Welcome back, Carol. Why do you write the kind of books you do?
I love words and the images they create. I love the sound of language. Even as a teen, I’d answer test essays so that their cadences sounded pleasant to me. The flow of language was as important as a correct answer.
Romance and problems of everyday life intrigue me, too. With these two elements, I gravitate to women’s fiction—both to read and to write.
Besides when you came to know the Lord, what is the happiest day in your life?
To pick the happiest is impossible. The day I knew I had conceived tops the list, as does the day I held my daughter in my arms. Then again, grandchildren are the sweet revenge grandparents have on their children, and recently we had an unexpected bundle of energy born to us. Marrying my husband tops the list.
God’s blessed me in so many ways, it’s impossible to pick one day.
How has being published changed your life?
It’s made me busier, and sadly, it seems I write less of what I love because promotion becomes an issue. I spend more time on publicity and blog writing than on dreaming.
However, published or not, I’ve loved the connection with fellow writers. I belong to two great crit groups. Conferences become class reunions as I meet all my cyber-writing friends. This writing world has broadened my base of friendships.
What are you reading right now?
I just finished Girl on the Train. It was a wonderful book that kept me guessing until the very last moment. The book on my bedside table now is Long for the Bomb:
Ridge and Atomic Nostalgia.
My reading tastes are eclectic. We moved close to
Oak Ridge, and the
history of my locales fascinate me.
What is your current work in progress?
In Her Defense is the working title. It’s a clash between a public defender and a district attorney and their families and clients. It is women’s fiction, but this one has a heavy dose of romance, as my first novel DWF: Divorced White Female did. In In Her Defense, the wayward daughter of the DA causes an accident that confines the mother of Birdie Swanson—the protagonist—to her daughter’s home. As a public defender, Birdie has to find a way to care for a mother who can’t return to her
home. On top of this, Birdie must deal with oddball clients, deal with the DA,
and stay sane.
It’s a humorous novel influenced by my dear friend and public defender, Claire Knittel who is guiding me through the public defender process.
Because of this book, I got to watch a murder tried in my former hometown of
. Unfortunately, Claire lost the case. Malone, NY
However, my DA friend won. So for me—win-win.
What would be your dream vacation?
A safari with a side trip to the cocoa farms of the
I’d love to see the big animals of Africa and experience the culture of the Ivory Coast
where my newest release, Waters of Separation, is set for
half the story.
How do you choose your settings for each book?
It’s a pretty organic process. For DWF: Divorced White Female, my debut novel, I kept the setting in my hometown. I figured if Jodie Piccoult can set hers in
Hampshire, or Lisa Scottaline in Philadelphia because these authors live
there, then so could I. After all, someday I’ll be as well-known as Lisa Scottaline.
In Waters of Separation, I had to choose
Africa for half of it because it deals
with child labor in the cacao sector. We get most of our chocolate from the Ivory Coast.
The American portions of the book were set where I grew up on Long Island because
of the State Hospital
and the currents off the , both elements
essential to the plot. Nissequogue
My last book, unpublished, is in a Rensselaerville, NY knock-off because I love that area of
York, and I needed a rural setting to make the plot
If you could spend an evening with one person who is currently alive, who would it be and why?
Does it have to be one person? If not, my former church mates from
Lifeway Community Church
in Northern New York. We moved to Tennessee at the
beginning of June, and I desperately miss them. These folks supported my
writing, my move, and my life. Together we celebrated Super Bowls and the
Fourth of July and picnics after church. We shared Christmases and Easter and
communion. And they all bought my first book!
What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading?
With this question and me—this blog could be very long. Currently, I’m obsessed with stained glass making. I scrapbook, as well. I play the bassoon, garden, run, and kayak. And my secret passion: watching American Ninja Warriors.
What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?
Currently, that obstacle is summer. No matter how determined I get, summer comes, and I can’t write a word. If you read the answers to #9, you can see that a lot of what I love is summer oriented. Plus, I’ve always lived a distance from my family, so it’s a time of family visits.
I can’t really overcome it. People would be angry with me if I outlawed summer. I end up overcoming by writing extra over the winter.
