LS: Tell everyone about your literary brand and journey? What was the biggest challenge you faced?
KC: My journey is probably a little different than most. I found out I had epilepsy in 1999 after having my first grand mal seizure. I was very sick and my doctors struggled to get my meds right to control the onslaught of seizures. It came out of nowhere and hit hard and fast. I had three small children at the time and had to quit my job and stay home. To say it was a difficult time is certainly minimizing that part of my life. I had always been an avid reader so I decided to set up my computer in a corner of my laundry room and start writing. At the time it was very slow going – bear in mind, I never dreamed I’d complete a novel, much less publish one. I simply thought it’d be therapeutic. Some days I’d write a couple of sentences, others a few paragraphs, and then, at times, I’d write a few pages. But, to skip ahead and answer your second question – it wasn’t until I started writing professionally that I began to face challenges. At first, I was just writing for myself and had no one to answer to. For me, the hardest part of writing is meeting deadlines and continuing to get my work out there to stay relevant.
KC: Funny you should ask that. I recently bought an 1898 copy of Silas Marner and it made me think about how Mary Anne Evans felt the need to write under the pen-name George Eliot for her work to be judged by its own merit. Thankfully, we no longer have to use initials to disguise our gender or change our names altogether to get a larger audience for our genre. As women we’ve come such a long way – and we’ve earned the right to write about what we choose. The pen is a very powerful thing and I never take for granted the people who enjoy my work – what a tremendous honor to do what I love and have others benefit from it as well.
KC: The love of reading is definitely what drew me to writing. Toni Morrison said, “If you find a book you want to read but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” I’ve always enjoyed mysteries so I decided to combine what I like most about my favorite authors and create my style. I was tired of novels that had become so immersed in details that the storyline had little excitement or unexpected twists. My books typically have two to three storylines going on at once and at some point intersect. My readers get an action-packed mystery with more than one twist! I like to believe that my pen offers an easy flow with just enough detail to picture the story-line rolling like a movie in the reader’s head. My chapters are typically short and end with a cliffhanger that hopefully keeps my fans anxious to continue reading.
LS: Where does your creativity flow? How do you avoid burning out?
KC: My creativity is at its best during a good thunderstorm! I have a sound machine in my office and often turn it on and write in the dark. Did I mention that writing in comfy pajamas is a must? (We are hoping to have some Clara and Iris pj’s available soon.) I am inspired by both beautiful and creepy places and one sure way to avoid burnout is to take a road trip under the guise of ‘research’. LOL. Seriously, research is my favorite part of writing. I’m sure it’s hard to believe that writing fictional mysteries requires a great deal of research, but it does. I’ve been to morgues, made midnight cemetery visits, and drug my skeptical friends to all sorts of sketchy places. My friend list is growing smaller by the day!
LS: If you could change anything about the literary industry what would it be?
KC: Oh my, I’m a little leery of answering this one for fear it will bite me in the proverbial ass. Ha. However, I am grateful for ebooks which offer a more affordable option to readers, as well as a convenient way to store many books. I do, however, wish more people shared the love and fondness I have for the real thing. I’m an avid book collector, okay – hoarder, and I hope the day isn’t nearing where physical books are no longer in existence.
LS: What have you learned about yourself throughout your journey? What advice do you have for other aspiring authors?
KC: I’ve learned that I’m much stronger than I could’ve ever dreamed! This is not an industry for the faint of heart, so my best advice is to believe in yourself. You are the only person who can sell yourself and your work. And, for every five positive reviews, you will most likely get a brutally negative one to follow… keep going. But most of all, my advice is to write for the love of writing, not the money. Like so many other professions, only a few people become crazy rich doing it - but if you love what you do, you’re rich beyond measure anyway.
KC: Without hesitation, being a Mom and Gammie.
LS: What are your goals?
KC: I’m going to continue writing and possibly turn another one of my existing novels into a series. My Clara and Iris series, along with Deadly Odds and No Second Chances, are now optioned by award-winning Executive Producer, Chase Chenowith, and Netflix is currently reviewing ten seasons of Clara and Iris.
LS: Tell us about your new release, what was the creative process like?
KC: I knew that I wanted to write about the bayou and an old antebellum-type estate. To get me started with the inspirational process, I took a trip with my publisher and our spouses to Houma, Louisiana where we were fortunate enough for Bryce Michel, owner of Topwater Charters, to take us out on the bayou. After getting much-needed inspiration there, I set out to find the actual house that had been fabricated in my mind. It ended up being near my home and nowhere near the bayou. After several trips of literally stalking this abandoned property, I felt I had all I needed to get the novel started. I didn’t, however, take into account the vast history of the state of Louisiana! Whew! The novel begins in the mid-1800s and follows five generations of two cotton/cane farming families, before ending up in the present day. There were many times when I felt I’d bit off more than I could chew as I became more and more immersed in Louisiana’s diverse culture and interesting past. But, this book was truly a labor of love and I refused to give up.
Catherine ‘Tink’ Mabrey, an up and coming attorney, is shocked by her recent inheritance from her estranged family on the bayou. After her mother died during childbirth, Tink’s father had quickly relocated them to the big city of Atlanta, Georgia. With no memory of her mother, she is determined to learn more about her lineage and decides to visit the bayou town of Kane, Louisiana. Candace, Tink’s co-worker, and best friend agree to make the trip with her.
Before she has time to explore her family’s history or decide what to do with the declining property, local murders plague Tink’s homecoming. She quickly finds herself caught in the middle of a multiple murder investigation – and quite possibly, the prime suspect. When Candace retreats to Atlanta, Tink, with the support of an unlikely cast of characters sets out to discover clues that have haunted and tormented her family for generations.
Could a concealed crime from the 1800s, or the family’s estate itself, harbor keys to unlocking the past? The more they learn, the more they question whether some secrets are best left buried.
LS: What inspires you?
KC: I find inspiration all around me – in my grandson as he learns new things every day and takes in the beauty of the world around him with such wonderment, my kids as they continue to reach higher successes both professionally and personally, but most of all – my inspiration comes from the memories I have of my other half and late husband, Julius, who led by such an outstanding example and supported me so wholeheartedly in this journey of life.
LS: What is next for Kim Carter’s journey?
KC: I’m not sure, but I’m anxious to find out. One thing I know for sure, it will include more novels.
KC: This is an easy one. I have quotes posted all over my office and look at them daily to remind myself to ‘keep on keeping on’. Some of my favorites:
‘Don’t let someone who gave up on their dreams talk you out of yours’.
‘Those people who tried to bury you didn’t know you were a seed.’
‘You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.’
I will walk by faith even when I cannot see. - 2 Corinthians 5:7
When my heart is overwhelmed, Lead me to the ROCK that is higher than I. – Psalm 61:2