Thanks for joining my readers today. First off if you could share what your upcoming novel, Gothic Revival, is about without any spoilers?
Alex and Leo Renfield are husband and wife contractors who recently moved to the village of Woodhaven, Connecticut to escape the chaos of life in New York. But things don’t fall into place for them quickly and they are pretty close to broke—that is, until they meet Theodora Hamilton. She’s a peculiar woman who offers them an astronomical amount of money just to paint the first floor of her house. However, along with this huge payday comes a set of unsettling rules and conditions that must not be deviated from if they are to take the job—one of which is that they must reside on the property, 24/7, until the job is complete. The two have no choice but to accept her offer, but they wonder… is she just eccentric, or is there something more sinister going on here?
Who are your favorite characters in the novel and without any spoilers what make them special for you?
Cooper Black (the caretaker), Theodora Hamilton (the homeowner), and Dr. Orbon (Theodora’s family doctor). I tend to really like my minor characters because they’re so quirky.
Dr. Earle Munson holds a special place in my heart in this book, because he is my father, and his namesake character is modeled after him.
What kind of research did you have to do for the novel? What life experiences did you use?
I did a great deal of research on various aspects of electricity and heating, though little of it made it into the book. Research on Gothic furniture was required, as well.
Life experiences—let’s see, the story takes place in the town in which I grew up, though I have changed the name of it in the novel. My husband and I have a remodeling business. Oh, and I love to garden.
What do you find to be the most important aspect of having multiple main characters that our readers are following?
They must remain separate entities and stay true to character. They must not think exactly the same way, use the same words, gestures, or slang. I dislike using ‘he said’ and ‘she said’ constantly, and I find it unnecessary to do so if the characters’ speech patterns are sufficiently different so that telling the reader who is speaking is not required, most of the time.
What are your thoughts on traditional publishing and self-publishing?
I have nothing against people who self-publish—it’s just not for me. Perhaps I’m too old a fart, I don’t know. I’ve always felt that if a publisher thought my work good enough to pay me to publish with them, then someone objective has decided that my writing is ready for prime time. If I had been unable to get a publisher to pick up my work, then I would have assumed that it wasn’t yet ready, not yet good enough, and would have gone back and reworked it, and tried again later. It would never occur to me to self-publish it. But that’s just me. I also like the partnership of a traditional publisher, and Sirens Call Publications has been a terrific one. I’m very grateful to the professionals running things over there. Top notch!
Do you have a certain routine when writing for getting yourself in the mood and mindset to write?
I sit down at the computer, turn it on, check over my notes from the previous day, then get to work. Mood/mindset doesn’t enter into it. It’s a job. An enjoyable job, but a job—and that’s the way I approach it. One cannot skip work just because one is not in the mood for it.
Do you have any advice for other writers who are writing in, or who want to write, in the genre?
All I can offer is the following general writing advice, which applies to all genres and which has worked well for me:
- Read voraciously. Not just your genre, but everything. Read authors who are expert at character development. Read other authors for their intricate plot structures. And still others because, though you may not be interested in their genre, they get the pacing right every single time. Read about people—biographies, autobiographies.
- Take the time to watch people—their mannerisms, gestures, facial expressions, body language. Make up a story in your head while watching a group and base it only on what you can see, not what you hear.
- Keep a notepad and pen in your pocket at all times. Ideas occur constantly and usually out of the blue.
- Write what you know. Most of my stories take place in Connecticut, because that is where I lived most of my life. Stephen King’s stories usually have a Maine backdrop—he lives there. He knows the area and the people. This is the only way to keep your work authentic and believable.
- Do your research—don’t just take a guess. Guessing is lazy and indicates a lack of interest in your own work. Savvy readers will see right through it… and you. The last thing you want is to get a checkable fact wrong and have the reader know it, shake his head, and say, “Feh!”. “Feh” is never a good thing. Even double check facts that you are sure you have right. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve caught and corrected a ‘fact’ that I thought I knew, but had wrong.
- Write, write, write. The more you write, the more you improve.
