My Interview with CARRIE WHITETHORNE!
Welcome, Carrie – I am pleased to introduce you to my readers! As someone who values imagination and creativity, I am excited to speak with you. It is always fun to pick the brain of an author who is also an avid reader!
1. Please, let’s begin, as I always do, by having you describe yourself.
Hi Julie, thanks for having me.
I am a mother to two children, wife, friend, and an indie author of paranormal romance and fantasy novels. This is a new career path for me, having only been writing for a year, but it’s something I love and intend to keep doing for many years to come.
I was born in a small mining town in South Yorkshire, England, and moved to the Lake District four years ago. Since then, I’ve discovered a love of the outdoors. We have an abundance of lakes, coastline and forests here, and I love spending my time exploring these wonderful locations. Many have inspired my writing.
Alongside my writing, I try to support other aspiring and published writers. I know only too well the doubt that can creep in and have us questioning our abilities, and I help a few writer friends to admin a writers group on Facebook. I believe it’s very important to encourage and support one another, and that little group allows for that. I have received so much support since I published my first book, it’s important to me that I offer the same to others.
I am a doubter. I suffer crushing self-doubt at every turn and struggle to accept praise. I’ve no idea why that is. I’m surrounded by people who support and encourage me, both at home and in the online community I’ve become a part of, so I put it down to the curse that is being a writer. I don’t expect that to change any time soon, so I endeavor to give back to the community in any way I can as thanks for the times I’ve needed them.
I aspire to be traditionally published one day, and have begun work on a manuscript that I intend to pitch to agents in anticipation of reaching that goal.
2. I want to focus this first set of questions on you as a reader, since that is really the place where your love for literature began.
· I read your mom was a big influence on your thirst for knowledge, developing your personal perspectives, and really finding a love for books. What did she do that made such an impact on you and your life?
o I heard that I was a difficult toddler and sleep evasion was a skill I mastered early on. Mum maintained bedtime routines that always included a bedtime story, or six.
o Her patience was apparently unending, and she took great care to provide a safe and nurturing environment for me to grow up in.
o I believe it was her influence that led me to work in nursing care for many years, before I had children of my own, devoting my working life to the wellbeing of others. She taught me compassion.
Ø Did your mom take you to the library, or did she bring the books to you?
§ Thursday was library day. I would put my books to return in my bag in the morning, and we would walk the long way home from school. The library in our small town was a brick built building with high ceilings, stained wooden floors and rows of whitewashed shelving units. There was nothing fancy about it, nothing memorable, but I remember so many details of the place. I was allowed four, I always found three. There was one book I took out every week, Emily and Mr. Prendergast, and there were so many extra slips in the front cover for date stamping it never closed fully. Sadly, I can’t seem to find a copy for my own little girl.
Ø Did you read together, or did you prefer to get lost inside the pages alone?
§ Always together in the evenings, but as I grew older, I would read alone. Eventually, it became a solitary pastime.
Ø Do you find yourself teaching your children the same way your mom taught you? Why, or why not?
§ Yes, I do. I have always kept a variety of books for them from being babies. Some of the books we read now were mine when I was young.
§ I encourage them to be creative. Both of my children have a flair for phonics, my son especially, and my daughter is very good with handwriting and art. Math isn’t a strong point for either, but we work that into our activities to bolster what they learn at school.
· What books call to you, compelling you to read them again and again?
o I have read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings repeatedly since I was eight. Mum helped me, obviously, but I did read much of them without assistance. Those books fed my imagination, and led me to write creatively at school for years.
Ø What makes these books special to you?
§ They mark the beginning. That is where all of this started, and my mum handed me that gift.
Ø What sort of influence did these stories have on your life?
§ They taught me to keep going. You don’t understand the importance of the hidden message in a novel as a child. It’s just a fun story, it’s exciting to read of the dangers the characters face. It isn’t until you’re much older than you realise that the friendships, conflicts and struggles depicted in those stories are reflected all around you. When I was struggling, I could always turn to my books. Those people were always there, providing answers.
§ I mirror this with my own children. “Do you remember what happened to the Naughty Little Sister when she climbed on the gate?”
· Do you have a favorite genre to read, and if so, what is it? What makes this genre so appealing?
o I must say fantasy is my go to. I like to lose myself, to finally put the book down but still feel connected to the characters. I like a book to pull me in and make me compare that fictitious world to ours. The most recent fantasy series I read was Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn Trilogy and that really makes you think.
