Author Spotlight: Charles Schneider


Hello Everyone! Yesterday, I posted a review for "A Portrait in Time" by Charles Schneider.  As part of the review process, I also had the opportunity to do a brief interview with the author that I wanted to share.  Cheers!

MTG: Do you have a favorite book?  I know it’s often impossible to narrow it down to one, so just pick one (or a few) that is a new favorite or consistent “go-to”.

Charles: You asked for one, but I can't resist and will have to give you two. For my ‘heady’ choice, I’d have to pick Ian McEwan’s “Atonement”. It’s such a tragic, thoroughly literary and beautifully written ‘period’ romance that offers such a sad and honest portrayal of its characters. For me, the novel's themes of jealousy, unrequited love, opportunities missed, guilt, and the search for forgiveness are unforgettable poignant.

On the lighter side, “The Time Traveler’s Wife” by Audrey Niffenegger is right up there on my list of favorites. It's a fun, fantastic-but-believable love story written with cleverly shuffled chronology that really deals with themes of premonition and fate under the guise of science fiction and romance. Other honorable mentions to quickly throw in are:

  • “The Magus” and “The French Lieutenant’s Woman” both by John Fowles
  • “The Swan Thieves” by Elizabeth Kostova
  • “A Midsummer Night's Dream” and “Macbeth” by the great William Shakespeare
  • The Song of Fire and Ice series by George R.R. Martin.

MTG: Where do you find inspiration for your writing?  Is anything inspired by real-life or do you typically let your imagination run wild?

Charles: “A Portrait in Time” was inspired first and foremost by a family painting that hung over my grandmother's bed for as long as I can remember, unsigned and created by a mysteriously anonymous artist. She never fully admitted it, but I later learned that she was the model for the striking nude portrait, which was painted in Paris sometime in the 1940's, before she emigrated to the U.S.

A few years ago, I started thinking about a number of 'what ifs'. What if the piece had been painted centuries rather than decades ago; what if the artist had actually been a famous Impressionist rather than someone unknown; what if the painting was a critical piece of evidence that proved a theory of artistic fraud; what if the model was an ancestor of one of the book's protagonist-antagonists; and finally, what if that model had actually posed  as a prominent artist's model for many of the most famous Impressionists and some of the most notorious of the nude Impressionist paintings?

The plot evolved to include time-travel so that the model could actually participate in the story-line as one of the main characters herself, in the present; and then branched out to include some famous nude paintings that I saw at Musée d'Orsay during a trip to Paris in 2011, such as Gustave Courbet’s THE ORIGIN OF THE WORLD. For those interested in seeing the 'inspiration' for A PORTRAIT IN TIME, the family painting that I have dubbed NUDE RECLINING is reproduced in the digital version of the book, and is also pictured on my author website and on my many author Facebook pages.

MTG: As a (relatively) new author, what has been the biggest challenge?

Charles: It has definitely been a real challenge getting the word out in a marketplace that's glutted with books these days, many of which have not been 'screened' for quality because they are self-published, or self-printed. I think it's difficult in this day and age, where digital and on-line venues for books have outpaced bookstores, for legitimate novelists to be recognized in the ‘mainstream’—a situation that has been exacerbated by the 'static' resulting from the avalanche of self-proclaimed authors who are able to publish indiscriminately on Amazon, for instance, just by uploading their raw writings onto this largely unmonitored site. 

Couple this with on-line social media overpowering the old face-to-face marketing like book tours and book signings, which have really gone by the way-side, and you’re left with a problem, at least for me. It seems close to impossible to get the word out without devoting hours and hours to aggressive computer marketing, which I have simply been unable to do because of time constraints.  That’s why I’m so pleased to be featured as an author on your blog, and to have the opportunity to do this interview; because without on-line exposure like this, my book would probably just wither on a vine that contains countless and identical-looking ‘grapes’!

MTG: What has been the biggest reward?

Charles: The sense of accomplishment derived from something I created in my imagination right there on paper, and recognized in the public eye as a piece of quality writing that has the power to evoke emotions in the reader, and to entertain. An even bigger accomplishment would be to see my book adapted into a movie, which would be the ultimate reward, in my opinion, for any writer. Are any of you readers out there connected either directly or indirectly to the movie industry? If so, please put in a good word for A PORTRAIT IN TIME!  

MTG: How do you find time to write being a doctor and father?

Charles: It’s a challenge; but because it’s more than just a ‘hobby’ for me, I consciously set time aside each day to devote to the writing process: usually from 5 to 6 AM on weekdays, and from 7 to 9 AM on weekends. Writing this way, I seem to be able to produce a well-polished 230-250 page novel in about 9-12 months.

MTG: What advice would you give aspiring writers?

Charles: Don’t give in to the self-publishing craze. Write, and re-write, and re-write, until you have something you’re satisfied with; and then, try to find a professional editor to give your manuscript an objective read-through and help you to revise your book into a marketable product.  Whatever you do, don’t settle for self-publishing unless you’ve exhausted all other traditional channels. Believe in yourself, and in your ability to get your piece of quality writing in with a quality publisher!

MTG: What books are you reading now?

Charles: “A Secret History”, by Donna Tart.  I loved her book “The Goldfinch”, and I’m enjoying her older release so far as well.

MTG: Do you have any upcoming projects?

Charles: Yes! I’m thrilled to announce that I just signed a contract with Brighton Publishing expediting 'fast-track' publication of my sequel to “A Portrait in Time”. Follow Susanne Bruante to 1877, in a story that cleverly distorts Impressionist history and involves Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Gustave Caillebotte as central characters in a mystery rife with murder, intrigue, and mistaken identities. Look for “The Vale of Years”, a Brighton Publishing release, in early January 2015: available after publication at all major on-line retailers in both digital and print versions.

Thanks again to Authors, Large & Small for making this possible!

About the Author:

Dr. Schneider is a practicing oncologist at Medical Oncology Hematology Consultants located at the Helen F. Graham Cancer Center (Christiana Care Health Services Campus) in Newark, Delaware. He lives with his family in Landenberg, PA.  Though deciding to pursue a career in medicine, he graduated with a Minor in Literature in 1984 at Wesleyan University.  He never took a creative writing course, but his hobby eventually grew to be something more. ["About the Author" is adapted from information on the author's website listed below]  He would love to connect through any of the following ways: