Name Carson Buckingham
Where are you from? Woodbury, Connecticut, USA
A little about yourself `ie your education Family life etc
I am married and currently living in Glendale, Arizona. I have a Ph.D from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Biology.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
I was supposed to have a novella re-issued in 2016, but the publisher backed out at the last moment, so I have no books coming out this year, unfortunately. The novel that was released in 2014 is entitled GOTHIC REVIVAL, and is available on Amazon. It’s received marvelous reviews, which makes me happy.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I began writing parodies at a fairly early age, and I learned how to do that from MAD Magazine. Writing seriously began at about age 20. I studied and studied and wrote and wrote and wrote and was finally ready for publication by age 50. I do not self-publish—I feel that it is cheating, in a way. If a legit publisher won’t pick up your work and at least pay you royalties for it, then chances are, it isn’t ready. That’s just me, though.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Probably at age 40.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
My first book (the one that won’t be re-released this year), HOME, was simply an idea that I had. I always know how I want my books and stories to end, and I write to that ending. I don’t really rely on ‘inspiration.” As Stephen King says, “Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration. The rest of us just get up and go to work.” This is a job, not a hobby.
Since my second novel, GOTHIC REVIVAL, is now in print, I think I’d prefer to talk about that one.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
My style is similar to Bentley Little’s. Fast moving, lots of dialog, light easy read. I have no aspirations of writing the Great American Novel. I just want to tell a good story and allow my readers to escape for a while. Stephen King refers to himself as “The Big Mac and fries of the literary world.” I’m pretty much the same way.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
If I explain the title of GOTHIC REVIVAL, I will be giving away too much of the book, believe it or not.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I write horror in the sub-genre of paranormal suspense, so no, not really. I just want them on the edge of their seats for as long as possible.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic ?
Good horror, to really frighten or creep a reader out, must have some basis in reality, and mine does. Quite a bit of the book is realistic, actually.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Oh, of course. To a greater or lesser degree, fiction is based on events or people authors have experienced or know—any author who tells you otherwise is equivocating.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE (Shirley Jackson)
THE COMPLETE WORKS OF EDGAR ALLAN POE
THE SHINING (Stephen King)
SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES (Ray Bradbury)
Sir Terry Pratchett’s DISCWORLD series.
Everything Maeve Binchy ever wrote.
I never really had a mentor, though it would have been nice, I think.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I just finished Sir Terry Pratchett’s final book, THE SHEPHERD’S CROWN. Wonderful. Will be starting THE LITTLE PARIS BOOKSHOP this evening—I love books about book shops—is that slightly mad?
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Yes, indeed. I’m a big fan of Melissa Marr (GRAVEMINDERS, WICKED LOVELY), Sarah Blake(GRANGE HOUSE, THE POSTMISTRESS), and Katherine Marsh (THE NIGHT TOURIST, THE TWILIGHT PRISONER)
Fiona: What are your current projects?
With my third novel, NOBLE ROT, wrapped and ready to shop, I am currently working on my fourth, with the working title of THE TRAVELLER.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
No one ever supported me within my family. My husband, Phil St. James is my biggest fan. He reads every word that I write, and if not for his encouragement, I probably wouldn’t have progressed as far as I have.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Probably with MAD Magazine.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Unfortunately, no—it can cause problems getting a publisher to pick it up if any part of the work appears before the entire work is published—unless the publisher has given permission, of course. So sorry.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Writing, by its very nature, is a challenging occupation overall.
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
One favorite? You must be joking! Among them is Maeve Binchy—there is no one who is better at creating characters than she is. I also love Patrick Taylor and his Irish Country Doctor series for the same reason. Sir Terry Pratchett for his humorous creation of a world that is just lightly to the left of what you would expect. And Ray Bradbury, whom I would love to emulate, with his terrifyingly soft touch with words.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
I do no travel whatsoever—it has not yet become necessary, and the conventions are beyond affording for me.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Bob Freeman—a wonderful artist!
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Keeping all the balls in the air with characters, plots and subplots, so it all made sense at the end, with no questions unanswered.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I always learn when I write my books. I do exhaustive research for each one. With GOTHIC REVIVAL, I learned all about basic house construction. Not that much of the research went into the story, but when asked questions the character needed to be knowledgeable. Very little of the extensive research I do actually finds its way into the book.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Read, read, read—anything and everything. Write , write, write, and learn to take constructive criticism. Get criticism from people who are in a position to know what they’re talking about, not from your friends and relatives. And when you write, be sure to do your research. I ended up calling the Connecticut Horticultural Society to find out when certain plants bloomed at the time of year in which my story was set. I had to call The New York Friar’s Club to ask about initiation procedures, and so much more. It may seem inconsequential at the time, but the last thing you want your reader to do is to pick up your book and, snorting, say, “Well, that’s wrong.” Though I write fiction, I make damned sure that all my facts are straight…even the minor ones. If the author doesn’t care enough, then why should a reader even pick up the book?
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I humbly thank you from the bottom of my heart for opening up your wallets and purchasing my work at a time when money doesn’t come so easily.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
- Paul Wilson’s THE KEEP. I think that was pivotal in my decision to write horror.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Sir Terry Pratchett, Lewis Black, George Carlin, and Terry Fator make me laugh.