· How do you decide whether or not to read a book? I mean, is it the cover that attracts you, the blurb, or something else?
o I go on recommendation much of the time. I will read just about anything from Fantasy to Romance and anything in between, and if someone recommends a read, I’ll look it up. Even if the blurb doesn’t grip me, I’ll pick it up and see why it was being raved about. I don’t always agree, but it’s rare that I can’t get through a book.
o I refuse to allow a cover to influence me. If you look at the original cover for Clive Barker’s Weaveworld, it doesn’t scream “pick me up”, but the story is incredible. Had I allowed the cover to influence my choice there, I would have missed out on a book that kept me hooked for years.
· What turns you off to a novel? What would make you opt to return it to the shelf, and what would make you decide not to finish reading a book you’ve already begun?
o My biggest issue is un-relatable characters. They have to have something I can relate to, be it a love of well brewed tea to a dry sense of humour. I struggle with lack of emotion, or a focus on just one emotion.
o Plot is another. I need something to happen. It doesn’t really matter what it is, but it must happen early on. I want to be pulled in.
3. Let’s discuss your life as a writer, and now, a published author.
· You have said your inspiration comes from your husband and children. Would I be correct in assuming they are your muse?
o Very much so.
Ø What inspiration do you draw from your family? Do you bring their antics and personalities alive in your books?
§ In the first three books of my Riftkeepers series, I found myself using various parts of their personalities when developing my characters. From my daughters nurturing nature to my husband’s dry wit, they wound their way in. But, I do that anyway, drawing on the people I know to build people I want to get to know as I write.
Ø Do you ever get writers block, and if so, how do you deal with it? Is your family able to help you rekindle your creativity when you’ve hit a barrier? If so, how do they get you over your hurdle(s)?
§ When I hit the wall, it’s often with such force I’m stuck with an empty head for days. They create the diversion I need. We’ll go for a walk, or for a day out somewhere a little bit different, and inspiration will trickle back to me.
§ Once it brought a whole new book, and I sat in a forest tapping notes into my phone before they were swallowed by more ideas while they built a shelter against a tree. Its madness.
· When did you first begin writing, and how did being an avid reader impact your style and interest?
o I wrote creatively as a child, then stopped as I reached my teens and social activities took over. It wasn’t until I was 32, walking my child to school, that I was inspired to write again. I went home that day, sat at the laptop and began writing my first novel, entirely off the cuff.
o It was entirely influenced by my love of fantasy works, with some role-playing games thrown in for flair. I’ve always had a keen interest in British folklore, which played a large part, too.
Ø Are there authors you try to emulate? If so, who, and why? What do you like about them?
§ There are so many I admire, but none I can pinpoint.
Ø Why do you feel drawn to write in fantasy? Does your preferred reading genre have anything to do with your writing choices? Why, or why not?
§ I am an escapist. Fantasy offers complete escapism to the reader, a new world to explore, new races to discover and I love the challenge of creating that.
· What made you decide to publish your work?
o Many of my friends and family asked to read my work. With some research, I read about kindle publishing, and decided to give it a try. When they didn’t work out, I found Creativia and signed my books with them.
· You’ve chosen to sign on with a small press, Creativia, but had you looked into other options for getting published? Why, or why not, and how did you determine a small press was the way you wanted to go?
o I had, but I hadn’t the resources to perfect my manuscript without help. Creativia provided that support. So far it has worked very well.
4. What are your thoughts and feelings about reviews?
Ah, the coveted five-star review.
Nice if you can get them! I seem to receive more from UK readers than US on amazon, and on Goodreads, people tend to leave ratings rather than type out a whole review.
I don’t really chase them. People have been good enough to buy and read my work, if they feel compelled to review because of a positive experience, that’s wonderful. If not, I’m still incredibly grateful that they bought my book.
5. I want to delve into your writing style, if we can. Therefore, this next set of questions is about your writing process.
· Do you try to write every day or just when inspiration strikes?
o While the inspiration is there, I write Monday to Friday, at least five hours a day. On a very good day, splitting the time between writing and spending time with my family, I will manage up to ten hours.
o I save weekends for family time, but if I simply must write, they understand and give me an hour to get my ideas down.
Ø Do you set annual goals for yourself? Why, or why not, and what would they typically be?