What advice would you give to a beginning author?
Several things: believe the advice of good critique partners. Some people are hyper-critical, and you’ll identify them soon enough. Ignore those. Use overly-negative comments for thickening your skin. For the others, take their advice, incorporate it and grow. When your book is published, you can’t change things in it any more. And believe me, even after 57.5 revisions, you’ll still want to make changes.
The second thing is not to quit. The temptation to chuck it and join the Benedictine monks instead will be strong. Don’t do it. Go to conferences, connect with others. If book one doesn’t do it, put it aside and book two or three or four may. The publishing world is replete with famous authors, like Stephen King, who nearly quit, but the last attempt catapulted their careers.
Tell us about the featured book.
Africa’s secrets resurrect the despair physician assistant Anna Haas buried in
Her pregnancy and the discovery of boys bound by slavery in the cacao sector of
the Côte d’Ivoire
revive her childhood guilt. Her mother’s suicide claimed the lives of the two
small sisters Anna had vowed to protect.
Her failure to save them was unforgivable.
It will not happen with these boys.
Her interference prompts a corrupt government to threaten the thriving mission and the lives of Anna and her friends. Her action also threatens her marriage.
However, doing nothing will destroy her.
The story weaves from past to present and across two continents as Anna fights for love, faith, and redemption.
Please give us the first page of the book.
...Anna Haas’s hand dropped to her own stomach, and she shivered. Was she ready? She shelved her fear, and focused on enjoying a walk with Essi. "Everything's perfect. Come on. I'll walk with you a little." Anna stifled a yawn. "Then I'm catching a nap. This heat has turned my eyelids to lead." She tugged her blouse, damp with sweat and humidity, away from her. "Even though it's the afternoon, I'm putting on my nightgown."
They giggled and chatted until they reached the village crossroads. It veered off the piste Essi normally used, but today, instead of following the narrow path, Essi planned to meet with her village friends. Anna hugged her good-bye and leaned against a banana tree while Essi waddled toward the village proper.
Here the village cacao farms, matted with cassava plants and banana trees, melded with the forest. The cacao trees reminded her of the white birch at home, the bark gray and black, the boles small enough for her to encircle with her hands.
However, the cacao pods were the real oddities. The size of over-ripe acorn squash, colored green or a maroonish red, flecked with brown, they resembled rippled footballs clinging to the sides of trees. They didn't hang, like fruit back home, off branches, hidden in the leaves, but right on the trunks.
She wanted to linger, to savor the flawless beauty, cherish the culmination of the lifelong dream of exploring
that she and her father had shared.
Children squealed as her husband let them out of the school for recess. Piping voices sliced through the forest, out-shrieking the monkeys. Their voices like her sisters' had been.
Lately, their memory dogged her. They had shared the dream of
Africa, too—or at least Camille had.
She pushed away the thoughts along with the strands of her hair clinging to the sweat on her face. Her hair, caught up in a ponytail, gave her a headache. Besides making her dizzy, the humidity must have added a pound to her hair. She wanted to shave her head.
With her eyes heavy with fatigue, she turned toward her home when her name rang out.
She turned, shaded her eyes against the mid-day glare.
"Madame Docteur! Aidez-nous."
She squinted down the trailhead. Ibraham? She craned her neck, her mouth opened in concentration as he ran toward her. He carried someone.
Blood like a tribal scar smeared Ibraham's face, stained his chest and darkened his shorts—the blood already a copperish brown. Her hand flew to her throat, and she forgot to breathe. Only a little boy. Were both hurt? The Burkinabé teen moved too fast to be wounded. Surely all that blood didn't come from Kwame...?
Interesting. How can readers find you on the Internet?
On facebook: carol.d.mcclain
On twitter: @carol_mcclain
And my books can be found on the Desert Breeze website or the usual places books can be found online: Barnes and Noble, Amazon, etc.
Thank you, Carol, for sharing this new book with us. I never knew how cacao grew on the tree. I'm eager to read this book. I know my readers are, too.
Readers, here’s a link to the book. By using it when you order, you help support this blog.Waters of Separation
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