Blogs by L.T. Suzuki
Donna Carrick Interview
11/15/2010 9:53:54 PM
Interview with Canadian author/publisher Donna Carrick
LTS: If you’re into fast-paced, action packed thrillers, then you’ll want to meet today’s guest blogger! I’d like to introduce you to Canadian mystery author Donna Carrick. I’d like to begin by having you share a little information about yourself with our readers. I know you studied Literature and Psychology at the University of Toronto, but what else would you like the readers to know about you?
DC: I’m a wife, mother of 3, author and office manager, displaced Maritimer and child of the military, sister and friend. I grew up in a nomadic lifestyle. I believe this enhanced my love of geography and my understanding of human nature.
LTS: Has writing stories always been a part of your life and becoming a published author a life long dream?
DC: Yes, and yes. I’ve always expressed myself in writing. It’s my comfort zone. Like many authors, my early work was poetry, much of it the dark result of a troubled upbringing. However, I’ve always considered myself to be a novelist. I’ve been fortunate to be able to follow that dream.
LTS: What is it about the mystery genre that makes you want to write these stories?
DC: My best family memories centred on “watching the detectives”. Our family had a love for hard-boiled P.I.’s and noble cops. In most crime stories, there is a sense of justice that may not always exist in the real world. Reason and good will usually prevail.
LTS: Your latest novel, ‘The First Excellence’ is an international thriller. What was the inspiration behind this story and can you tell us a little bit about your protagonist, Li Fa-Ling?
DC: The working title for TFE was Fa-ling’s Map. It was inspired by a trip Alex and I took to China in 2003 to adopt our youngest child. Tammy-Li was born in Guangxi Zhuang in the south of China, near Vietnam. Initially, it was intended as a short story, but soon grew as I grappled with the question: What if a grown adoptee decided to return to the land of her birth?
LTS: Without giving away too much, can you reveal what’s in store for the reader when they crack open ‘The First Excellence’?
DC: Set in modern day China, TFE addresses many of the social, cultural and political issues that are part of an emerging nation. The story deals with the on-going religious persecution of the Falun Gong by the communist regime as well as government corruption, organ theft, society’s gender bias and its undeniable impact, kidnapping and murder. It also explores the nobility of the everyday hero, and our human capacity for love.
TFE is unique in that it takes a realistic look at the international adoption process. It studies questions people may have regarding multi-racial families. Fa-ling faces the same issues common to all modern youth: she seeks answers concerning who she is and who she should become. At the heart of the book is an underlying family love that transcends mere blood ties.
LTS: The road to traditional publication is difficult at the best of times. What events led you to creating your own company to publish your works?
DC: My husband, author Alex Carrick, and I founded the company together. Our goal is simply to reach out to readers. In the absence of offers from a traditional publisher, self-publishing was our best alternative. It’s taken a lot of effort, but we are now seeing the results.
LTS: I noticed that your publishing company specializes in formatting for the Kindle reader. With the growing popularity of Kobo and Sony ereaders, iPad, iPhone and other mobile devices being used to read ebooks, is there a reason why you do not provide formatting for these readers as well?
DC: That’s a good question, Lorna. There are two reasons why we chose to focus on Kindle. Firstly, it’s a format we’ve acquired skills in. Secondly, in my opinion, Kindle offers the widest access to readers around the globe. In fact, there are free Kindle applications available for iPad and iPhone, as well as for PC or Mac. These Kindle apps will sync with the reader’s account and offer what we believe is the best available reading experience to be had.
Most e-readers will allow pdf downloaded files. All Carrick e-books are available in both Kindle and pdf versions. If a client wants to make their e-book available in pdf format for Sony or Kobo, we can certainly help with that.
LTS: With your titles becoming so popular, is the allure of being an indie publisher too great to consider going with a traditional publishing company? What are some of the things you’d loath to give up as an indie author/publisher if you were to consider the traditional publishing route?
DC: I try to approach each new endeavour with an open mind. There are still a number of obvious advantages to the traditional publishing industry, not the least of which is access to readers. As writers, reaching readers should be our primary goal.
Having said that, there is a great deal of artistic control that can only be found through independent or self-publishing. I write what moves me. I’m not pressed to comply with a formula. I can ‘jump genres’ as I please. And, most importantly, I’m not forced into an artificial industry timetable. When my work is print-ready, I go to press.
LTS: Who do you feel are the perfect candidates for self-publishing and what should they consider before taking this step?
DC: The perfect candidate for self-publishing is the author who, having already queried the traditional publishing industry and failed to find a publisher, believes his/her work is ready to share.
Before self-publishing, I would advise any author to:
1- Query the industry thoroughly. If you believe in your work, there is no reason not to do this. You never know – your book may find a traditional backer. At the very least, querying your work is a lesson in itself. It can hi-light areas in which your work needs improvement. In the search for excellence, this is a vital step.
