what’s out in the market. Find writers you like and learn from them: how they tell a story, the way they structure or pace their narrative, how they describe things. Analyze these books and figure out what makes them interesting or compelling—why they’re successful or why they work as a novel. You never want to copy a style or another writer, but it’s essential to study the literary world you want to enter. If I were a painter, I would study other painters. If I were a composer, I would study other composers. It’s very important to develop your own style and what makes you unique, but this will come with time and experience.
Remember, nothing happens overnight. It takes commitment, discipline and endurance to produce an engaging and inspiring novel. To write and finish a book, you must first begin and spend time with it. Don’t worry about your first draft; just get your ideas and words onto paper (or the computer). Challenge yourself each day to produce a certain amount, perhaps two or three new pages. If you’re stuck on the next chapter, but you know what happens in another section, then jump to that scene. Just keep writing. If you can’t think of anything new, then start editing what you’ve already written, but just keep writing. This is the discipline and commitment needed to finish a book. However, it’s one thing to create your story, structure, characters and a compelling narrative; it’s another to edit. They say that writing is 10% and editing is 90%. I find this relatively accurate. The more you edit, the better your story becomes; the more you edit, the more polished your writing becomes. Nevertheless, there is a time when you must finish and let it go, so you can move onto your next story. Most importantly, have fun. Write because you enjoy it.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I was previously published by Pelican (nonfiction title). But I knew for the launch of the Britfield series (7-books) that we would need complete creative freedom and build a team to support the marketing, nationally and globally. This is why I founded Devonfield Publishing. We have built a national infrastructure, marketing company, and work with over 50 independent contractors, everything from graphic design, editing and printing to advertising, media and our National Britfield School Tour.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
The secret that no one tells you is that publishers do relatively little to help authors sell their book (it’s all up to you), an archaic publishing model fast becoming extinct. It becomes a full-time job if you want success, such as marketing, media, book signings and events. This is why I founded Devonfield Publishing – to change the face of publishing as we know it!
What genres do you write?: Middle Grade, Juvenile, Preteen, Fiction, Action, Adventure, Mystery, Traditional Detective, Historical Fiction
What formats are your books in?: eBook, Print, Both eBook and Print, Audiobook
All information in this post is presented “as is” supplied by the author. We don’t edit to allow you the reader to hear the author in their own voice.