The Word Nerds first met Joelle Charbonneau at Murder & Mayhem in Muskego last year. I fell in love with her insightful questions and fun topics during the moderation of the panel “When in Doubt.” Joelle gracious agreed to be the answer a few of the Word Nerds questions:
Word Nerds: You have several creative titles: voice teacher, stage performer, as well as wacky mysteries and YAs. What is necessary for our creative process? Are there different inputs for the various endeavors?
Joelle: I always look at that list and think about how unfocused my life is 🙂 The good news is that most of the jobs I have embarked upon in my adult life involve being willing to try new things. Which means the only thing necessary for my creative process is the discipline and willingness to sit down and see where the adventure takes me. Creating characters on the stage and the page are very much like. You still have to ask yourself what the character looks and sounds like as well as how they move and what their thought process and motivations are. Teaching requires a little more structure in how I approach a problem. Much of the creativity I utilize is in convincing the student to take the risk required to see the results we are both looking for.
WN: Your April release, End me a Tenor is the second in a series. As a reader, I love series. I adore learning more about the characters and their lives. What it is like for you to write about the familiar characters?
JC: Revisiting familiar characters in books is like visiting old friends. I love seeing where their lives take them and adore that their character arcs aren’t limited to one book. It’s more like real life where people change and grow over the course of years. And since the characters are ones that I already know and love, I find it is very easy to motivate myself to sit down and type.
WN: We met at Murder & Mayhem in Muskego. Care to share a favorite anecdote from the conference?
JC: Just one? Yikes. Well, I will say that driving in the limo (they brought a limo for all of us to ride to the library in!!!!) and watching a bunch of authors spend twenty minutes in an attempt to open the sunroof that we learned was not retractable was pretty spectacular. Turns out, we’re just as silly as some of the characters that we write.
WN: What does your writing space look like? (The Word Nerds are equal parts jealous and fascinated with the spaces that writers use.)
JC: My office has bookshelves and a desk that belonged to my late father-in-law. My writing space, however, is the overstuffed living room rocking chair. As much as I love the office, I tend to write better if I’m not sitting at a desk. Doing page proofs and copy edits, however, is a different story. Then, the desk is a total blessing.
WN: If you had a super power, what would the other one be? (after all, if you weren’t writing, I hear you would be a super hero).
JC: Ooo…superpower! Okay, for the most part I think that superpowers are a lot like the Midas Touch. They are awesome in theory, but not so great when you need to live a day to day life. However, if I could have a superpower, I’d love to be able to teleport myself to different places with just a blink of an eye. I love seeing and experiences new places, but I’m always dreading the time on a plane it takes to get there.
WN: Readers may not be aware that you’ve graced the stage as well. What role or performance is most memorable for you?
JC: I have loved every show that I’ve done for different reasons. Playing Margot in The Desert Song was hugely memorable since it was my first professional lead and being Mrs. Anna in The Kind and I was certainly fabulous. But I think the most memorable show for me was when I performed in the ensemble of Evita since that was the show that sparked the desire to write.
WN: Where do you recommend a new reader start with your books? You have a couple of great protagonists and picking the first one is tough.
JC: Thanks for such a lovely compliment. If you like funny, I’d start with Skating Around The Law. It was my first published book and I’m hoping I’ve gotten better at this writing thing since then, but I love the characters of that series and am extremely fond of Elwood, the ex-circus camel. However, if you prefer the dark and dangerous, I’d go with my first young adult novel, THE TESTING. It hits shelves June 4th and is the darkest book I’ve published thus far.
WN: What’s the best part about being a writer?
JC: That’s easy. Meeting other writers. I’ve always been a reader, but until I started writing, I’d never once met a published author. Meeting the people who have created the stories I have loved for years is truly the best part about this gig.
WN: What question did WN not ask, that you really would love to be asked? (An answer for it is great too, but not all of our guests give us that!)
JC: How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop?
This Word Nerd has a pair of boys who are fascinated with asking that question. Google to the center!