A Bookish Conversation with ‘The Call House’ C.P. Stiles
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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About the Book:
Title: THE CALL HOUSE: A WASHINGTON NOVEL
Author: C.P. Stiles
Publisher: Bacon Press Books
Genre: Literary Fiction
A war on vice In Washington, DC—a city constantly awash in scandals? Hard to believe, but it really happened. Only not exactly the way it’s told here.
All Mattie Simon knows is that she want adventure and her hometown doesn’t have any. She wants independence, maybe some romance.
All Andrew Stevens wants is to do his job as a newly-elected congressman.
But Washington has a way of changing people—even when they get what they want.
Fast-paced and funny, The Call House takes you back to a time of relative innocence, when people flocked to Washington, DC, in the 1940s to do good works and instead got caught up in sex, money, and politics. What else would you expect?
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Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Caro! Can you tell us where you are from?
Thank you for inviting me. I live and write in Washington, DC.
Q: How did you come up with your title?
That’s a little tricky. I had a very different title when I first sent the book around, but I made so many changes I thought it needed a new title. I went through several choices, tried them out on friends and family, and this is the one that stuck. The story is about a particular call house at a certain period of time so it made sense.
Q: They say you can judge a book by its cover. Can you tell us a little about your cover and who designed it?
Even though the topic and title are a little racy, I didn’t want to oversell the sex part since there really isn’t any in the book. I wanted to somehow convey seduction, but keep it subtle. The book is also about Washington. Al Pranke of amp13, the designer, came up with the idea of a hand beckoning against the backdrop of the Capitol. I love his designs and he’s great to work with.
Q: Can you tell us something about your book that would make me run out and buy it?
For me, that’s the toughest part of writing a book – figuring out what would attract a reader right away. Without knowing your reading preferences, I guess I just don’t know what would make you buy it. Readers so far have said they like the characters and the story moves fast.
Q: Are there any messages in this book that you want the reader to know about?
Another tough question. I didn’t write it with messages in mind. But I guess one might be that sometimes a place, in this case, Washington, DC, can change a person. Even when you don’t realize it.
Q: What was your most favorite chapter to write and why?
The chapters that were the most fun to write involved the DC police vice squad. There’s one where the police visit a tavern looking for illegal gambling. I think it captures some of the racial tension that was very much a part of the city at the time.
Q: Why did you feel you had to write this book?
I’m still trying to figure this out. The Call House is based on a true story
about a real call house that operated out of an upscale apartment building in a residential neighborhood. I used to pass that building every day on my way to work. I wanted to know more about it. The story just stayed with me.
Q: Now, some fun questions – What deep dark secret would you like to share with us?
I wish I had one. I lead a pretty boring life. When my daughter was younger she always used to ask me if we had some deep dark family secrets. She was hoping we did. I never came up with one.
Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
I haven’t had a chance to travel as much as I’d like so most days, just about anywhere would be good. I might start with Greece. It sounds beautiful and fascinating.
Q: Are you a morning person or a night person?
Morning. Definitely. That’s when I do my writing and catch up on reading the news.
Q: Are there any members in your family who also like to write?
Yes. They all like to write. And they’re all very good.
Q: As a child, were you a dreamer?
As a child, I loved to listen to or read stories. And I loved to make them up. I’d put on plays or write silly books. Not sure if that counts as being a dreamer.
Q: Last but not least, the magic genie has granted you one wish. What would that be?
I’m way too superstitious to ever say a wish out loud. But getting back to when I was a child. I think I decided then that if I ever got one wish, the answer would have to be to wish for three more. That way I could wish for health and happiness for my family and friends; peace in the world; and then . . . well, I’m still not sure.
Q: Thank you so much for this interview! Do you have any final words?
Thank you for giving me a chance to talk about writing. I guess the main thing I’d say to other readers and writers is to read and write what you enjoy. Don’t take it all so seriously.