It is my pleasure today to bring you an interview from author C.M. Arnold. Her book Dial 323 Love came out in March (on 3/23!) and the second installment is currently available as well. The 3rd and 4th in the series will be available late fall/early summer.
You can purchase the book here.
Dial 323 Love synopsis:
AJ Brooks is a young man with morals, waiting tables and attending college in his hometown of Memphis, Tennessee, with the hopes of one day breaking into the entertainment industry as a screenwriter. However, when a woman dangling his dreams in front of him lures him to Los Angeles, he is quickly reeled into a new career role, and his once modest life is changed forever.
Maggie Hunter is a magnifying and manipulative businesswoman. She resides in an opulent penthouse high above LA and runs her illicit empire from an inconspicuous office in Hollywood. She’s got an eye for potential, not to mention a position to fill, so when she runs across a gorgeous, green-eyed boy during a one-off trip to Tennessee, she makes a play to make him her employee.
Anjanae Collins is a lonely, young housewife living in Bel-Air. Since settling for comfortability out of fear of instability, she’s felt like a shell of her former self. With her passions placed to the side and her personality stifled, her existence has been reduced to arm candy to an unappreciative man. The lack of fulfillment leads her to make an uncharacteristic call one night. However, when something that was only supposed to last for the course of an evening turns into something much more, when her spirit starts to thaw under the warmth of someone who sees her, she finds herself fighting the inevitable fall.
1) When/how did you know you wanted to become a writer?
My second semester of college. I took creative writing, and from there creative nonfiction the next semester. Somewhere in the midst of those two classes, it clicked: I want to do this. I’ve had an active imagination since I can remember. I wrote little stories from time to time in grade school. In fact, I won my class’s young author contest in 5thgrade (huge accolade, I know). That said, writing wasn’t something I did with any regularity, and prior to college I hadn’t wrote for reasons other than homework in a good four or five years. I was going through something in my life that second semester, and those classes—and the catharsis they provided—made me realize writing wasn’t something I just liked.
2) How do you come up with the names of your characters?
I actually get a lot of names from songs. Maggie is named Maggie because I have always felt a way about the Rod Steward song “Maggie May.” Even as a little kid when it would come on the classic rock station my parents listened to, I was allured to something about it. I think for years I have unconsciously stored feelings I get from certain songs that I subconsciously want to build something around. Once I started writing seriously, I noticed those feelings coming to fruition in the form of characters and such. Even today, I would say the music I listen to influences me more than the books I read. By far, actually.
I knew I wanted to, at some point, have a lead female character named Angie because of the Rolling Stones’ song “Angie.” However, I have a cousin named Angela, and I make it a point to avoid using names people in my life have on characters. So that’s how Anjanae got her name. As soon as I saw the name on whatever “Angie related name” search I did, I fell in love with it.
Also, in book two there is a character named Kadence. She’s a popstar, so that’s her stage name. Her real name is Caroline. And that is most definitely derived from the OutKast song “Roses.”
3) What was the inspiration for Dial 323 Love?
Back in 2013-2014 I entered in a handful of screenwriting contests. One of them required an original pilot spec. I was brainstorming for ideas, and asked my mom what she’d like to see a television show about. I can’t remember if she said male hookers or gigolos or what the exact terminology was, but once she said it…boom! I’ve never had an idea take off that fast and fully formed in my life. I immediately knew I did not want to write some tawdry tale about a male escort, but rather the trajectory of a young man’s mentality and morality once becoming one. The gains, the losses. The doors that open, the doors that close. On the flipside of the coin, I’ve always been a bit enamored with Heidi Fleiss. Writing a filthy rich, supremely powerful, conscience-deficient madam was fun for me.
Nothing came of that script contest. So in 2015 I started writing the 1stbook. I finished writing the 4thand final book in November 2017.
4) Who/what are some of your favorite authors/genres to read?
I mostly read regular contemporary fiction. Literary fiction as long as it’s not too…what’s the word I want to use…whimsy. I love a good memoir, especially humorous ones. Autobiographies. The only genres I don’t read are Sci-Fi and fantasy (besides Harry Potter, I love Harry Potter). I’m also not a big fan of romance, but occasionally I will read one.
5) What’s your favorite place to write? Do you need complete silence or do you like to be surrounded by sounds/music?
I have this old recliner that has a permanent lean going on because that’s how bad I’ve worn it out. I sit in this recliner—never reclined, typically cross-legged and probably well on my way to a DVT—and write for hours. I almost always write with music on. However, I can write to complete silence. I CANNOT do sounds and background noises. I’ve never understood people who write in coffee shops and other public places. I’d never get anything accomplished for constantly casting glares at all the noisy people.
6) Do you have any pets?
I am currently and contentedly pet-less. I’ve had dogs, Guinea pigs, birds, horses, and about 384847865 cats. I could fill an entire drama-packed book with my pet stories. I kind of want an alpaca, though. Not gonna lie.
7) If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Are we suspending fear and inhibition? Because after about five hours on a plane I start to get a little hard to deal with. So with no fear, I would probably say either Fiji…or Zanzibar off the coast of Tanzania. I’ve also always wanted to go to London. Southern California is my favorite “regular” vacay choice, though. Santa Monica to be specific.
8) What were your favorite books as a child?
I loved Marguerite Henry; Misty of Chincoteague,King of the Wind. Anything about horses. Every horse series there ever was—Heartland, Horsefeathers, Black Stallion, Thoroughbred—I devoured. Until about age 11 when I went through a pretty significant Stephen King phase. It was admittedly hard to go back to pony books after that
9) Top 3 favorite foods:
Fried cheese curds (with ranch).
I didn’t include coffee since it’s technically a beverage. But coffee. Not cappuccinos, or lattes, or none of that. Coffee. And chocolate in every form, fashion, and consistency. And bacon. This is such a hard question to answer.
10) What book character would you want to go out to dinner with?
11) Do you ever write characters based on someone you know? Do you ask them first? Has anyone guessed it?
I’ve written about people in my real life. Nothing published.
12) What do you do when you get stuck?
Write through it. That’s a trite response, but it’s the truth. Once I committed to writing every day—regardless of if I only have fifteen minutes of free time to do so, regardless of if I have the urge to or not—writer’s block has been pretty rare.
I hope you enjoyed the post! A thank you to C.M. Arnold for being on my blog today!