You’ve worked on multiple short stories and a novella prior to the release of Gothic Revival. How do these writing styles differ?
My style doesn’t differ at all. At the outset, unless I am completing an assignment, I don’t usually know if what I’m writing will be a short story, a novella, or a novel, since I initially write to entertain myself. If I am completing an assignment, I will do a five or six point outline of the pivotal story points, and then use them as a story map. But most of the time, I determine an ending, and I write to that ending. When the story reaches the ending quickly, it’s a short story. Not so fast, a novella. In a year, a novel. I first thought that Gothic Revival might turn out to be a short story, but then the characters took over and things kept expanding and twisting and turning, and ended up as a novel.
As an editor do you have any suggestions for writers out there prior to submitting their work to an editor?
Adhere to standard manuscript format. Check your facts, and Sweet Jesus, at least please use your Spell Checker.
Have you had any issues when self-editing your own writing?
You always wonder if you’re getting it right. If you can afford to hire an editor, I strongly recommend that you do so. If you can’t, at least find yourself some good beta readers—just get a fresh set of eyes on your work. And this is another reason I like to publish traditionally—on staff editors. Hallelujah!
What would you do if you sat down for lunch with your favorite author and they offered you graham crackers and orange juice?
I would assume that it was my Kindergarten teacher in disguise, and this sumptuous meal would be followed by nap time.
Finally do you have anything else that you’d like to share with my readers?
Be self-validating—don’t let the naysayers stop you, if writing success is really what you want out of life. If you require compliments, awards, and praise to drive your work, you’d better keep your day job. If you try to make a living in a creative field, there will always be somebody, or sometimes lots of somebodies, who are more than happy to step right up and drag you right down. My husband, Stij, is a strong supporter of my writing. It’s terrifically helpful if the important person in your life encourages what you do, or at least doesn’t ridicule it—but if you want it enough, you can get along all on your own—just you, the wondrousness of your infinite interior worlds, and your word processor and printer.
Just tell a good story. Tell an engaging story. Stephen King never had lofty literary ambitions, and often referred to his writing as the literary equivalent of a Big Mac, fries, and a Coke. I think he has it right, and that’s the way I feel about my work. It is my dearest wish to entertain and amuse with what I write, while expressing some more subtle ideas. Because, when you come right down to it, fiction is where the truth is.
So hey… you… yeah, you… wanna hear a story?
Alex and Leo Renfield are a husband and wife contractor team who’ve recently moved to the village of Woodhaven, Connecticut to escape the chaos of life in New York. Pretty close to broke, they meet Theodora Hamilton, a somewhat unsavory and odd individual, who offers them an astronomical amount of money to repaint the first floor of her family home.
But along with the huge paycheck comes a set of unsettling rules that must be followed explicitly if they are to accept the offer; one of which is they must reside on the property having no direct contact with the outside world until the job is complete.
Is Theodora Hamilton just an eccentric woman with a peculiar way of doing things, or is there a more sinister agenda that Alex and Leo are unaware of? What exactly does she have in store for this down-on-their-luck couple who have no choice but to accept the offer and the strange requirements that come along with it?
Gothic Revival can be found online at major retailers including:
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Carson Buckingham knew from childhood that she wanted to be a writer, and began, at age six, by writing books of her own, hand-drawing covers, and selling them to any family member who would pay (usually a gum ball) for what she referred to as “classic literature.” When she ran out of relatives, she came to the conclusion that there was no real money to be made in self-publishing, so she studied writing and read voraciously for the next eighteen years, while simultaneously collecting enough rejection slips to re-paper her living room… twice.
When her landlord chucked her out for, in his words, “making the apartment into one hell of a downer,” she redoubled her efforts and collected four times the rejection slips in half the time, single-handedly causing the first paper shortage in U.S. history.
But she persevered, improved greatly over the years, and here we are.
Carson Buckingham has been a professional proofreader, editor, newspaper reporter, copywriter, technical writer, comedy writer, humorist, and fiction author. Besides writing, she loves to read and work in her vegetable garden. She lives in the United States in the state of Arizona.
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