Today we travel to Dorset, England to chat with Chantelle Atkins about how creative writing clubs, Watership Down, gardening, people watching, dog walking, co-writing, and listening to music come together as part of Chantelle’s life.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Chantelle, I’m a mother of four from Dorset, England. As well as being a writer, I run a community interest company called Chasing Driftwood Writing Group. We provide creative writing clubs for children and adults, as well as events, projects, online courses and workshops! My hobbies include gardening, reading, listening to music and walking my beautiful dogs.
In which genre do you write?
I write in both adult and young adult and in a multiple of genres. Dystopian, post-apocalyptic, family drama, mystery, crime, and psychological thriller, but I’d say the most common theme with all of my books is that they are all very character driven.
How many published books do you have?
I have thirteen! Five are standalones and the rest comprise a trilogy and a five-part series.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer and what ignited your author’s flame?
When I read Watership Down around the age of 10, I became so deeply immersed in the world the author had created, so in love with the characters and so addicted to reading, it just made me want to write too. I wanted part of that escapism, to be in control of characters and their lives, to create a world and direct it – it just seemed like pure magic to me and it still does.
I started writing my own animal-based stories around that time, all influenced heavily by Watership Down! I made front covers for them and write back cover blurbs. From there, it became a true addiction. As I grew older and got into different genres, they would then influence my own writing. SE Hinton was another huge influence on me as was Stephen King.
Where did the idea for your most recent book come from?
My most recent book was the final book in a trilogy. It’s called The Holds End trilogy and in order the books are A Song For Bill Robinson, Emily’s Baby and The Search For Summer. A Song For Bill Robinson was based on a book I wrote but never finished when I was 16 years old. I found it in an old suitcase when I was sorting stuff out one day and just knew I had to finally finish it. It was all hand-written and I even found a notebook full of character bios, scene ideas and so on. It was just all there waiting for me to pick up again. So, I rewrote it and it then evolved into a trilogy! I do recall that I originally got the idea for the first book after watching the film The Commitments when I was 16. It inspired me to write a story about a grumpy and uncommunicative teenage boy who had a huge talent for singing. The unsolved murder storyline was new to me when I picked it up again!
What is the most enjoyable thing you’ve found through writing?
There are so many things that are enjoyable and magical about writing, but if I had to pick just one it would be that because of writing I am never, ever lonely and never, ever bored. It’s impossible to be lonely or bored with a head full of ideas and characters, old and new. It’s impossible to be alone when these people are always with me. That’s a pretty nice way to feel.
If you could turn into one of your characters for a day, which one would it be and why, what would you do?
This is a tricky question because although I love all my characters very, very much, I have given them very difficult and complex lives I’m not sure I would want to live! However, if I had to pick one, I think it would be Bill Robinson from the Holds End books as I am envious of his singing talent and I have always wanted to learn to play the guitar, so I would get his gifts if I became him for a day. I would write songs, play the guitar and sing for an audience!
Which of your personality traits has been most useful and why?
I would have to say being a quiet introvert who enjoys people watching has been very useful. I’ve always been one of those people who lingers around the edges, who shies away from noise and crowds, and I used to be ashamed of this. When I was a kid, people were always accusing me of being too quiet. I’d think, if I only you knew how noisy it is in my head! But the whole time I was watching and listening and noticing body language, tones of voice, facial expressions and all the things people say without actually saying it. I’d notice interactions between people, conflict, jealousies, passions and more and all of this has been invaluable for writing!
What are you currently working on?
I’m working on two projects at the moment. One is a YA post-apocalyptic 4-book series. I’ve written the first two books and I’m currently doing some edits on them before I start book three. I won’t publish them until the whole series is complete. It’s set in the village I live in and is about how a group of kids survive after a series of viruses wipe out the entire adult population. It’s about the natural world fighting back and the kids having to learn the new rules to survive it! I am also working on a YA trilogy with another author. I never imagined I would co-write books with a fellow author but my business partner, author Sim Sansford suggested it and we are in the middle of writing the third book in the trilogy. It has been so much fun! We each write a different character and send it back and forth, swapping messages as we go about what happens next. It has been a very raw and organic and fast-paced experience and I’ve loved it. It’s basically about a strange little town and two teens who discover they have superpowers. Not a genre I’ve written in before but it’s brilliant fun!
Tell us about your most recent book.
The Search For Summer the final book in the gritty Holds Ends series ties up the storylines set up in book one – an unsolved murder and a neighbourhood feud collide with a self-destructive teenage boy’s singing ambitions! There is a love triangle storyline too and plenty of family drama. It also has a very good soundtrack!
It was great to have you on MTA, Chantelle! Wishing you all the best and much success with future books, and the co-writing book. Sounds great! – Camilla
The Search For Summer
When Bill’s desire for the truth pushed Charlie into an impossible decision, he lashed out in horrifying fashion, stealing baby Gabriel and leaving Bill for dead.
Panic-stricken Charlie is now on the run with his three-day-old son. His hiding place reveals a mystery that will drive him further across the country.
Summer was involved with the set-up that pushed Charlie over the edge and she was there when he stole the baby…but where is she now?
As his band The Rebel Anthem attract a manager and a possible record deal, Bill has a lot on his mind. He cannot accept that Summer would run away and fears his own behaviour may have played a part in her disappearance.
In this dramatic climax to the YA trilogy, previous actions and decisions have consequences for all, while Bill and his friends must find Summer and baby Gabriel and finally bring a killer to justice.
Where to find the book:
Available in ebook and paperback on Amazon and other platforms
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