MARY CARTER is a freelance writer and novelist. My Sister’s Voice is her fourth novel with Kensington. Her other works include: She’ll Take It, Accidentally Engaged, Sunnyside Blues, and The Honeymoon House in the best selling anthology Almost Home. She is a graduate of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, and the National Technical Institute for the Deaf, which is part of the Rochester Institute of Technology. She has just completed A Very Maui Christmas, a new novella for Kensington that will be included in a Christmas of 2010 anthology. She is currently working on a new novel, The Pub Across the Pond, about an American woman who swears off all Irish men only to learn she’s won a pub in Ireland. Readers are welcome to visit her at marycarterbooks.com.
Q: Thank you for this interview, Mary. Can you tell us what your latest book, My Sister’s Voice, is all about?
It is about identical twin girls, one is Deaf, and the other is hearing, who are raised separately and don’t learn of each other’s existence until they are 28-years-old. One twin wants to be instant best friends, the other, when she finds out her biological parents gave her up but raised the other twin, wants nothing but answers.
Q: Is this your first novel? If not, how has writing this novel different from writing your first?
This is my fourth novel. Each book I write is very different, and like any parent who has more than one child will tell you, each one is very unique. That said, I have learned a little about the process of writing a novel, and I believe my skills are improving with each book.
Q: How difficult was it writing your book? Did you ever experience writer’s block and, if so, what did you do?
Writing a novel is very difficult for me when I am on the first draft. In fact, I’m miserable until I have something to work with. Unfortunately, it takes a long time to get the first draft done, and so I spend a good deal of writing time feeling sorry for myself. I am trying to learn how to write a first draft faster, like sketching a drawing, so that I can get to the part I love—rewriting. When I feel like I can’t do it, or that it isn’t any good, it’s always during that first draft dread. I don’t have a choice, I have to plow on, and I just try and quiet my inner critic, and write—even if it’s only a few hundred words. I remind myself that first drafts are allowed to be awful, and that anything and everything can be fixed, as long as you have something to fix in the first place. This is also where an outline can be a lifesaver. It gives you a place to go when you feel stuck.
Q: How have your fans embraced your latest novel? Do you have any funny or unusual experiences to share?
I wish I had done a virtual tour of my last novel, Sunnyside Blues. I think it had a quiet start, although all the reviews have been very positive, and it was just released last summer, so momentum may build on it yet. I guess the funniest story is that my friend Desiree pointed out that I used two of her ex boyfriend’s names in the book for the heroine’s love interests. It hadn’t dawned on me that I’d done that, and I’m not sure that’s why I chose their names, but it’s possible. The mind is a mysterious place.
Q: What is your daily writing routine?
I still work a day job so I’m not the type of writer who has a set writing schedule. I work freelance so my day job hours vary and then I try and write around them. I’m never without paper in my purse and if I can squeeze in some writing while I’m at work, I try and do that too. With my last novel I tried to set a goal of at least a thousand words a day. When I found out Stephen King writes two thousand words a day, I tried that too. Some days it was easy to do, other days I was lucky to get two hundred. I find there is always a certain turning point where I’m thinking about the book non-stop, and that makes it easier when you actually sit down to do it, because you’ve already played the scene out in your head. I’m hoping to reach that point soon with my new novel, because as I said in a previous question, I’m always stressed during first drafts.
Q: When you put the pen or mouse down, what do you do to relax?
I have a favorite local Irish bar that has a ton of fun people and has live music on the weekends. I also like to eat, and go to Broadway plays, and hang out with friends. I would say I exercise or do yoga, or meditate, but that would be a lie. Although I do TRY and exercise, but I’m always falling off the wagon. I walk a lot though, I think most people who live in New York City walk a lot. I love farmer’s markets, and coffee shops. And I love to read, and go to movies, there are a few television shows I’m addicted to, and I play piano, so I guess there’s never a lack of things to keep myself amused or relaxed.
Q: What book changed your life?
Ayn Rand’s, The Fountainhead, and Herman Hesse, My Essays. There was also one book that I read that was so bad it made me say—I could do better than that—which led me to write my first novel, but unfortunately, I don’t remember what the book was. Actually, maybe it’s fortunate I don’t remember, for I wouldn’t use this forum to disparage it either. But it was instrumental in launching my own writing career!
Q: If someone were to write a book on your life, what would the title be?
Mary Carter would like her first grade teacher to know that the nickname Messy Mary was not very nice and it hasn’t stopped her from becoming an international best selling novelist, and to her third grade teacher, she wants you to know that she hasn’t forgotten that you never took her for that hot fudge sundae she won for being the first to memorize her times tables, and even though her mother took her for one, it still doesn’t let you off the hook.
Q: Finish this sentence: “The one thing that I wish people would understand about me is…”
I’m a international woman of mystery.
Thank you for this interview Mary. I wish you much success on your latest release, My Sister’s Voice!
Mary Carter is on virtual book tour to promote her new book, My Sister’s Voice. If you’d like to follow her tour, visit her official tour page here.
Question of the Day:
How would you feel if you found out you had a long lost sister or brother you didn’t know about?