Current Obsession: Knitting and binge-watching Netflix
Guilty Pleasure: Chocolate chips and plain potato chips at the same time. Sweet and salty. Yum.
Dream Destination: France or Scotland.
If I could pick the brain of one person it would be… Diana Gabaldon or Stephen King. Both writers who immerse their readers so well into their world that you forget you are reading.
5 Questions for Carolyn
What surprises you about writing? The most surprising is how easy it is to generate ideas—they are everywhere! You just have to make those ideas unique. Gender-bending, flipping villains/heros, changing locales or time periods are all ways of making ideas stand out.
What do you look for in the slush pile or a good book? Engaging characters and an interesting conundrum to start. No action scenes, please! If I don’t know the characters yet, putting them in peril on the first page carries little emotional impact.
What lessons have you learned about your craft or the business of writing? One of the first things I learned was that persistence is more important than talent—ALL writers were once unpublished. The second would be that every writer struggles with the middle of their work-in-progress. You just gotta keep plugging away at it. The most important lesson to me personally though was learning how to make my perfectionism be quiet long enough to get my first draft out. I’ve learned to make a note in the margin and move on. I also use different environments for writing days versus editing days to keep me on track. The final thing I learned is that editors WANT to say yes, want to be blown away by your work. We don’t like saying no and a rejection is never personal.
What motivates you to persevere against the odds? Stubbornness? Inability to know when to quit? Honestly, I don’t know why I keep writing. I just know that it eases something in my soul, it keeps me sane and it’s the only thing I keep going back to over and over. Getting a yes or a personalized rejection from a favourite magazine or marketplace is very encouraging. Being on the editor’s side of the desk has also made it easier to keep sending my own work out, I have less emotional investment in my 200th submission than in my 5th. Rejections aren’t pleasant but it’s okay to go on to the next market.
What would you tell others aspiring writers, fantasy/horror/sci fi fans, etc.? Get involved with the community. Go to conventions, meet people, read slush—surround yourself with people who love words and stories. Being connected to other writers keeps me motivated and encouraged.