I was never supposed to be an author. My brother is the writer in the family (and I’m convinced that someday we’ll find a backlog of brilliant manuscripts that he has hidden away over the past several decades) I’m the painter and have spent my life doing odd projects, such as the New Leaf Project, wherein I painted more than 4,000 paintings on wood blocks that have been scattered all over the globe (including Antarctica) for people to find and adopt. (if you’re interested, check it out here http://www.newleaf.carolannnewsome.com/)I also like doing collaborative murals with small communities, the most recent of which has been a dragon living under a pedestrian overpass.
In 2001, I suffered a head injury from being struck by a car while riding my bike. Head injuries are funny things, hard to predict what you’ll experience, and not much you can do about it except take care of yourself and find a way to pass the time during those periods when you can’t function. For several years I spent a lot of time reading popular fiction, often the same books over and over, while hanging out with my dogs. (To this day I am a huge Harry Potter fan because those were the first new books I could read, 5 months after my accident.)
I wrote the first draft of “A Shot in the Bark” longhand during my horizontal episodes. I discovered that it’s fun to commit mayhem on paper. I like to write stuff that is fun and scary and romantic, and oh, it has to have dogs. I expect Lia and Peter to have more adventures with their furry children. My only goal is to bring you pleasure. At the end of the day, if I’ve managed to entertain you, I’m happy.
Hi Carol – welcome, and thank you for being here today!
You’ve said that you were ‘never supposed to be an author’. Can you tell us more about how you became a writer?
I have a voracious appetite for popular fiction, and I have had aspiring authors around much of my life. I never considered myself among them. Then in 2010, I worked on the Census. One of my co- workers told me he had written a book. I asked if I could read it. He said he liked my feedback and asked if I wanted to help edit the book. He wanted to make it more marketable, but he did not have much experience with popular fiction. So I would read his stuff and tell him what to do to make it appeal more to a general audience, and he’d say nice things and then he’d go home and do the exact opposite. This was very frustrating because I thought the writing was great, but the book had problems that needed to be corrected. This kept up for a couple months, until I finally said, “Let me make the cuts and show you what it would look like,” and he said, “Okay,” and the next morning he called and said he was up all night and he can’t possibly lose the 50 pages of mind-numbing exposition that he stuck right in the middle of his thriller.
That’s when it dawned on me that I knew an awful lot about writing and my advice would be better spent on someone who would take it. I also realized that I wanted to kill him. So I picked up a notebook and murdered him on paper. Six notebooks later I had “A Shot in the Bark.”
Can you tell us more about your latest book?
“Drool Baby” is the sequel to “A Shot in the Bark.” It’s coming out October 13. One thing I hate about a lot of fiction, is that these characters go through all these traumatic experiences and they never seem affected by it. In “Drool Baby”, Lia is in therapy to deal with everything that happened to her in “Shot.” She and Peter discover that the case was not resolved after all, and they have more sleuthing to do. Their relationship is moving forward in a comfortable way. Then circumstances force them into co-habitation, which Lia is not ready for. It’s more romance and mayhem against the backdrop of all these eccentric dog park people.
Where does the inspiration behind your writing come from?
My friends at the Mount Airy Dog Park. We really just sit and watch the dogs and talk about the weather. I thought we ought to have some adventures.
Shout-out to peeps at Mount Airy Dog Park! So, what has been the most rewarding part of your writing journey so far?
Being creative is always rewarding. But there’s so much to love about publishing: selling books to total strangers, acting out murderous impulses on paper, getting fan mail, being my own boss. I really love hearing from people who have read my book.
I agree with that completely! Just for fun…if you could make one of your characters real for a year, who would you choose and why?
Detective Peter Dourson. He’s the man of my dreams.
LOL That would be a fun year for you then! Mind if I ask…what are your top five favorite books?
The Jim Dale audiobook version of the Harry Potter series, “Flowers from the Storm,” by Laura Kinsale, “Hidden Riches,” by Nora Roberts, “Ashes to Ashes,” by Tami Hoag, “Outlander,” by Diana Gabaldon.
