Breaking away from my series of "That's not real publishing" posts, today I am pleased to welcome Canadian author, Carolyn Arnold to this blog. Carolyn writes about nice things, such as murder, mayhem and mad serial killers. Her debut novel, Ties That Bind, features female detective Madison Knight: at the time of this interview I am about 55%** through it (whatever happened to page numbers?) and I am thoroughly enjoying the experience. Carolyn’s latest tome, Eleven, was released on 11/11/11.
** and now I've finished it, and it's very good..
Q: You may have seen from my last interview with Jonathan Pinnock that I am brutal in my questioning. However, Carolyn, you being a crime writer, I assume you are well connected and that you ‘know people’. All sorts of people ... I may have to go easy on you. So, tell me – please - what is Eleven all about?
A: Eleven Rooms. Ten Bodies. One Empty Grave.
Brandon Fisher never expected this when he signed up as a Special Agent for the FBI. Working in the shadow of Supervisory Special Agent Jack Harper of the Behavioral Analysis Unit his career seemed set. But when the team is called to a small rural town where the remains of ten victims are found in an underground bunker, buried in an unusual way, Brandon knows he'll never return to his normal life.
With one empty grave, and the case touching close to home, he fears he's become the target of a psychotic serial killer who wants to make him number eleven. Only thing is, everything Brandon thinks he knows is far from the truth.
Q: Ties That Bind features a strong female lead character who battles against not only the criminal element, but also against the prejudices and judgements of some of her male colleagues: I can certainly relate to her (even though I'm male), having worked with women in a pressurised and largely male environment for the last thirty or so years. Did you base her on anybody you know?
A: While there are characteristics that have been drawn from my own personality, I’ve never had to work in a male-dominated field.
Q: Does that person know you have moulded you character on her (and is she OK with that)?
A: Yes, I’m fine with it, LOL
Q: Crime writing is, I imagine, a tough area: what research did you do before embarking on Ties?
A: There was a lot of research involved. I first had to learn about police department organization and hierarchy. I needed to learn about forensics and trace evidence. A lot of my research was conducted using textbooks and the internet. I find by cross referencing this material it gave me a clear understanding.
I also have a few contacts that are, or were, in law enforcement to help me if I had a question on something.
Q: And did you have to do any extra research for Eleven?
A: I spent a lot of time on the FBI website researching their organization. I also used Google Earth and the internet to learn about these places I’ve never personally been. I am also fortunate to have a friend who lives in one of the cities the case takes them to.
Q: Have you had any problems accessing police and FBI advisors, or have you found them only too willing to assist?
A: I did have a problem accessing them directly. I sent emails to both the FBI and the prison in Kentucky where the one killer is serving time on an unrelated charge to murder. None of my emails or inquiries were returned.
Q: What, in your mind, is it about Madison Knight that makes her different from other heroines in detective and crime fiction?
A:Her vulnerabilities. She has a strong distaste for the sight of blood – a highly unlikely quality for a Major Crimes Detective – however she wants to have a purpose in her life. She pushes through, inspired by a grandmother who believed in her. She also has deep empathy for the family left behind. Chocolate is her soother.
Q: I think I should point out here that you’re not just writing about strong women who fight suppression: I notice that the hero of Eleven is named Brandon Fisher, so I’m assuming that’s a male lead?
A:Yes, Brandon Fisher is the male lead in Eleven. It’s a unique perspective in contrast to Madison Knight as well because while she is a seasoned detective, Brandon is new to the job. The reader learns along with him.
Q: What’s your day job?
A:Do we have to talk about that? LOL Just joking. I work in an office where my main responsibility is to collect past due accounts.
Q: Does it get in the way of your writing?
A: LOL I’d love to say it does, but my husband would correct me. I’ll say work is getting in the way of my life, and he’ll say it’s the job that makes my life possible. He has a point. I’m fortunate to have a good job and workplace that I enjoy.
Of course, any dedicated author would love to do their writing full-time.
Q: I think I’m right in saying that you’re self published, as am I: what spurred you to take that step?
A: Yes, you are correct. A lot of factors were considered before I made the decision to self-publish. One of which is just because you land an agent, it doesn’t guarantee you success anymore than getting a publishing contact does. A lot of work is left up to the author these days, and I also preferred to get my work into the hands of readers sooner than later.
I have friends who have the NY agents and they’ve made the rounds to the major publishing houses. Here it is years later and I still can’t buy their books.
Q: Do you dream of achieving a major publishing deal, or do you intend to remain independent?
A: Of course I do, but I’m not letting the “dream” of that stop me from doing what I love to do – that of writing and getting my books into the hands of my readers. Should I become discovered during this course I would certainly consider offers.
Q: On the subject of independent publishing, what can you tell me about Celebrating Authors and Orangeberry Books?
A: Celebrating Authors was something I developed to give back and extend support to other authors. It is connected with Orangeberry Books in the sense I met the person who runs this and he has the same goals as I do – to bring readers and authors together. With so many books to choose from, where can people turn? We wanted to give readers a place to go for a variety of genres.
Q: How much help has it been to you, being a member of these two collectives?
A: Like I said, I run Celebrating Authors. It was my idea and concept, and Orangeberry Books was a writer colleague’s. I believe I’ve benefited because as an author you need to stand out. The more exposure you’re given, the more likely you’ll be noticed.
Q: What do you read when you’re not devising nasty methods of killing people?
A: Same type of literature LOL I love mysteries and thrillers.
Q: What advice do you have for new authors trying to make an impression in the indie section of the book market?
A: Be professional. This will stand out, trust me. Know how to not only support and promote others but how to promote yourself. You would be surprised how some authors don’t know how to do this. It’s not a matter of being in people’s faces but offering them something they want.
Q: Carolyn, it’s been a pleasure having you here. Good luck with Eleven – I hope to read it soon.
Where to connect online:
Where to buy her books:Amazon