Name Carolyn Haley
Age Just shy of 60.
Where are you from
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc
I hail from suburban Connecticut, from a family tree that’s predominantly Irish artist types on one side and German accountant types on the other, so I ended up half and half. Entered college as an art student but didn’t finish; big direction change in life resulted, though it took a while to settle. I worked my way toward book publishing via corporate communications, finally landing in rural Vermont where I now have my own editorial and writing business.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
My most recent novel, Into the Sunrise, won second in category in the 2015 International Digital Awards!
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
Started in my preteens, adding little stories to my artwork. That eventually morphed into full-scale books, and the illustrations faded away. I fully switched over in my 30s.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I couldn’t stop reworking a really lousy book that I knew had a kernel of excellence in it. One day I recognized that writing was the only activity that I was willing to try and fail, try and fail, and believe I would eventually succeed.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
It was a natural extension from the diary keeping, then journal writing, I maintained from an early age. Initially, I harnessed my fantasies through art, then extended them into narrative. My heroines were always an alter ego living out a dream or solving a problem that I grappled with in reality. So the first book arose out of preteen lust for the golden boy in class, plus a passion for horses; the second book arose from a fascination with supernatural phenomena and a close encounter I had with it.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I didn’t think so until I realized I can only write effectively in first-person voice. I suspect that’s a by-product of being a diarist for all my formative years.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
No title I’ve ever chosen for my novels has worked. More accurately, what has worked for me has been a dud for others. I’ve used at least half a dozen titles for each book and never been satisfied with the final. In the case of Into the Sunrise, a horsey romance, the title is a play on the expression “…and they rode off into the sunset.” I kinda like that one, and it does tie well into the story.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I tend to write the same message in different forms, which boils down to being true to yourself and having the courage to make hard choices. Since I also am an incurable romantic, my characters get to find their perfect mate and make their couplehood work in spite of reality.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic ?
Do you mean realistic, in that it’s about my personal life? Or realistic in that it’s believable? I strive for the latter. My books are all reality based and about people who overcome problems.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Events in my own life were launch points for the stories, and the rest imagination. For Into the Sunrise, the key event was a sunset horseback ride down the beach I took at age 14. For The Aurora Affair, the key event was a seemingly psychic experience I had at age 17 and again in my early 30s, for which I sought explanations that ultimately drove the book.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
No mentor. Book influences were early reads of Mary Stewart, Barbara Michaels, Dick Francis, and childhood horse stories (e.g., The Black Stallion series). I also heavily read mysteries, which have influenced my work in process.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Whistling Season, by Ivan Doig (literary coming-of-age combined with historical fiction). I’m working through his complete ouvre. Ditto Agatha Christie. Somehow I got this far in life as a mystery fan without ever reading the originator of the subgenre I follow and hope to emulate!
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Paul Doiron, who does a crime series with a Maine game warden as protagonist.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
Trying to put a mystery together. Am at the earliest stage of concept and plot work, just drafted a tentative first chapter.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
My writers group, the Green Mountain Goddesses.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
No. My career path is editing. Writing comes much harder and slower, and depends on time available and the muse, whereas editing is something I can do all day, every day, with consistent enthusiasm, and thus it pays the bills. The two are so closely related that they inform each other, and I still feel like a writer even when I’m not working on my own projects; but to economically succeed as a writer, you need an endless font of creativity, self-discipline, and endurance, which I don’t have. That’s just as well, because lack of performance pressure frees me to wholly enjoy the process of putting my books together without having to fret about sales numbers.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Oh yes. You can never stop revising! But part of the challenge is knowing when it’s good enough, and time to let go and move on.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
No. It happened while I was too young to be conscious of it.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Here’s the working synopsis:
After 38 years of conforming to other people’s expectations, “Plain Jane” Brown retreats to a Vermont hilltown to live privately as a writer.
Her peace is soon disrupted by multiple murders, linked only by the victims’ unpopularity in town. Jane tries to remain uninvolved, but the curious and suspicious locals won’t let her mind her own business. Nor can she elude the town romeo, who thinks she needs protection along with a little fun in her life.
Yet her emotional distance, combined with her writer’s insight into character and possibility, gives her the only perspective that can see the motive behind the killings. Before sharing her reluctant conclusion, she tries to confirm it with facts or evidence. But that just flushes the invisible assassin from cover—and corners Jane into making the same choice as the killer: who gets to live and who must die.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Yes. Overall story arch. That’s why, on the new book, I’m starting with an organized premise. Previously I’ve just jumped in and made it all up as I went along, then had to reverse-engineer to make it viable as a novel.
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Dick Francis. Not only does he write about a subject of primary interest (horses), but also his lead character is always a variation of my favorite male archetype. And his writing style is a masterful blend of saying much with little. Once I open one of his novels, I can’t put it down until I’m done—even if I’ve read it three times before. Nobody else does that to me, even though I love and admire many, many writers.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
No. I set stories in places I know in order to avoid the expense of travel.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
For Into the Sunrise, the publisher’s designer. For The Aurora Affair, me. (That book had a previous incarnation, The Mobius Striptease, and the cover was designed by the publisher.)
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Getting anyone to like it!
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Never, never, never quit.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Never, never, never quit!—that is, if you believe in your story and yourself. Assuming you do, then study storycraft until you are proficient. A great story will flounder or fail if it’s put together poorly.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Thank you for reading my books! I hope you liked them. And if you did, kindly post a nice review somewhere, and/or refer the book to a friend.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
No, but it was probably something like Misty of Chincoteague.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Laugh = Absurdity. Cry = the state of the world.
Fiona: Is there one person past or present you would meet and why?
In the past, musician Todd Rundgren. In the present, hmm, not sure.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why ?
“She did one thing right.”
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
The arts, in general. And some outdoor activities—gardening, horseback riding, paddling, walking. I am also involved in autosports.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
No current TV except The Voice.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
Too many to itemize. Easier to list the non-favorites: fish, and organ foods of mammals; certain yellows and oranges; rap and hip-hop.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
Been a commercial illustrator.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
I have a yard-and-garden blog (http://adventures-zone3.blogspot.com/) that originally supported my nonfiction book, Open Your Heart with Gardens, then turned personal. I don’t update it much anymore because of time restrictions, and much of the material gets posted on my Facebook page or other venues instead. I do not have a writing blog, but I do have a writing website (https://carolynhaley.wordpress.com/). It is linked to my business website (http://documania.us/). I also review for New York Journal of Books (http://www.nyjournalofbooks.com/reviewer/carolyn-haley—scroll past bio to find the reviews), and contribute essays on “Thinking Fiction” for the editorial-business blog, An American Editor (https://americaneditor.wordpress.com/?s=thinking+fiction).
Amazon Authors page