Wonderful choices! So Carol, you’re an artist, and love to paint…can you tell us more about this part of your life?
I’ve been an artist my whole life, though I’ve never been comfortable with the whole gallery thing. It’s horribly pretentious. So I would do oddball public arts projects. My big project was the New Leaf Project. I would paint this leaf on a piece of wood and leave it somewhere for anyone to find and take home. They each had a label on the back explaining that it was a New Leaf and the finder could keep it and turn it over whenever they wished. How I came up with that and why I wanted to do it is a very long story I won’t go into – but I created more than 4,000 of these, and had people all over the world who helped me “plant” them. In a way, it was a lot like self-publishing.
I absolutely LOVE that idea! Do you have any advice for budding writers?
The thing I see happening over and over again is new writers rushing to publish work that hasn’t been edited, proofed, or even read by anyone else. Sometimes it’s unintelligible. Usually the formatting is bad. Even best-selling authors will have a typo or two, but when you have a dozen on the first page, you’re not helping yourself. So get yourself a committee. Give each of them a copy of your book and a red pen and tell them to write down anything they notice, what they like, what they hate, what doesn’t ring true. And re-read your work in light of their opinions. You don’t have to agree with them, but it will help you see your work more clearly. Use it to improve your book. Then go over it several times, with help if you can get it, to remove all the errors. Use a text-to-speach feature, on your Kindle, or your computer (on Macintosh it’s called Voice Over) to read your MS out loud while you follow along. That’s the best way to find typos masquerading as words. Preview your formatting before you hit that publish button, and keep tweaking it until it’s right. You only get one chance to make a first impression.
The other bit of advice is to write what you like to read. Too often, writers venture into an unfamiliar genre or grab onto the hottest trend, hoping to make a buck. If you don’t like the genre, you won’t understand it or the people who read it, and your efforts will hit a false note. Don’t make the mistake of thinking certain genres are “easy.” That’s the mistake my friend made. His writing style was literary, but his plot had Clive Cussler written all over it. It was destined to make both audiences unhappy.
“…get yourself a committee…” GREAT advice!! What can we expect to see from you in the future and where can we find your work?
More dog park mysteries. Apparently I left a few friends out of the first two books. One has offered to pay me to kill her husband (on paper). To make things even, I will toss her in jail. I also need to write a book that includes my eldest dog, Max. It’ll be titled “Maximum Security.” Then there’s a plot-line that includes an animal communicator, another that includes a stalker . . .
For now, I’m exclusive to Amazon and only in Kindle format. After I get this next book out, I’ll be putting out print versions. I’m also considering audiobooks.
Sounds exciting!! All fabulous ideas, Carol! One more question before we wrap things up…If you could choose any Author, living or dead, to read your book, who would you choose and why?
Can I have Christian Bale read it instead? Then he would realize how much he wants to play Peter Dourson in the movie.
LOLOL!! Yes, it’s your fantasy question. That would be awesome! 🙂 Okay ladies and gents…it’s that time again – the Rapid Fire round is starting now!
Chocolate or Wine? Chocolate!!!!!
eBook or Real Book? Not Fair! A girl can love both!
Beach or Pool? Beach
Bra or No Bra? No Bra (Bras interfere with lymph node function.)
A Partner That Cooks or A Partner That Cleans ? A Partner That Cooks (With two incomes, we’ll hire somebody to clean)
Shower or Bath? Shower
Shoes or Bare Feet? Bare Feet
Jeans or Dresses? Jeans
Pink or Blue? Pink
Drool Baby (Available soon on Amazon)
Artist Lia Anderson is emerging from the trauma of the previous months with a new boyfriend, a new patron with an exciting project, and a new therapist to help her sort everything out. Life at the Mt. Airy Dog Park is returning to normal, and that suits Lia just fine. Until a stranger’s announcement starts her down a path that will have her questioning everything she knows and ultimately fighting for her life.