Sunday, July 22, 2018

17,000 Views Edition: Interview with Author and Director Celine Terranova


This evening, EA: Creatively Creative speaks with a woman who made her name in Fan Fiction before becoming a full-time writer, but prior to that, she received her Masters in Physics and moved to Switzerland for a short period of time to continue her work in that field. Along with writing, she's also a director, who has directed several short films in French and English. Her stand-out film project, up to date, is Sherlock Holmes and the Stolen Emerald, which was a tribute to the silent film era, with a steampunk twist.

Currently, she's working on her first Sci-Fi novel, as well as another short film project (more information on that will be released in the upcoming future). She's Belgium born, currently living in London, I introduce author and director, Celine Terranova.

EA: Thank you for your time. To begin, when did your love for stories and writing begin?

CT: Thank you for giving me this opportunity to appear on your blog! I feel like I've always been a writer, even when I didn't know how to write. I have always loved stories, crafting adventures and making them feel real. Books were my companions very early on, and I knew that one day I would write stories too. I started my first novel very young, when I was 11.

EA: Over the years, you've written several Fan Fiction stories. The one that seems to stand out is Eternal Snow, which has received over 300,000 views and over 1,200 reviews. What is the story's concept, and what are your thoughts on your work having a such a positive reaction and feedback?

CT: Eternal Snow started as a Harry Potter short story (in French) that I wrote for a challenge on a forum that I was managing at the time. I liked the concept so much that I decided to add a few more chapters to it. The idea was to write my version of the last Harry Potter book before it came out. Eight years, and 250,000 words later, the story became a full fan fiction novel with quite a lot of readers. I never imagined that it would be so popular, and it makes me immensely happy when I still receive reviews years after the story finished. I think it was so well received because I put a lot of energy and a lot of myself into that story, while I was having some of the toughest years of my life. It allowed me to be real, and the readers could find an echo of what they were living too.

EA: For our readers/viewers who may not understand or even heard of this particular genre, what exactly is Fan Fiction?

CT: A fan fiction is a work of art that is based on someone else's world. For example, I have written stories based on Harry Potter, Stargate, Star Trek and NCIS. These stories are mostly published online, and commented. There's a lot that has been said about fan fictions: some people like them, some people hate them. Some authors forbid fan fictions based on their creation, some encourage them. My personal take on it is that fan fictions are a formidable way of working and improving your skills as a writer, and at the same time to build a community around you. It made me the writer I am today, and I can't be grateful enough for everything that I have learned while publishing my stories.

EA: It's also my understanding that you're currently writing your first Sci-Fi novel. What is the title of the story, and would you tell us a little about it?

CT: My novel is called Healers. It is a dystopian young adult book set in a world destroyed by deadly diseases. It is the first book of a series that centers on two main characters: Alaina who has to free her mother from prison, and Gabriel who is kidnapped by an underground tribe. I had the idea years ago and I first tried to write it as a script for a TV series, then a web series, before settling on a series of novels. I am very excited about it, and I'm currently finishing the second draft. I hope to be able to publish it by the end of this year or early next year.

EA: Who are the biggest influences in your life and career?

CT: Besides my family, friends and my partner, who are obviously huge influences on my life, I am also very inspired by people throughout history who chose their own path. I recently listened to a podcast about Jane Fonda, and how she reinvented herself several times over the decades. I admire women who worked so hard and against very strong resistance to leave their mark on history. They taught me how to be authentic, how to do the things that scare you, how injustice can be fought. I love learning about all of these stories.

When I think about my career in writing, it was influenced by J.K. Rowling, Philip Pullman, Pierre Bordage, Alexandre Astier and many more. I feel like everything I read influences me one way or another, and it's a good thing! You should never stop learning and getting inspired.

EA: Do you consider writing to be an easy process?

CT: It depends on the day. Some days, writing is a breeze and I'm really enjoying the process. Some days, it feels like getting you teeth pulled by a sadistic dentist. On thing is for sure: writing takes a lot of work, much more than people imagine. Every writer is a trooper, going through the ups and downs of the creative process. 

EA: Are there any upcoming projects on the horizon?

CT: Apart from Healers, I am also working on translating my non-fiction book, How to Write a Fan Fiction that is aimed at new writers who want to try that genre. I have also a science fiction short story that is going to be published in a magazine very soon. Finally, I am toying with the idea of a supernatural fiction podcast that I've had for quite a while now. As you can see, I don't lack ideas, my problem is to find the time to work on them!

EA: Prior to pursuing a career in writing, you received your Masters degree in Physics, and actually relocated to Switzerland to continue working in that field. Would you tell us about that experience, and how does it compare to writing? By that, I mean which career is more challenging?

CT: I studied Physics because I was good at it in high school, and at the time I didn't think I could build a career in writing. Studying for my Masters was challenging, but it was at that time that I discovered fan fictions, so I felt like I had a good balance between the two. After my Masters, I moved to Switzerland to study for a PhD in Particle Physics, but I soon found out that I was not really passionate about it. It was really hard because without passion I didn't have the necessary motivation to continue, especially after going through very hard personal issues. 

I quit my career in Physics in the middle of my PhD and, while I am still very interested in new ideas and experiments in that field, I think it was the best decision I've ever made. The difference between science and writing is that I feel like I am meant to be a writer. It's a need, it's who I am, while science was just a job which is why I struggled with it so much.

EA: What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

CT: Writing is a muscle that needs to be trained regularly, not only to progress but also to silence that nasty little voice in your head that sabotages you. It's a hard but extremely fulfilling process, and you will have to learn patience. Surround yourself with people who will build you up, not destroy your hopes. If you don't have that support at home (I certainly didn't at first), you can always find it online. Be bold; don't be afraid, do it, even if it is just one sentence a day. Ask for advice, vent, cheer up other writers. Be mindful of your mental health. Us artists are more at risk of depression, anxiety, eating disorders. Ask for help. You are not alone.

EA: Finally, tell the readers why Healers will be a must-read.

I think the readers who love dystopian stories will be very pleased with Healers. There will be a lot of action, a lot of science, a fully realized world, a slow-burn romance and complex characters. I'm putting all my heart in my stories, because I want my readers to have an awesome time reading them.

Epilogue

I share the same problem as Celine, as far as having a myriad of ideas, but seemingly so little time to work on them. Her statement: "Writing is a muscle that needs to be trained regularly, not only to progress but also to silence that nasty little voice in your head that sabotages you," is an essential aspect of writing, and I couldn't have put it any better myself.

Speaking of "essential aspect," Celine's  mentioning of putting a lot of herself into Eternal Snow while facing the toughest years of her life, and how it allowed her to be open and honest, as well as it being a story others can relate to, is a penchant of all writers and authors, and the therapeutic common bond we all share. A final word from Celine:

You can find more info on my projects on my website: www.celineterranova.com , on Twitter: https://twitter.com/CelineTerranova and on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/loufocaceline/ 

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