Thanks for being here Carolyn. It’s a pleasure.
#1- Tell us a little about yourself outside of your writing career…
Hello everyone! And thanks, Kelly, for inviting me here.
Quick take away: I have an uninteresting day job, a wonderful son, live in a rural area, and love chocolate and reading.
I really wish I had something glamorous to tell you about myself. If I were a spy I wouldn’t be able to tell you about, but I’m not anything exciting or very interesting.
I have a geek job, which makes most people’s eyes glaze over when I talk about it. I’m a MS SQL Server DBA, short for Microsoft SQL Server Database Administrator. (For anyone who cares, SQL stands for Structured Query Language.)
OK, wake up! Right, so aside from the day job, I live in beautiful Northern California, north of San Francisco, where, in fact, I used to live. I have a son who’s about to turn fourteen and is just now beginning to be horribly embarrassed by his mother.
We have quite a few animals here, dogs, cats, chickens, sheep. I have an MA in English, which took me forever to earn because I was working full time, a single parent and writing. It was worth it, though.
#2- The paranormal romance genre is very hot right now, and seemingly difficult to write. What made you chose that sub-genre of romance and do you have any plans to write in others?
All writing, regardless of genre or sub-genre, is difficult. Put a big fat period there. Writing is just plain hard. Every genre has specific challenges – historical accuracy in a story set in the past, devising a set of consistent magical rules for a story in which the characters have magic, etcetera.
I’d always wanted to try a story with magical or supernatural elements because, well, gee, it’s pretty cool. More specifically though, paranormal creatures mean I get to explore themes and relationships that would be quite difficult -- and quite possibly boring -- to address more directly.
The magical or supernatural creature has a seductive power (I mean that in the singular) that reveals quite a lot about people who interact with that power and who may, or may not, be transformed by the creature. What a journey to send your characters on!
A paranormal creature is “other” in the very classic and academic sense. Us versus them. City folks versus country folks, Republicans vs. democrats, Terrorists vs. ohh --- see what I mean? There’s tension right away!
It can be difficult to talk about that tension without getting all wrapped up in strong and even wholly justified emotions. But when you displace that Us vs. Them to, say, demons vs. humans, you can strip away the initial protective emotions and start looking at why and how and what if. Which I find to be quite a fascinating process.
I started out writing historical romance and still do write historicals. I’d LOVE to write a fantasy. I adore stories with magic and elves and other fairytale creatures. I actually have an idea for one that’s ready to be written, I just need to find the time to write the darn thing!
#3- As you know, I reviewed your title My Forbidden Desire for Bookpleasures and loved it, but how do you handle the negative reviews and critiques you receive?
Thank you, by the way, for your kind words. I’m so glad you enjoyed My Forbidden Desire.
Naturally, I want everyone in the world to think my books are the cat’s pajamas; the best thing they’ve ever read. That, alas, is not realistic. My writing is simply not going to click with everyone. (sob!)
Author John Scalzi (Scalzi.com) once exhorted authors to own their one-star reviews. So I did, in this blog post: http://www.carolynjewel.com/weblog/2008/04/owning-my-one-stars.shtml . Check it out if you want to know the worst.
A reader is never wrong about her reaction to one of my books. If someone reads something of mine and thinks my heroine was a doorstop or that a scene was too graphically sexual, that’s not a wrong reaction for that reader.
Readers and reviewers bring a completely different set of experiences and personal psychologies to their reading than I do when I’m writing the story.
None of which is to suggest that I don’t mind bad reviews. Of course I do. I keep my reactions private, though. My tears, anguish and self-doubts remain in the privacy of my own home. How I react personally depends in part on how thoughtful and well written the review is. I’ve certainly read reviews that get facts so wrong I have to wonder if the reviewer actually read the book. But that shouldn’t matter to any of you. Read a book and say what you think.
#4- Where do you feel you get your ideas and inspiration from?
As for ideas, anywhere and everywhere; other books, movies, the news, conversations, dreams, daydreams, sitting around thinking, people watching, you name it, an idea can form from the experience.
As for inspiration, that’s a little harder. I can’t wait around to feel inspired. I’d never finish anything if I did that. When inspiration strikes, yay! I work it for all it’s worth. When I don’t feel inspired, that’s usually because I have a problem in the story, in which case the delete key is my best friend.
#5- Assuming you get any time to read, what authors do you like to read, and were there any books that stand out from your childhood as favorites?
Oh, definitely, there are times when I have less or no time for reading, but making time for reading is a priority for me. I love reading and I feel unhappy and deprived if I go too long without falling into another world.
Favorite authors include George R. R. Martin (one of the best, probably the best, fantasy authors writing today), J.R. Ward (The BDB is a genre-transforming series. It’s been exciting to read, listen and watch how her world is changing the landscape) Sherrilyn Kenyon (Archeron is mine!), Brent Weeks (looking forward to more fantasy from him), Toni Morrison (Beloved deserved the Nobel), Chinua Achebe (my gateway author to African literature), Mary Balogh (I adore her historicals), Lee Child (love Jack Reacher!), Barbra Hambly (thank goodness she’s writing again). I’ve come to adore Meljean Brook’s Guardian series, Nalini Singh, J.K. Rowling, Stephanie Meyer (Shout out if you’re Team Jacob!) and many, many others.
As a child, I read obsessively. Is anyone surprised by that? I particularly loved Mary Renault and her series on Alexander the Great, but I read everything by her. Victoria Holt was another favorite. Bulwer-Litton’s The Last Days of Pompeii was a book that really swept me away. (Yes, I know, but I was 13, okay?) Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak, Horton Hears a Who (I think my mother rued the day she ever read that to me.)
As for dead authors, Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte (Vilette is so underrated), Yukio Mishima, Junichero Tanizaki, Charles Dickens, Horace Walpole (for his letters, which are just exquisite).
I feel like I should mention at least a few poets. H.D. is a huge favorite of mine, as is Ezra Pound even though I find him personally repugnant, Pablo Neruda, Robert Browning, Byron, Donne, Petrarch.
I have trouble reading the really long poems and if not for grad school probably never would have. But from time to time, I do like to pick up a book of poetry and read the shorter poems. Make of that what you will. I can only stand so much stuff that’s supposed to be good for you.
#6- Are there any upcoming releases we would like to know about, and could you give us your web site so readers can check it out?
Indiscreet is an October 2009 release from Berkley Sensation. It’s a Regency era historical romance set primarily in Ottoman Turkey. You can read the first two chapters at my website: www.carolynjewel.com
#7- This about concludes it. Thank you again for joining us. Is there anything else you would like to share?
Thank you for inviting me! And thanks to everyone who read my rambling responses. I love to hear from people, so feel free to email me with your favorite authors, series, suggestions for books to read and opinions, contrary or otherwise.