1. Tell us about your newest release.
Both: Lost Treasures of the Heart is a blended genre romance, combining contemporary and historical with the paranormal. After architect Jonathan West learns his wife has been unfaithful, he goes fishing in North Carolina’s Outer Banks, trying to figure out what to do about his marriage. He’s shocked when he sees a ghost ship with a spectral woman on board—and she’s staring at him, a haunting plea in her eyes.
In an old sea chest that washes ashore, Jonathan finds a journal and a miniature portrait belonging to Kate Russell, captain of the Royal Thomas, which sank in 1721. It’s the same woman Jonathan saw on the ghost ship, and her journal describes in her own words a life of piracy and sweeping romance. As past and present collide, he starts seeing her everywhere. He knows she wants something from him and believes if he can find a way to help her, her spirit will finally rest.
2. What made you decide to write together?
Charlie: I was on Craigslist late one evening looking for football tickets but my mind drifted to my search for a new ghostwriter. I had the entire story of Lost Treasures of the Heart in my head and about a third of it in my computer, but as the owner of a construction company working on big jobs like the new NFL stadium in Baltimore, it was difficult to find time to write. Also, this is my first novel. That, in itself, can be intimidating.
For some reason, I decided to look in the DC section and came across Charlene’s post offering her services as a ghostwriter. That was a little odd as (I learned later) she rarely posted in the DC area, sticking most of the time to New York or Los Angeles. It was pretty late, but I felt compelled to call her. She actually took the call and it’s been a perfect mesh ever since
Char: Charlie came to me with this wonderful story which, because of his intense business schedule, he hadn’t much time to write. The first thing I do with a new ghostwriting client is ask them to describe their project, in as much detail as possible. Charlie is a great spoken-word storyteller whose narrative is so visual, it was like I could see it on a movie screen. I was captivated from the moment I heard the story.
3. How long have each of you been writing?
Charlie: I started writing in January of 2010. I was at a Maryland Republican State Convention standing in the back, next to the reporters and a guy who was preparing to speak for consideration to be the Maryland GOP chairman. We started talking, exchanging thoughts, and I explained my story. He suggested we get together and write the manuscript. Daniel Vovak had already worked as a ghostwriter as well as a movie producer. He taught me how to outline the material and weave different threads throughout the story. We worked together for 15 months, until his death in 2011.
Char: When I was in third grade, I read Little Women and decided I wanted to be a writer, like Jo March, my favorite childhood character. By the time I was a senior in high school, I was sending stories to magazines. I got one rejection slip after another, but now and then I’d get a note of encouragement scribbled on the bottom, like the one I got from a Redbook editor: “Not right for us but don’t give up. You’ve got talent.” At last, when I was 21, my dream came true and I was published. I sold two stories to Teen magazine. I’ve been writing ever since, everything from books to film treatments and television scripts. I’ve also worked as editor on a few magazines, including For the Bride and Playgirl.
4. You write as a team. How do you manage to coordinate who writes what?
Charlie: I write from the creative side and have most of the story in my head before I attempt to put it on paper. I dream up the plots, characters and significant objects that are also part of the story, like the ruby necklace Kate wears in Lost Treasures of the Heart, which ultimately becomes part of a missing sunken treasure. Char elaborates on my ideas, modifies the story where needed, helps develop characters, and sometimes puts a different twist on everything. She also does massive amounts of research,
Char: Research is vital in writing historical fiction. Fans of the genre—because they love history—won’t let us get away with it if we get something wrong.
5. Do you have conflicts?
Charlie: All the time. No two great minds think alike.
Char: I think the biggest conflict we had was how and when (and whether or not) to get Jonathan and Kate together physically, with the space of 300 years between them. Do we do it as a time travel, a dream, walk-in spirits or how? We finally found a solution that satisfied us both, with much more to come in the second and third books of the trilogy.
The other conflict—well, it was more a different perspective than a conflict. While Charlie saw this as a love story that spans the ages and a great pirate adventure, I saw it as much more. I saw it as a great pirate adventure and a man’s journey toward healing after a devastating betrayal.
6. What surprising things have you learned while writing?
Charlie: How to dial in on the reader’s perspective verses my own. Char reminded me often in the beginning of our work together that the readers can’t see what’s inside my head unless a character does it, thinks it or says it. And sure, the narrative is useful, too, but a reader connects with the story more if she can see inside a character’s head.
Char: I learn this anew in every book I write, but it always surprises me. Characters sometimes refuse to cooperate and do as they’re told. When a character is so strong he or she insists on going in a direction I hadn’t foreseen—and it’s actually a better direction than the one I’d planned—I know I’m doing something right.
7. What authors or friends have influenced you in helping you become a writer?
Charlie: Stephen King. Charlene emphatically insisted I read his book, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft.
Char: Stephen King and Peter Straub for the supernatural, the storytelling and the character development; Barbara Kingsolver for the sheer poetry in her words.
8. Can you tell us about what is coming next for you?
Both: Lost Treasures of the Heart is the first installment of the Treasures of the Tides trilogy. Given that much of this book’s plot is tied to the paranormal, we may allow the main characters to venture into another time. Maybe Kate will experience life in the 21st century, or Jonathan will go back to the 1700s and be with Kate on her pirate ship. Or maybe both. We’re in the planning stages now.
9. How can readers find more about you and how to reach you online?
Charlie: Charlie: I look forward to hearing from readers, who can find me here: Instagram: https://Instagram.com/losttreasuresheart
Twitter: Charles Alexander@CharlesinBemore
Facebook: www.facebook.com/Lost-Treasures-of-the-Heart-111569205594625 Website: www.losttreasuresoftheheart.com
And on Twitter: @charlenekeel
Lost Treasures of the Heart is available as an ebook or in print:
Publisher is Red Sky Presents, a Division of Red Sky Entertainment
Charlie Most always knew he had to live his own story and someday write about it. His journeys took him to the Outer Banks, off the coast of North Carolina, where he could enjoy a slower pace, and where he might find what was missing in his busy life. Before long he sensed a connection to another life—a life he’d never known. One moonlit night he and his fishing buddies witnessed the silhouette of an ancient, square-rigged vessel skirting across the horizon before it disappeared into eternity. That moment changed his life forever. He had his story—but the secrets of the Graveyard of the Atlantic remain unknown.
Charlene Keel has written over a dozen novels and how-to books. Shadow Train, the