Who I am…
Charline Maas, pen name: Charline Ratcliff
Cool fact about me: My family name on my father’s side comes from the Netherlands, where there is the “Maas River” and the town “Maastricht.” I have been lucky enough to have crossed the Maas River while in the Netherlands, I have not yet visited the town of Maastricht.
Cool fact about my novels: All my books start because of amazingly life-like dreams I've had. With that said, "The Prologue" for each book is the actual dream that brought it to fruition.
Moving on… I was born just outside of Spokane, Washington, at Fairchild Air Force Base. As a child I had a lonely life. My parents moved at least once per year, (non-military related), so I didn’t have the blessing of friends, family or long-term stability. (My father didn’t really have the ability to get along with family, neighbors, co-workers, et cetera).
School years were tough for me. Each year was a new school, with new children who already had their own friends, and weren’t really interested in making new acquaintances. During recess/lunch you would find me swinging on the swings or… doing things like rescuing drowning worms from puddles after the rain. Of course, once I discovered the school library, I could be found there reading books. As I got older, I wanted to participate in after school programs like: home ec, sports or music, but I was never allowed.
Not too long after my 12th birthday, I was removed from school because my father had learned that he, and my mother, were about to be investigated for child abuse. At this point, my parents packed the few personal belongings we had into a small, wooden trailer my father had built, and we began living like nomads; moving every few days/weeks/months, as we repeatedly crisscrossed the country. By the time I was sixteen, I had been in every state except Alaska. (I had traveled through Hawaii as a baby).
I lived in a little dome tent, in the woods, in the middle of nowhere for three years. One night, when we were outside Prescott, Arizona, there was a huge storm and the cabin tent that my parents, and two younger brothers, lived in blew down. The aluminum poles to their tent had snapped, but luckily my small dome tent had survived unscathed. My mother, and my two brothers, moved into my small tent, and I slept in the front seat of our car for a time, while my father slept in the back seat. Later, my parents bought an old (full-size) school bus and that became my new “home” until I turned sixteen and left.
Throughout my childhood, I’d always been an avid reader. (Books, and later music, were my way of coping with the many forms of an abusive childhood). My “formal” education ended at 6th grade and everything else that I know, I’ve taught myself. I love to learn about everything, and this is probably why I’m into so many different things today…
I left home when I was sixteen, and let me just say that trying to survive on my own, at an age where you’re not allowed to legally work without your parent’s permission was…challenging. I was tenacious though and I did find work: Burger King and cleaning houses to start.
I never knew I wanted to be a writer. Although, having had thirteen international pen pals, maybe I should have seen it coming. *chuckle*
In my late twenties I started having dreams, but not your “normal” kind of dreams. Instead these dreams were like experiencing another life. Like going to a theater and sitting through a sped up, five+ hour look at someone’s life… These unusual dreams weren’t/aren’t an everyday, or every month occurrence, they simply happen now and again. Sometimes I would share these dreams with my super close/trusted friends and they would usually tell me that I should write these dreams down. I never did because, well, what am I supposed to do with them after I write them down??
Then a strange thing happened. Two nights in a row, back to back, I had two more vivid dreams. One was about ancient Egypt and Queen Nefertiti, while the other was in an Ireland of around 1200BC. Maybe my close friends were correct, maybe I should write these dreams down. Nothing like getting out of bed at 4am to put pen to paper, but, each night/morning, I did it.
I lost track of time while writing down my Egypt dream… And when I looked at what I had written I was rather astonished to discover I had written the dream out as well as a different glimpse/experience/memory of that same past.
Later that week I decided I would write a book. “I’m going to be a New York Times best-selling author!” I excitedly declared repeatedly, and emphatically, to anyone who would listen. So then I sat down to write my book – and that’s when I experienced every writer’s nightmare…writer’s block.
One year, and several months later passed before I again came across what I had written. Could I finish it, I wondered? My writer’s block had never stemmed from writing the “ancient” side of the story; I could write that with my eyes closed and one hand tied behind my back. My writing challenge stemmed from not being able to write the “present time” that went with the plot: A woman living in today’s day and age, having dreams and visions about Ancient Egypt, with no understanding of why.
Feeling that ancient past bubbling up inside of me; I was once again compelled to write. This time the words flowed as easily as water when the tap is turned on. About six months later, The Curse of Nefertiti was a completed manuscript sitting on my coffee table. It was actually published about six months after that. However, it wasn’t until after The Curse of Nefertiti was published, when I was driving on the 202 east bound in Phoenix, Arizona, on a sunny spring day that my “epiphany” moment finally hit. After all these years of searching and yearning, I finally knew what I wanted to be when I grew up… A writer!
And, I’ve finally come to understand that these “unusual” dreams are in fact glimpses of my past lives. With as many as I’ve had, it shouldn’t really be surprising that I dream about some of them. Some were great, some were good and some were…not pleasant.
I used to talk with my close friend, Julie, about these dreams, before she passed away from cancer. She was a certified hypnotherapist, a life coach, and a medium.
In explanation to my not understanding why I know things that I shouldn’t, she explained to me that: “I had come into this life with all the knowledge of my past lives available to me.” I’m not sure how much I believed her then, but as the years have passed, her explanations about many things have rung true.
For example, people will often ask me if I had to do a lot of research for my books. My answer is, not exactly... I write what I remember/what I feel, and I research the specifics: item names, to remember the exact lay of the land, or just to see how factual my accounting is to the recognized history and/or the mythology of the era I’m writing about.
And of course, since my books, fall into the “historical fiction” category, that allows me to play with the story’s history a bit too.