Maeve Binchy makes me cry—in a good way. In a bad way, what makes me cry is abuse of animals, homeless strays, and any creature, human or animal, that is hungry.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would like to meet and why?
Nikola Tesla—a brilliant man. Would love to sit and discuss his life and inventions. He really got the short end of the stick from that creep, Thomas Edison.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why ?
There will be no tombstone, as I shall be cremated and scattered. But if there were to be a stone, probably just, “Be Kind.” People need reminding sometimes.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
I am an avid reader. I love gardening and cooking and collecting insects. I have a Savannah Monitor lizard, a desert box turtle, and an African Grey parrot as pets.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Just about anything British, with the notable exception of Benny Hill.
I am currently re-watching MONARCH OF THE GLEN. I also enjoy BLACK BOOKS, DOWNTON ABBEY, ONCE UPON A TIME, BLACKLIST, THE SOPRANOS, DOC MARTIN, and NIGHT COURT.
MOVIES: THE BEST OFFER, THE TAKING OF DEBORAH LOGAN, THE HAUNTING (1963), THE UNINVITED (Ray Milland), MR. JONES, SILENT HILL, SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES, COLD COMFORT FARM, DESK SET, SABRINA, ALL ABOUT EVE, SUNSET BOULEVARD, THE MAN OF A THOUSAND FACES, THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER, SITTING PRETTY, IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
Foods: Eggplant parmigiana, linguine with white clam sauce, halibut, mussels
Colors: Green, black, and red
Music: Gordon Lightfoot, James Taylor, Herman’s Hermits, The Manhattan Transfer, The Dillards, The Nylons, Jimmy Buffett, Motown, Beethoven
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
I think I would have enjoyed working as a CSI.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
Yes, I do.
http://carsonbuckingham.blogspot.co.uk/ Oddly enough, rather than being all about horror, it is mostly humorous—at least I sincerely hope so. There is also news about what I’m up to in the world of horror, and a plug about the editing services I offer.
Carson Buckingham was born a while back. As a child, she excelled in finger-painting, rendering an amazingly accurate reproduction of Picasso’s “Guernica” on the right index finger of a playmate. Unfortunately, the piece was destroyed when the teacher demanded that “all hands be washed sparkly clean” before snack time. Buckingham was so devastated that, to this day, she breaks out in a cold sweat at the sight of graham crackers and orange juice.
But, undaunted, she moved on to other areas of interest. In elementary school, she kept to herself, sneaking into the high school chemistry lab during play periods and creating explosions and smoke of various colors and corrosiveness.
Permanently banned from the inorganic sciences by age seven, she took up cooking, spending her play periods in the home economics room, creating explosions and smoke of various colors and corrosiveness.
The following year, the chemistry teacher and the home economics teacher spoke with Buckingham’s guidance counselor, recommending that, since she showed such promise, she be sent, as the youngest intern in history, to the underground weapons testing site in Los Alamos, New Mexico.
Only too glad to comply, her father sent her packing. “Maybe now I can get the damned house rebuilt once and for all!” he was heard to mutter.
In New Mexico, Buckingham distinguished herself when, on her first day, she completely confounded the security system. Being a short, easily frustrated person, she couldn’t reach the keypad to punch in her access code, so she kicked the console several times, causing a total blackout and system lockup throughout the entire compound, not to mention the activation of launch codes. Seven weeks later, when the Microsoft technical experts could get the doors open once again, she was ejected by Bill Gates personally.
Having a deep sense of pride, even at age eight, Buckingham didn’t feel comfortable with the idea of going home again. She wasn’t sure she’d recognize the place, anyway, since, when she last saw it, it was pretty much a charred frame with doors. So, she sang ho for the open highway, and hit the road.
After a year or so, she was apprehended and sent back to school, where she worked hard for four years and finally entered high school quietly and without fanfare.
In high school, her inquiring mind was ready to explore the theater and she was one of the youngest members of the drama club to be cast in a leading role. Her first, and unfortunately, her last role was as the Monster in “Frankenstein;” during which she was booed off the stage. It all happened during the famous cigar-smoking scene in the blind hermit’s hut, in which the Monster goes berserk at the sight of a flaming match. Buckingham, in her zeal to make the Monster’s fear credible, roared and waved her arms about to such an extent that she ended up setting fire to the table, the set, and the blind hermit (played by a high school senior who could, from that point forward, forget about the modeling career he was previously so well suited for).
Acting career at an end, Buckingham immersed herself in reading and later, writing. She began an underground newspaper at her school, which was wildly popular until she was ratted out by the senior whose modeling career she’d ruined.
She graduated from high school as the class Maledictorian (no, that’s not a typo). In her parting speech, she used so many words that the audience had to look up that, when she was finished, they had no choice but to applaud, even though she had just spent twenty minutes telling them all to . . . well, it’s probably better left unrepeated.
Buckingham spent a short time in college, where the professors all clubbed together to buy off the Dean to give her a diploma and get her the hell out of there.
Professionally, Buckingham has made her way in life doing all manner of things, most of which involve arson. She is currently employed as a freelance writer on a work release program. In her spare time, she studies forensics, in hopes of applying her new knowledge to eluding the authorities more effectively the next time.