C.P. Stiles lives and writes in Washington, DC. The Call House: A Washington Novel is her first published novel, but she has a drawerful of new novels just waiting to be published.
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As a book bloggin’ and book luvin’ Princess, I’m always curious to find out how authors got the ideas for their books. How did you come up with the idea for your book?
About 15 years ago, a friend gave me a book called Washington Confidential. It wasn’t a great book, but there was an item in it about the best-known, high-priced call house on the East Coast operating out of an apartment building in a residential neighborhood. I used to pass that building on my way to work. I wanted to know more about it.
Can you tell us what your book is about?
The book is about that call house – the young women who work there, the men who visit. It’s also about what was going on in Washington, DC, right before World War II, when
Fiction Authors: Can you tell us a little about the main characters of your book?
There’s Mattie Simon, a young woman from Smyrna, Tennessee, who comes to Washington looking for adventure. Andrew Stevens is a freshman congressman, from Muskegon, Michigan, who’s trying to do what’s best for the country. And there’s Daniel Granger, who had to drop out of college and join the police force, even though it doesn’t really suit him.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would that be?
I once read an article that talked about the difference between being serious about your work and taking yourself too seriously. I would tell my younger self, don’t take it all so seriously. Just keep on going.
Do you hear from your readers? What do they say?
So far, I’ve only heard from readers I know. What they say is that they enjoyed the book. What I like best is when they tell me they couldn’t put it down. My favorite comment was one reader said it was a “page flipper or whatever you call it when you’re reading an eBook.”
What is the toughest criticism given to you as an author?
The very first time I wrote a novel, I had great hopes for it. I sent it to an agent and it came back almost the next day. I gave it to another agent who was also a friend and he told me it wasn’t good enough to be published. My husband and I went out and had a proper wake for the book so I could put it aside and start the next one.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
That’s a great question. I’m afraid to count. Every time I go back in that stack of papers I have near my desk, I’m always surprised to find some story I didn’t remember starting. Right now, I’m trying to get back to two books that I started. I have two others that I finished, sent out, and put away.
Do you have anything specific that you would like to say to your readers?
In the beginning of my book, I have a note to readers – if it’s all right with you, I’ll just repeat it here.Dear Readers:This story is based on actual events that took place in Washington, DC, during the early 1940s. All the names have been changed; most of the incidents have been invented; all of the conversations have been imagined.It is not my intention to glamorize or romanticize prostitution—the women who ran this particular call house did try to protect the other women who worked there.Please understand the portrayals of the DC police and the FBI are meant in fun. Both are more competent and less sinister. Most of the time.