Q: Carole...what made you become a writer?
A: I’ve loved making up stories right from when I was eight or nine. I have a very lively imagination and although it gets me in trouble from time to time, I’ve learned to channel it into my stories.
Q: What is your typical writing day like?
A: My typical writing day is the most un-typical writing day you could ever have! I have two jobs and to get my first novel finished I wrote during my lunch breaks. As it neared completion I wrote as soon as I got home from work. My husband never knew if he was getting dinner cooked or not!
Q: Do you outline? If so, how extensive are your outlines?
A: I do a very brief outline. I know where the story starts and where it’s going to end, but what’s going to happen getting from A to B is totally up to the characters.
Q: How many revisions will you typically do on a novel?
A: With A Tide Too High I wrote three complete manuscripts. I rewrote parts of it after my editor had finished then went over it again once my beta readers had finished.
Q: What is your best tip for editing a manuscript?
A: Have a good editor who knows how you work. I’m not too good at editing my own work, so I don’t worry about all the little grammatical errors, my main aim is to get the story down as well as I can [and] knowing that my editor will clean it up for me.
Q: Which writing habits and/or tricks of the trade have made you a better writer?
A: Perseverance. Write every day if you can. If you can’t, read or research your story. This way you stay in the right headspace. The other thing I was having problems with was every time I sat down to write I would go back over several chapters before I started writing. I realized I was always reviewing and changing what I had already written [and] wasn’t writing anything new! So I made a rule only to look at the last couple of paragraphs or one page. It was a hard habit to break but my writing progress improved really quickly!
Q: Do you ever suffer through writer’s block? If so, how do you fight it?
A: Now and again during my writing I’ll find I can’t move the story forward and everything comes to a standstill. I usually walk away and think about it. I have found every time I come to a halt, it’s because the storyline has fallen flat. I go back and delete, delete, delete and then start rewriting. Usually the story picks up and takes off again.
Q: What drew you to write your preferred genre(s)?
A: In the 80s I used to read a lot of Mills and Boon stories, then decided to write something similar. I wrote a 53,000-word story. It got packed away and forgotten about. Now I like the longer stories and I pretty much write what I’d like to read. A Tide Too High was 121,000 words and I have a feeling the story I’m working on now will be even longer.
Q: Do you utilize beta readers?
A: Yes. I had a small group of girls who read my last novel once it was in the final stages. I also have three or four friends who I bounce chapters off. In the novel I’m working on now, I sent out my prologue to three girls to read, feedback came back that it was “good,” “scene was set for coming chapters,” “great characters.” I read between the lines – it sounded boring. I rewrote the whole prologue, sent it out, and got totally different feedback. “Wow, wanted to slap that character!” “NO!” “What’s going to happen?” and more comments that made me feel that readers were connecting with characters right at the very beginning of the book.
Q: In your most recently published novel, what’s one scene you really enjoyed writing—and why?
A: I’m not sure I could nail it down to one specific scene, but I enjoy writing dialogue, and when I have a major conflict happening and my characters are arguing, the dialogue can get exciting to write. My novel has a few unexpected twists and they were fun to write.
Q: What makes the main character(s) of your most recent novel so special?
A: I think maybe they’re special because they’ve been with me for so long and I love them to bits! (Of course I’m going to say that!) Who wouldn’t love Alec? And everyone loves Mac! But they also have some faults. It keeps them human...and I think readers can relate to them.
Q: What is your best advice for author self-promotion?
A: Don’t think you’re going to get noticed overnight. Be proactive but know your limitations. Set yourself a budget for marketing/advertising or it will suck you dry.
Q: How do you deal with negative reviews?
A: I’m really very lucky I haven’t had any yet.
Q: What is your favorite aspect of being an indie author?
A: I think for me the best aspect is there [is no longer] the stigma around not having your book published through a [traditional] publishing house. I like being able to dictate what happens to my book.
Q: What is your least favorite aspect of being an indie author?
A: The marketing. It would be nice to hand it to a traditional publisher and have someone else look after it. Then I could get on with writing the next one. Apart from being costly, marketing can be time consuming.
Q: What is your current writing project?
A: I am writing a story set in New Zealand in the 60s. The main characters are involved in the Vietnam War and there’s lots of social history. I’ve done a lot of research for this one and interviewed lots of vets. I’m not even halfway into the story and already it’s proving emotional to write. Hopefully I can get this across to the readers.
Q: What are three of your favorite novels?
A: Only three? That’s mean! For starters I love Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice, and Danielle Steel’s Wings, but I also think we have some amazingly talented authors here in New Zealand. Danielle Hawkins’ Dinner at Rose’s, Janet Elizabeth Henderson’s Lingerie Wars and Sarah-Kate Lynch’s Finding Tom Connor are three of my favorites.
Q: If you could have lunch with any novelist, living or dead, who would it be? What would talk to them about?
A: I have two. Jane Austen and Danielle Steel. I think Jane had an amazing talent for reading people and telling stories. I think I’d talk to her about plots and using a computer! My second choice is easier: I love Danielle Steel’s stories and I write in the same style as her. I would love to spend a couple of hours hearing how she builds her plots and characters and how she comes up with new and different story lines. Actually I can’t even begin to imagine what it would be like to meet her in person!
Q: What is your best piece of advice for budding authors?
A: Keep writing. Good bad or otherwise. Just do it. Get people to read your work and don’t be upset if they don’t tell you what you want to hear.
Q: What is your favorite inspirational quote?
A: If you want it bad enough, you’ll make it happen!