I hope you enjoy this interview with Donna Carrick, an author I’ve become aware of from twitter. I’m enjoying this aspect of the site at the moment, especially when it comes to getting writers opinions of the e-book market – where they stand with it right now and where they think it’s headed. As a bit of a writer myself, the success of e-books has a natural fascination for me.
For people with an interest in Donna Carrick and her books, there is an excellent post HERE and also please see the links at the bottom after her bio for her sites.
Hi Donna, and welcome to fringescientist.com!
DC: Thank you, Tony. I appreciate this opportunity to talk about my writing.
I know you almost exclusively from twitter. And I have to admit that as yet I haven’t read any of your books. For people like me, who haven’t read your work yet, can you explain your books and what they’re about?
DC: First and foremost, I write crime novels. My books have a literary leaning, but they are mystery/thriller/suspense. I enjoy setting my work in unexpected locations. The Noon God is set in Toronto, Canada. Gold And Fishes is set in post-tsunami Indonesia and Phuket, Thailand. My most recent novel, The First Excellence ~ Fa-ling’s Map, is set in modern-day China.
And how did inspiration hit you for your novels? What’s the story behind the stories?
DC: My first inspiration always comes from character. I see a character in my mind’s eye, fully developed. I see his face, the trouble in his past, the conflict he or she is facing at the moment.
In The Noon God, my novella and the first of my published works, I was driven to explore a handful of dark social issues: addiction, narcissism… the impact of these factors on a family. I could feel the burden carried by Desdemona Fortune after the murder of her father, renowned author J. Caesar Fortune.
The idea behind Gold And Fishes rose out of my deep concern following the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami in Southeast Asia. We were celebrating Boxing Day in our northern home, 24 hours after the disaster, when the news came on CBC that something significant had occurred. At that point no one had a clear picture of the event, as phone lines were down and no one could access the region. As the news began to trickle in, I literally felt chilled inside my soul. I knew I would write about this event. When my character, Ayla Harris, came to life, there was no turning back.
The First Excellence grew from a short story I started to scribble in my note book on the plane when we were returning home from China in 2003 with our adopted baby daughter. The original story title was Fa-ling’s Map, about a grown adoptee who returns to China to connect to her past. It naturally evolved into a novel of mystery and political intrigue, but I could never bring myself to abandon the original title or the theme of finding one’s self that had inspired the book.
What are you working on at the minute?
DC: Always a loaded question for a writer! Well, Tony, at the moment I’ve got three distinct projects underway. Thanks to the wonderful reception The First Excellence has been given lately, there is some urgency to complete the sequel. I also have a futuristic “sci-fi” crime fighter with whom I’ve fallen in love. I’m about half way through that novel. But the story I’m really focusing on right now is a new one – a new character who came to me a couple of months ago. She simply won’t let go of me, so she will demand priority.
To budding writers out there, what would you say are good practices for a writer to adopt? I asked Meg Gardiner and Emma Newman a similar question. It’s sort of your advice for budding writers out there.
DC: My advice may not be the norm. Most writers will say “write every day”, or “create a quiet space”. The reality of our lives these days often doesn’t allow for such luxuries.
My best advice to any new writer is to ask yourself what you really want to accomplish. Try to understand your true motivations and embrace them boldly. If you’ve always wanted to write novels, for example, then do so to the best of your ability. Finally, strive for excellence in all you do. A strong passion for excellence will overcome most obstacles.
I recently brought a Kindle, and I love it. Do you think that ebooks are the future of the publishing industry? Are traditional paperbacks headed for extinction? Or will we find ourselves in a world that can have both?
DC: Another loaded question! I will likely land in hot water with my fellow-writers for saying this, but I do think e-reading in one form or another will be the norm before very long. There may still be a ‘shelf’ for print, but my guess is that it will be limited. I say this with all deep regard and love for the printed word. I think it’s a force of reality that can’t be denied. And yes, I too love both my Kindle and my Kobo. I also sometimes read on my iPhone.
On the subject of publishing digitally, how successful have you been so far? Without me sounding too nosey! I saw on twitter the other day that one of your novels was a fair way up the charts on Smashwords. Can you make a living writing and publishing digital books? How have you found it?
DC: Let me say unequivocally and right up front that both my husband, author Alex Carrick, and I have day-jobs. We likely will keep them, right up till the day we retire to become full-time writers.
With the recent success of The First Excellence, which reached #16 on Smashword’s Bestseller list today, I may retire earlier than initially planned. But let’s be clear. The business of writing, editing, revising, editing, formatting and selling e-books is not an easy one. Alex and I have been having some modest successes lately. That success has been hard-earned, and we are keeping our day-jobs.
Coming back to the routines of writing, how do you split your time between writing, and family life? Is it a difficult juggling act?
DC: Yes. Both Alex and I write because we have a passion for it. Otherwise, we simply wouldn’t do it. It has challenges that the uninitiated can’t imagine. Like many writers, I’m almost always plotting. The act of fleshing out stories in my mind usually overlaps with any other task, except for the most engaging ones.
Right Donna, I’m going to ask you five questions!
1. Favourite Book/Series of Books
DC: There are so many, it’s really impossible. Dickens always comes to mind first: A Tale of Two Cities and anything else by him. Tolkien, of course. For mystery, Martin Cruz Smith has developed a particularly engaging character in Arkady Renko.
2. Who would play you in Donna Carrick: The Motion Picture?
DC: Uh-oh. Really, no idea at all.
3. If you could stipulate an inappropriate song choice for your own funeral, which would it be?
DC:That’s easy. “My Way”, written by Paul Anka, committed to eternal social memory by Frank Sinatra.
4. Which website(s) would you say you visit the most on a regular basis?
DC: Amazon and Smashwords – I love books and ebooks.
5. This is the last question, I swear! Where do you see yourself in five years time? Or what do you see yourself doing.
DC: Five years may be a little early, but sometime in the next 10 years I do see myself retired. By retired, I mean writing full time and marketing part time.
Before we go, is there anything you’d like to say to your readers or the people who frequent your blog or interact with you on twitter?
DC: I’d certainly like to thank all of my Twitter and FaceBook friends for their on-going support. I’ve always been a writer, but in the early days I wrote in isolation. Now I have friends all over the world who ‘get’ me and my work, and who share their work with me. I’d also like to thank the readers who have been so very kind, especially those who have taken time from their busy lives to express through reviews how they’ve enjoyed my work.
And we’re at the end! Donna I wish you all the success in the world with your books, and I’ll see you in Twitter-ville!
DC: Thank you, Tony! It’s been a real pleasure. Your questions have given me a lot to think about!
Donna Carrick is the author of mysteries, including The First Excellence, Gold And Fishes, The Noon God and her short-story anthology Sept-Iles and Other Places. When not writing, publishing or at her day job, Donna enjoys spending time with her husband, author Alex Carrick, and their children at their home on Georgian Bay.