Monday, March 3, 2014

The Masks of my Muses by Charmaine Pauls

Thank you for having me over on the blog, Brenda. My Muse Monday topic is exactly that – Muses. Like all writers, I live in an imaginary world for many hours every day. That world needs fuel to run on, and the inspiration I pump into it, in order for the words to flow out, are the people or places or objects, or even ideas, that become my Muses. Sometimes a solitary muse is enough to keep pulling the creative strings, and at other times I need a whole team.

In ‘Musing’ I go with whatever feels right for that particular story. For my futuristic erotic romance, Between Fire & Ice, my Muse was a statue of a winged fantasy figure carrying a dragon and a crystal ball, which I had bought in a village renown for magic in Brittany, France, the place where this story idea was conceived. Not only did she inspire the physical traits of the heroine, Elena, but she also kept me on the straight and narrow, from her guarding place
on my desk, whenever I veered from the path of perseverance in self-doubt, or in attacks of stage-fright, which I get before the launch of every book. This was a particularly important Muse, as finishing this story won me my first, traditional publishing contract.

For The Winemaker an unexpected Muse landed in my lap. She came in the form of a Monster High doll, and her name is Frankie Stein. The bolts through her neck, the Frankenstein-style stitches tattoos, and the one-blue-one-green eyes set the foundation for my protagonist, Zenna’s rebellion character. I had a lot of fun with Frankie. Together we explored paranormal elements that gave this sensual romance a thrill down the very elegant book spine. And then of course there was the wine… The wine became a personification of the characters in the book, and some characters adopted the attributes of interesting bouquets. Cheers, Frankie. You, and Chilean wine with sex appeal, made a great team.

When I was looking for Muses for my latest drama romance, Second Best, I turned to experiences and memories that left me with a lasting impression. I paged back to the imprints of my childhood when I grew up on juvenile delinquent school grounds where my father was a teacher. The character of Molly, a troubled young woman, wasn’t born overnight. In fact, I lived with Molly for a good many years. I always had her somewhere in my mind, growing and developing into a fictional Muse that gave birth to a literary personality. Emotions born from reminiscence and real-life episodes became my Muse in creating this book. Molly’s tale was not an easy one to write. Some of the events were traumatic, but my Muse, in this case my very own psyche, gave me the insight and empathy needed to take Molly to the end of her healing journey.

As for the hot, hardened, emotionally dark hero, Mal, in Second Best, his Daimon complimented Molly’s Muse in my mind like a yin would fit to a yang. Mal has spent his two years of compulsory military service fighting in the South African Border War, and when the seasoned soldier becomes a war journalist and meets Molly, the battle becomes a fight for their souls. To feed Mal’s complex character, I had my brother, who served his military service at the dog unit in Bourke’s Luck, as inspiration. His kindred spirit taught me to never be afraid to be myself, and that ideal became the Muse that grew and pushed the boundaries of my writing to a different level.

After every full stop of every last sentence, it is with much nostalgia that I bid my Muses farewell. No matter how hard I try to hold onto them, they seem to flow through my fingers into the ink of my sentences, and blend into the blank spaces between the lines. Their task being fulfilled, they dissolve into thin air, or ride off into the sunset even before the protagonist has played out that final act that will take the cast to Happily Ever After. But there is always that moment of overlapping faith, from one story to the next, when they manifest again in a different disguise.

For The Astronomer, due for release in October, I’ve used roses as Muse. The color of the week was determined by the scene I was writing. I’ve just noticed the last bunch, a blush of pink embedded in an outer layer of youthful-green petals, has wilted. It’s kind of sad. But there is a gift from a friend on my desk. It’s a box, elaborately decorated with funeral-purple flowers.  Inside lives a Mexican death doll. I open her coffin, and start up my computer. What I see is no longer a skeleton in a clingy, red dress. I see the opening line of a new story materializing on the screen of my laptop.

Charmaine Pauls was born in Bloemfontein, central South Africa, and has lived in Gauteng and the Cape provinces. She obtained a masters degree in Communication at the University of Potchestroom, after which she followed in diverse career path as Public Relations Officer for the South African National Council for the Deaf; Marketing Officer for short-term insurance company Auto & General; Public Relations Officer for the Performing Arts Council of the Orange Free State; Advertising Manager for an international vegetable seed company Hygrotech Seed; Internal Communications Manager for Nedcor Bank; and Brand Manager for Royal Canin.

During her professional career from 1990 to 2005, Charmaine also qualified in Natural Medicine and manufactured a herbal range under her own label; completed a 3-year course in photography and practiced professionally as wedding, social and advertising photographer; as well as trained in graphic design and established and ran a one-woman graphic design company.

After relocating to France in 2005, and to Chile in 2009, she fulfilled her passion and turned to full-time writing. Charmaine has published three novels since 2011, and another two is due for publication in 2014.

When she is not writing, she likes to travel, and to look at the world through the lens of her camera. Charmaine is married to a Frenchman, and with their two children they live in a world of animals and imagination, expressed in a linguistic mélange of Afrikaans, English, French and Spanish.
Charmaine’s books

How long will you wait for the man you love when he disappears from the face of the earth?



If you were the last fertile woman on earth, would you indulge a man forced to marry you to save the world?



“He’s not seriously proposing to recite a wine label like a poem, is he?”



Can a person doomed to social failure break from the chains of prejudice?



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