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C. F. Francis Interview Published on: 13, Feb 2018

Have you lived in Florida all your life? How would you describe your childhood?

I was born and raised in Florida but have also lived in Georgia and Indiana. My husband took pity on me and moved us back to Florida over a decade ago. As for my childhood, probably not much different from many people. Raised by a single mother. Strict but loving. Told us we could do whatever we set our minds to. She was gone too soon.

At what point did you decide to pursue writing professionally? Who has been your number one support system since day one?

I was a voracious reader before I started writing. I ran through all the authors in my favorite genre' - romantic suspense. I started writing to entertain myself between books. Created characters I wanted to spend time with. I shared it with a good friend who told me I should publish. She's been my biggest supporter, along with my husband, since I took up writing full time.

What are some of the most memorable experiences you had working in law, insurance and tourism and how do you think it has helped in your growth as a author?

My most memorable experience would be my time with the Florida State House Select Committee on Organized Crime. During that time we held committee meetings regarding organized crime in the State of Florida that helped develop the state's RICO statute. Met some interesting characters in both OC and government. But you meet interesting people everywhere if your eyes are open.

Besides romantic suspense and mystery, have you ever thought about or dabbled with writing other genres?

I've not attempted to write any other genres'. I do have one project sitting on the back burner. During the Iraq war, I exchanged frequent and in-depth emails with an Army Intelligence Officer. We're still in touch and he'd like me to put the emails into a book form. I hope to do that one day soon.

Why did you choose Sanibel island as the main location in your book "Sanctuary Island"?

Why not? I live near Sanibel and it is one of my favorite places. Know what you write about. I haven't written about any place I haven't visited. I hope to visit more.

Tell us a little bit about your characters Catherine Storm and Colton James from "Sanctuary Island" and who inspired them.

I had never expected to publish Sanctuary Island so I put a lot of characteristics into Cat and Colt that I admired. As I mentioned earlier, I corresponded and sent packages to men and women who served in Iraq and also Afghanistan. My husband and I wound up becoming friends with a member of the Special Forces and his family. Since I had resource, I made the hero a former Green Beret. As for Cat, people say they see me in her but its more like the person I'd like to be. She's strong, out spoken and independent. I'm not there - yet.

What kind of feeling do you hope to imbibe with your books?

I wasn't attempting to get anything particular across when I started to write Sanctuary Island - just a good romance/suspense story that I would enjoy revisiting. What I found I'd written by the end of the book was a story of love, camradarie and friendship. I'm happy it turned out that way.

In the second book to The James Gang series,"Lovers Key",, what made you decide to make the main characters estranged former lovers rather than the typical hot-stranger-meets-hot-stranger-and-falls-in-love storyline?

I just wanted to mix things up a bit. They weren't just former lovers but "kind-of-married" to make it more interesting. To be honest, that was a bit more difficult for me. One, I was writing a book I knew I would publish. Two, I'm not big on conflict or too much agnst but to make it work, I had to go there.

Have you ever woven your own experiences with love and romance into any of your books?

No, not really. If we all lived lives like that we wouldn't need romance novels, would we? My husband is the sweetest but I wouldn't call him romantic.

What motivates you to get out of bed in the morning? If you weren't a writer, what do you think you would be doing?

I get up at the same time I did when I worked my last day job only I go to my desk at home and start with whatever needs to be done [such as this interview] before I start writing. I'm not sure what I'd do if I went back to work. I've had my fill of working in an office. I'd be a beach bum, if I could afford it. Maybe, one day I will be.

Where do you get the inspiration for most of your books?

No place in particular. Sometimes I hear something on the news or see something online that makes for an interesting plot or sub-plot. Did you know you can't use dryer sheets on linesman's clothing? The static electricity could get them killed. I didn't know that until hurricane Irma came through here. Makes for an interesting means to murder.

What's your opinion on the never-ending paperback vs kindle battle?

I'm not sure there is an option. I like supporting my local bookstores and, fortunately, there are several still left around here. I have an book signing at one of them tomorrow. However, you almost have to use Amazon to sell anything. I'm not a believer in monopolies but if you're starting out, you're doomed if you don't want to go the kindle route.

Do you have a formal editor? Why do you think having a good editor is so important in the book industry?

I did not have an editor for my first book. I did use one on Lovers Key. It was tough getting that first edit back and being told you weren't perfect. Writing is learning. Editors are teachers. I'm going to keep learning as long as I can.

Have you ever done a book signing? If so, what's one thing about book signings that not many non-authors know?

By the time you publish this, I'll have finished my first one for Lovers Key. I did three for Sanctuary Island. I'm not that much of a mixer so I had to learn to grab people's attention as they walked by. Simply wishing them a good afternoon doesn't get them to stop. One trick I learned was to have something to draw their attention. Since we're located in SW Florida, we do book signings in "season" when the tourists are in town. With that in mind, I created a post card with "Things to do in SW Florida" and people stop by to pick them up then I start a conversation.

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