Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Hello, Fiona! So happy to meet you! Thanks for the opportunity to guest on your blog!
Fiona: Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we?
Hi, everyone! [waves] We’re HL Carpenter, a mother/daughter author duo.We write from our studios in Carpenter Country, a magical place that, like our stories, is unreal but not untrue.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
We released a new book! The Ghost in The Gardensis the story often year old Chrysantha Howe. Chrys has her future planned out—until a ghost with a message shows up.
We’re thrilled to introduce Chrys to the world!
Fiona: How did you come up with the idea and the title?
The idea for The Ghost in The Gardens sprouted when we read an article about a small botanical garden and a woman who spent her entire working career cataloguing the plants in that single garden. Her dedication was inspiring, and we were awed by the variety of plant life in such a small area and how difficult finding a particular plant is.
The title reflects the fact that the botanical gardens setting is the heart of the story, for the main character, for the people she loves, and for the ghost.
Fiona: Who designed the cover for The Ghost in The Gardens?
Our editor at Mirror World Publishing, Justine Dowsett, created the cover. She’s very talented. We had a lot of input in the process and we’re really happy with the final result.
Fiona: How much of The Ghost in The Gardens is realistic and based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
We’ve never solved a mystery or met a ghost, and we’re not as deep into plant science as the main character in The Ghost in The Gardens. We do enjoy gardening and we think plants are fascinating, so at least part of the main character, Chrys, has similarities to us. Of course, all our books spring from our imagination, and are not based on real people, places, or events.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of The Ghost in The Gardens?
We learned how vital plants are to everyday life. For instance, you probably have a plant in your house right now. Even if you don’t tend to houseplants, you may have salad greens in the refrigerator and bags of vegetables in your freezer. The cotton garments you wear, the aspirin you take for granted, the wood chair you sit on—these are all plant based.
Plants are everywhere, living on light, communicating with each other via underground root systems and with other species via color and scent, and demonstrably conscious of their environment.
Isn’t that fascinating?
Fiona: If The Ghost in The Gardens was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
Storm Reid or McKenna Grace or Pixie Davies. Or maybe an as-yet-unknown aspiring young actress with the spunk and intelligence to make our main character come alive onscreen.
Fiona: Is there a message in The Ghost in The Gardens that you want readers to grasp?
We really just want the book to be fun, a way to escape everyday life into the world and life of a person you would be happy to have as a friend. To that end, The Ghost in The Gardens is about friendship and family and celebrates girls with goals and the women they become.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
HL sprang into life in a galaxy far, far away, when the once-warring worlds of Mother and Daughter signed a peace treaty. Under the terms of the treaty, these two former foes joined forces to create fine works of fiction—and soon discovered great cooperation begets great storytelling strength. Of course, like any fictional superhero, HL has a weakness…and, like any fictional superhero, she’s not going to reveal it.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
Our first full-length published book is the young adult novel, The SkyHorse. It’s a sweet girl-loves-horse wish-it-would-happen-to-me story.
The SkyHorse sprang from our love of horses, and our first-hand experience owning—or is that being owned by?—great steeds over the years. And we’ve always thought the ability to fly would be marvelous. So what could be better than a flying horse?
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
This is a tough question, Fiona. We like to think we have a distinctive voice—our choice of words, how we structure sentences and paragraphs and scenes, the rhythm of the reality we attempt to present in the form of story and character—that makes all our books uniquely ours.
And yet we wrestle with the influence an author should have, or presume to have, over the course of a story. In our opinion, the best writing—and so perhaps the best “style”—is one where the author disappears and the character tells the story.
Perhaps the simplest way we can describe this dichotomy is by thinking of a famous photographer or artist. If you study a particular individual’s portfolio of work, you can generally tell who took a certain picture or created a specific painting. Yet the picture or painting itself is less a reflection of the artist and more a scene into which the observer steps and becomes immersed.
That, to us, would be an ideal writing style, and the one we aspire to achieve.
Fiona: Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
We read a wide variety of authors and have lots of favorites so choosing just one isdifficult. To pick two at random, we’ll say Dean Koontz and Agatha Christie.
We like Dean Koontz because his writing is so rich. He uses the right word to name or describe every item in his stories—no vague descriptions or wishy-washy words.
We like Agatha Christie because she captures her characters so well. The writing itself is dated, but the personalities are universal, as well as applicable to today, so still fresh in that regard.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one person who supported your commitment to become a published author.
A talented and generous editor who loved our first character as much as we did (Hi, Zee!), and who included our stories in a series of anthologies. She still inspires us.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
We read once about a long-ago famous author who received the at-the-time astronomical sum of $1 per word. A critic who believed the author was overpaid approached with a dollar bill, held it out, and said, “Can you tell me any word that is worth so much?” The author took the dollar and said, “Thanks!”
To our readers, we offer the same priceless word. Thanks! Thank you for taking the time to read our stories and comment on them. Thank you for granting us the honor of entering our fictional world and taking a journey with us. Thank you for the support that makes all those quiet days in front of the computer so worthwhile.
Thank you for reading along with us.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
In hardback, The President is Missing, The Good Pilot Peter Woodhouse, and several old favorites in the process of being re-read or even re-re-read. Three paperbacks, including On Writing, are also splayed carelessly around the Carpenter Country writing studios. The e-reader holds 364 titles, two of which are currently in-progress. We’re down to only one title on the audio book app. Hmmm. Time to replenish that!
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
No, that title is lost to time. And since then we have read so many we can’t even count, much less specifically enumerate titles. They’re all part of us.
Fiona: What makes you laugh?
Frosty mornings. Hot afternoons. Churning breezes. Storm-whipped clouds. Warm sunshine. The gorgeous fuchsias and pinks of azaleas in bloom. Bean, corn, and tomato seed packets lining the windowsills waiting to be planted. Pansies with upraised smiling faces. Grass greened by the rain and standing tall. Bees on the honeysuckle.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
Here again, winnowing down to a single specific is impossible. We wouldlike to meetmany of the people we’ve met in books. Sherlock Holmes would be fascinating and infuriating. And of course, Dr. Watson. Since we’re in mystery-mode, we also want to meet Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
Word games! Puzzles, board games, search-and-find, quizzes, crosswords, and television word-game shows.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
That would be a dreary future indeed. The only way we would survive is if we were Queen of the Universe and had so much to do we didn’t miss writing.
On second thought, that wouldn’t work either. We’d have to re-purpose the universe so we could write again.
Fiona: You only have 24 hours to live. How would you spend that time?
Immersing ourselves in all the activities that make us happy.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
We sure do! We invite readers to visit Carpenter Country at HLCarpenter.com.
About HL Carpenter
Mother/daughter author duo HL Carpenter write family-friendly fiction from their studios in Carpenter Country, a magical place that, like their stories, is unreal but not untrue. When they’re not writing, they enjoy exploring the Land of What-If and practicing the fine art of Curiosity. Visit HLCarpenter.comto enjoy gift reads and excerpts and to find out what’s happening in Carpenter Country.
HL Carpenter Amazon Link
THANK YOU for the opportunity! ~Helen & Lorri