IRDA Winning Author C. R. Stewart: “There is no downside [to being an indie author]”..

 

Britfield & the Lost Crown was the winner in the Young Adult category of the 2020 IndieReader Discovery Awards, where undiscovered talent meets people with the power to make a difference.

Following find an interview with author C. R. Stewart.

What is the name of the book and when was it published?

Britfield & the Lost Crown, published by Devonfield Publishing

What’s the book’s first line?
“Number forty-seven! Stop chattering to thirty-four and get back to work,
immediately!” Speckle shouted from across the room.

What’s the book about? Give us the “pitch”.

Britfield & the Lost Crown is an award-winning, fast-paced middle school adventure novel that transports the reader from the smoldering crags of Yorkshire, through the heart of England, and finally to the magnificent shores of Dover. Creating an interactive world of mystery and adventure, culture and education, Britfield is about friendship, family, loyalty, and courage.

What inspired you to write the book? A particular person? An event?

Ten years ago, it started as a sketch I did 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 & the Lost Crown. I also liked the idea of adventure, exploration and freedom —seeing an extraordinary country for the first time: moving from place to place, enjoying spectacular scenery and exciting events, learning new things, meeting people, making friends and having hope for a better future. I like that not everything is what it seems. Not everyone is who you think they are: the simple often can become great, the great often turn out to be simple. Everyone has a unique story. Britfield & the Lost Crown took me over four years and 2500+ hours to write and edit.

What’s the most distinctive thing about the main character? Who-real or fictional-would you say the character reminds you of?

Tom, 12, is my main character. His best friend is Sarah, 12. Tom has been an orphan his entire life, never really schooled or educated. However, he has educated himself, reads what he can and has “street-smarts.” His most enduring character traits is that he is kind, courageous, not afraid to fail and is willing to take risks. Tom embodies many attributes of people and characters I have met or read about in either fiction or non-fiction. There are also aspects of me represented in Tom: his gumption and humor. In the fictional world, I was influenced by Pip from Dicken’s Great Expectations.

One of the best techniques to use in developing a character is to relate the character to someone you know or have encountered. Often, a new character you develop can be a compilation on 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, if you have done your work correctly.

What’s the main reason someone should really read this book?

Someone would love reading Britfield & the Lost Crown for the fast-paced, nonstop action, including the extraordinary adventure and surprising twists. The story will draw you in and not let you go until you are finished. During your exciting reading journey, you will also learn about England, history, geography, architecture and culture. Our youngest reader has been seven and our oldest reader has been 93. We
have had 12-year-olds read Britfield (384 pages) in five hours. We have received extraordinary feedback, scoring a 9.03 out of a scale of 10. Most everyone, so far, loves the story, loves the characters, and loves the adventure—they simply cannot wait for Book II. We have had non-readers, people who simply never read, yet they still love Britfield. We have presented to thousands of children, schools and even
adults, who support the book and have provided incredible feedback.

If they made your book into a movie, who would you like to see play the main
character(s)?

We are planning on a feature-length movie for each of the seven Britfield books. The only characters I have mentally cast is Detective Gowerstone, who could be played by either Benedict Cumberbatch or Colin Firth. For Speckle, either David Bradley or Robert Goodman. And for Hainsworth, potentially Michael Gambon.

When did you first decide to become an author?

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.

Is this the first you’ve written?

Britfield & the Lost Crown (England) is the first fiction book I have written. It’s part of a seven-book series. Britfield & the Rise of the Lion, Book II (France) is completed (540 pages), and I have started on Britfield & the Return of the Prince, Book III (Italy).

What do you do for work when you’re not writing?

I founded and manage a media company, focused on education, marketing, films, and publishing. I also manage the Britfield Institute, committed to bringing creativity into the classroom, promoting literacy, and fostering a child’s imagination. Impacting all demographics, we provide students, teachers, educators and schools the opportunity to read and write with passion while inspiring critical thinking,
communication and collaboration.

How much time do you generally spend on your writing?
I think if you asked a writer, “what is the one thing they want,” the answer would be uninterrupted time to write. I spend about two hours every morning, Monday through Friday, then the entire weekend.

6. What’s the best and the hardest part of being an indie?

The best part is creative freedom. There is no downside.

Would you go traditional if a publisher came calling? If so, why?
No, we had many opportunities, but the mainstream publishers have nothing to offer
us.

Is there something in particular that motivates you (fame? fortune?)

Changing people’s lives—inspiring them, educated them and influencing them to be creative, strong, brave and daring.

Which writer, living or dead, do you most admire?

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.

Which book do you wish you could have written?
None come to mind, although I have been influenced by many great writers!