Blogs by L.T. Suzuki
Carolyn Arnold Interview
9/4/2011 7:14:08 AM
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Canadian author of the Madison Knight series discusses her latest novel and the writing life.
LTS: Today’s guest blogger is a fellow Canadian and the author of the ‘Madison Knight Series’, the lovely and talented Carolyn Arnold! I know you live in southwestern Ontario, but what else would you like to share about yourself with our readers? What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
CA: I rediscovered my passion for writing just over four years ago, and have since completed seven novels while working full-time. My first novel, a romantic suspense, came to fruition at the encouragement of a co-worker. She said to me one day, “tell me a story”. Well, I did and suffice it to say she insisted that finish what I had started.
Since then, I branched out to mysteries, suspense and thrillers.
What do I do when I’m not writing? Good question. Besides working secularly 40 hours a week, I rather enjoy sipping a nice drink, hanging out with my husband and/or friends and watching movies. And of course, I love it when I have the opportunity to settle down with a good book to read.
LTS: Has writing stories always been a part of your life and becoming a published author a life long dream?
CA: I wouldn’t say a lifetime dream but it’s definitely been a goal that dates back to my teenage years. I started with novellas and poems, and even contacted Harlequin for their submission guidelines as a sixteen year old.
Yet things in life change, and despite getting married and moving three hours from my hometown, I always thought it would be amazing to finish a novel.
LTS: I understand your debut novel ‘Ties That Bind’ has been receiving great reviews. What was the inspiration behind this story and can you tell us a little bit about your protagonist, Madison Knight?
CA: I have a profound appreciation for the ‘brotherhood of blue’. Just the fact that they risk their lives every day is something I am so thankful for. Without them, we’d have anarchy. They all deserve our utmost respect and cooperation.
Spring-boarding off that, the inspiration came what I love to watch and read. I like to have intrigue and mystery, something to figure out.
Madison Knight, at the age of thirty-four, is married to her job. Working as a Major Crimes Detective, there is nothing more important to her than finding justice for the victims. And despite being in a field dominated by men, her strong-willed nature doesn’t allow her to back down. She confidently takes action for what she believes to be the truth.
LTS: Without giving away too much, can you reveal what’s in store for the readers when they crack open ‘Ties That Bind’?
CA: Readers can expect a well-thought out mystery which will hopefully have them turning the pages. TIES THAT BIND follows Madison Knight and her partner Terry Grant, as they try and stop a potential serial killer. It also pulls you into the forensic lab.
Similar in the investigative style to that of the acclaimed television show “Law & Order”, you follow through as if were watching the story unfold in front of you. There is limited swearing and graphic violence, and reviews have compared the writing style to JD Robb’s “In Death” series. As well, mention has been made of Sue Grafton, the Prime Suspect books by Lynda La Plante and the Sara Paretsky mysteries.
Here’s the book blurb:
Detective Madison Knight concluded the case of a strangled woman an isolated incident. But when another woman’s body is found in a park killed by the same line of neckties, she realizes they’re dealing with something more serious.
Despite mounting pressure from the Sergeant and Chief to close the case even if it means putting an innocent man behind bars, and a partner who is more interested in saving his marriage than stopping a potential serial killer, Madison may have to go it alone if there's not going to be another victim.
LTS: You have a new novel slated for release on November 11, 2011 and it is entitled ‘Eleven’. Can you tell our readers what makes this one different from the Madison Knight series and perhaps, share a little info about Brandon Fisher?
CA: ELEVEN is a FBI thriller and is completely separate from the Madison Knight Series.
If you have a minute, you can check out the book trailer for ELEVEN, and still have 11 seconds leftover.
Brandon Fisher always wanted to be FBI, and at the age of twenty-eight has made Special Agent. Transferred from his hometown of Sarasota, Florida to Quantico, Virginia he is teamed up under the lead of Veteran Special Agent Jack Harper of the Behavioural Analysis Unit 2. With a temper normally close to the surface, Brandon has to learn to keep it under control because Jack tests his limits at every possible moment. And with the first case taking them to Salt Lick, Kentucky and the discovery of underground burial chambers, Brandon must confront one of his greatest fears – claustrophobia.
Read the book blurb here.
LTS: What made you decide to go indie and what advice would you share to an aspiring author considering this route to publication?