§ I try not to. If I have a deadline, I’m likely to rush it and that doesn’t bode well for the book. Revisions take infinitely more time than writing the first draft, for me, so I try to just get it down and start polishing it up in my own time.
· Do you write from an outline, character notes, wing it, or a combination of these things?
o I do outline. That means very little to my characters, especially the side characters who pull the story this way while I’ve planned for it to go that way, and we end up with a battle of wills. Then, I’m winging it.
Ø Are you story or character driven when you are writing? I mean, do the characters develop the story or does the story create the characters?
§ My characters please themselves. I had two just turn up in the wrong book recently.
Ø Do you write chronologically, or do you write various scenes that are woven together later on?
§ Both, depending on the story.
· Do you have a certain routine or setup that you prefer when writing? I mean, do you hide away or sit in the open? Do you have tea, coffee, or wine beside you? Do you like music on or silence?
o All of the above. Some days its silence and pepsi. Others, its radio and tea. My first book was written entirely to Sia.
· Do you use beta readers? Why, or why not?
o I have two friends who read through to spot any major plot holes. Then, after formal editing, they read again. It’s mainly for me to measure the story. Is it flat? Why? Does that make sense? Is that plot twist too much? They answer these questions, and I send the manuscript off for editing feeling much more confident.
6. What was the most surprising thing you discovered about being a published author?
The amount of time you spend not writing. Reviews to chase, ads to post, newsletters to build (I’m failing at this lol!) all drag you from what you want to do.
7. I am curious about your views regarding the literary world.
· If you could do anything different, what would it be, and why?
o I would have to say I would slow down. I would have researched, and saved, and played a much longer game. There was much that I didn’t appreciate about writing and publishing. I assumed that self-revisions and a proofread where sufficient, when in reality every manuscript deserves to be handed to an experienced editor for developmental scrutiny. These are mistakes I am in the process of correcting, but it is a long, slow process with two books published and the third in the series waiting to be published.
o With that said, I didn’t intend to publish to reach an audience. I published because it was easier for friends and family to read my work when I put my first book up on Amazon.
· Do you think there is a negative view of Indie authors? Why, or why not?
o Absolutely. I’ve read so many poorly written indie books its maddening. Poor story arc. No character development. I’m not talking about typing errors or the odd grammatical flaw, those don’t really matter in the grand scheme. But the rest just ruins the reading experience for me.
· Do you feel the ability to self-published or to publish through a small press is somehow detrimental to the publishing world, as a lot of traditionalists think? Why, or why not?
o Certainly not. Traditional publishing leaves hundreds of excellent authors unknown. I’ve read some brilliant books that I would have missed out on without self-publishing.
Ø What is the best thing you’ve experienced being Indie?
§ The community. Most indie authors are friendly, warm, welcoming and extremely helpful. I’ve made so many friends, and I would never have met them without having indie published.
Ø What is the worst thing?
§ It sounds easy. I made a lot of mistakes off the back of that, and I’m paying for them. It isn’t clear enough how important editing is. I don’t mean a proofread, almost anyone can proof read. I mean an edit that will pick up the flaws in your writing, the holes in your story and the faults in your character development. That is expensive, and many indie’s don’t have the startup required.
· What do you think the future of literary publishing will look like?
o I hope it remains as it is. Many indie authors still covet the traditional publish, but indie publishing gives them an audience. The problem is that it is so difficult to find an agent or publisher. Until changes are made to enable more people to become traditionally published, indie numbers will continue to rise.
Ø Do you think we will see an increase in Indie authors and small presses, or do you think things will level off and balance out?
§ I hope that it will balance out, but it doesn’t look promising on the traditional front.
8. What can we expect to see from you over the coming year?
I am in the process of developmentally editing my first two releases. As I mentioned before, I made several mistakes, and it’s only now that I can put those right. They will be relaunched in October, followed by the third book in the series. Book four is loosely scheduled for a February release and books five, six and seven as the year wears on. I hope to have the series completed by January 2019.
· What is your newest release?
o My series relaunch is scheduled for October.
· Can you tell us about your current WIP?
o I am currently working on the fourth book in the series while the first three are in for editing. It reads as a standalone, introducing two new characters while giving a small peek into the earlier books. It fits into the series as a number of changes occur and the other characters develop.
Again, thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to meet with us today. It is greatly appreciated. I wish you all the success in the world, and I look forward to reading your books!