Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Meet Nell Carson

It's my pleasure to introduce Nell Carson. The Gingerbread House is Nell's second Avalon book, but this is her first appearance on Avalon Authors. Like most authors, Nell is excited to have a new book out, but this time her literary endeavor has to take a backseat to another creation - the Carson household has a brand new baby. Tempting as it is to veer off into baby talk, I'm going to stick to bookish matters. So, here goes ...

When did you first know that you wanted to be a writer?

During high school I always enjoyed English and creative writing classes but never thought seriously about being a writer. I was majoring in Speech Pathology at UC Santa Barbara and taking linguistics and biology classes when I realized just how much I missed having a writing oriented class. I checked into my options at UCSB and found there was a wonderful small college there called the College of Creative Studies. I enrolled as a Lit major and never looked back!

Obviously, you were meant to be a writer. When did you start your first novel and how long did it take you to become published?

My first novel, Ravenna, was about a young art student who finds proof that one of the great artists of the renaissance was a fraud. He’d stolen the paintings of a young woman who died of the Black Death and claimed them as his own. After a year of research into the art of the renaissance and medieval Tuscany I finally started writing it in the early 1990’s. It took a couple of years to finish and I was astonished when it came in at 275,000 words! While working on other books through the years, I’ve revised Ravenna about fifteen times and have come close several times but have yet to see it published.

I entered one of those ‘meantime’ books, Tell-All, in the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers’ writing contest and was thrilled to be named a finalist. I pitched the book to Faith Black at one of RMFW’s conferences and seven months later she called to say she loved it and wanted to publish it—cue the tears! Tell-All came out in the spring of 2010 and I was happy to read several good reviews of it. My second Avalon book, The Gingerbread House, was just released this spring.

Ravenna sounds interesting. Be sure to let us know when it becomes available. I'm sure it's just a matter of time and, of course, prsistence.
 What part of writing do you find most satisfying? What part do you find most difficult?

Being able to match my initial vision with the end product. It’s also the most difficult!

Interesting answer. I think it's often true that solving the most difficult problem proves to be the most satisfying accomplishment. What comes first for you? Characters? Story? Setting? Or something else entirely?

I usually have an initial flash of a plot idea and begin building on it using a series of ‘What ifs’. The characters and setting emerge from the necessities of the plot. I’d like to try a more character-based story one of these days.

Where do you find inspiration?

Inspiration seems to find me! My mind will start wandering as I think about something and voila, there it is. The only other thing that seems to work for me is reading the name of a title then figuring out how to match that title with a story.

Tell us about your book(s).

Tell-All: New York City writer Kat Callahan is just finishing an explosive unauthorized biography of Hollywood’s golden couple, Alex and Victoria Janssen, when they mysteriously disappear along with their 7-year-old son. Kat’s publisher is now hot on her heels to complete the book, eager to cash in on the free publicity surrounding their disappearance.

Little does Kat know the charming cowboy who’s just strolled into her life is actually Alex Janssen’s brother Luke, dead-set on stopping the book. He knows it will reveal a fiercely guarded secret that could destroy the lives of all four Janssens. Now he’ll stop at nothing to ensure that doesn’t happen—even if it means using love as a weapon.

The Gingerbread House: After a tumultuous past, Greta Kendall has focused mainly on her bridal shop, located on the first floor of her beloved Queen Anne Victorian near Aspen. For two years she’s fought to save her house from Stephanie Harwood of Harwood Development, who is intent on razing her home to build a new mall. But now Greta’s running out of time. The town council is about to approve the final plans for the mall.

When Gray Daniels walks into her shop, Greta is immediately attracted to his rugged good looks and midnight blue eyes, until she learns he’s Stephanie Harwood’s fiancĂ©. She’s furious to find they’ve tricked her into a publicity stunt aimed at garnering support for the mall. So now her little war has a new front: Gray Daniels. If only she could also fight her growing attraction to him.

A knock on the door brings a return of old danger, and Greta must now put aside her anguish over the house to discover if she’s at last capable of looking the past in the eye and overcoming it—and if she’s finally free to love again.

What do you personally like most about The Gingerbread House?

I like that the heroine, Greta Kendall, overcomes an abusive past and feeling like a victim through the course of the story. By the end she feels strong and confident in her choices—a victim no more!

Sounds like a very satisfying read. Have you developed the plot from something you’ve experienced personally?

No, thankfully I’ve never experienced the physical abuse that Greta has gone through although I have had friends who have. I did draw from my parents’ love of old houses for Greta’s determination to save her Queen Ann house from being bulldozed.

What other authors do you especially admire?

Jane Austen is my all-time favorite.

I'm sure a lot of readers will be nodding in agreement with that choice. Ms. Austen has inspired a lot of us. What do you do when you’re not writing? I know, with a new baby in the house, that's a silly question. Do you have a schedule for writing or do you squeeze it in when you can?

I would have answered this question very differently just a few months ago! Back then I wrote for a couple of hours in the morning before heading off to my day job at a real estate company. Right now I’m still trying to figure out how my life is going to work with our happy new addition. So far, writing is being forced to take the proverbial backseat. I’m sure I’ll find a way to schedule it in at some point!

With your determined attitude, I'm sure you will. What is the funniest thing that ever happened to you as an author? (You can replace funny with another adjective, if you wish.)

How about ‘Uncanny’? I was writing a thriller called ‘Personal’ many years ago and hadn’t quite figured out the ending yet. I woke up in the middle of the night with the perfect solution – a flashlight! So I went back to add the flashlight in an earlier scene to introduce it and found it was already there, listed among some other things. The subconscious mind works in mysterious way!

It does indeed. What refreshes you creatively?

If I feel like the writing’s getting a little stale or forced I’ll stop and go back to the beginning—either reading it over from the beginning or looking at my initial notes, trying to recapture that initial spark.

Do you have a website or participate in another blog? If so, please feel free to add a link.

Tell-All on amazon:   http://amzn.to/IsD1Gc
The Gingerbread House on amazon:  http://amzn.to/JMprLi

Thanks, Nell, for taking time from your busy schedule to tell us about your writing life. I wish you the best of luck with your books and, most of all, with your "happy new addition".

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