CA: Honestly, there were a lot of things that factored into my decision to self-publish. Primarily, the publishing industry is changing. Not as many new authors are not getting the publishing contracts, and if they do they’re still left to do the marketing and publicity. By way of example, I have friends that have prestigious NY agents, and have for over a year, but I still can’t buy their book.
I wanted to get my work into the hands of readers.
And as you may be aware it can take up to/over 18 months to see your book in print once you have a publishing contract. I finished my novel ELEVEN earlier this year and saw the release date of 11.11.11 to be ideal – that was the final nudge I needed.
My advice is: plan ahead. Have a marketing plan going in. Start by building up a platform online – Twitter, Facebook. Start a blog and a website. Don’t just talk about your upcoming book either – connect. Remember online profiles are real people like yourself.
Also don’t just jump into it because you feel you’re going to miss out on the “revolution”. Take time to weigh your decision carefully. I was considering self-publishing for a couple months before I released TIES THAT BIND.
LTS: What is the most important lesson you’ve learned on the road to publication?
CA: Don’t take things personally. Not everyone is going to love your book, and not everyone that reads your book is going to take the time to review it.
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?
CA: When I’m writing, I do so every day. I don’t necessarily have a target number of words I aim for, but the mornings during the week and Saturdays work out good.
On a good morning before the day job, I can usually write anywhere from 900-2500 words.
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.
CA: A definite panster. When I start a book, I have an idea where it’s going, but it doesn’t always go in that direction. I love the journey of exploring the world with my characters, following them along as if I were watching a movie.
Before I start, however, I conduct character interviews to get to know them, their backgrounds, their likes, and dislikes for example. I find this process helps immensely in making my characters ones ‘you can pinch’. Of course, as the story goes along I learn that much more about them and that discovery is fascinating, and makes for a richer second draft and so on.
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?
CA: I grab a fresh cup of coffee and my laptop, and I’m good to go.
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?
CA: I can’t say I’ve ever had writer’s block. There’s a lot of talk about this among writers but I don’t even think it really exists. I believe some people allow things to get in the way of their writing, or they have a lot going on in their lives where creativity gets squashed from stress, but as far as sitting down and staring at a blinking cursor – I’ve never had that.
The closest I came to “writer’s block” was brainstorming about my thriller novel ASSASSINATION OF A DIGNITARY. I had an idea on the direction of the book, but it wasn’t working. The guy I knew was the main character refused to ‘talk’ to me. As it turned out, I had him pegged as an innocent when he really wasn’t. After that revelation, everything went quickly. In fact, I completed the first draft in two months and the word count came in at the highest to date, 109k.
LTS: Who is your favourite author and how has he/she inspired you to write or influenced your writing style or choice of genre?
CA: My two favorite authors are without doubt David Baldacci and Sandra Brown.
Baldacci has a way of connecting you with the powerful and misguided, while Brown goes for ‘shock factor’ in her books. Both of these writers have helped push me outside what normally would be my ‘comfort zone’.
LTS: What is the most profound discovery you’ve made in terms of your writing and how it has touched the lives of others?
CA: The fact that people tell me they pick up my books and can’t put them down is such an amazing compliment. I’ve had readers mention experiencing fear while reading a scene, and I’ve even witnessed some tear with heartache and reach for tissues during other scenes. To be able to reach out through my words and touch people’s emotions, that truly is priceless.
LTS: What are you reading now, and how did this particular book make it onto your to-read list?
CA: Unfortunately with two books planned to release later this year, I don’t have too much time to read, but when I do I like to support other self-published writers.
LTS: What do you foresee in your future over the next five years and do you hope to branch out from thriller/suspense into other genres? When can your fans get their next fix of Madison Knight in the way of a sequel?
CA: My heart is in the thriller and suspense genres, but I have a few ideas for some quality romance novels as well so who knows?
Within the next two years, I hope to release all of the novels I have written to date. And over the next five years, I plan on writing at least 3-5 more novels.
As for Madison Knight, the second in the series, JUSTIFIED, releases December 2011. You can read an excerpt here.
LTS: Thank you so much for taking the time to share in your writing and writerly wisdom, Carolyn!
For more information about Carolyn Arnold and her novels, check out:
Where to buy the book:
Amazon – Kindle & Print
Smashwords – Other ebook formats
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