2- Join a skilled critiquing group. Network with other writers. Expose your work to criticism. Don’t be afraid of growth. If you don’t have such a group available, then hire an editor/evaluator for your early works.
3- Be prepared and be realistic. Unless you already have a celebrity base, the world is probably not aware of you. Promotion is a large undertaking. Be ready to roll up your sleeves. Create a personal ‘brand’.
4- Most importantly, spend some time asking yourself what you hope to accomplish with your work. If your goal is to become the next Hemingway, self-publishing may not be for you. But if you wish to reach readers and are willing to make every effort to do so, this can be a desirable option.
LTS: I’m curious about your writing style. Are you one of those disciplined writers who must dedicate a certain time each day to producing so many words, or are you more relaxed and tend to write when it strikes your fancy?
DC: As a mother with a full time job outside the home, I write when I can. I’ve been blessed with a heightened ability to focus (some might call it obsessive compulsion! LOL) so even when I’m not writing, I’m writing.
LTS: Still on the subject of writing styles, are you a plotter or pantser? The readers would like to know if you tend to plot out your story line in great detail or if your writing is more organic with the characters and events unfolding as you write.
DC: As a matter of fact, Lorna, I wrote a blog article on this subject a few weeks ago. Each of my 3 books was written using a different process. The Noon God was completely organic. Gold And Fishes followed a rigid timeline, which allowed me to stay true to the actual events of the tragedy. The First Excellence was loosely mapped out in advance. This flexible structure allowed me to seamlessly tie several distinct story lines together without losing my way.
LTS: Some authors meditate, others need to fuel up on coffee or listen to music. Do you have any rituals, ones that can be shared with the readers, that you must do before you hunker down for a writing session?
DC: I don’t have any set ritual. My characters are always with me. Whenever I’m lucky enough to carve a few moments away from my day, they are waiting for me like old, dear friends. And so, I write.
LTS: At one time or another, most writers hit the wall and their work stalls because of the dreaded writer’s block. What do you do to get around or over this mental wall to resume writing?
DC: In my opinion, the best defense against writer’s block is an outline. Even a few scribbled notes on a napkin can pull a stalled writer back into his story.
LTS: Who is your favourite author and how has he/she inspired you to write or influenced your writing style or choice of genre?
DC: I have a lot of “favourite” authors, Lorna: Dickens, Shakespeare, Giles Blunt, Martin Cruz Smith, Louisa May Alcott… the list is far too long. I firmly believe that in order to write, we must read. I read from every genre. If the story is good and if the characters touch me, I’m in.
LTS: What is the most profound discovery you’ve made in terms of your writing and how it has touched the lives of others?
DC: The greatest surprise to me was the connection I’ve made with readers. When a reader tells me they will remember my characters, I’m deeply moved. I used to think my contributions were insignificant. Now I understand there are people out there who can relate to my experiences through my words. That’s been a tremendous ‘gift’.
LTS: What is the most important lesson you’ve learned on the road to publication?
DC: Don’t be afraid of hard work. Strive for excellence. Be true to yourself and to your art. We are the writers of today. Our words will touch future generations. Use them well.
LTS: What are you reading now, and how did this particular book make it onto your to-read list?
DC: I’ve just picked up Never Look Away by Linwood Barclay. I recently finished Victim by Catherine Astolfo and Crime Machine by Giles Blunt. These authors are all well-known Canadian Crime Writers. I make it a point to stay abreast of what my fellow-Canadians are producing. After all, none of us is working in a void.
I enjoy authors from all over the world. For the most part, I try to be inclusive in my reading. It just happens that at the moment I’m into one of my ‘Canadiana’ spells, hence the Canadian authors.
LTS: Very cool! Maybe one day, you’ll have a chance to read one of my fantasies. Now, one final question: What do you foresee in your future over the next five years and do you hope to branch out from mysteries into other genres? Can your fans expect a sequel to ‘The Last Excellence’ in the near future?
DC: I’m currently working on a sequel to The First Excellence, as well as my first venture into the world of SciFi. My SciFi features a male protagonist, something that is entirely new for me. I’m finding the male protagonist to be strangely liberating. I can’t wait to see what he’ll do next!
LTS: I’m sure your fans are waiting just as eagerly too, Donna! Thank you so much for taking the time from your crazy/busy schedule to share in your works and your writing experiences! I’ll catch you on Twitter.
For more information about Donna Carrick and her novels, check out:
Follow Donna on Twitter: .Donna_Carrick
Where to buy the book: Amazon.com for print or Kindle, or direct from the author at http://www.carrickpublishing.com/?page_id=57
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